Reviewing Great KidLit Books: How Did I DO in 2019?

In January 2017 I began the year with a personal challenge to write a review for KidLit books from authors I admire. You can read about the original challenge here: https://wordpress.com/post/darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com/4428

In 2018, I bested the original count and posted 18 reviews of children’s books, and gave away 3 of those reviewed.  You can see the titles for that post here: https://wordpress.com/post/darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com/4946

Well, in 2019, I am thrilled and excited to say, I have written and posted 31 reviews for PB, MG, and YA books and gifted 9 of them in various give-aways. ( These give-away books are indicated by a red asterisk) Here is the list of the wonderful books I reviewed. All these titles are by authors I enjoy and who deserve recognition for their amazing writing for children.

1. HEDY LAMARR (PB) by Laurie Wallmark

2. THE DEVOURING LAND (YA) Josh Bellin

3. SEALED WITH A KISS (PB) Beth Ferry

4. SQUIRREL’S FAMILY TREE (PB) Beth Ferry *

5. RESCUE AND JESSICA (PB) Jessica Kensky

6. DUCK AND COVER (MG)  Janet Smart

7. FOLLOWING (YA) Jeffry W Johnston

8. FRONT DESK (MG) Kelly Yang

9. TEN RULES OF THE BIRTHDAY WISH (PB) Beth Ferry

10. HELLO LIGHTHOUSE (PB) Sophie Blackhall

11. THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY (PB) Hannah Holt

12. MR. REGINALD AND THE BUNNIES (PB) Paula Wallace *

13. BOB (MG) Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

14. GRANTED (MG) John David Anderson

15. NO PEACOCKS (PB) Robin Newman *

16. JAGGER JONES AND THE MUMMY’S ANKH (MG) Malayna Evans

17. NARCOSIS ROOM (YA) Louise Cypress

18. HOUSE OF EARTH, HOUSE OF STONE (YA) Joshua David Bellin

19. REMARKABLY YOU (PB)  Pat Zietlow Miller *

20. A BOX OF BONES (MG)  Marina Cohen

21. IN YOUR SHOES (MG) Donna Gephart

22. THE LAW OF FINDERS KEEPERS (MG)  Sheila Turnage

23. ASTRO PEA (BB) Amalia Hoffman *

24. I LOVE YOU, MICHAEL COLLINS (MG) Lauren Baratz-Logsted

25. BEAUTY AND BERNICE (MG)  Nancy Viau *

26. A ZEBRA PLAYS ZITHER (PB) Janice Bond *

27. SOMETHING IS BUGGING SAMANTHA HANSEN (MG)  Nancy Viau *

28. ALL COLORS (BB) Amalia Hoffman *

29. THE SCARECROW (PB) Beth Ferry

30. THE JOKE MACHINE (MG) Theresa Julian

31. GOOD-BYE, MR. SPALDING (MG)  Jennifer Robin Barr

I read a total of SEVENTY books for children and adults and am pleased to have posted reviews for nearly half. The best way to share great books with others is to post positive reviews on Goodreads or Amazon. Won’t you join me in 2020 to spread the word about great literature for children and write a review for a book by one of your favorite authors?

Here’s a printable calendar to keep track of those awesome books and reviews:

https://www.redtedart.com/free-cute-printable-calendar/

3 New MG Book Reviews + A Give-Away.

As promised, here is the third post with a book give-away. This one features Three MG books I’ve recently had the pleasure to read and review.

Goodbye, Mr. Spalding

GOODBYE, MR. SPALDING, by Jennifer Robin Barr is a thoughtful and heart-warming middle grade tale of friendship, family and baseball set in Philadelphia in the early 1930’s.

Twelve-year-old Jimmy Frank and his best friend Lola have lived next door to each other since they were babies. Their houses overlook Shibe Park which happens to be the home of the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team. They and their families enjoy cheering on their favorite team from the rooftop bleachers of their 20th Street homes. The small admission fees charged to the folks that fill up the bleacher seats goes a long way toward making ends meet during difficult times. And, every so often an A’s player – like Jimmie Foxx – hits a right field home run right over the fence and onto their rooftop.

