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.

 

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Amalia Hoffman Blasts off With a New Board Book.

Today it is my pleasure to feature Author/Illustrator AMALIA HOFFMAN and her new board book ASTRO PEA. I found the book to be charming and perfect for adventurous toddlers who enjoy exploring outside their own “pods”.

Here is my review of ASTRO PEA:  “Toddlers and young readers will delight at the fanciful adventure of Pete the Pea and what he discovers when he steps outside his pod. This simple board book, and the whimsical illustrations that accompany it, celebrate curiosity and imagination and reminds us that even after a grand adventure, it is good to come home to those we love.” 

thumbnailBlast off with Pete the pea on a cosmic adventure of daring and friendship. Follow Pete whose imagination turns a carrot into a spaceship, an artichoke into a satellite, plain veggies into planets, an ear of corn into a corn-trol shuttle and such more.

A short link to a video of Amalia performing the story:

https://youtu.be/V-sJk2HZ8oU

Book Journey:

In 2017, I started experimenting with pastel pencils.  I loved the textures that I could achieve and the vibrant lush colors. After working for a while on a white background I wondered what the colors would look like on black. So I ordered a fine black art sand paper and fell in love with the way the colors looked on it 

I didn’t really have a project in mind. I was just having fun painting fruits and vegetables. I ended up making a pea pod. The drawing was on my art table and one day I got the idea of doing a story about peas.

I had envisioned a board book where the young child reads a clue and turns the page to see what happened. I think it was the black paper that sprouted the space idea. So then, why not make spaceship? 

I envisioned this little curious protagonist – a pea named Pete who is tired of living in an ordinary pea pod and his imagination takes him on a cosmic adventure. I created a dummy and sent it to my agent, Anna Olswanger.

We worked on the story for a while and I was delighted when Schiffer Publishing acquired it as well as another board book, executed in the same technique, coming up in Fall, 2019.

 

thumbnail.jpg 2

Amalia Hoffman is an author, illustrator and storyteller. Her board book, Dreidel Day (Lerner/Kar Ben Publishing, 2018) is a PJ Library book and received the PJ Library Author Incentive Award. She is the author/illustrator of two other board books, Astro Pea and All Colors (Schiffer Publishing, 2019.) Amalia is the author of The Brave Cyclist: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero (Capstone Publishing, 2019, illustrated by Chiara Fedele.)

Amalia designed and illustrated an oversized book with pop-up elements for the production of Rose Bud at Israel’s children’s theater, The Train. Other books include The Klezmer Bunch and Purim Goodies (Gefen Publishing House, 2007 and 2009.) The Klezmer Bunch was featured in a play, Jewish Books Cooking by the celebrated choreographer and producer, Elizabeth Swados. She received the SCBWI 2005 award for illustration in the category of Fantasy. Her portfolio was selected as the winning portfolio in the 2014 21st Century Non Fiction Conference.

Amalia performs her stories in schools, libraries and bookstores dressed up in costumes with puppets and props.

 Visit Amalia at www.amaliahoffman.com

 

Give Something Away Day Winners

Today I am happy to announce  the winners to two recent give-a ways. The first was for a copy of Robin Newman’s picture book NO MORE PEACOCKS:  Mike Allegra

The next is for # separate prizes from the Give Something Away Day post of Kim Pfennigwerth. The winners are:

Donna Taylor receives a set of picture book by Annie Silvestro titled  Bunny”s Book Club and Bunny’s Book Club Goes to School.

Robin Newman wins a pair of MIA MAYHEM chapter books illustrated by Leeza Hernandez.

Evelyn Krieger wins the historical fiction YA book THE SHALLOW GRAVES by Jennifer Donnelly + a 30 page critique of a novel-in-progress.

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners and a HUGE thanks to all who participated in the give-away. Please contact me with your address, so we can send you your goodies.

GIVE SOMETHING AWAY DAY 4.0 with Kim Pfennigwerth and Darlene Beck Jacobson.

Hooray for July 15th! It is our fourth annual GSA Day or Give Something Away Day.

I am packing up a house and doing some serious pondering over which items stay and which go. It isn’t easy shedding 39 years of collecting …stuff. And while we have moved quite a few times, we’ve never gone through such a drastic cleaning out.

Children’s elementary school pottery – staying. Grandmother’s heirlooms some going to family members and a few staying.

Far too many kitchen items, going. Beloved knickknacks from over the years – a very good many are going. May the joy they brought me – go to others.

With so many items in every room – this move shows it is time to be practical. Time to simplify. We will appreciate the end result. So I am choosing what will still bring joy when I see it each day while at the same time looking for places that accept donations for many things that may help others.

But the absolute best thing about Give Something Away Day is something I talk about each year – something that cannot be measured. Giving something away is a kindness and kindness is a magical element. It is an action with absolutely no expectation for anything in return. What ‘something’ have you given away lately? What magic was gained from your kindness? Spending time with a friend? Holding the door for a parent with a load of groceries who is also holding a child’s hand? Reading to a child? Go ahead and plan on giving something away. It is guaranteed to lighten your mood and heart.

