Two Winners For Copies of Nancy Churnin’s New PB’S.


Last month I featured the two most recent PB released by author NANCY CHURNIN. Today I am thrilled to announce the winners of signed copies of those books.


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Jane Healy is the winner of a copy of FOR SPACIOUS SKIES.

thumbnail 5Congratulations! to Danielle and Jane and thanks to all who commented. Please send me your address so I can let Nancy know where to send the books.


A Place at the Table

A PLACE AT THE TABLE  by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan is a delightful and thoughtful story of how two sixth grade girls from different backgrounds and cultures try to navigate middle school and the changes happening within their families.

Sara, who is Muslim, and Elizabeth, who is Jewish, become unlikely friends at an after school cooking club taught by Sara’s mother Mrs. Hameed.  Cooking and food traditions become the bridge across cultures and remind the girls, and readers, that they have more in common than they realize. The story is also a wonderful reminder that when we open our hearts and share our talents, we can make room for everyone at the table and in our lives. A perfect story for our time.

PIPPIN PALS ARE HERO HELPERS! by :Donna Marie. A New Series To Answer Kids Questions About the Pandemic. Enter to Win A Book!

Today it is my pleasure to feature a timely new book series that answers children’s questions about the pandemic. Written by Donna Marie PIPPIN PALS ARE HERO HELPERS. Here’s Donna to explain:

 What prompted the writing of this timely book?   

Back in March, when this pandemic really hit the U.S., I was glued to my Twitter feed and CNN; not all that much different than regular days, but with much more intensity. I was blown away by the KidLit community, from publishers on down, along with librarians and teachers when, very early on, they were offering all kinds of amazing things to families with children to help them get through the whole stay-at-home situation. I really wanted to contribute, but it took days before my foggy brain pulled up a book around 1993ish. It was called The Rainy Day. In it were ideas of what to do on a rainy day. I first thought to post the list of things to do on my blog, but nixed the idea just as quickly because it really wouldn’t offer more than what was already out there, so why waste my time? Then I thought maybe to rewrite the story’s beginning and post it on my site with a few of the dummy illustrations. Once I began writing, I ended up with an almost totally new story.

You did a perfect job of showing something scary in a safe and non-threatening way. How did you decide on the format of rhyming text?

Such high praise! Thank you, Darlene! And you’re right—it’s scary. The Rainy Day was written in rhyme (which comes naturally with most of my picture books) so I started there. I kept it in rhyme because the musical quality of it helps soften such hard subject matter, and I felt it might keep younger children more engaged. I did my best to explain, and also show through illustration, something as abstract as a virus as best I could, and depict what children are witnessing going on around them in a way they could understand. They are being asked to comply with unusual rules and much of their normal lifestyles have been upended. It’s hard enough for us adults to adjust, let alone kids!

I love how the book can be personalized so that children of color can see themselves in the pages. Explain how that came about in your illustration process.

Ah, well, THAT is why this story ended up actually becoming books and not just a blog post. As timing would have it, last fall I became aware that Shutterfly accepted unsolicited submissions. In researching, I saw how they really expanded how personalized customer’s could make their books by picking more than just their name. They could sometimes choose the main character’s gender, skin color and hair. Wanting to submit to them, I figured out a way to create a book that could include my six diverse characters. I wrote a story that would work with the personalization, but in the midst of it I found out Shutterfly closed book submissions due to administrative changes. I lost that project, BUT, as often is the case—the creative process wasn’t in vain. My having come up with a way to make the same book with interchangeable characters for diversity’s sake, when it dawned on me that I could do that digitally and could publish them as ebooks on Amazon, I was “sold.” Once I realized I had the power to execute these books, there was no stopping me! And now that I finally accomplished the publishing part, once I have promo behind me, I plan to create 2 more inclusive versions 🙂

What is your hope for this book?
Having to do things like stay physically distant, wear masks and wash hands often does not come naturally to most people, and getting kids to comply is not easy. Being compliant is not only critically important to help contain the spread of the virus, but it’s also the right thing to do. Caring about others should come easily, but doesn’t always, and children need to learn this at a young age. The seriousness of a global pandemic is certainly a time to set this example. By doing these basic, simple things we help ourselves, the people around us, and ultimately the heroic, essential workers. I’ve always felt that, especially with young children, they learn—and listen—when tasks and lessons are presented as “fun” or a “game.” Blending that with their penchant to often emulate or want to “be” Superheroes (and princesses), I believe it helps them understand that they are “heroes” by being Hero Helpers. I think it’s appealing in a way that helps reinforce these new “super power” habits we’re trying to instill.


