Story Monsters Approved Books Announced


Kid-tested, Story Monsters Approved! 
Congratulations to our newest approved authors!

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Cultural Diversity

My Community by Raven Howell, illustrated by Yeng Yang
All Creation Represented: A Child's Guide to the Medicine Wheel by Joyce Perreault, illustrated by Terra Mar

 

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Early Reader (Ages 5-9)

Flight of the Mite by Grayson Smith, illustrated by Alana Kyle

 

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Family Matters

Too Many Kisses by Nancy Duarte, illustrated by Harriet Rodis
I Was Born Precious and Sacred
by Debora Abood                           
I Know I Am Precious and Sacred by Debora Abood                        


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First Chapter Books (Ages 6–10)

The Silly Adventures of Petunia and Herman the Worm by Sam Baker and Sally Baker, illustrated by Ann Hess   

 

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First-time Author

Creativity: Finding your Art by Christian Gomez, illustrated by Adua Hernandez               
Pearl and the Golden Comb by Greta Cleary, illustrated by Laura Cleary
Bye Bye Plane by Bethany Cooke                             
Eyelash Wishes by Bethany Cooke          

 

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Making a Difference

One Too Many by Linda Grace Smith, illustrated by Emmi Ojala
The Thumb Book of Kindness
by Tevin Hansen                  

 

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Middle-Grade Books (Ages 8–12)

The Amber Giant by Giulietta M. Spudich
Dilby R. Dixon's The Time Dreamer by Tony J. Perri

 

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Picture Books (Ages 3–8)

Kamyla Chung and the Classroom Bully by Ellwyn Autumn, illustrated by Danh Tran   
Tex the Explorer: Journey to Mars
by Ellie Smith, illustrated by Eyen Johnson    
Eyelash Wishes by Bethany Cooke                          
Cassie Pup Takes the Cake?? by Sheri Poe-Pape, illustrated by Sudipta Dasgupta            
Uncle Alan's Stinky Leg by Jennifer Somervell, illustrated by Margery Fern         
The Bridge Monster by Michael J. DiPinto, illustrated by Sue Lynn Cotton            
The Adventures of Connor the Courageous Cutter: Mystery of the Baffling Blackout by Scott McBride & Rod Thompson, illustrated by Brian Martin

 

School Life

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Eyelash Wishes by Bethany Cooke                          
There's A Norseman In The Classroom! by Grayson Smith, illustrated by Timothy Banks

 

Tween Novels (Ages 10-14)

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Finding Tate by Ann Anthony

 

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Is your book Story Monsters Approved?
Enter today at www.DragonflyBookAwards.com













2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Award Winners Announced

 

 

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2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Award Winners

 

Grand Prize Winner: Kayla Wayman, Junior Time Traveler: Lost In The Stream (A Story Sprouts Collaborative Novel) by Alana Garrigues and Nutschell Anne Windsor with Cassie Gustafson, Tiffani Barth, Angie Flores, Lucy Ravitch, Peleise Smith, V.V. Cadieux, Bryan Caldwell, Inna Chon, Audrey A. Criss, Abi Estrin Cunningham, Scott Cunningham, Cacy Duncan, J.J. Gow, Glenn Jason Hanna, Caitlin Hernandez, Michelle Marchand, Donna Marie Robb, Judy Rubin, Mollie Silver, Amy Terranova, Bernadette Windsor

$100 Drawing Winner: Little Diva on Wheels ... Growing up Differently-abled by Jennifer Kuhns

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Activity Book

1st Place: Enchanting Mandala Mazes: Puzzles to Ponder and Solve by Elizabeth Carpenter
2nd Place: Play Ball, Have Fun: Read, Imagine, Draw by Sandy Hill            
Honorable Mentions:
Dinosaurs Living in My Hair!2 Coloring Book by Jayne Rose-Vallee, illustrated by Anni Matsick and Chris Schechner
Nothando's Journey by Jill Apperson Manly, illustrated by Alyssa Casey


Aging/Senior Living

1st Place: What's Funny About Dementia? Laugh to Keep From Crying by Jataun J. Rollins, LCSW               

 

Animals/Pets

1st Place: More Tales from the Enchanted Wood by Jonathan Schork
2nd Place: Bacon's Big Smooching Adventure by Olivia Johnson
Honorable Mention:
The Dark Mister Snark by Lori R. Lopez

 

Best Cover Design

1st Place: The Curse of the Bailey Women by Zenora Knight
2nd Place: Dinosaurs Living in My Hair!2 by Jayne Rose-Vallee, illustrated by Anni Matsick

              

 Best Illustrations

1st Place: Dinosaurs Living in My Hair!2 by Jayne Rose-Vallee, illustrated by Anni Matsick
2nd Place: Tex the Explorer: Journey to Mars by Ellie Smith, illustrated by Eyen Johnson
Honorable Mention:
The Silly Adventures of Petunia and Herman The Worm by Sam Baker & Sally Baker, illustrated by Ann Hess


Best Interior Design

 1st Place: An Ill Wind Blows by Lori R. Lopez

  

Biography/Autobiography/Memoir

1st Place: Little Diva on Wheels ... Growing up Differently-abled by Jennifer Kuhns
2nd Place (tie): Shackled: A Journey from Political Imprisonment to Freedom by Adam Siddiq
2nd Place (tie): You Can't Buy Love Like That: Growing Up Gay in the Sixties by Carol E. Anderson
Honorable Mentions:
Mother of Souls by Adena Astrowsky                    
Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 by B. Lynn Goodwin                           
Walk Until Sunrise by J.J. Maze 


Book Series

1st Place: Dinosaurs Living in My Hair series by Jayne Rose-Vallee, illustrated by Anni Matsick  
2nd Place: Moonlight and Molly series by Maureen Harris
Honorable Mention:
Friends at the Pond series by Susan Wolff, illustrated by Justin Currie  

 

Book Trailer

1st Place: The Jaguar's Story by Kosa Ely, illustrated by Radhe Gendron
2nd Place: Moonlight and Molly by Maureen Harris

 

Children’s Chapter Books

1st Place: The Silly Adventures of Petunia and Herman The Worm by Sam Baker & Sally Baker, illustrated by Ann Hess
2nd Place: Code 7: Cracking the Code to an Epic Life by Bryan R. Johnson
Honorable Mentions:   
Hare 'n' There by Jenny Morris, illustrated by Sarah Hardy           
Lindie Lou Adventure Series: Flying High by Jeanne Bender, illustrated by Kate Willows
To Dance with Angels by Arthur C. Morton, illustrated by Lisa Maria Green

 

Children’s Picture Books 5 & Younger

1st Place (tie): Davy's Ride Down by Michele Gibeau Cronin, illustrated by Ben F. Taylor               
1st Place (tie): I Am Worthy by Cachet Allen       
2nd Place (tie): The Fly with One Eye by R.M. Halterman
2nd Place (tie): Read, Read, and Read by Elizabeth Gorcey & Liv, illustrated by Kajiah Jacobs
Honorable Mentions:   
Dinosaurs Living in My Hair!2 by Jayne Rose-Vallee, illustrated by Anni Matsick               
Eva Meets Dr Mac by Tracy Hughes                        
Where I Live by Rick Grant, illustrated by Galih Sakti       
Tex the Explorer: Journey to Mars by Ellie Smith, illustrated by Eyen Johnson    
Ollie and the Missing Hoos by Susan Wolff, illustrated by Justin Currie  
Bacon's Big Smooching Adventure by Olivia Johnson


