Author Katey Howe Presents: WOVEN OF THE WORLD, a new PB + a give-away.

Today it is my pleasure to share another wonderful picture book by author Katey Howes.

woven cover

Woven of the World

Words by Katey Howes  Art by Dinara Mirtalipova

Published by Chronicle Books  Releases Feb 7, 2023

Katey uses the metaphor of how we are all woven together into a tapestry of humanity to pen this lovely book about how weaving has shaped and connected cultures throughout history.

Here is my review for the book as well as an interview with Katey about how WOVEN came to be.

“The clack and swish of loom song carries stories to my ears” is one of many figurative expressions used to convey the sensory experience of weaving as an art form that connects cultures across the world. Weaving as song is conveyed not only in the thoughtful rhyme, but also in folk art-like illustrations that show cultures of the past and how these traditions are “woven” into our psyches as humans. A beautiful introduction to an ancient craft that transcends time and place. Weaving fibers not only creates cloth. It connects the weaver to those who came before. A lovely message and a lovely book.

What inspired you to write Woven of the World?

People who know me, know I love a good metaphor. Seriously, my family sometimes makes fun of me for it! And when I find metaphors that I think will speak to children, that will help them connect something physical and tangible with an idea or concept, those are the ones I like best.

My children all have a fondness for fiber arts – one embroiders designs on her clothing and makes stuffed toys, one knits scarves for friends (sometimes during chemistry lectures), one pulled my punch-needle out of my hands and took over. I know that kids of all ages and backgrounds can really connect not just to playing and creating with yarn and fabric, but to the emotions that are carried by sharing a cozy gift – or a cozy art form!

Woven of the World was shaped from the beginning by the idea that a child could be unsure about their identity, their future, but comforted by imagining themself as a tapestry, a piece of art woven row on row, with many different yarns brought together to create pattern and strength and warmth.  The idea that we are each a tapestry, woven of the world, took me on a long journey down a lot of (fuzzy, colorful) rabbit holes!

What do you hope people take away from the book?

Honestly, this book traveled way beyond my imaginings for it. It carries the reader around the world and through time…but also into the loving relationship between a child and an elder, sharing a beloved craft. Plus, it’s stuffed with back matter on weaving tools and weaving milestones and moments in history. I don’t suppose any two readers will take away the same meanings or emotions from reading it – but I do hope everyone who reads it comes away feeling connected.

I have a signed copy of this beautiful book for one lucky person chosen at random from those who leave a comment on this post. Good luck!

katey howes

Katey Howes is a haphazard gardener, a darn good rhymer, and a fun mother. She’s also the award-winning author of RISSY NO KISSIES, BE A MAKER, and a growing assortment of other books. You can find Katey under a big tree on a small mountain in Eastern Pennsylvania with a bowl of popcorn, a notebook full of ideas, and a rescue pup named Samwise. Or find her on Twitter @kateywrites, on IG @kidlitlove, and at www.kateyhowes.com.

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Author Katey Howes Presents: A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU + A GIVE-AWAY

Just before the holidays I had the pleasure of receiving a signed copy of a new picture book by award-winning author KATEY HOWES. This book is so lovely I wanted to share it with all of you.

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Here’s my review for this gem:

A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU by Katey Howes Illustrated by Heather Brockman Lee

A beautiful story of how the seed of imagination – once nurtured and given expression – grows into a poem, using the metaphor of a seedling sprouting, being watered with imagination, and growing as we take a chance sharing our poem with the world. Joyful and animated illustrations accompany the tender and thoughtful rhyme. A treat for the eyes and ears. A wonderful introduction to all the magic of poetic expression.

I was so intrigued by the idea of a seed growing into a poem, I asked Katey about it.

Where did A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU come from?

Several years ago, author/poet Laura Shovan shared a story. I think it was on Twitter, maybe Facebook.  I wish I could hunt down the details – but you’ll have to bear with my flawed memory instead. As I recall, she posted that a student had come to her a year after having had class with her, to share a poem with her. He had held onto the idea generated in class for a long time, but hadn’t felt ready to write it down. It had lain dormant in his heart until he had what he needed to bring it to life. And when he finally did, he brought it back to Laura to share it with her.