I’d also like to encourage parents, teachers, doctors—anyone—to go to the website I created specifically to share free downloads. I originally wanted to include hand-washing and mask-wearing instructions in the book itself, but that really didn’t work for the storytelling, and couldn’t add pages for that purpose, at least not initially. That’s when I decided to create a website and know the value of having printed instructional material. You will find an array of kid-friendly, printable downloads to post anywhere from bathrooms to kitchens to bedrooms to classrooms to doctor’s offices and more, that could serve as useful tools to instruct and reinforce these habits. I made them in both 8 ½ x 11” and 11 x 17” sizes for this purpose.

PURCHASE LINKS for Amazon and Apple Books ebook and paperback versions of Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! are on Donna’s website:  Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! Books. Just remember—all versions are the same story; you just pick the character/s that suit the readers best. And one lucky reader can win a copy of the version of their choice by leaving a comment below. One random winner will be drawn from all who enter and announced in a later post.

You can follow :Donna on Twitter and Facebook, and her Writer Side UP! and Creativity “Cookbook” blogs, and Pippin Pals at  , Twitter and Facebook   COMING SOON: 2 more inclusive versions of Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers!: one interracial family, one with same-sex parents.

Throughout her life, :Donna Marie has had many jobs and pastimes. Just to name a few: cashier, bartender, waitress, a wide array of art jobs, party planner, clown and face painter, and A.R.A. for the NJSCBWI, some of which could be fun, none of which could be classified as a passion. The one consistent thread which started as a child first as a love, then an aspiration as a young adult, and eventually becoming a serious pursuit and true passion as an adult, has been children’s literature. With the publication of Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! her pursuit  finally became a “job” that incorporated her passion. Her sincerest hope is that these books benefit as many children as possible.

Author Robin Newman Brings on Fall with a Case of Bad Apples.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons—it’s back to school; crisp air and brisk walks in Central Park; and if you’re a fan of apples, as I am, it’s apple picking and baking season!

So, it’s no surprise that my character Porcini Pig is also a big fan of apples.


In my latest book in the Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series, THE CASE OF THE BAD APPLES, Porcini finds what appears to be a gift basket of apples. Naturally, he pigs out. He is a pig after all. But strangely, he becomes sick as a dog. Fortunately for him an anonymous squealer calls in a SWINE-1-1, and the MFI (Missing Food Investigators) are investigating what looks like a Code 22 (attempted hamslaughter). Who poisoned Porcini and why? Could one bad apple have poisoned the bunch? One bad765 apple indeed.

One especially sweet treat about my latest book is Mollie Katzen’s APPLE-TAS-TIC recipe for apple pockets.





My family and I devoured these apple pockets for breakfast and afternoon snack with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

apple pockets

And while you’re snacking on your yummy apple pockets, please be sure to check out the adorable book trailer for THE CASE OF THE BAD APPLES!


Enjoy and bon appétit!

robin bio

Jack and Katy Get Ready For School: A Poem From WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY.

No matter how much fun we have each summer, we eventually have to go Back To School. While this can be welcome by some, and dreaded by others, the new school year 2020 is a challenge for all.

As teachers and students head back to school virtually, or in person, or as some hybrid combination, may all of you be blessed with good health, curiosity, excitement for learning, and may it be a good year for all.

Here’s a Back-To-School poem from my novel in verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston) where Jack and his sister Katy just spent a day with Mom, Gran and Pops, shopping for school goodies.




hours later, my stomach
growling like a grumpy bear, we
carry out shopping bags
stuffed with all the loot a kid needs for school.