Children’s Picture Books 6 & Older

1st Place (tie): I Am Worthy by Cachet Allen
1st Place (tie): The Jaguar's Story by Kosa Ely, illustrated by Radhe Gendron
2nd Place: Grandparents' Day by Pamela Traynor, illustrated by Tanja Russita
Honorable Mentions:
The Big Bad Whaaaat???? by Eileen R. Malora, illustrated by Alycia Pace            
Freddy Follows by Melanie Quinn, illustrated by Andrew McIntosh           
Animal Mash-Up by Jean Kingston, illustrated by Benjamin Schipper       
Thiago the Tiger and the Light Within by Vanessa Caraveo                           
Unwind. Up, Up, and Away! by Christopher Gates, illustrated by Javier Ratti    
How Christmas Got Its Colors by Jim Melko, illustrated by Sammi Davis
Mirror, Mirror by Barbara J. Freeman, illustrated by Ruth Araceli Rodriguez       
Odonata: The Flying Jewel of Maiden Grass Pond by Barbara Gervais Ciancimino, illustrated by Steve McGinnis               
How Do You Catch A Horned Mangru? by Michael Tenniswood                
Buckets, Dippers, and Lids: Secrets to Your Happiness by Carol McCloud, illustrated by Glenn Zimmer
Dinosaurs Living in My Hair!2 by Jayne Rose-Vallee, illustrated by Anni Matsick               
Amber's Seeing Heart by Joseph Drumheller, illustrated by Nataly Simmons      
Play Ball, Have Fun by Sandy Hill, illustrated by Charity Russell
The THING on Mount Spring by Jenny Morris, illustrated by Sara Hayat 
Being a Good Friend by Miselle Goffman, illustrated by Paul Yanque     
Hare 'n' There by Jenny Morris, illustrated by Sarah Hardy           
Tex the Explorer: Journey to Mars by Ellie Smith, illustrated by Eyen Johnson

 

Children’s Poetry

1st Place: Dinosaurs Living in My Hair!2 by Jayne Rose-Vallee, illustrated by Anni Matsick
2nd Place: Emmojean's Tale by Margaret Rose MacLellan, illustrated by Margaret MacLellan and Jessica Schaaf

 

Coffee Table/Gift Books

1st Place: Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief by Diamante Lavendar
2nd Place: Dancing Dragon Magic: Dialogues in Clay by Susan Smith James

 

Cultural Diversity

1st Place: Nothando's Journey by Jill Apperson Manly, illustrated by Alyssa Casey

 

Education

1st Place: The International Family Guide to US University Admissions by Jennifer Ann Aquino   
2nd Place: Eva Meets Dr Mac by Tracy Hughes

 

Fiction – Collection of Short Stories

Honorable Mention: Woman, Running Late, in a Dress by Dallas Woodburn

 

Fiction – Novel

1st Place: Healer by Susan Miura
2nd Place: Man with the Sand Dollar Face by Sharon CassanoLochman
Honorable Mentions:   
The Season of Silver Linings by Christine Nolfi                   
Running to Graceland by John Slayton                  
An Ill Wind Blows by Lori R. Lopez                            
Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons                          
The Curse of the Bailey Women by Zenora Knight

 

Fine Art/Photography

Honorable Mention: From Behind by David Jerome

 

Green Books/Environmental

Honorable Mention: The Adventures of Camellia N. The Rainforest by Debra L. Wideroe, illustrated by Daniela Frongia

 

Historical Fiction

1st Place: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons                       
2nd Place: Wordwings by Sydelle Pearl
Honorable Mention:
Brother Daniel's Good News Revival by Bruce Brittain    

 

Holiday

1st Place: Tinsel in a Tangle by Laurie Germaine
2nd Place: Elves on the Naughty List by David Smith, illustrated by Marilyn Jacobson, Kaylee Smith
Honorable Mention:
Rosie and Mr. Spooks by Alexa Tuttle, illustrated by Carlie Tuttle

How-To

1st Place: The Work at Home Training Program by Bethany Mooradian  

 

Humor

1st Place: The Strange Tail Of Oddzilla by Lori R. Lopez
2nd Place: Space Zombies! by Regan W. H. Macaulay

 

LGBT

1st Place: You Can't Buy Love Like That: Growing Up Gay in the Sixties by Carol E. Anderson

 

Middle Grade Fiction

1st Place: Kayla Wayman, Junior Time Traveler: Lost In The Stream (A Story Sprouts Collaborative Novel) by Alana Garrigues and Nutschell Anne Windsor with Cassie Gustafson, Tiffani Barth, Angie Flores, Lucy Ravitch, Peleise Smith, V.V. Cadieux, Bryan Caldwell, Inna Chon, Audrey A. Criss, Abi Estrin Cunningham, Scott Cunningham, Cacy Duncan, J.J. Gow, Glenn Jason Hanna, Caitlin Hernandez, Michelle Marchand, Donna Marie Robb, Judy Rubin, Mollie Silver, Amy Terranova, Bernadette Windsor
2nd Place: Dark Curses, Faerie Dreams by Tom Xavier      
Honorable Mentions:
Forcing Change by Judy Lindquist                           
Stranded on Thin Ice by Sharon CassanoLochman                            
The Tukor's Journey by Jeannine Kellogg, illustrated by Jim Madsen      
Making a Mystery with Annie Tillery: The Madonna Ghost by Linda Maria Frank, illustrated by Marianne Savage              
The Crystilleries of Echoland by Dew Pellucid     

Mystery

1st Place: Making a Mystery with Annie Tillery: The Madonna Ghost by Linda Maria Frank, illustrated by Marianne Savage               
2nd Place: Aldo by Betty Jean Craige

 

New Author (Fiction)

1st Place (tie): Bronson has a Toothache by Cynthia Ng
1st Place (tie): Hair In My Brush by LaTesha Young and Taylor Ellis, illustrated by Swabe Design Studio
2nd Place: Bacon's Big Smooching Adventure by Olivia Johnson                 
Honorable Mentions:
Eva Meets Dr Mac by Tracy Hughes                        
Tex the Explorer: Journey to Mars by Ellie Smith, illustrated by Eyen Johnson    
Mike and Patty's Adventure by Ania Zaroda, illustrated by Katerina Zagore        
Mystery Horse at Oak Lane Stable by Kerri Lukasavitz                    
Saint John Lennon by Daniel Hartwell and Roseanne Bottone                   
The Last Odinian by Alec Arbogast                          
Cryptocurrencies, Self-Driving Cars & Murder! by Gene Hill                         
In the Briar by Cynthia Morrison

 

New Author (Nonfiction)

1st Place: An Adolescent's Guide to ME/CFS by Vidhima Shetty
2nd Place: Walk Until Sunrise by J.J. Maze                                             
Honorable Mentions:
The Doctor Next Door by Elaine Holt, M.D.

 

Other Nonfiction

1st Place: Katie the Elephant by Anna Grob          
2nd Place:
Immigration Essays by Sybil Baker

 

Poetry

1st Place: Elephantasy by Eva Palatova        
2nd Place: The Language Of Life by Rafael Lopez
Honorable Mentions:
A Penny for Your Thoughts by Sherrill S. Cannon, illustrated by Kalpart           
Quiet Insurrections by Daniel Klawitter                
Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief by Diamante Lavendar

              

Psychology

1st Place: Celia and the Little Boy by Irene Applebaum Buchine

 

Relationships

Honorable Mentions: Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 by B. Lynn Goodwin              

 

Religion/Spirituality

Honorable Mentions: Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief by Diamante Lavendar

 

Romance

1st Place: How to Rate a Soulmate: A Romantic Comedy by D.L. Fisher

 

Science Fiction/Fantasy

1st Place: Wired by Caytlyn Brooke
2nd Place (tie): The Last Odinian by Alec Arbogast
2nd Place (tie): Aldo by Betty Jean Craige
Honorable Mention:
Dark Flowers by Caytlyn Brooke                               
Dancing Dragon Magic: Dialogues in Clay by Susan Smith James                              
The Haunting of Dylan Klaypool: Whispers in Black Willow by James Alan Ross

 

Self-Help/Inspirational

1st Place: A Journey from Sadness to Hope by Robert H. Smith
2nd Place: Buckets, Dippers, and Lids: Secrets to Your Happiness by Carol McCloud, illustrated by Glenn Zimmer


Westerns

Honorable Mention: Armed Men and Armadillos by John Sharp               

 

Women’s Interests

Honorable Mention: Trauma: A Collection of Short Stories by Elizabeth Jaikaran

 

Young Adult Fiction

1st Place: The Strange Tail of Oddzilla by Lori R. Lopez    
2nd Place: Lost on the Water: A Ghost Story by D.G. Driver            
Honorable Mentions:   
The Great & the Small by A.T. Balsara                     
Curses of Scale by S.D. Reeves                  
Healer by Susan Miura                  
Crossing the Line by Ellen Wolfson Valladares                   
The Hard Way by Selma P. Verde                            
Remeon's Destiny by J.W. Garrett

 

Youth Author Fiction

1st Place: Draco: The Assemblage of the Stars by Eily Quinn
2nd Place: The Uncontrolled by Zachary Astrowsky

 

Youth Author Nonfiction

 1st Place: An Adolescent's Guide to ME/CFS by Vidhima Shetty

  

* E-Book Award Winners *

 

Animals/Pets

Honorable Mentions:
Picture! Picture! by Jackie Ferrell, illustrated by Scott Ferrell                     
Birdie! Birdie! by Jackie Ferrell, illustrated by Scott Ferrell

 

Audiobooks

1st Place: Spirit of Prophecy by J.J. Hughes
2nd Place: Shackled: A Journey from Political Imprisonment to Freedom by Adam Siddiq

 

Children’s Poetry

1st Place: The Gad Nail by Anthony Spaeth, illustrated by Oly R.