This little window into that student’s experience touched my heart deeply. I had absolutely felt the same way about ideas many times, especially for poems. I know well that often a person needs to be in the right space emotionally, physically, and even spiritually to tackle some topics in their writing. We aren’t always equipped to process the emotions and experiences life gives us- but when we are, poetry can be such a beautiful and healing way to do it.

I held onto the idea of a seed of a poem, planted in the heart, for quite awhile. Checked on it. Dreamed about what it would grow into. Supplied myself with the tools I needed to  nurture it into life. Found its rhythm. And then I began to write.

What do you hope readers will take from A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU?

I hope readers will recognize that ideas aren’t always ready to grow right away – that they can lie dormant inside us until conditions are right – and then bloom in beautiful and unexpected ways!

If that isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is!

I am giving away a signed copy of A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU to one lucky person drawn at random from those who leave a comment on this post.

katey howes

Katey Howes is a haphazard gardener, a darn good rhymer, and a fun mother. She’s also the award-winning author of RISSY NO KISSIES, BE A MAKER, and a growing assortment of other books. You can find Katey under a big tree on a small mountain in Eastern Pennsylvania with a bowl of popcorn, a notebook full of ideas, and a rescue pup named Samwise. Or find her on Twitter @kateywrites, on IG @kidlitlove, and at www.kateyhowes.com.

Book Review: THE DREAMS OF SINGERS AND SLUGGERS by Antoinette Truglio Martin

sluggers cover

After reading the first book in this Becoming America’s Stories series – THE HEARTS OF ARTISTS AND BAKERS, I knew I was going to enjoy this second book in the middle grade series. The book picks up where the first one left off, following the ups and downs of life in the Lower East side tenements in 1911 NY City. Told through the eyes of nine-year-old Lily, we get a firsthand look at the lives of the hard-working Taglia family. Lily, like all children and even some of their parents, have dreams. Being in poverty means everyone old enough works and helps out the family in any way they can. But still, they think about one day being able to realize those dreams. Lily wants to use her strong, beautiful voice to sing in the Henry Street Settlement Children’s Choir.

Rich in period details, this story brings the early 1900’s to life and reminds readers that with hard work, dedication, and the support of family and friends, dreams can come true for anyone. A great book for classroom discussions on child labor, immigration, family values, and life in the tenements of NYC, with some baseball thrown in!

You can order this book from Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=the+dreams+of+singers+and+sluggers&i=stripbooks&crid=2XYZF0VYPRWZT&sprefix=the+dreams+of%2Cstripbooks%2C104&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_4_13

A NEW YEAR OF KIDLIT BOOK REVIEWS

HAPPY 2023!  As we begin a new calendar year, I always like to start off by reviewing all the notable books I read and reviewed the previous year. While I read 70 books in 2022, the ones below are mostly from authors in the kidlit community who don’t often get the recognition for their books like the well-known authors do.

So, one of my resolutions is to post reviews for books I’ve enjoyed throughout the year. As a fellow author, I can tell you how much it means to have a reader take a few moments to say something they enjoyed about a book. IT MAKES AN AUTHORS DAY!!

So, I am spreading the word about these great books I had the pleasure of reading in 2022.

  1. EACH OF US A UNIVERSE (MG) by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo
  2. IF THERE NEVER WAS A YOU (BB) by Amanda Rowe
  3. ABSURD WORDS (MG) by Tara Lazar
  4. PRUITT & SOO (PB) by Nancy Viau
  5. BUNNY FINDS EASTER (BB) by Laura Sassi
  6. BIRDIE’S BILLIONS (MG) by Edith Cohn
  7. MASHA MUNCHING (BB) by Amalia Hoffman
  8. MORE THAN (Adult) by Diane Barnes
  9. MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD (MG) by Rochelle Melander
  10. AFRICAN TOWN (YA) by Irene Latham & Charles Waters
  11. RIBBIT: THE TRUTH ABOUT FROGS (PB) by Annette Whipple
  12. SHADOW GRAVE (MG) by Marina Cohen
  13. THE WOMAN WHO SPLIT THE ATOM (MG) by Marrissa Moss