Even though Mom protested,
Pops emptied his wallet to pay for everything.
Besides shoes
socks, underwear,
there are two pants and shirts for me,
two dresses for Katy.
A Barbie lunch box that has Katy wanting to
put food in it already.
Why didn’t you get a lunch box, Jack?
Guys my age brown bag it, I say.

A second shopping bag holds
a 64 pack of crayons that has Katy
sniffing and squealing over the colors,
wanting me to read the names of each one.
Later, I tell her.

There’s also enough chalk to draw a line on the
highway all the way home probably.

Katy wears her
patent leather black shoes in the car, sitting
up front with Gran and Pops,
both of them beaming at her,
their own miracle,
their one-of-a-kind treasure no wish or
money can buy.

Mom snaps a picture of me with
my nose pressed
between the pages of one of the notebooks.
I take a whiff,
the smell of school disguised as paper,
a good smell, even though I complain.

I’ve done a lot of
thinking today, but not about school.
You know how
when you’re not even thinking
about something and
an idea,
a good idea
maybe the best idea comes to you?
That’s what I’m hoping
will happen to me.

Tomorrow I’m going to talk to Mr. Belcher.
We’re close, Dad, hang on.

May all of you “hang on” through the ups and downs of this uncertain school year and may you all that you need to shine like the patent leather shoes Katy wears.


Two Winners For Two New Books Are…

I am pleased to announce the winners for last month’s book give-aways.

A signed copy of the picture book WAITING TOGETHER by Danielle Dufayet goes to: Beth Anderson

A copy of THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS by Annette Whipple goes to Rosi Hollenbeck.  Please contact me with your address so I know where to send the books.

Wright Brothers (3)Congratulations to the winners! Thanks to all for commenting and sharing your favorite books.


Picture Book Review: MOOTILDA’S BAD MOOD by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Kirsti Call

MOOTILDA’S BAD MOOD by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Kirsti Call (Little Lee Books September 1, 2020)

Mootilda's Bad Mood

This is a different kind of farm tale about feelings and how to express them. Clever word play, barnyard-speak, and rhyming that is easy on the ears make this story a welcome addition to the feelings/friendship genre. Kids will enjoy mooing along with Mootilda as she expresses her moods in a story that is sure to become a popular read-aloud. A 5 star winner.

This book will be available tomorrow September 1, 2020. Support you local independent bookstores and feel free to share this post.

Stacey Horan’s Sycamore Lane – A story about a girl, a ghost and something truly frightening.

Today it is my pleasure to feature author and podcaster of  the series: THE BOOKSHOP AT THE END OF THE INTERNET, STACEY HORAN with her new YA paranormal book SYCAMORE LANE.

sycamore cover

Sycamore Lane was my first published novel. It was the first book I completely “pantsed,” and it was never meant to be a book. I began the story as a simple writing exercise to clear my head and get the creative juices flowing. I was struggling with edits for another book, and I needed a break. So, I decided to write a short story, no more than a couple of pages. I never intended it to be read, nor did I know anything about the story except the vague jumping-off point. When two pages turned into ten, and ten pages turned into fifty, I realized I might have a whole book in the works. I did no outlining or advanced planning for the book. I did not know the ending until I wrote it. In fact, I was never sure from one day to the next whether the story would continue to reveal itself to me. I kept writing, but it required a leap of faith every day.

The idea for that original short story came from a conversation at a neighbor’s Christmas party. Six months prior to that party, my husband and I moved into a house in Westchester, NY that we bought from a couple with strong ties to the neighborhood. The couple made an appearance at the Christmas party, and we began chatting with them. We told them how much we were enjoying the house and thanked them for the note they left for us when we moved in. The couple looked confused, so we explained that we were referring to the note written in chalk across the full length of a blackboard wall in the upstairs bedroom. The bedroom, it turns out, had belonged to their two young sons. The couple had no idea what we were talking about and assured us that neither they nor their sons left any note on the blackboard wall. The note had read, “Happy Moving Day!”