 

Cultural Diversity

1st Place: Vivir el Dream by Allison Garcia

 

Education

1st Place: Felix is Curious About His Body by Dr. Nicole Audet, illustrated by Mylène Villeneuve
2nd Place: My First High School Musical: From Auditions to Opening Night and Everything in Between by Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz
Honorable Mention: The Universe a Work of Art by Eva and Line Newermann

 

Fiction: Novel

1st Place: A Different Kind of Lovely: A Novel by Petra March
2nd Place: Achieving Superpersonhood: Three East African Lives by William Peace
Honorable Mentions:
Grimseeker 1 - book three of the dead path chronicles by Richard A. Valicek                        
You Can't Force Love by Marie Drake

 

Health

1st Place: Special Food for Sam by Dr. Nicole Audet, illustrated by Mylène Villeneuve

 

Mystery

1st Place: Fountain of Revenge by Richard Dodge Davidson

 

New Author (Fiction)

1st Place: Pigeon by Daniel Zadow           
2nd Place:
Theo and the Forbidden Language by Melanie Ansley

 

New Author (Nonfiction)

1st Place: Recounting the Anthrax Attacks: Terror, the Amerithrax Task Force, and the Evolution of Forensics in the FBI by R. Scott Decker

 

Performing Arts

1st Place: My First High School Musical: From Auditions to Opening Night and Everything in Between by Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz

 

Picture Books 5 & Younger

1st Place: Cassie's Marvelous Music Lessons by Sheri Poe-Pape
2nd Place: Picture! Picture! by Jackie Ferrell, illustrated by Scott Ferrell



Picture Books 6 & Older

1st Place: Theseus by Simon Spence        
2nd Place:
The Universe a Work of Art by Eva and Line Newermann          

 

Romance

1st Place : Love Over Lattes by Diana A. Hicks


Science & Technology

1st Place (tie): Physician: How Science Transformed the Art of Medicine by Rajeev Kurapati, M.D.             
1st Place (tie):
Recounting the Anthrax Attacks: Terror, the Amerithrax Task Force, and the Evolution of Forensics in the FBI by R. Scott Decker

 

Science Fiction/Fantasy

1st Place: Purgatorium by J.H. Carnathan              
2nd Place: Theo and the Forbidden Language by Melanie Ansley
Honorable Mention:
Grimseeker 1 - book three of the dead path chronicles by Richard A. Valicek

 

Self-Help/Inspirational

1st Place: Achieving Superpersonhood: Three East African Lives by William Peace

 

Unpublished Manuscript

Honorable Mention: Rumpelstiltskin: the Untold Story by Michael Brandt

 

Young Adult Fiction

1st Place: Breaking Free by Caleb Monroe
2nd Place: The Dreaming Tree: Imagination Dragon by Lindsay McBride

 

Young Adult Nonfiction

1st Place: My First High School Musical: From Auditions to Opening Night and Everything in Between by Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz

 

 

To enter the Story Monsters Approved or Dragonfly Book Awards programs,
visit dragonflybookawards.com.

Sponsored by Story Monsters LLC

 

2019 Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant Program Call for Proposals


Nearly $1,000,000 Given Directly to Educators at
Public Schools and Libraries Across the Country since 1987

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The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, dedicated to supporting arts and literacy programs in public schools and libraries across the country, is putting out its annual call for proposals from educators nationwide.

Approximately 70 grants, up to $500 each, will be awarded to teachers and librarians in public schools and libraries whose proposals reflect imagination and a desire to make learning fun. Applications are being accepted now, and the deadline for submissions is March 31, 2019. Decisions will be emailed to all applicants in May, allowing educators to plan for the next academic year.

“For over three decades, it has been our privilege to support the vision of the most innovative teachers and librarians, who inspire students to read joyfully, think creatively and support one another with generosity,” says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “I encourage all educators who want to put their creativity and new ideas into action to go online and apply for an EJK Mini-Grant now.”

Since 1987, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation has provided nearly $1,000,000 in support of EJK Mini-Grant programs spanning the 50 states and U.S commonwealths. To learn more about EJK Mini-Grants, and to see the criteria for application, visit Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grants.

The Foundation welcomes Mini-Grant proposals focusing on any subject.


About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
Founded by Ezra Jack Keats, one of America’s greatest children’s book authors and illustrators, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation fosters children’s love of reading and creative expression by supporting arts and literacy programs in public schools and libraries through the EJK Bookmaking Competition and MIni-Grant program; cultivates new writers and illustrators of exceptional picture books that reflect the experience of childhood in our diverse culture through the Ezra Jack Keats Award; and protects and promotes the work of Keats, whose book The Snowy Day broke the color barrier in children’s publishing.

The Snowy Day was adapted by Amazon as a holiday special, which earned two Daytime Emmys®, including Outstanding Preschool Children’s Animated Program; and was used as the subject of a set of Forever stamps issued by and still available from the United States Postal Service. To learn more about the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, visit ezra-jack-keats.org.

Keats. Imagination. Diversity.



Young Eagles: The Story of a First Flight


by Marie A. Fasano, EAA 635640
photos by eaa.org

Launched in 1992, the Young Eagles program has dedicated more than 25 years to giving youth ages 8–17 their first free ride in an airplane. It’s the only program of its kind, with the sole mission to introduce and inspire kids in the world of aviation.

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I open my eyes and turn in bed to look out the window. I can see it’s a crisp, fall morning with a clear, bright blue sky—perfect flying weather. I learned this is the best time to fly … early morning just after sunrise when the weather still has the cool feel of nighttime. The air remains smooth with fewer bumps. I hurry to get dressed and run to the kitchen to eat my breakfast.

After eating, I jump up from the table and yell, “Mom, let’s go to the airport, I want to fly.”

At the airport, I leap out of the car and run to the hangar. I’m so excited. I’m finally going to take my first airplane ride in a small plane. I see the planes lined up. I later learn they are a Cessna, Piper, Cirrus, home built and more, ready to go. They each can hold from one to three passengers. I grab my mom’s hand as we see the volunteers setting up the desk and registration forms for the parents to sign.

Mom says to a volunteer, “I have two important questions. What does it cost for Danny to fly and is it safe.”

The volunteer answers. “It’s free. The EAA, Experimental Aircraft Association has been flying kids since 1992. So far, over 2 million young people from ages 8 to 17 have had airplane rides for free all over the United States. The pilots donate their time and their planes. It’s the only program of its kind, with the sole mission to introduce and inspire kids in the world of aviation. Each pilot is licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and all aircraft are likewise licensed by the government. The flights are conducted according to federal regulations.”

After mom registers and gives her permission, a volunteer pilot, Paul, says, “Come on over for the pre-flight, the walk around. You’ll learn what the pilot must do to be sure everything on the airplane works OK. The pilot does this check before every flight. Let’s take a look at how the airplane flies. You can get in the cockpit, the area where the pilot sits.”

I climb up and settle in the pilot’s seat in the airplane.

Paul tells me, “The wheel or stick inside the airplane moves to turn the airplane in the air.”

As I turn the wheel, he says “Look outside the plane at the wing and see the ailerons, the small part of the wing. It goes up and down whenever the wheel turns right or left. This is how the airplane turns in the air. Now push the wheel forward and back. As you do this, look at the tail of the plane, with the elevator and see it go up and down. This is how the plane goes up and down in the sky. Next, look at the rudder pedals on the floor. They look like gas pedals in a car. Push one at a time and look out the back of the plane to see the rudder on the tail move. The rudder helps to turn the plane on the ground and in the air. See that lever in the center of the panel in front of you? Push it down to let the flaps on the wings of the airplane go down. Here the pilot checks to be sure there are no obstructions that would interfere with the flap movement.”