BOOKS READ 2022

  1. LET’S PLAY AN INSTRUMENT (PB) by Rachelle Burk
  2. I WILL PROTECT YOU (MG) by Av Mozes Kor & Danica Davidson
  3. CABBY POTTS: DUCHESS OF DIRT (MG) by Kathleen Wilford
  4. DUET (MG) by Elise Broach
  5. CLARICE THE BRAVE (MG) by Lisa McMann
  6. WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD (MG) by Rachelle Burk
  7. HANUKKAH NIGHTS (PB) by Amalia Hoffman
  8. OUT OF A JAR (PB) by Deborah Macero
  9. THE GIFT OF STORY (ADULT) by John Schu
  10. ODDER (MG) by Katherine Applegate
  11. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD (BB) by Laura Sassi
  12. ALONE (MG) by Megan Freeman
  13. SHIPSHAPE (MG) by E. E. Dowd
  14. MEOW: THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS (PB) by Annette Whipple
  15. THE LAST SHADOW WARRIOR (MG) by Sam Subity
  16. GOOD DIFFERENT (MG) by Meg Eden Kuyatt
  17. SKYSCRAPING (YA) by Cordelia Jensen
  18. MR. THATCHER’S HOUSE (PB) by Kristin Wauson
  19. A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU (PB) by Katey Howes
  20. THE DREAMS OF SINGERS AND SLUGGERS (MG) by Antoinette Truglio Martin

I hope your reading adventures are good ones for 2023! And, if you have a book you’d like to recommend, please let me know. HAPPY READING AND REVIEWING!

MR. THATCHER’S HOUSE: a new PB by Kristin Wauson + a giveaway

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope this finds everyone healthy, safe, and looking forward to a new year with hope and anticipation of better things to come.

One good thing that recently came to me is a great new picture book by Kristin Wauson titled MR. THATCHER’S HOUSE (Sleeping Bear Press 2022)

thatcher cover

A delightful cover for an equally delightful story. Here’s my review:

Mr. Thatcher – a rabbit – works hard to build a perfect house. He saws, hammers nails, adding rooms until the house gets bigger. And bigger. But Mr. Thatcher can’t stop building until the house is perfect. It isn’t until neighbors come knocking on his door, looking for a place to live, that Thatcher finally realizes what it takes to make the perfect home. An endearing lesson in kindness, loving one’s neighbors, and what really makes a house a home. Young readers will enjoy meeting favorite characters from popular stories gathered together in this lively and charming debut.

I am giving away a copy of this gem to one winner chosen at random. Just leave a comment at the end of the post if you are interested. Let me know if you are sharing the post on social media and I will give you a second chance to win. The winner will be announced on this blog later this month.

Author Sam Subity Presents: THE LAST SHADOW WARRIOR + a Chance to Win a Signed Copy

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Sam Subity, author of the middle grade Viking saga THE LAST SHADOW WARRIOR. Our virtual paths crossed when we shared an episode of Legit KidLIt Draw Off back in October. When I told Sam I’d love to share his book on my blog, he graciously sent a signed copy that I will pass on to one lucky reader.

Here’s my review of the book:

A modern-day Viking tale in the vein of Beowulf, with some Percy Jackson and Harry Potter thrown in. And a female heroine to boot! Anyone who enjoys a good adventure, good vs evil, solving riddles, saving the world, and lots of action will find this book a winner. What’s not to like about a talking tree that loves tacos and does Elvis impressions? Plenty of heart and humor in this story that will be a hit with the middle grade crowd.

I asked Sam how the story came about:

shadow warrior cover

Where did you get the inspiration to write a modern-day Viking tale with a female warrior?

I read Beowulf in college a long time ago and loved it. Then when I read Percy Jackson more recently and saw how Rick Riordan had taken old stories and spun them into new ones, I knew I wanted to do the same thing with Beowulf. Anyone familiar with Beowulf will see a lot of parallels in my story. The female warrior Abby Beckett who is my main character was inspired by my daughter who’s about the same age and is just as ferocious and fearless as Abby.

What kind of research was involved in the writing?