When I sat down to write my short story, I began with the idea that someone had to have written that note on the blackboard wall. What if it had been a ghost? What if the house was haunted and a ghost tried to communicate with me by writing notes on the blackboard wall in the upstairs bedroom? That was all I knew about the story when I began writing.

The house in the book is the house we lived in, and our street (although not called Sycamore Lane) was lined with sycamore trees. The neighborhood, the school and the town in the book were all very similar to those real-life locations where we lived. However, our house was not haunted, at least as far as I am aware, so the ghost is straight out of my imagination. When I talk about Sycamore Lane, I always mention that the ghost is not the scariest thing in the book. The truly scary thing (no spoilers!) is also (mostly) made up. The inspiration for the scary thing did not come from our house or neighborhood. It came from my own childhood, but the version in the book is so much worse than anything I experienced in real life…thankfully. 

Sycamore Lane was my first paranormal novel. In all of my books, I tend to write about things that scare me. The scary things in Sycamore Lane are pretty obvious, such as ghosts. They are things that might scare a lot of people. In some of my other books, however, the scary things may scare only me. I continue to write about scary things because I hope that doing so might make these things less frightening. It might be working, but I confess that my fear of ghosts has not completely faded.

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Stacey Horan is an award-winning author of young adult novels. Her works include Sycamore LaneInland and The Elixir Vitae Adventures series. Stacey also hosts a podcast called The Bookshop at the End of the Internet, which is dedicated to helping book lovers discover new authors. Visit Stacey at or on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @staceyleehoran.




Blurb: Sycamore Lane

In this young adult novel, fourteen-year old Tallulah White has just moved into a new house on Sycamore Lane.  Being the new kid on the block has its perils, but living in this house could get her killed.  In addition to the usual “new kid” issues, Tallulah is having trouble knowing whom to trust.  Is Maisie, her classmate who lives down the street, really as nice as she appears?  And what about Anastasia and the notes she writes on the blackboard wall in the guest bedroom?  Is it wise to believe her, considering she is a ghost?  One thing Tallulah does know for certain is that she is running out of time.  She must discover the truth and save herself before she suffers the same fate as the other children who lived on Sycamore Lane.

Amazon Reviews:

Some strange and deadly things are going on at 19 Sycamore Lane. A chilling, creepy page-turner that will keep you reading to find out what happens next. Evil lurks behind smiles, and friendship, in the form of a ghost, might be the answer to fighting that evil. (Darlene Beck Jacobson)

Kept Me Guessing…Loved it! I finished the book in two days. Sycamore Lane is the perfect book for anyone looking for a thrilling mystery. (Tiffany, Amazon reviewer)

For the Young Fans of Ghost Stories…This fast-paced novel will please the younger spectrum of Stephen King’s fans. (Evelyne Holingue, Amazon reviewer)



Malayna Evans shows you how to escape the tomb with Aria Jones … from the comfort of your own sofa.

One of the best things about launching my debut series, set in ancient Egypt, has been visiting schools, talking to middle grade learners about all the things we inherited from ancient Egypt, their amazing artifacts, fascinating afterlife beliefs, and daily life practices. Long story short, I’m a sucker for all things ancient Egyptian. I spent a good decade of my life earning a Ph.D. in the subject so it’s fun to put the education to work, even if kid lit wasn’t the original plan.

With book two, ARIA JONES & THE GUARDIAN’S WEDJA, launching this month, I’m missing school visits and one-on-one time with readers. But I’m also a mom of a middle school aged child so I’ve struggled personally with the challenges of learning from home.


In an effort to support educators and parents, as well as celebrate my book launch, I’ve put together a little ESCAPE THE TOMB activity package designed for home or classroom. In the book, Jagger and Aria and their friends take shelter in a mastaba—rectangular tomb structures that housed shrines and underground burials of elite ancient Egyptians. Ancient Egyptians visited the mastabas scattered around the Giza plateau, near the Great pyramid, to stay connected to their ancestors. They would say their names aloud and offer sustenance, mostly commonly bread and beer. They believed the dead could intervene to help the living … bread and beer were a great way to earn that assistance. Jagger and Aria don’t have bread and beer on hand, but lucky for them, the Excellent Spirit of the mastaba they hide in is perfectly happy with Skittles and a juice box. I’ve used this scene to set up an activity guide that invites kids to move through five tasks in order to tempt the spirit to help them escape the tomb. You can download it here:

Like so many Americans, I’m looking forward to the day we can safely go back to our regularly scheduled lives … and schools and bookstores and libraries. In the meantime, there’s nothing like a good book (and a handy activity guide) to keep the spirits high. Hopefully mine is enjoyed by many.