“Wow, I see them moving down.” I say.

He helps me out of the plane and says, “Let’s go outside and we’ll do the final check. I’ll drain the fuel from a small opening under the plane to be sure we find no water or dirt in the fuel.”

All my questions are answered from how the fuel pump provides gas, to how the pilot talks on the radio. After the pre-flight, I am eager to fly.

Paul walks me to the airplane to be sure I don’t walk into the spinner and propeller, “A big deal when being around an airplane is safety first,” he says. “Don’t go near the propeller blades because if there is a problem, they may turn without warning and you can easily get hurt.”

In this Young Eagles program, the pilots enjoy introducing youngsters to the joys of flying as much as the kids do. It may be a man or woman, someone who flies for fun, uses the plane for their business, or someone who has spent his life as a commercial, professional pilot flying for the major airlines or the military. Diane, the pilot who is flying me today says, “Most kids want to sit up front with the pilot to be the co-pilot.”

As Diane helps me into the right seat of the plane, I see there are pillows on the seats, so I can reach the wheel and see out the plane.

“I’ll show you how to strap in with the seat belt just as you do in a car,” says Diane. “Then we’ll make sure the doors are shut tight.”

She gets in the plane and helps me put on a headset. “OK, all set, can you hear me OK? We are ready to taxi to the runway.”

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“I can hear you, I’m ready, let’s go,” I answer. The plane moves forward and we are on our way to the runway.

Before we take off, Diane stops at the end of the runway. “I’ll do a pre-check pushing the power up to make sure the engine is running OK,” she says. We’ll use the radio to make a call on the microphone, so other pilots know we are leaving. Pilots use a special alphabet called the phonetic alphabet. “November Five Niner Mike Juliet is ready for takeoff, runway two four.” Diane looks to the sky to be sure no one else is coming in to land. All is OK and she turns to the runway, pushes in the power and I feel the airplane racing down the runway.

In a moment the plane lifts off. “I can see everything on the ground get smaller and smaller,” I say. For the next 20 minutes we’re in the air flying over our town. “There’s my school and Green Valley Park. I think I see my house!” I yell excitedly.

“Do you want to take the wheel and fly for awhile,” says Diane. I grab the wheel. “Gently, she says, it doesn’t take much to control the airplane. I’m here to back you up.”

As I lighten up on the wheel, I say, “Like this?”

“Great job she says,” You’re a natural pilot.”

“How about you make a radio call to let the other pilots know where you are?” “Repeat after me, “Five Niner Mike Juliet on left downwind runway two four at sixty-two hundred feet.”

I call on the radio and think, “I can’t believe she let me do that, just like a real pilot.”

Too soon we are on final to the runway and ready to land. I look down and see my mom waiting. Once we’re on the ground and out of the airplane, I say “Bye, Diane. That was awesome. I want to be a pilot, too.”

“Here’s your certificate and Young Eagles logbook with a personal code to activate your free EAA Student Membership and Sporty’s Learn to Fly ground school course,” says Diane, “You are now a Young Eagle.”

I run to my mom with a wide grin. “That was super.”

EAA will send the new Young Eagle follow-up information about their free online ground school course, details regarding other youth aviation programs, and EAA scholarships. So, take a free flight and become a Young Eagle. Check the website to find an EAA Chapter in your town.


Marie A. Fasano RN, MN, MA, commercial, instrument pilot with multi-engine and seaplane ratings. Marie’s flying, an important part of her life, entailed coordinating for the EAA Chapter #810 Young Eagles for about five years, flying the kids in her Cessna 182 59MJ; taking rural patients to medical appointments with Angel Flight West; and flying medical personnel to Baja, California to dirt strips for clinics for indigent peoples. Marie also spends her time teaching nursing, nutrition, and helping clients with long term care health insurance. On the side, her photojournalism has appeared in nursing and aviation journals and general newspapers.

December Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

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Decked Out for Christmas
by Ethan Long (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
It’s Christmas time and Santa’s little mice helpers are packing his sleigh. This brightly illustrated book will keep the young readers engaged. Each page is a new item that they are packing into Santa’s sleigh. They make candy cane skis and the star is made of cheese. Don’t forget the snacks, sunglasses, and a winter favorite of hot chocolate. Christmas time is always an exciting time for little children and this beautiful story will only add to the excitement of that special day. (board book)

My Little Gifts: A Book of Sharing
by Jo Witek, Christine Roussey (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
This holiday book is dedicated to the concepts of sharing from the heart. It begins with opening presents and the issue of sharing a new gift. The girls are soon comforted by their father and given permission to share their new gift. What is the sweetest gift to share? Friendship! The best gifts of all are those that are handmade. Knowledge and imagination are also precious gifts that are shared. It doesn’t matter if a gift is big or small, fancy or plain, only that it comes from the heart. I highly recommend this book to teach the importance of giving to others. (board book)

Crash! Boom! A Math Tale
by Robie H. Harris, Chris Chatterton (Candlewick) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Little blue elephants? Adorable. Building blocks that have endless possibilities for counting and
constructing? A must-have for inquiring minds. Problem-solving and persevering when things don’t go the way you want them too? A life lesson for all of us. This story embraces all of these things as a little elephant tries to build a tower (as the reader counts along) only to keep crashing into it. He keeps going though and soon realizes that determination and a positive attitude can yield great results! (Ages 2-5)

Pip and Posy: The Christmas Tree
by Axel Scheffler (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Holidays are a great time of caring and friendship. Pip and Posy are no different. Together they enjoy bringing home a Christmas tree, and bake up delightful goodies to decorate it. But in the process, Pip forgets the meaning of it all and takes everything for himself. Posy finds all their efforts gone, and Pip is left with a bellyache. Can Posy’s kindness save the holiday, and can Pip recoup from his lapse of selfishness and once again enjoy the holiday together? It’s easy to get caught up in all the good stuff and forget the real purpose of sharing. I’m glad our friends Pip and Posy gave us a timely reminder. (Ages 2-5)

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Luna and the Moon Rabbit
by Camille Whitcher (Scribblers) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Hauntingly beautiful and powerfully quiet, Luna and the Moon Rabbit will take your breath away. Floating through Luna’s personal dreams and imagination, we escape to a world of
warm evening breezes and sparkling, star-filled skies. Grounded in the natural world and traditional Asian folklore, we are carried by the possibilities of giant ghostly rabbits and magical woodland scenery. Another bedtime must-have in my household. (Ages 3+)

Cuddly Critters for Little Geniuses
by Susan Patterson, James Patterson, Hsinping Pan (Jimmy Patterson) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
An amazing story and resource that will enrapture inquisitive minds and scintillate reading fingertips as they soak up information on fascinating, lesser-known animals of our beloved planet. Packed with illustrations that are bright and eye-catching, plus awesome facts and information about these rarities, readers will be enthralled with all of the unusual and exotic creatures that are described by dream team Susan and James Patterson. A must have for animal lovers of all ages. (Ages 3-6)

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All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah
by Emily Jenkins, Paul O. Zelinsky (Schwartz & Wade) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Based on the classic books by Sydney Taylor, this is a perfect holiday story that highlights Hanukkah traditions shared by a full house of sisters and their parents. Readers will feel like they are welcomed guests as preparations for the first night are made. Equipped with a glossary of Yiddish terms, reference notes from both author and illustrator, and a link for additional information, this children’s story not only tells a special tale, but also serves as a handy reference as well. (Ages 3-7)

King Ben and Sir Rhino
by Eric Sailer (Two Lions) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Ben is King, and kings should be able to do as they please, right? Rhino is his most loyal subject, and subjects should obey the King, right? Maybe being King isn’t all about getting your way after all … a light story of friendship, sharing, and respect. (Ages 3-7)

Coming Home
by Michael Morpurgo, Kerry Hyndman (Candlewick) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This poetic tale leads us on an amazing journey. Tradition, imprinted instinct, habit or pattern, whatever it is that drives a heart on to its desired end, is powerful! It pushes, pulls, and encourages in the face of defeat. It whispers and inspires uplifting his wings. This little bird cannot rest until he is home again. (Ages 3-7)