The research was one of the most fun parts of creating the story because I was able to dig back into Viking history and the old Norse myths looking for things I could incorporate. For example, there’s a serpent in Norse mythology that is so big it’s wrapped around the entire world. In my story, I turned it into a sea monster that lives in the school swimming pool and likes Ping-Pong. So just a little artistic license with that one!

It’s fun to imagine a lost culture residing under the streets of Minnesota. My husband is from there and has Scandinavian roots. Was that location intentional? How did you decide on your setting?

It was totally intentional. When I researched regions of the U.S. with the highest populations of Scandinavian ancestry, Minnesota was the clear winner, so it seemed like the perfect place to hide my secret society of Vikings. I guess the freezing winters in the Minneapolis area made Scandinavian immigrants to America feel right at home!

What do you want young readers to take away from this tale?

There’s a theme throughout the book of what it takes to be a hero, and by the end Abby realizes that sometimes a hero is nothing more than the person who has the courage to stand up when everyone else is too scared to do so. I’d love it if kids see that they have the potential to be a hero just as they are, even without any special powers or abilities. Also I’d love it if young readers just have a whole lot of fun reading Abby’s adventures because reading should be fun!

What are you currently working on?

My next middle grade book is a historical fantasy called VALOR WINGS set at the start of World War II. I’m thinking of it as the movie DUNKIRK but with dragons, where kids and dragons organize a rescue mission for the British troops when the Nazis invade France. Look for that in early 2024!

If you’d like a copy of this awesome book, please leave a comment on this post. One winner will be chosen at random from those who enter. USA only please.

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Sam Subity loves writing stories that explore the magic and wonder of being a kid and is thrilled to share his writing with readers everywhere—both the young in age and the young at heart. When he’s not writing, you might find him running the trails of northern California where the endless, winding miles past fog and ocean inspire tales of adventure and mystery. You can find him online at http://www.samsubity.com, or on Twitter and Instagram at @sjsubity.

ALONE by Megan E. Freeman: A Book Review

Do you like solitude? Being alone? The kind of alone where even if you scream, no one else will answer. What would you do if you were the only person in your part of the world? All you have for company is an old dog and the natural world. A world that can be friendly and welcoming one minute, and a scary disaster the next.

ALONE by Megan E. Freeman asks these questions and more. It is an edge-of-your-seat adventure bound to have kids wondering how they’d fare if suddenly found alone. Here’s the blurb for this engaging middle grade book.

alone cover

Perfect for fans of Hatchet and the I Survived series, this harrowing middle grade debut novel-in-verse from a Pushcart Prize–nominated poet tells the story of a young girl who wakes up one day to find herself utterly alone in her small Colorado town.

When twelve-year-old Maddie hatches a scheme for a secret sleepover with her two best friends, she ends up waking up to a nightmare. She’s alone—left behind in a town that has been mysteriously evacuated and abandoned.

With no one to rely on, no power, and no working phone lines or internet access, Maddie slowly learns to survive on her own. Her only companions are a Rottweiler named George and all the books she can read. After a rough start, Maddie learns to trust her own ingenuity and invents clever ways to survive in a place that has been deserted and forgotten.

As months pass, she escapes natural disasters, looters, and wild animals. But Maddie’s most formidable enemy is the crushing loneliness she faces every day. Can Maddie’s stubborn will to survive carry her through the most frightening experience of her life?

 Here’s my review: 

A scary, but thought-provoking middle grade novel in verse about what it means to be alone. Relying on oneself not only for basic survival with food, water, and shelter. But also being alone with your own thoughts, feelings, voice. How do you keep hope alive? How do you find inner strength and resolve? How do you keep on going? This book is guaranteed to encourage these soul-searching questions as Maddie – the twelve-year-old left behind when a town is completely evacuated – comes to terms with all that being alone means. A fast-paced, page-turner that will have readers contemplating what they might do under the same circumstances. Highly recommended.

 

Are You SHIPSHAPE? An Interview with Author E.E. Dowd + A Give-away.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a new author during an online event called DrawOff hosted by Legit KidLit. We authors shared our books and had some fun drawing from some prompts and sharing the results. Erin Dowd shared her debut novel SHIPSHAPE. I was intrigued by the premise, so I read the book. wrote my review,  and asked Erin a few questions.