At the end of the 1934 season, the neighborhood gets news of a wall that is planned to be built to block their view and make the rooftop bleachers obsolete. This “spite wall” will take away a source of income for the families and erase a beloved tradition. Jimmy sets out to try and stop the wall. With Lola’s help, they try one scheme after another and only succeed in causing trouble for themselves and the community. Will Jimmy’s obsession with the wall ruin his chances of being bat boy for the A’s? Will it ruin his friendship with Lola? Will the Polinski brothers – AKA the neighborhood bullies succeed in ruining Jimmy?  Reader’s will eagerly turn pages to find out.

This delightful story is solidly grounded in the 1930’s with enough local and historical details to fix the depression-era time period. Hopeful, heart-felt and a celebration of teamwork and sportsmanship, it is sure to become a classroom favorite. It knocked me out of the park. Rule # 1934: Goodbye, Mr. Spalding is a home run!

The Joke Machine: Create Your Own Jokes and Become Instantly Funny!

This book is a delight and easy to read.  Comprehensive and user-friendly, THE JOKE MACHINE, by Theresa Julian, is filled with so many ways to create jokes and add humor to writing, including figures of speech such as simile, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and metaphor.  It will jump start imaginations and get kids thinking of ways to add humor and make up jokes of their own.  A definite hit for kids of all ages, and handy for anyone who wants to write funnier.

Something Is Bugging Samantha Hansen

SOMETHING IS BUGGING SAMANTHA HANSEN by Nancy Viau. Ten-year-old Samantha Hansen, the rock loving fourth grader from SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD is back with a new obsession – insects. The future entomologist thinks science rocks and learning about insects is the best of all.
When Sam discovers that a local apiary – that’s a scientific word for bee farm – is for sale, she is determined to save the honey bees. Will her best friend –who’s maybe not her best friend anymore – and her someday boyfriend Todd help in the cause? Will that annoying kid Richard get in the way?
Reader’s will enjoy Sam’s list of insect facts and her humorous musings about school, friendship, fractions, boys, and how to keep her temper from taking over. It’s a kid-friendly sequel with lots of heart and a perfect addition to STEM and for science loving kids.

I am giving away a copy of SOMETHING IS BUGGING SAMANTHA HANSEN to one lucky reader. To enter, leave a comment and I will put your name in a hat. Share this post and I’ll put your name in twice. One winner will br drawn at random and announced on 11-27-19.

3 New Picture Book Reviews +A Give-away.

This is my second post featuring a book give-away just in time for holiday gifting. Last week I ran a contest for the board book ALL COLORS by Amalia Hoffman.  This week I am featuring three new picture books I’ve recently read and will be giving away one of them to one lucky reader. On Thursday, I will highlight two MG book reviews and a give-away as well. Winners for all the give-aways will be announced on this blog on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27TH, 2019.

REMARKABLY YOU by Pat Zietlow Miller is a delightful and joyous celebration of all the things that make each of us unique and memorable. I love the positive message painted on every page with words and pictures. A spirited and gentle reminder to be ourselves, no matter what our passions may be, to share our talents, and to spread our sunshine wherever we go. A perfect gift for all ages.

Remarkably You

A ZEBRA PLAYS A ZITHER by Janice Bond is a glorious and beautifully illustrated celebration of the many ways we make music. Shown with a wide variety of animals, this colorful and whimsical picture book makes you want to make music of your own. The illustrations leap off the page as if the animals are dancing to the melodies and instruments they present through the letters of the alphabet. Using alliteration and gentle rhyme, it’s an alphabet book filled with originality. It’s bound to be a favorite for music and animal lovers of all ages.