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If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, DON’T!
by Elise Parsley (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This New York Times bestselling series brings us a holiday heads-up! Just in case it has ever run across your mind that it might be fun to take a pirate to see Santa this holiday, Magnolia says DON’T. After all, they are on the Naughty List. This fun-loving hilarity is multiplied by its great illustrations. Sure to bring some Christmas cheer! (Ages 4-7)

Merry Myrrh, the Christmas Bat
by Regan W.H. Macaulay, Alex Zgud (Guardian Angel Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Christmas joy fills the air with a life all its own. Every year it arrives with promises of wonder, whispers of hope, and a sense of well-being for any who are open to it, whether man, or beast, or even a family of little brown barn bats. Animals develop habits and patterns in their lives much like we do. Well, certainly this sweet little family of bats does! They close every year with the enchantment of Christmas lights, smells, and happy feelings, to keep them warm through
their winter hibernation. The author and illustrator bring delightful animation, and a new awareness to these charming barn bats and their plight. More can be learned, and even help offered in preserving these little creatures. (Ages 4-7)

My Storee
by Paul Russell, Aska (EK Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a great book for adults and children alike! Creativity doesn’t seem to fall in neatly metered out portions, but dips and pours into any and all open receptacles. It stirs, tumbling into our thoughts, tickling our emotions, until it bursts boldly into our ideas, and there finds rest in our hands. Sometimes, that’s right where it ends. The young boy in our story has found himself in this very place. Can he press past perfection, ignore the snorts of limitation, and soar free with imagination? This is truly a voice of encouragement, and a reminder to those who lead. (Ages 4-7)

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It’s Not Hansel and Gretel
by Josh Funk, Edwardian Taylor (Two Lions) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is not your average, run-of-the mill fairy tale. And, even though the narrator has hilariously lost control of his story, this snicker and giggle tale is sure to delight. It’s time for these wacky siblings to take their fairy tale into their own hands. So sit back and enjoy the gingerbread! (Ages 4-8)

The Boy and the Giant
by David Litchfield (Abrams Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
There is a secret giant in Gableview who has hands the size of tabletops, legs as long as drainpipes, and feet as big as rowing boats. But little Billy thinks the Giant is just a tall tale that his granddad likes to tell. This is a delightful book all the way around. Its construction is appealing, its color scheme is inviting, and its message of acceptance is warm and much needed today. A truly great gift choice for the coming holidays. (Ages 4-8)

The Broken Ornament
by Tony DiTerlizzi (Simon & Schuster) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
The Broken Ornament is a heartwarming children’s book about finding the magic of Christmas and the spirit of giving. What will become of Jack’s wish for the best Christmas ever? Read along as award-winning author and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi unveils a tale of holiday enchantment. This story is sure to be a treasured favorite for years to come. (Ages 4-8)

Reindolphins: A Christmas Tale
by Kevin Brougher, Lisa Santa Cruz (Missing Piece Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The beautiful artwork in this book creates a warm feeling of an old-time Christmas, with a very modern storyline. With all the world waiting in excited expectation for Santa’s arrival, what ever would he do if his reindeer came up too sick for their historic flight? With only three days till Christmas, can he find an adequate replacement? Filled with cuteness and giggles we watch as all the beasts and critters apply. This is a great story of flexibility, and how change and disappointment can often set us up for new opportunities we never imagined. (Ages 4-12)

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Hanukkah Hamster
by Michelle Markel, André Ceolin (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
The holiday was so lonely for Edgar the cabdriver until a lost hamster appears in his cab. Author Michelle Markel tells the story of Hanukkah Hamster through this circumstantial pairing as illustrator André Ceolin portrays the warmth of Edgar’s heart and the willingness he has to care for this lost pet. Readers will delight in this holiday tale of celebrating Hanukkah with a special friend who becomes like family. (Ages 5-7)

Reggie, The Burrowing Owl
by Thomas J. Wood, Derrick J. Wood (Primedia eLaunch LLC) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a fun narrative of a family’s wonderful experience in discovering a lost little Burrowing Owl. This amazing little creature drew this large family’s heart into one united beat, and captures the reader’s as well. A fun family read! (Ages 5-12)

A Flicker of Hope
by Julia Cook, MacKenzie Haley (National Center for Youth Issues) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a much-needed book! We are taught, either by silence or action, that to admit lack or need is a weakness. Sometimes the dark clouds overhead seem too heavy and you feel like giving up. Little candle knows all about this. Bad grades, blasted on social media, worried about making the team, and wondering who her real friends are make things hard to deal with. The author and illustrator beautifully remind us of our humanity, and the need for connection to shine. (Ages 5-12)

Miranda and Maude: The Princess and the Absolutely Not a Princess
by Emma Wunsch, Jessika von Innerebner (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
This is a story about how people can come from completely different worlds, perspectives, and values, but still become friends once they accept their differences and have a basic understanding of each other. Miranda is a snobbish, snooty princess and Maude is a tomboy and extroverted activist who likes chickens and hard-boiled eggs. They start out as enemies, but find common ground and become friends. (Ages 7-10)

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The Castle in the Mist
by Amy Ephron (Philomel Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Tess and her brother, Max, are sent for the summer to their aunt’s sleepy village in the English countryside, where excitement is as rare as a good wi-fi signal. So when Tess stumbles upon an old brass key that unlocks an ornately carved gate, attached to a strangely invisible wall, she jumps at the chance for adventure. And the world beyond the gate doesn’t disappoint. This story book has it all—magic, danger, and many mysteries to solve. Middle-grade readers won’t be able to put it down. (Ages 8-12)

Carnival Magic
by Amy Ephron (Philomel Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Amy Ephron returns with a companion novel to The Castle in the Mist and creates a magical tale filled with adventure, mystery, fantasy, and fun as Tess and Max are back in England for another summer with their Aunt Evie—and they’re incredibly excited about the travelling carnival that’s come to town. This story hits the ground running from the first page and doesn’t slow down until the end. A treasure with surprises at every turn! (Ages 8-12)

Wrath of the Dragon King (Dragonwatch)
by Brandon Mull (Shadow Mountain Publishing). Reviewer: Macaulay Smith, age 7
Wrath of the Dragon King is an awesome book! Wyrmroost is in trouble! Celebrant, king of dragons, and his new evil ally, Ronodin, the dark unicorn, are out to get the Dominion Stone—a powerful relic. Kendra and Seth set out on an adventure to find brave creatures in Wyrmroost to help protect the world from Celebrant and his evil ways. I liked this book because of all of the dragons and adventure! If you like books about mythical creatures, adventure, friendship, and war, too, then this is the book for you! (Ages 8-12)

You Go First
by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and 11-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a 1,000 miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—but the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch. Over the course of a week, Charlotte and Ben—online friends connected only by a Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways, as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. This book will help any young reader who is having a rough time in their life as it encourages them to talk it out with a friend and it shows that bad things can happen—it’s how you get through it that counts. (Ages 8-12)

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Speechless
by Adam P. Schmitt (Candlewick) Reviewer: Diana Perry
As if being stuffed into last year’s dress pants at his cousin’s wake weren’t uncomfortable enough, 13-year-old Jimmy has just learned that he has to say a few words at the funeral the next day. What could he possibly say about his cousin, who ruined everything they did? As Jimmy attempts to navigate the odd social norms of the wake, he draws on humor, heartfelt concern, and a good deal of angst while racking his brain and his memory for a decent and meaningful memory to share. But it’s not until faced with a microphone that the realization finally hits him: it’s not the words that are spoken that matter the most, but those that are truly heard. A must-read for kids and adults. (Ages 9-12)

Bluecrowne: A Greenglass House Story
by Kate Milford (Clarion Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Lucy Bluecrowne is beginning a new life ashore with her stepmother and half brother, though she’s certain the only place she’ll ever belong is with her father on a ship of war as part of the crew. She doesn’t care that living in a house is safer and the proper place for a 12-year-old girl; it’s boring. But then two nefarious strangers identify her little brother as the pyrotechnical prodigy they need to enact an evil plan, and it will take all Lucy’s fighting instincts to keep her family together. What a fun and adventurous book! Young readers will thrill with every discovery as they turn the pages. There are many twists and turns to this magnificent story plot. (Ages 10-12)

Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist
by Sylvia Acevedo (Clarion Books) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
This is an inspiring book for kids, especially girls, women, and all people. What I loved about the book was that regardless of Sylvia Acevedo’s problems, she always was fiercely determined to improve herself. She didn’t give herself an excuse for not doing something because she grew up in a traditional Mexican-American family not speaking English, she instead learned English. She wasn’t great at making friends, but with the help of what she learned at Girl Scouts, she applied to her life and she succeeded and excelled, from girl scout to Stanford University to becoming a rocket scientist. (Ages 10-12)

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Game Changer
by Tommy Greenwald (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Thirteen-year-old Teddy Youngblood is in a coma fighting for his life after an unspecified football injury at training camp. His family and friends flock to his bedside to support his recovery—and to discuss the events leading up to the tragic accident. Was this an inevitable result of playing a violent sport, or was something more sinister happening on the field that day? A must-read for any parent, coach, or young football player. (Ages 10-14)

 

 

To submit your book for review, email cristy@storymonsters.com for submission guidelines.