Hopefully, you will make Give Something Away Day fun too. Darlene and I would love to read your comments or plans.

KimNov2016

P.S. I have two pair of ‘somethings’ that I am giving away this year that feature two friends’ work. The two Bunny Book Club picture books (Bunny’s Book Club & Bunny’s Book Club Goes To School) written by Annie Silvestro and the first two Mia Mayhem paperback chapter books (Mia Mayhem Is a Superhero & Mia Mayhem Learns To Fly) illustrated by Leeza Hernandez.

Buuny book                      bunnybook2

Take a bunny who loves the library and sharing bookish adventures with his animal pals then add a friend who is a bit fearful of her first day of school and this same bunny and pals come to support her and make many new friends. That is the fun you will find in Bunny’s Book Club and Bunny’s Book Club GOES TO SCHOOL!

MiaMayhem1                                                                        MiaMayhem2

Mia Mayhem is a new chapter book series starring Mia Macarooney. Mia is known for leaving mayhem behind her wherever she goes. To her surprise she receives a letter inviting her to a very special after school program. Even more exciting, Mia learnsshe is a superhero and that her parents are too. These first two books introduce adorable Mia and start her on the path to learning her superpowers.

Darlene Here: I also have TWO items to give away in a drawing. A paperback copy of YA historical novel THESE SHALLOW GRAVES by NY Times Bestselling author Jennifer Donnelly and a 30 page critique of an MG or YA novel in progress. Share your give-away experiences and be entered to win.  If there is something specific you’d like to be considered for, please let us know so we can make the give-away more meaningful to all.

Here’s a description of THESE SHALLOW GRAVES:  Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.
Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.
The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.
The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

donnelly cover

When you give something away…you get back much more in return.

Introducing: WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY Cover reveal.

I thought the 4th of July would be a great time to show the cover of my new MG historical fiction story in verse which takes place in the summer of 1964. I am thrilled to share it here.

WoCCover01

Here’s a bit about the story, which will be coming out in 2020 with Creston Books.

Eleven year old Jack misses his Dad who is MIA in Vietnam. It’s been months since he and his family had word of his whereabouts. The last thing Jack wants to do is spend summer with his grandparents. Mom believes it will be good for them all – Jack, his sister Katy, Mom, Gran and Pops – to be together while they wait for word about Dad. Keeping busy will keep them out of trouble and help them think of other things.

Jack expects the worst summer of his life. The first summer without. Without Dad, without friends, without his room and all the things that remind him of Dad. When Jack meets a girl named Jill – a girl with a brother who makes trouble for both of them – things they believe are turned upside down. Welcome to a summer of fishing, camping, bullies, and a fish who grants wishes. A fish that could be the answer to Jack’s problem. But when Jill makes wishes of her own, things don’t turn out the way they expected.  Every wish has a consequence.

Will the fish grant Jack’s biggest wish?  Will Jack be brave enough to ask? 

Thanks for indulging me and have a safe and Happy 4th of July!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Baseball season is here!  As fans know, there is a LOT more to the game than mere sport.  Each team has its own traditions and each ballpark its own atmosphere. Here are some of the wackiest:

Sausage Racers: At Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI, costumed cased meats take to the field during the sixth inning for a foot race.  check it out at: http://www.brewers.com

Disappearing Lighthouse: When the Seadogs hit a home run at Hadcock Field in Portland, ME, attention turns to center field.   A foghorn plays and a 16 foot retractable lighthouse emerges from behind the fence with a shower of roman candles.   http://www.seadogs.com

Giant Wheel: Modern Woodmen Park, Davenport, Iowa.  To get the best view for watching the Quad Cities River Bandits, ride the 120 ft. Ferris wheel that overlooks left field.  Plus, the ride’s LED lined spokes provide a laser-like show for those sitting in the grandstand.  http://www.riverbandits.com

Here are some other unique ballparks to check out:

http://www.ridersbaseball.com

http://www.padres.com

http://www.fightins.com

http://www.loons.com

http://www.biscuitsbaseball.com

To get the kids in the mood for a day at the ballpark, try reading some great baseball themed books chosen by kids:

http://www.readbrightly.com/10-baseball-books-kids-say-home-runs/?sid=302&mcg=29DBD02CB53302C9E0534FD66B0A0B59&ref=PRH0563577803&aid=randohouseinc13256-20&linkid=PRH0563577803&cdi=2AEB03AD52D94BE9E0534FD66B0A7FAD

Some FUN BASEBALL FACTS:

– Highest price ever paid for a modern day baseball card is $99,100.00 for a Derek Jeter rookie card  in May 2018.

Every baseball has 108 stitches. 88 inches of waxed thread is used to stitch each ball.

Which team is your favorite, and what’s your favorite ballpark tradition?

Middle Grade Books For Summer Reading Part 1.

With another school year over and a long stretch of summer ahead, we all want our kids to enjoy some fun and relaxation away from the demands of school. But, we also want our kids to be occupied in activities that encourage growth and engage the imagination. Why not head to the library for some great summer reading?