My review:

A kid-friendly tale of robots taking over the school to the detriment of creativity, diversity, and anything other than testing. Perhaps a cautionary tale of what can happen when we are too focused on running schools as if they were businesses and ignoring the unique talents and expertise individual teachers bring to their classrooms. Kids will love the “tech-centered” plot of robots taking over and the kid-friendly steps three friends take toward solving the crisis. A quick read with some great themes for class discussions. Sure to be a classroom favorite.

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What inspired the story SHIPSHAPE? Where did you get your idea?

I’m not really sure where I got the idea for Shipshape exactly. I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo years ago after I left teaching. I had gone through a rough time, so I think writing the book was my way of getting through. I took a lot of my experiences both positive and negative from when I was a teacher and poured them into the book. As for the rest of it, well, I love mysteries, solving puzzles, and putting clues together.

What was the writing process like? Did you have to do any research on the topic of robotics?

The writing process was very very long for this book. As I mentioned, I wrote the first draft as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I was able to write 50,000 words in one month, so I had the first draft. It had a very long way to go. For the next few years, I would work on the novel a little bit at a time. As I was doing that, my life changed. I started working with technology companies, so I learned a lot about coding and AI (Artificial Intelligence). But I also had to research to make sure I knew what technology was available and try to push it a little further.

When I started writing, the things I thought could never happen in schools like cameras all over, actually started to happen. I had to adjust some things as time went on and add more complex technology. The tracking bracelets were a later edition because I read an article about a study that was being done with something similar. Then fitbits and apple watches became popular. I figured it wouldn’t be long before students had them in school too. Eventually, the pandemic hit, and I decided it was time to finally finish writing and get it out into the world. It had been eight years of writing and revising when I found a publisher.

The book changed a lot during that time. Characters had different names, there were a lot of extra scenes that got cut eventually. But I’m glad it took the time that it did. It followed me through my life and a little bit of each part of me is in the pages of Shipshape.

What message do you want readers to take away from this story?

I wrote this book for two audiences: kids and adults, so what I want them to take away is different. For the adults I want them to realize that everything is not what it may seem in school. What you see on the news, what you hear from your kids, and what is actually happening (good and bad) are going to be different. I want adults to read this and think about the ethics of technology, what teachers are expected to do, and how they can get involved in productive ways. The adults in the book, except for Ms. B. are intentionally disconnected. They think they are doing what is right or what will have the best result, but they never bother to find out how it’s impacting the kids. I think this happens often in life.

For my younger readers, I wanted a story they could both relate to and get lost in. I want kids to feel that they can make a difference in their schools and communities no matter how difficult it may seem. When you see something wrong, do something about it. Everyone can be a change-maker.

Please share anything else you’d like us to know about SHIPSHAPE.

While Ben is seemingly the main character, Ellie is really the star. Ben changes and grows throughout the story, but Ellie is the anchor. She knows who she is and what she’s about. No one can tell her what girls “should do.” She knows about technology far above what a fifth grader should know, and she’s proud of it. Ellie often has to wait for her friends to catch up, but she is kind and supportive even in difficult situations. Ellie is a complex character, and I hope readers take the time to notice her more than just being Ben’s friend because she is really the core of the story.

I also added what the tech world would call Easter eggs into the book. These are little surprises that aren’t directly explained. In video games, they might be a secret level or hidden prize. In Shipshape, they are subtle, but if you find them, they give you more information about a character or the plot. I included some Easter eggs throughout the book. One of those ways is through names. I won’t give any more information about that. You’ll just have to read to see if you can find them.

I’m going to have to go back and look for those Easter Eggs! What are you working on now? Any other books in the works?

I have started a few different projects recently. I’m most excited to dive into a new middle grade story for NaNoWriMo this year. Since I live in Costa Rica part of the year, I’m going to see what sort of mysteries unfold around me while I’m here. I have a few ideas, but I’ll have to see where they take me.