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Author Spotlight: Carole P. Roman and J. Robin Albertson-Wren


Homework horrors, chores, and not-so-friendly friends … that’s enough to stress out any child. The secret to staying cool is easy: it’s called mindfulness―and authors Carole P. Roman and J. Robin Albertson-Wren have written a #1 bestseller that gives kids fun activities to practice it on their own.

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Where did you grow up?

Carol: I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but moved to Rosedale, Queens when I was three years old.

Robin: New England – in Concord Massachusetts, outside of Boston.

Did you read a lot as a child?

Carol: I read a lot as a child. I began reading Nancy Drew with my best friend when I was six. We used to go to Woolworths and buy different books in the series, then trade them when we were finished reading. I soon began reading books my mother left around the house and ended up discussing them with my mother and grandmother. I read anything that was on the Times Bestseller List, I suppose. She only bought popular fiction.

Robin: As much as possible. I used to love reading up in trees near our home.

What were some of your favorite authors and books?

Carol: I remember loving Exodus, by Leon Uris, The Godfather by Mario Puzo, but as I got older my genres would change. When I was in my late teens I read only espionage books, Ian Fleming being my favorite. That kicked off a British year when I read everything by Orwell. I gravitated to science fiction by the end of my teens and read a lot of Asimov, Blish, and other science-fiction authors.

Robin: I loved the Bill Peet books, especially The Wump World and The Little House on the Prairie series, especially when Laura Ingalls was especially rascally.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Carol: I wanted to be an actress, but knew that was unlikely. I put all my energies into being a teacher.

Robin: An architect – I loved building forts and tree houses when I was little.

Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer.  

Carol: I worked in various retail stores that included jewelry, hardware, paint, clothing, and electronics. I babysat. I tutored other kids in my high school. I now run a global transportation company with my family.

Robin: I’ve been an elementary school teacher for over 25 years, and a mindfulness instructor for the past 5 years. When I was younger, I loved working as a camp counselor and lifeguard in the summer.

How did you get started writing?

Carol: My kids asked me to bring in a story for a family competition and then helped me publish it.

Robin: I had a marvelous teacher in 2nd grade who encouraged us to write books of poetry. That is when I first started. As an adult, I wrote my first manuscript when my daughter was an infant and I was a stay-at-home mom for 5 years.

Why do you write books?

Carol: When I completed my first book, I realized it wouldn’t sell without creating a brand. I then built my brand by trying different genres ranging from picture books, to fiction and nonfiction, as well as early reader chapter books and adult fiction under another pen name. Mindfulness for Kids is the first book I was actually asked to write.

Robin: I love sharing ideas and stories!

What do you like best about writing?

Carol: I love every aspect of writing, from creation to watching the reviews come in. It is emotionally satisfying and as exciting as having a new baby come home. I love it so much, I wrote a book on how to get published that ended up spawning three different blog radio shows and a magazine called Indie Author’s Monthly.

Robin: I love the freedom to get my thoughts and ideas created into the written word.

What do you find the most challenging about writing?

Carol: Making sure the books go out as mistake-free as possible. I do at least three edits, but pesky errors come up every now and then.

Robin: Finding the time to write, uninterrupted.

What do you think makes a good story?

Carol: Good stories are different for everyone. I think the most important element is making it universal enough that people can identify with the characters and feel what they are going through.

Robin: When people write about something they are passionate about, something that involves a variety of perspectives, emotions, and deep thought, it often makes for a good story.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Carol: I got the inspiration for The Treasure at Snake Island from a beautiful sunrise I witnessed on my way to the office. I wrote Oh Susannah based on a busy blogger’s response in a note. My kids and grandchildren always inspire me.

Robin: From my students (ages 3 to 21), and my own children.

Tell us about your latest book/project.

Carol: We collaborated to create Mindfulness for Kids. We had a wonderful time creating relatable situations for children to identify when they are having an issue, and then supplying them with tools to help themselves. I think it’s a wonderful book and I am thrilled with it.

Robin: It’s a collection of short stories, in which children experience a variety of emotions. Each story is followed by two mindfulness activities that could help in handling stress, managing anger, building resiliency…etc. I was thrilled to be the mindfulness expert on this project and work closely with Carol to create this engaging, fun, and useful book!

What’s next for you?

Carol: I think I want to try my hand at something YA.

Robin: I will continue to teach mindfulness techniques to people of all ages, and would love to create Mindfulness for Teens next!


For more information about Carol P. Roman and her books, visit caroleproman.com.

For more information about J. Robin Albertson-Wren or to join her online mindfulness course for elementary school students, visit mind-awake.com.

To learn more about Mindfulness for Kids or to purchase, visit Amazon.com.

Monsters at the Movies: Ralph Breaks the Internet


Grade: A-

by Nick Spake

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While Disney has a vast library of straight-to-video follow-ups, they’ve rarely delved into sequel territory on the big screen. Wreck-It Ralph paved the way for so many fun ideas and inventive characters, however, that its wonderful world couldn’t be contained to a single outing. Speaking with Story Monsters, Disney animator Michelle Robinson discussed the passion directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore had going into this sequel. “We describe ourselves as a director-driven studio,” she stated, “and they really wanted to do it.” In the same vein as Incredibles 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet takes the foundation its predecessor laid down and builds upon it in a marvelous way. What we’re left with is a cornucopia of imagination with brilliant attention to detail packed into every frame. 

Where the original film was a love letter to video games, this sequel is a love letter to the whole digital world. John C. Reilly once again voices the lovable, not-so-bad guy, who is content with his day-to-day life as the villain of “Fix-It Felix Jr.” Meanwhile, Ralph’s BFF Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) feels as if she’s going in circles as a “Sugar Rush” racer. Vanellope is stopped in her tracks when her game is unplugged, but Ralph believes the solution awaits in a brave new realm known as the Internet. Once the Wi-Fi is up and running, Ralph and Vanellope boldly venture where no arcade character has gone before. Along the way, they cross paths with a trendy algorithm named Yesss (Taraji P. Henson) and several shady figures with ties to the Dark Web. 

If you thought the OASIS in Ready Player One was an Easter egg haven, just wait until you feast your eyes on this film’s interpretation of the Internet. The animators have literally created a worldwide web where eBay is an auction house, viral videos put citizens on the fast-track to big bucks, and a search engine called KnowsMore (Alan Tudyk) can get users to their desired destination in no time. This is a film where you could pause the action at any moment and find a new visual gag. As such, this movie demands to be revisited at home after watching it once in the theater. While the Internet’s main hub is like a virtual version of Times Square, it’s just one of several vivid environments the filmmakers take us to. 

Vanellope finds a kindred spirit in a fellow racer named Shank (Gal Gadot), who lives a fast and furious lifestyle as the head honcho of “Slaughter Race,” a game that’s like a cartoony version of Mad Max: Fury Road. Our pint-sized heroine also makes an unlikely connection with several animated princesses upon venturing to Oh My Disney, which makes an actual Disney theme park look like a small-town carnival. Seeing all the Disney princesses together onscreen is perhaps the most astounding crossover since the Avengers first assembled. What’s even more astounding, though, is seeing Disney poke fun at some of their most recognizable mascots. 

Granted, Disney previously parodied their princess formula in Enchanted, but who thought we’d ever see Cinderella use her glass slipper as a weapon? While the sequence is wonderfully self-aware, it’s also clear that the writers have sincere affection for Disney’s legacy. It’s a clever spin on classic characters, demonstrating just how far the company has come in recent years. Apparently, it wasn’t hard convincing Disney to take a contemporary and satirical approach to Snow White, Ariel, and others. According to Robinson, “We had pitched this idea in the story screening and the executives saw it and they loved it.”