A Zebra Plays Zither: An Animal Alphabet and Musical Revue

THE SCARECROW by Beth Ferry is a tender and beautifully illustrated story of how kindness is never forgotten and friendship can happen if we open our arms and hearts to the possibility. A perfect book to show children that we all, no matter how small or different, deserve kindness. Makes me want a scarecrow of my own!

The Scarecrow

For a chance to win a copy of A ZEBRA PLAYS A ZITHER, LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND YOUR NAME WILL BE PUT INTO A HAT.  If you share this post, let me know and I will add your name again. One name will be chosen at random and announced at the end of the month.

Roseanne Kurstedt Presents:KARATE KID + A Chance to Win a Copy.

Today it is my pleasure to host my friend and fellow Children’s Book Author ROSEANNE KURSTEDT who will share some things about her awesome picture book KARATE KID.

Karate Kid Cover High Resolution

Two Favorite Experiences through the Process

I have two favorite experiences. The first occurred during the creation of the story. As I was doing research, I wanted guidance from a senesi.  The master I trained with had moved away. I took Tae Kwon Do anyway so not sure how helpful that would have been since this book is about karate­, so I needed to find a Karate sensei. I reached out to a sensei at a local dojo and after briefly speaking on the phone, he agreed to meet. He was very helpful in validating and clarifying the information for me. He was so open and willing to help. He also agreed to host the New Jersey book launch for Karate Kid. He could not have been more kind and I am grateful to have connected with him.

My other favorite experience was meeting James and his family. He is the star in all the video promotions. He even ventured into the city to do a Karate demonstration during my New York City book launch. Meeting him and his family was certainly a highlight. His willingness to take risks and try new things is inspiring. He embodies many tenets of Karate.

Copy of Day 30.Quote 5-2 copy

Three Things About Karate Kid

1. Karate has helped Karate Kid have confidence to try new things–even outside of the Dojo. 2. His favorite move is not in the book. It’s a tornado kick.  3. It took him a long time to learn his first Kata.

When writing the book, I tried to have the tone and flow of the words parallel the tenets of each move, and karate in general.  When I read the following comment in the ALA Booklist review, I was thrilled. “…the books entertaining but accurate content, and the smooth written text incorporates the mental component of the sport.” Booklist @ALA_Booklist

Book Giveaway

Join the #IAmAKarateKid campaign—kids and adults can send pictures or words describing how they are a Karate Kid—someone with confidence and focus—someone who embodies the discipline and respect which is at the heart of karate.

So, if you are, or know of someone who is a Karate Kid, tweet, post to Instagram, or to my author Facebook page.  Remember to use #KarateConfidence and #IAmAKarateKid.  One person will receive a signed book and some awesome swag.

Rosanne L. Kurstedt, Ph.D. has been an educator for over 20 years. She’s been an elementary school teacher, staff developer, administrator, adjunct professor, literacy coach, curriculum writer, and most importantly an advocate for children and teachers. She is a co-author of Teaching Writing with Picture Books as Models (Scholastic, 2000) and author of the 100+ Growth Mindset Comments series (Newmark Learning, 2019) for grades K-6. She is currently the Associate Director of READ East Harlem/Hunter College and is so excited about the launch of her new picture book KARATE KID (Running Press Kids)—on sale September 3, 2019.

Finally, she is the founder and president of The Author Experience, a 501(c)(3) organization committed to the transformative power of sharing stories. In collaboration with students, families and educators, The Author Experience provides sustainable experiences that build a culture of literacy—one that elevates connections and delivers lasting impact. Please check us out at www.theauthorexperience.org and become a part of the story! IMG_9645Rosanne can be found on Twitter and Instagram @rlkurstedt and on Facebook @rlkurstedtauthor.