Erin has agreed to give away a signed copy of her book to one reader randomly chosen from those who leave a comment (US only please.)

thumbnail Erin Dowd
E. Dowd is an educator, consultant, and the author of her debut middle grade novel, SHIPSHAPE. She believes that wonder and creativity are the foundations of making positive change in the world and that everyone can be a change-maker. When she’s not writing, she can be found exploring the world with her partner Tim or snuggling with her cranky cat Pita in New Hampshire.

Contact info:

email: connect@eedowd.com

twitter: @eedowd27

instagram: @eedowd

website: www.eedowd.com

Annette Whipple Presents: MEOW: THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS: A review

Non-fiction author ANNETTE WHIPPLE has a new book in her Truth About Series.

MEOW_TRDB_CV

MEOW: THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS (Reycraft Publishing) is a wonderful introduction to the mysterious world of cats. Whipple excels at bringing the lives of popular animals to life for young readers in such books as WOOF: THE TRUTH ABOUT DOGS, SCURRY: THE TRUTH ABOUT SPIDERS, and several others. This book follows the same format with fun facts about our favorite pet felines.

Even for a life-long cat lover like me, I learned a few new things such as:

  • Baby kittens don’t breathe until their mother licks them.
  • A cat’s tail and ears let you know how a cat is feeling.
  • Grapes and garlic make cats sick.
  • Cat’s can purr or roar, but not do both.

meow spread

This book will be a welcome addition to the classroom and for any cat lover’s collection. Just in time for the holidays. Another fantastic volume to the TRUTH ABOUT Series.

Order MEOW! and/or ask your local library to carry it. Many local bookstores and libraries only need the title/author. Some libraries request the info below.

o   Title: Meow! The Truth About Cats

o   Author: Annette Whipple

o   Publisher: Reycraft Books

o   ISBN:  978-1478879572

o   Publication Date: November 1, 2022

·       Consider adding MEOW! to your Amazon wish list (even if you don’t plan to buy the book…it somehow still helps the book be seen).

AnnetteWhippleBarnRound

Visit @AnnetteWhipple on Twitter

@AnnetteWhippleBooks on Facebook and Instagram

Meow! The Truth About Cats (Reycraft Books, 2022)
Ribbit! The Truth About Frogs (Reycraft Books, 2022)
Scurry! The Truth About Spiders (Reycraft Books, 2021)
Woof! The Truth About Dogs (Reycraft Books, 2021)
Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls (Reycraft Books, 2020)
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press, 2020)
The Story of the Wright Brothers (Rockridge Press, 2020)

ODDER by Katherine Applegate: Book Review

Katherine Applegate has an affinity with nature’s creatures. She seems to possess an uncanny ability to inhabit the soul of an animal, so we feel what the creature feels. It’s no wonder her books THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN (gorilla), THE ONE AND ONLY BOB (dog), CRENSHAW (imaginary cat), and her Animorphs books are so popular. They teach us empathy, compassion, loyalty, friendship. And maybe, a bit of what it’s like to BE that animal.

ODDER, her latest middle grade novel in verse is a heartfelt and magical journey in the life of an otter who lives off the coast of the Monteray Bay Aquarium. Like Ivan, ODDER’s story is inspired by the otter program at the aquarium. A program that teaches baby otters how to be otters so that when they are released into the ocean, they will succeed and thrive.

odder cover

ODDER  – the female otter in the story- is a bit different from the rest of her kind. She is more adventurous, takes more chances. She is fearless. When she swims away from the kelp cover of the coastline, and into the bay, she comes face to face with a great white shark. From that moment on, her life takes an unexpected turn. Everything ODDER believes about herself is turned upside down. She then comes face to face with humans. Humans her mother warned her not to trust. Humans who save her life. Change her life.

Readers will feel an instant connection to ODDER and the changes taking place in her world. They will cheer for otters, for the dedication, love, and care provided by the aquarists at the Aquarium, who work tirelessly to give otters the best chance they can have to live and swim free in the waters off the California coast.

You can check out the program and see a live cam of the otters at: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams/sea-otter-cam

ODDER is destined to became a classic. Thanks you Katherine Applegate, for bringing ODDER into the world.