This post features some of the recent MIDDLE GRADE books I’ve had the pleasure of reading and want to recommend for kids. Each one is accompanied with my review. My first MG historical is also in the mix.  I will feature more middle grade in later posts as well as picture books.

Bob by [Mass, Wendy, Stead, Rebecca]  BOB by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

A magical and whimsical tale full of hope, friendship, and finding your way back home. Put on a chicken suit, grab a flashlight and some licorice and prepare to be transported to a place of wonder, courage, and kindness. A delightful read for the young, and young at heart.

GRANTED by John David Anderson Granted

Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets is a fairy in the Haven. She, and the rest of the fairies have one purpose in life – to grant wishes. As Ophelia embarks on her first mission as a Granter – a fairy who makes a wish come true – a simple wish turns into anything but. Everything about this story delighted me: the clever names of the fairies, the descriptions of their world, how wishes get granted, Ophelia’s struggles to make the wish come true, the relatable characters, and Ophelia’s new-found friendship with an unlikely critter named Sam – also known as a dog. It’s funny, heartfelt, original, hard to put down, and one of those books that will stay with me for a long time. I hope we get to hear from Ophelia Fidgets and her Haven friends again.

WoCCover01  WHEELS OF CHANGE by Darlene Beck Jacobson

Racial intolerance, social change, sweeping progress. It is a turbulent time growing up in 1908. For twelve year old EMILY SOPER, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic. Emily is more at home hearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer, than trying to conform to the proper expectations of females. Many prominent people own Papa’s carriages. He receives an order to make one for President Theodore Roosevelt. Papa’s livelihood becomes threatened by racist neighbors, and horsepower of a different sort.  Emily is determined to save Papa’s business even if she has to go all the way to the President.

Gr 4–6—Emily Soper is a 12-year-old who lives in a time of transformation. She sees big changes coming in Washington, DC in 1908—from women’s suffrage to the invention of the automobile. She is even going through a time of personal transition, as her mother and father begin pushing her to spend less time in her father’s barn and more time learning to be a proper lady. Resistant to amending her ways at first, Emily begins to see that it is important to have the courage to change when her father’s carriage making business is threatened by racial intolerance and the invention of the automobile. This superb work of historical fiction features a delightful protagonist and a likable cast of supporting characters. Jacobson’s writing is simple, elegant, and clever. The story’s pacing helps build to an exciting conclusion, and gives a great window into an important time in American history. Using a word game between Emily and her father, Jacobson smartly weaves in vocabulary and their definitions, without taking away from the story. The back matter also features an author’s note and recipes.—Amanda Augsburger, Moline Public Library, IL

 

A Box of Bones by [Cohen, Marina] A BOX OF BONES by Marina Cohen

Twelve-year-old Kallie is a strong protagonist who confronts life with logic, order, and no nonsense.  Stories are lies, and magic and make-believe have no place in the ordered life she and her father have carved out after Kallie’s mother’s death. This ordered life turns upside down when Kallie receives a puzzle box. By solving the puzzle and opening the box, Kallie discovers a set of intricately carved bones.  Something else escapes from the box, something that defies logic and order. This fast-paced page turner alternates between Kallie and Liah – a young bone carver from back in the time when the box’s contents were carved. As Liah’s life begins to intertwine with Kallie’s, everything Kallie knows and believes is shattered. For the first time in her life, logic and order are of no use to her. How will she solve the mystery of the box that is messing up her life?

This is a story of suspense, secrets, and lies that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

Jagger Jones and the Mummy's Ankh JAGGER JONES AND THE MUMMY’S ANKH by Malayna Evans

Although 13 year old Jagger Jones loves ancient history, he’d rather learn about it from the comfort of his own bedroom than the constant globe-trotting to which his mother subjects him and his younger sister Aria. The trio are on their way to Jagger’s favorite place – Egypt. When they check into their hotel Jagger is awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of someone calling his name, telling him to “Come”. Unable to stifle his curiosity, Jagger and Aria go outside into the Egyptian night to investigate. They discover an underground tomb and begin the adventure of a lifetime. Inside the tomb Jagger discovers the source of the voice – an Egyptian ankh – the symbol of life. When Aria touches the amulet, they are swept 3000 years back in time to Ancient Egypt.

            If Jagger doesn’t find some mysterious gemstones with magical properties, Mek, the sister of an Egyptian princess, will lose her soul and her chance at the afterlife. Jagger, Aria, and their entire family will also die and be wiped away from history as if they never existed. How can Jagger save the ancient princess and his own family? Why can’t he and Aria just go home?  Readers will enjoy the action and details of ancient Egyptian history as they are swept up in the intrigue and magic of the Pharoahs and Egyptain Gods. They will also marvel at how the author mixes ancient magic with modern technology to affect the story’s outcome in clever and surprising ways. A quick, enjoyable read for any adventure loving kid.

These are all fast-paced and exciting stories that should interest even reluctant kids.

Remember, if you and your children enjoy a book, one of the best ways to show the author your love is to write a review about the book on Amazon or Goodreads. It’s a wonderful way to spread the word about great literature for children.

HAPPY READING!