If there’s a downside to Ralph Breaks the Internet, it’s that there aren’t many new video game characters added to the mix. The film more than compensates, however, with characters from Star Wars, Marvel, and other properties under the Disney umbrella. For all the cameos it works in, the movie never loses sight of its heart or moral, leading to a poignant ending that isn’t conventionally happy, but sees genuine growth from our protagonists. In regards to the ending, Robinson says, “It needed to be a little bittersweet in order to honor both characters’ journeys.” One can only hope that Elsa and Anna experience a similar evolution in Frozen 2.  

 

Nick Spake has been working as a film critic for ten years, reviewing movies each month in Story Monsters Ink magazine and on his website.

Conrad’s Classroom: Fear the Roo

by Conrad J. Storad

What the heck is a Zip? If, like me, you are a graduate of The University of Akron, you already know the answer. I worked five seasons as a student equipment manager for the U of A football team during the late 1970s. That job helped me earn a degree without accruing any student loan debt. Nada. Zero. Zip. But what is a Zip?

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We heard that question from the fans at every college stadium we played in across the country. The answer was obvious once you saw Zippy, our school mascot. A Zip is a kangaroo—an Akron, Ohio variety. For a time, the school’s modern rally phrase was “Fear the Roo.” Huh? A kangaroo mascot? To get some history, go to Zippy’s web site at: uakron.edu/zippy.

Once you learn more about kangaroos, you’ll understand why the creature is a wonderful mascot for a sports team. Kangaroos are strong, agile, and fast. They have keen vision and a superb sense of hearing. Any athlete in search of glory in his or her sport of choice would love to embody the traits of this amazing creature from the down under continent of Australia.

Fully grown red kangaroos use their powerful hind legs to move at speeds of more than 35 miles per hour. They bound in leaps almost 6 feet high that measure up to 25 feet long per hop. In comparison, big jackrabbits in Arizona can jump 5 to 10 feet per hop. How far can you jump in a single hop?

Most young readers probably already know that kangaroos are different in many ways. Kangaroos are marsupial mammals. Humans and tigers and monkeys and elephants and horses and bats are placental mammals. Like all mammals, marsupials are hairy and warm blooded. The mothers produce milk for their young. But marsupials have an outside pouch where their young grow and develop.

A baby kangaroo is called a Joey. The Joey is hairless and only the size of a Lima bean when it is born. The tiny Joey actually must climb from the birth canal into its mother’s pouch. During six months in the mother’s pouch, the Joey will grow 2,000 times bigger than its size at birth.

More than 60 kinds of kangaroos live on Earth today. The musky rat kangaroo is the smallest. A full grown adult weighs less than a pound. Big red roos can weigh up to 175 pounds. Powerful hind legs give the kangaroo its hopping power. But how many legs does a kangaroo have? You say four, of course. Nope. Not according to a 2015 research study published in Biology Letters.

The correct answer is five legs, say scientists from Australia’s University of New South Wales. A walking kangaroo actually propels itself with its muscular tail. The tail acts like a fifth leg. The scientists learned that the tail of a walking kangaroo works as hard as our legs work when we walk down the street. No other animal is known to use its tail in this way.


More hopping fun facts:

A group of kangaroos is called a mob.
A Wallaby is a kangaroo that weighs less than 45 pounds.
A kangaroo has a head like a deer, can stand upright, and can swim.
Kangaroos are browsers. They eat a variety of leaves and vegetation.

Resources to learn more:

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Books:

Big Red Kangaroo by Claire Saxby
Kangaroo to the Rescue (National Geographic Kids) by Moira Rose Donahue
Kangaroos: The Symbol of Australia by M. Martin

Websites:

National Geographic Kids—Kangaroo

Kangaroo Facts and Photos—Bush Heritage—Australia

Basic Facts about Kangaroos—Defenders of Wildlife

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The award-winning author and editor of more than 50 science and nature books for children and young adults, Conrad J. Storad expertly draws young readers into his imaginative and entertaining “classroom” to help them better understand and appreciate the natural world.



Author Spotlight: Patricia M. McClure-Chessier


As an author, educator, healthcare professional, and speaker, Patricia M McClure-Chessier’s life reads like an individual who is very compassionate, caring, inspirational, tenacious, and industrious. Her passion for learning started when she use to play school with the children in the neighborhood, and her role was the teacher. Her love for writing developed through creative writing and poetry in grade school. She admits that writing is therapeutic and fulfilling for her. “I write because I want to preserve myself and leave my legacy in writing,” she says. Patricia’s first published book Losing a Hero to Alzheimer’s: The Story of Pearl was a first-place winner in the Aging/Senior Living and Relationships categories and an Honorable Mention winner in the Biography/Memoir category at the 2016 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

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Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the city of Chicago.

Did you read a lot as a child?
Yes! I loved to read as a child. Reading allowed me to expand my imagination. It also gave me a chance to escape from difficult situations going on around me.

What were some of your favorite authors and books?
My favorite books were the Box Car Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, Beezus & Ramona by Beverly Clearly and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a psychologist or a teacher.

Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became an author/writer?        
I have worked in the behavioral healthcare field for the past 25 years. After graduating with my Bachelors in Psychology from Eastern Illinois University, I worked in the capacity of a direct care provider, case manager, and director at a residential and vocational facility for people with intellectual disabilities and mental illness. As newlyweds, my husband Eric and I took care of my mother who had Alzheimer’s. Later I had children and went back to school to obtain my masters in business administration and masters in public administration, all while working as an Associate Clinical Director/Senior Leader at a behavioral healthcare outpatient organization. As time progressed, I made the transition to work as a Healthcare Executive Leader in Risk Management and Quality at a behavioral healthcare hospital. Throughout my career, I have written several articles for major newspapers and magazines. Additionally, I am an adjunct professor and teach college healthcare courses.

How did you get started writing?
As a small child I enjoyed writing, especially creative writing and poetry. One of my fondest memories was when I was 12 years old, I wrote a poem titled “He Say She Say” and entered it into a poetry contest for Ebony Jr. Magazine, and it got selected for publishing. My parents were so proud! Also, in grammar school and high school I was on the newspaper and yearbook committee.

Why do you write books?
Thus far, my books have been about my journey and experience caring for my mother who had Alzheimer’s. I want to persuade the readers to do the right thing, inform them based on my professional and personal experience all while entertaining them. I find sharing knowledge fulfilling because the information will be valuable to someone else. I believe we are all helpers to one another on this earth and I relish in doing my part! I want readers to understand how the disease affects the individual, caregiver, and family. I want them to be more equipped to handle the situation.  

What do you like best about writing?
Writing to me is magical! I can be free, transparent, and authentic. All of my writings thus far have been nonfiction. When I write, I start to relive the experience, and sometimes this can be good, but sometimes it can be depressing. Writing about my personal experiences is very therapeutic for me. If my past experience takes me to an emotional state, I know there is more healing that needs to take place. I write because I want to share my journey, love, experience, and highlight what God has brought me through.

What do you find the most challenging about writing?
Finding the time to write is always my biggest challenge! I live a very busy life and I have to manage my time wisely.

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Where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from my parents. Both of my parents spent valuable time with me. I had a special relationship with the both my parents. Their strengths and weaknesses complimented each other as parents. I believe I got the best of both worlds. Although both my parents are deceased, I get inspired from the legacy they left. Both my parents were goal-oriented, motivated, committed, loyal, and hard-working. My parents believed that I could do anything and convinced me that I could. My husband, children, and friends are a great inspiration to me as well. I also get inspired by watching other successful people. I gravitate towards autobiographies because I am always curious about the story behind the success.  

Tell us about your latest book
In A Caregivers Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia: 9 Key Principles, I share how being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia can be a stressful and a thankless job. The experienced caregiver will garner additional strategies to help prevent burnout and gain additional insight on how to handle challenging situations. The reader will learn to employ techniques with the person with Alzheimer’s/Dementia when they are noncompliant with active daily living skills or exhibiting unwelcoming behaviors. Additionally, it offers a unique perspective on how to be successful as a caregiver with a limited support system. Everybody can’t be a caregiver, but we can all participate in care giving! The 9 key principles will teach the reader how to survive this tumultuous journey and remain physically and mentally healthy.