If you’re looking for more ancient Egyptian themed content, feel free to visit the educator’s page on my website ( for free downloads, including a crossword puzzle, educator’s guide, and scavenger hunt.

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 12.18.18 PM



If you’d like a chance to win a signed copy of  ARIA JONES AND THE GUARDIAN’S WEDJA, leave a comment and your name will be placed in a basket. Share the post on social media and you will get a second entry. (Let us know that you shared) One winner will be drawn at random and announced on this blog next month.

Malayna Evans was raised in the mountains of Utah and spent her childhood climbing, reading Sci-Fi, and finding trouble. She earned her Ph.D. in ancient Egyptian history from the University of Chicago. Evans lives in Oak Park, IL, with her two kids, a rescue dog, and a hedgehog. She’s passionate about coffee, travel and sharing her passion for ancient Egypt. You can learn more about Malayna at or follow Malayna on Twitter:

Let’s Get This APPLE-TAS-TIC Party Started with a HUGE Giveaway!

My author friend Robin Newman is launching her third book in the hilarious and mysterious series. THE CASE OF THE BAD APPLES. You can enter for a chance to win a copy of this punny book for kids aged 7-10.

I can’t believe September is just around the corner. And readers, you all know what that means?

It means the THE CASE OF THE BAD APPLES hits The Big Apple (my hometown!) and elsewhere on September 1.

To celebrate the release, a little music, please . . .

Thank you, Alicia Keys & Jay Z! (NYC loves you!)

Deborah Zemke and I are having an APPLE-TAS-TIC Virtual Celebration at New York City’s one and only Books of Wonder!

For more information, please visit Books of Wonder by clicking here. (The CASE OF THE BAD APPLES and ALL of the Wilcox & Griswold Mysteries are available for pre-order at Books of Wonder.) Is that true?

To get this party started, I’m giving away a $100 gift card to Books of Wonder.

Just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!! The giveaway will run from today through 8/25/20.

Wait! I’m NOT done.

Check out…

View original post 28 more words

Author Annette Whipple Has Two New Books and Here’s a Chance To Win a Copy Of One.

Today it is my pleasure to feature author and fellow member of the KidLit Author’s Club, Annette Whipple who has two new non-fiction books that recently debuted.  THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS (Rockridge Press) and THE LAURA INGALLS WILDER COMPANION ( Chicago Review Press). Here’s Annette to talk about them:

  1. Tell a bit about your “work-for-hire” the Wright Brothers and how it came about.

My first five books were all work-for-hire (WFH) projects for the educational market (for schools and libraries). WFH means a publisher’s editorial team comes up with ideas. Then they hire writers to write them. Writers typically introduce themselves to the publisher, and if they’re a good fit AND the time is right, they get an assignment. The Story of the Wright Brothers was a bit different because I had not heard of the publisher (Callisto Media/Rockridge Press) prior to them contacting me. My editor really helped me to develop the story to be one children (and even teachers) would appreciate. The Story of the Wright Brothers will also be found in bookstores instead of just schools and libraries which excites me even more.

Wright Brothers (3)

For curious writers, I have a whole blog post about the educational market/WFH. I even teach a class about it to help other writers get started. I call WFH the publishing world’s best kept secret.  This is the post.

2. Laura Ingalls Wilder is the beloved author of The Little House series. Were you a fan as a girl? What is it about the series and author that prompted you to write the bio?

I was a fan of the Little House books as a girl, but I never had my own copies until I was preparing for my first baby. Then I bought the set! I appreciate the stories even more as an adult.

