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 www.staceyhoran.com 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:  http://malaynaevans.com/aria/

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 (http://malaynaevans.com/for-educators/) for free downloads, including a crossword puzzle, educator’s guide, and scavenger hunt.

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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 http://malaynaevans.com or follow Malayna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Malayna

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…

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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. https://www.annettewhipple.com/2019/01/writing-for-educational-market.html

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):  https://www.wildercompanion.com/2019/11/when-was-almanzo-wilder-born.html]

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 www.AnnetteWhipple.com or www.WilderCompanion.com.

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.******

Author Danielle Dufayet Presents a New PB: WAITING TOGETHER. A signed copy can be yours…

Today it is my pleasure to feature author Danielle Dufayet with her new picture book WAITING TOGETHER (Albert Whitman).

Here’s my review of this delightful book: “A sweet and gentle tale that focuses on something we all have to face – waiting for someone or something. Onomatopoeia, word play, and playful and comforting illustrations show young readers how to face waiting alone and with friends.”

Danielle is giving away a signed copy of her book. To enter the random drawing, leave a comment and tells us what you find hard to wait for.

Waiting Together by [Danielle Dufayet]

  1. How did you decide to write a picture book about WAITING…something we all have to do?

I was inspired to write Waiting Together when I read Deborah Underwood’s fabulous book, The Quiet Book. It made me ask: what else is really difficult for kids to do -the answer: waiting. Then I started looking at all the different kinds of waits kids do all day long. I really had a lot of fun with the idea. If you think about it, human beings do a lot of waiting throughout their lifetimes!

2. The text has such gentle rhythm and flow with lots of figurative language. How did that evolve?

At first, Waiting Together had dead-pan humor with lots of potential for illustrations; but, it lacked an overall arc and didn’t quite feel cohesive. I decided on a morning to night arc, with an emphasis on our senses -what does waiting for the train sound like? What does waiting for cookies or ice cream sound like? How does your body feel when you’re waiting to jump in the pool? I wanted this book to be fun, but the underlying message is that it’s always easier waiting with a friend.

3. The illustrations are perfect. Were you given opportunities to have input on any of them?

Yes, Albert Whitman was very good about having my input. There weren’t a lot of changes, but I did make some comments and they cooperated with my suggestions so I was very pleased. They are wonderful to work with.

4. What kind of waiting is hardest for you?

Ha! Waiting to get published was the hardest kind of waiting for me. It took 35 years of writing off and on and never quitting. But, the waiting never got easier. The publishing world is slow and being patient is a necessary part of the journey.

5. Anything else you wish to add?

Yes, this is the manuscript that landed me an agent in 2013 (Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary), but I revised it a lot since I had submitted it on my own. Also, after having sent it out to some publishers,  Karen advised me to put it away for a few years since two other well-known authors had books coming out about waiting. I knew in my heart, this manuscript was meant to be published so after about 4 years of “waiting”, I woke up one morning and decided that it was time to get it back out. I tweaked it again and sent it to Karen and it took only about 3-4 weeks before Albert Whitman picked it up. 

Thank you, Darlene, for featuring my book and sharing my story! 

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Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/danielledufayet


Twitter:  https://twitter.com/danielledufayet

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/ddaniwriter/






BIO: Danielle Dufayet (Doo-fye-yay), first generation American from France, was born in Yonkers, New York. She started writing at the age of seven. She is a professional fine art artist and has had her works in galleries up and down the California coast. www.danielledufayet.com

Danielle has a B.A. in English Literature and a M.S. in Psychology. She was always drawn to the beauty and simplicity of picture books and attracted by their powerful psychological impact on young minds. She believes that books are magic little gems that can change one’s life.

Danielle lives in sunny San Jose. If she’s not writing, she can be found listening to Bossa Nova while painting in her studio. She may be reached at: www.danielledufayetbooks.com.


Claire Matturro and Her Review of “Salty Strong: The ‘Whole’ Cajun Story” by Chris Whitson (May 2020, Archway Publishing)

(Darlene here: When Claire approached me about doing a review post of a recent favorite children’s book, I was thrilled. Here is her review of a delightful story perfect for summer and beyond.)

Debut children’s author Chris Whitson offers a resounding message of joy, adventure, and friendship in “Salty Strong: The ‘Whole’ Cajun Story” (May 2020, Archway Publishing). The story is imaginative and sure to appeal to children ages five to eight, and adults alike. The book is beautifully illustrated by Stephen Adams and colorist Susan Shorter, and the captivating pictures will no doubt pull younger children into the book.


Salty Strong celebrates learning about new cultures, having different experiences, and the unlimited power of friendship and giving. Salty, as his name reflects, is a boy made of salt who lives in a cave in Louisiana. He frolics with his animal friends in the surrounding swamps and lands, and cooks and cares for the critters. But it is not just any cave, but an ancient salt dome where the young lad and his animal friends live.


One day a crew of salt miners change Salty’s world when they crush his body-made-of-salt into granules while mining the salt in the cave and put him into a saltshaker. Soon his Cajun spirit is on the way to New Orleans, where a grumpy and not-very-good-at-cooking chef buys him as a granulated boy in the saltshaker.

Salty, still captive in his glass shaker, finds himself in a kitchen in the French Quarters of New Orleans, where he discovers the chef really does not know how to season food. In short order, Salty also meets a shy girl who is made of ground peppercorns. Like Salty, she is captured in a shaker. Together they become friends and find that by pouring themselves into the chef’s creations, they make his dishes delicious. But they are literally given of themselves as they pour their grains into his food.

While this is going on, Pep—the peppercorn girl—teaches Salty about her native culture in India, and he teaches her about his Cajun culture.

The ending celebrates Salty and Pep becoming whole again, and is delightfully well illustrated in this sincere, charming book.

When author Chris Whitson was asked what he wanted kids to take away from the story, he answered:

 “At some point everyone has struggles and may feel ‘crushed’ like Salty.  It may be a struggle with bullying, illness, addiction, loneliness… Hang in there, have Faith, give of yourself, and open your heart to others.  You will become whole and stronger than ever!”


For more information on Chris and Salty Strong, you can check out his presskit here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SRthh6BgYHpPRa1oiHFcigZD0IuXAsLvK9Q8zSAc9oc/edit?usp=sharing and please let me know if you’d like any more information!


Bio: Claire Matturro, a former lawyer and college teacher, is the author of seven mysteries, including the award-winning Lilly Belle Cleary series of comedic legal thrillers published by HarperCollins. Her newest book, The Smuggler’s Daughter (Red Adept Publishing July 2020), is a gripping past-meets-present tale of murder and hidden identities. Best-selling legal thriller author Robert Bailey says “The Smuggler’s Daughter is an intoxicating and pulsating thriller that I literally couldn’t put down.”   Shamus and Edgar-winning mystery writer James W. Hall says, “at once, scary, gripping, moving, and populated by unforgettable characters.” Visit Claire at http://www.clairematturro.com/





Book Giveaway: THE MAGIC IN CHANGING YOUR STARS by leah Henderson

Couldn’t resist sharing this new book inspired by a statue celebrating the life of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

Writing and Illustrating

Author Leah Henderson has a new middle grade book titled,THE MAGIC IN CHANGING YOUR STARS, published by Sterling Children’s Books and coming out on August 4th. Sterling has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Leah!


Can you change your fate—and the fate of those you love—if you return to the past? Journey to 1939 Harlem in this time-travel adventure with an inspiring message…

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