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.

*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.

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.

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

This Book Is Gray & GIVEAWAY

“This book was GRAYT!” Student A, 2nd grader from my Michigan class!

My students got to hear This Book is Gray for their Classroom Book A Day read aloud. It was a huge hit from start to finish. Before reading picture books, we peak under the book jacket (we call it the “undies”) to see if there is any new details to see. Sure enough, Lindsay has drawn readers a fun surprise. After checking out the undies we look at the endpapers, as those sometimes are part of the story. And yet again, Lindsay has used the beginning end papers to give readers some art language to help you understand the story better. All this fun information and we didn’t even start the story yet!

The book is set through gray’s eyes, why doesn’t he get used? He is important? He doesn’t always have to be a depressing color. As he tries to tell a story using only gray, the other colors show up.

“I liked when all the colors show up and interrupt” Student B says excitedly.

Lindsay weaves in some fun puns that had my kids chuckling when they caught her humor. But my students also realized that their were lessons on kindness and including others to take away from the book.

Thank you Blue Slip Media for having us on the blog tour and for providing the book for review. All opinions are our own.

**GIVEAWAY***Win a copy of this book for being one of our readers! For one entry, follow our blog & comment on this blog post. For additional entries head to our other social media pages. US only. Courtesy of Two Lions.

About the author:

Lindsay Ward is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series as well as Brobarians, Rosco vs. the Baby, and The Importance of Being 3. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. Lindsay lives in Peninsula, Ohio, with her family. Gray is one of her favorite colors. Learn more about her online at www.lindsaymward.com.Twitter: @lindsaymward

Santa’s Story & GIVEAWAY

Welcome to our stop on the blog tour for Santa’s Story by Will Hillenbrand. Thank you Blue Slip Media for including us. All opinions are our own.

Santa’s Story is about remembering the traditions we have for our families and how forgetting them can change everything. It is the night before Christmas and Santa is trying to find his reindeer to get ready for the next day. Santa is baffled when the reindeer aren’t anywhere to be found. He begins to think what he might have missed. With some thought, Santa comes to realize he forgot all about their night before Christmas tradition. With everything back on track, the reindeer come back to Santa, engage in their tradition and are ready for Christmas.

I don’t want to spoil what Santa and the reindeer do each year to get ready to deliver presents, but let’s just say, if you are reading this blog, it will put a smile on your face.

I adored the illustrations in this book, I love reading winter stories where the pictures transport you to night or snowfall. This book was no exception!

We’d like to continue to spread the holiday cheer and are offering one lucky reader a copy of SANTA’S STORY, courtesy of Two Lions. 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 Tuesday 12/3/19

Are You A Frank Or A Bean?

Frank and Bean is a clever early chapter book written by Jamie Michalak and illustrated by Bob Kolar. This book was a huge hit with my 2nd and 3rd grade students. They had a blast getting to know both Frank and Bean. Thank you Candlewick Press for sending us the book for review. All opinions are our own.

My students thought the characters were “super funny” and enjoyed that they were so different. They loved looking at Bob’s pictures and how he captured their personalities so well. Many related to either being a Frank or being a Bean. We discussed some themes or morals we can take away from the story. Then the kids had some questions for Jamie……

And Now…..Questions from the Kids:

How did you come up with this idea? 

It started with the idea of two picnic food friends named Frank and Bean. I first had the idea when my sons were in kindergarten and second grade. My youngest son, who’s chatty and loud, was obsessed with RVs, jelly donut holes, and playing the drums — just like Bean. My oldest, on the other hand, was more like Frank. He preferred walks in the woods, soft jazz, and yoga. So I kind of lived with my characters!

Why did you make Bean so loud?

If you’ve ever been on a long car ride with my youngest son, you’d know why! But I also wanted Bean to show readers how difficult it can be to find your own story or words in a loud and busy (and screen-filled) world. Frank shows Bean how to be quiet to hear the words within him. 

It’s okay to be quiet — and even bored. That’s when your imagination really comes to life.

We discussed that 2 themes in the book were don’t be afraid to share things and don’t be afraid to be quiet or silly if you are, why did you choose to put these themes in the book? 

I think they’re themes kids can relate with. For some, sharing what they wrote can be scary. Especially if you’re a quiet hot dog who’s used to being alone. Bean isn’t afraid to be his silly self — but he is scared of the night’s noises. But the thing about good friends is that they can help each other get over fears — and together make something special. Like a song about jelly donut holes, for example.

Will this become a series? We’d like a book 2! 

Aw, thanks! There is a book 2! It’s called FRANK AND BEAN: THE FOOD TRUCK WAR. Bean decides to get a food truck and compete in the forest’s Food Truck Friday contest. But to win, he must beat the scary reigning champ, Mad Dog. Luckily, Frank is there to lend a hand — and make up a new song.

Teacher Question- Why did you make it an early chapter book reader? Did it ever start in a different format?

Early readers are my favorite format to write and to read. James Marshall’s books are the best! But yes, FRANK AND BEAN began as a picture book, until Bean demanded more room to express himself. 

And finally thank you for giving us a book that reminded us to not be afraid to be ourselves!! 

Thank YOU, smart human beans, for the excellent questions! Here’s to all the stories YOU’ll write this year! 🙂 

Thank you for having us on the Frank and Bean Blog Tour. Check out the other places Frank and Bean have been and will be soon!

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.