LIW Companion Cover 2

It was my children and a guide to the Chronicles of Narnia who inspired the idea for The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide. Whenever we listened to Little House audio books or I read them aloud, my kids were full of questions. I knew young (and old) fans of the Little House books would enjoy learning more about American pioneers and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I also loved the idea of developing lots of activities for each of the Little House books. I included 75 activities in The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion. I’ve been hearing lots of great feedback about the “Fact or Fiction?” sidebars within the book, too!

3. What draws you to historical non-fiction?

I was never a strong history student, but I love diving deep into my research. As I say when I visit schools, “Facts are fun!” I love exploring science and history especially when I can get hands-on.

4. Was there anything that surprised you about Laura as you did your research? Please share some of your research process.

Long before I officially researched for The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion, I learned more about the real Laura Ingalls Wilder as a fan. For that reason, I don’t think much surprised me. The more I learned about Wilder, the more I appreciated her as a person and as a writer.

I think my biggest surprise was learning that something that had been reported as fact for many, many years was questionable. All of the books I had access to while researching stated Almanzo Wilder’s birthdate as 1857. (Now the book Prairie Fires has explored the discrepancies.) Even his headstone said 1857. So where was the question? It was with three consecutive census records. They indicated Almanzo Wilder was born in 1859. I thought this was interesting and included the evidence as well as my conclusion in the book (and this blog post):]

5. Why should kids care and learn about the lives of historical figures? What makes LIW still popular?

I think it’s important to learn about people who are different than us. I think historical figures and historical stories can teach us a lot about the past. We can learn history and learn from their successes and mistakes, too!

I think Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House books are still popular today because the family is relatable—though far from perfect. Laura Ingalls Wilder shared about a time in history that many lived through but few experienced. I think her writing talent shows through because the stories still resonate with readers today.

6. Any final thoughts?

Facts are fun, right? Well, the fact that Laura Ingalls Wilder and Wilbur Wright were both born in 1867 interested me! They were both American pioneers—but of two very different kinds. Wilbur and his brother Orville designed and flew the first airplane. Laura Ingalls Wilder lived on the American frontier as a girl. Their childhoods were so different! Wilbur Wright’s home was full of books. Laura Ingalls’s home had few books, but they were treasured. Both families valued education and learning—and it showed in how Wilbur and Laura grew up.

But sometimes facts make us sad or angry. The Ingalls family lived in “Indian Territory” in Wilder’s book Little House on the Prairie. When I researched more about American history and the Native American Osage Nation, many emotions flooded me as I learned more about the fate of that nation and all Native Americans. Though I knew Native Americans had been forced to reservations, I did not understand the depth of it nor the later ramifications of the reservations and the many broken treaties. I included some tough stuff in The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion because Wilder herself wrote about those complicated times. I wanted to help readers better understand the history and consider both sides.

Today we have many tools to help us learn more about people who are different from us and even become friends. Books are just a beginning!

Both of these books help readers connect with history, but in September I have a completely different book coming out. It’s Whooo Knew? The Truth about Owls! It’s full of beautiful photographs and information about magnificent owls. It’s available for pre-order from your local bookstore or online.

OWL cover Lo Res

I celebrate curiosity and inspire a sense of wonder in readers while exciting them about science and history. I’ve written eight books—and The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press), Whooo Knew? The Truth about Owls (Reycraft Books), and The Story of the Wright Brothers (Rockridge Press) are new in 2020! I love chocolate chip cookies and bake them a bit too often for my husband and three children. I also love to read and enjoy the great outdoors of Pennsylvania where I live. I love to visit schools (even virtually) and help writers of all kinds find the joy in writing. You can get to know me more at or

Annette at Almanzo

Annette at Almanzo

Here’s my (Darlene’s) endorsement for THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS:

“An entertaining, informative, and engaging story of the pioneers of aviation. A perfect blend of history and science. Question sidebars, a quiz, and a glossary make this an excellent classroom resource for elementary level students.”

****** If you’d like a chance to win a copy of THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, leave a comment below sharing some of your favorite recent non-fiction picture books. One winner will be drawn at random from those entered and announced later this month.******