 

Book Give-away: ALL COLORS by Amalia Hoffman

Over the next few weeks I will be giving away copies of children’s books – in honor of Picture Book Month and in time for holiday gifting. I have been lucky enough to receive several copies of these books for free to read and post a review. It’s a wonderful way to get to know new authors. Here is the first book for the give-away. If you’d like to be considered for one of TWO COPIES of the book, leave a comment stating your favorite color and why you like it. Names will be thrown in a hat and two winners randomly drawn and announced in a few weeks.
Here is my review for ALL COLORS  by Amalia Hoffmancover
A board book of color, texture, and vitality that will have the youngest readers captivated. Teaches the simple but important lesson that friendship and love come in all colors.

Children’s Books That Provide Early Halloween Chills, Thrills: By Marilyn Ostermiller

If ghostly capers and heart-stopping high jinks get your juices flowing, here’s a selection of Middle Grade books with nail-biting suspense, chatty ghosts and other, not so sociable apparitions.
Tunnel of Bones, second book in Victoria Schwab’s “City of Ghosts” series.

Tunnel of Bones (City of Ghosts #2) (2)

The plot: Ever since Cassidy Blake almost drowned, she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the spirit world. When her parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, Cass accidentally awakens a frightening young boy ghost who roams the catacombs under Paris’ streets.

What’s to Like: It’s one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read, but I couldn’t stop reading.

To Learn More: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43411972-tunnel-of-bones

The Mystery of Hollow Inn, first of the Samantha Wolf Mysteries, by Tara Ellis

The Mystery Of Hollow Inn (Samantha Wolf Mysteries Book 1)

The plot: When 12-year-old Samantha arrives in the mountains of Montana, with her best friend, for a summer vacation, they uncover a villainous scheme at Hollow Inn to force Sam’s aunt and uncle out of business.

What’s to Like: It’s set in a mountain retreat so remote there’s no Wi-Fi or cell phone reception. The girls ignore the rules, and suffer the consequences, as they take readers on a fast-paced, contemporary adventure.

Learn More: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21897748-the-mystery-of-hollow-inn

Lilac Skully and the Halloween Moon, third book in  Amy Cesari’s “Supernatural Adventures of Lilac Skully,” series.          Lilac Skully and the Halloween Moon

The Plot: Lilac lives in a haunted mansion with a coterie of ghosts and goblins. Lilac longs for the one normal thing she has never experienced, to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. Where better to experience it than at the Seaside Fun Park with friends, or so she thought until some really scary villains seem intent on making her vanish forever. 

What’s to Like: It’s a tale of a young girl, who’s led such a sheltered life she’s never been introduced to sweets, not even candy corn until now.

Learn More: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42105981-lilac-skully-and-the-halloween-moon

 

Marilyn OstermillerMarilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist, who enjoys sharing her favorite reads.

 

 

 

More MG Books For Summer Reading + A Give-away.

Here are two more great middle grade books that happen to take place during the summer which makes them perfect for summer reading.  I’ve included my reviews for each one.

I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I LOVE YOU, MICHAEL COLLINS by Lauren Boratz Logsted

“A wonderfully detailed trip back to the days leading up to the Apollo 11 mission to land the first man on the moon. Brings back the magic and wonder of that monumental accomplishment. Told through the POV of 12 year old Mamie as she and her best friend Buster prepare for the big event. While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin get all the attention for stepping out onto the moon surface, Mamie thinks Michael Collins deserves the most recognition for bringing them back safely to earth. Perfect summertime read for celebrating the 50th anniversary of the event.”

 

BEAUTY AND BERNICE by Nancy Viau
“A feel-good modern fairy tale of a summer filled with adventure and discovery. This book will keep you smiling and eagerly turning pages until the very end. Fresh,
charming, delightful, and full of surprises. It is a story “made of awesome”.”
Beauty and Bernice
I will give away a copy of BEAUTY AND BERNICE to one lucky winner drawn randomly. Let me know what your favorite childhood summer memory is and your name will be entered. If you share this post on FB or Twitter, I’ll put your name in a second time.
Winner will be announced here on 9-2-2019.