What’s next for you?
I have been working on a screen play that I hope to have completed soon. I’m learning writing a screenplay from a book is more challenging than I realized. But I’m up for the challenge.

 

For more information on Patricia M. McClure-Chessier and her books, visit losingaherotoalzheimersthestoryofpearl.com.

 

November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month

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Author Spotlight: Zachary Astrowsky


At the age of 14, Zachary Astrowsky is a high school honors student, an actor, a literacy leader, a public speaker, and the award-winning author of the science fiction adventure, The Uncontrolled.

Where did you grow up?
I’m still growing up in Scottsdale, AZ.

Have you always loved to read?
Yes. My first book series was the Harry Potter series, which I flew through in first grade. Since then, I’ve read many Sci-Fi, dystopian books.

What are some of your favorite books/authors?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is my favorite book. I got the chance to meet him on Oct. 22nd and it was one of the happiest moments of my life. I also like the I am Number 4 book series by Pittacus Lore, and the Maze Runner series by James Dashner.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I am a full-time high school student, and I am currently working as a teacher’s assistant in a 7th grade Sunday School class. I have also worked as an actor in two professional musical theatre shows, Carousel and A Christmas Story. Finally, from time to time, I am hired through my talent agent for acting jobs. Being paid to do what I love is amazing.

What are your career goals?
Someday I hope to be an astrophysicist and a writer.

How did you get started writing?  
I had a lot of cool ideas when I was younger so I started jotting them down. Later, I began joining those ideas which ended in the creation and completion of my novel.

What do you like best about writing?
Writing can be so emotional and meaningful; I like that it can change someone’s perspective on life which I find to be an amazing thing. Writing also encompasses so many genres, which is why I am always encouraging the students I speak to at school events to read more and to write more.

What do you find the most challenging about writing?
The time it takes to edit is the most challenging part of writing. However, I have learned the importance of being flexible. For example, I had to change many paragraphs, and even plot lines, when writing my book but of course, it’s worth it in the end when the story is well written and it holds the reader’s attention.

What do you think makes a good story?
One that can keep a reader interested and turning each page of the book.

Where do you get your inspiration?
In the beginning, my friends and family provided me a lot of inspiration. Lately, it has been my readers and the kids I speak to at my speaking events that have been inspiring me to write more.

What is your favorite reading/writing snack?
Cheez-Its, Goldfish crackers, and pudding.

What writing advice do you have for young, aspiring authors?
Keep working your hardest at writing as it can influence someone’s life and the end goal of having a completed novel is worth the effort.

If you could spend a day in any imaginary world from a book you’ve read, where would it be and why?
All of my favorite books are dystopian-themed, so I would spend a day on any crazy adventure if given the opportunity.


Tell us about your latest book/project.
I am currently working on a sequel to The Uncontrolled. With my busy school and sports schedule, it has been difficult finding the time needed, but I hope that will change soon.

In The Uncontrolled, the robotic way people smile is John's first clue that things are not quite as they seem. His parents are forced to tell him about a plot so abominable that it upends his world. At age 14, everyone is brainwashed with a tracking device by a hidden society called Tracker for Globe or T.F.G. John and his friends learn about the organization when it is their turn to be implanted with the device. Over time, plot twists come into play and John starts seeing visions of the future. He also finds out about a second secret group, the Renegades, who work together with John to take on the T.F.G. in an exciting and unexpected battle.

Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like people to know about you and/or your books?
I am very appreciative of all the support I have received from my family, friends, and readers. I also feel very fortunate that Reading is Fundamental has partnered with me so together, we can motivate more children to read. When I am not playing soccer or the drums, I really do enjoy speaking to children about the importance of reading, writing, and finding a passion in something that inspires them.

For more information about Zachary Astrowsky and his books, visit theuncontrolled.wixsite.com/website.

Q&A with Bethanie Murguia


by Julianne Black


“I wanted readers to be able to make up their own minds about unicorns and magic. Children so often hear the word “No.” This book asks, “What do you think?”

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Do you believe in magic, like when you see something fantastic out of the corner of your eye? Was it a horse in a hat … or was it a unicorn? I was fortunate to have caught up with Bethanie Murguia, author of Do You Believe in Unicorns? (Candlewick). She had some words of wisdom on imagination superpowers, the creative process, and yes, finding unicorns!

Q: I received a copy of Do You Believe in Unicorns? to review and was immediately excited to share it with my 6-year-old! Tell me about how the idea for the elusive unicorn came about, but also about the concept of finding what you expect to see making its way from idea to print.

A: It began with the image of a character in a hat. It could be either a horse or a unicorn—but there’s no way to be sure. I love that the hat creates possibility. Because it’s ambiguous, our own beliefs, experiences, and knowledge become a big part of the story. I wanted readers to be able to make up their own minds about unicorns and magic. Children so often hear the word “No.” This book asks, “What do you think?” It was a vague idea in the beginning, though, and it took many, many revisions to get to the final book. I have 52 versions of this story on my computer. It’s daunting to work on a project when you don’t know where it’s headed, but seeing it work out well is also a good reminder to have faith in the creative process.

Q: Many of your books, including The Too-Scary Story, I Feel Five! and Princess! Fairy! Ballerina! are centered around creativity and imagination like little reminders about the power of wonder and enchantment. Can you tell us your earliest recollection of when you realized your imagination was your superpower?

A: I love this idea of imagination as a superpower. As an adult, I recognize the power of imagination and what a gift it is to be immersed in creating or reading a book. As a child, I don’t know that I paid much attention to it, but I realize now that I definitely had an active imagination as a child. When I was seven, we moved into a house that was over 150 years old. It was so magical to me, with stairs that went nowhere, secret spaces behind tiny doors, and hatches in the wood floors that I was sure led to treasure. I spent years trying to talk my parents into ruining the floors to pull up those nailed down hatches, but they never agreed. It was probably a favor in the long run because it kept the possibility of treasure alive in my mind in the same way the hat allows for the possibility of unicorns. I think possibility is really powerful.

Q: Your illustration style has been described as ”Self-assured pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations….” by Kirkus Reviews. I have to say the description “self-assured” must be music to your ears. As an artist myself I know how intimidating it can be to put your work out there! Tell me about this style of hard and defined line paired with soft shadow and minimal detail. What kind of background can you give us to how your technique evolved?

A:
I’ve been playing with pen and ink since I was in elementary school. I was obsessed with calligraphy and I attribute any perceived “self-assuredness” to years of repeating letterforms over and over and over. But I also adore watercolor because it’s so unpredictable. Combining the two gives control of important details while also allowing for looseness. With that said, I’m always trying out new ways of working. My first books were done with nib pens, but I’ve been experimenting with bamboo pens and brushes because they have very different line qualities. I used both a nib pen and bamboo pen for Do You Believe in Unicorns?.

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Q: Your website is absolutely adorable. I love that your ”About” section is told in snapshots and text and reminds me I need to journal more in my sketchbook! Do you think on paper in doodles and half-created scribble ideas or do you create the ideas in your mind prior to them ever seeing paper? What is your preferred method of harnessing all those loose possibilities?

A: I always doodle! I wish I had a clear picture in my mind, but that’s not the case. I just keep drawing until characters or ideas begin to gel. And sometimes, it takes months or years. I keep files of ideas that haven’t come together … yet. I draw and write and do thumbnails in sketchbooks until I have words and images for a few spreads at least. Then, I start trying to make a book. I also have a giant corkboard in my studio where I hang bits and pieces to see how they might fit together.

Q: One of your blog posts states, “Whenever I have the opportunity to speak about the creative process—whether to children or adults—I usually offer up two pieces of advice: 1. Be a collector 2. Be an experimenter.” Can you elaborate a bit about how this relates to daily life and give an example of a major win in your life to which you can attribute those two points?

A: I think all creative wins require some form of this—collecting raw materials from the world around us and then experimenting with how to put them together to convey what we want to say. I’m always looking for ideas, keeping sketchbooks of moments that are interesting to me—sketches, snippets of conversations, etc.—anything that makes me feel something. These become building blocks for stories. In my case, it’s rarely a lightning bolt that strikes, but rather, continuing to gather little pieces of inspiration.

Q: Any projects in the works for which we should be on the lookout? Do You Believe in Unicorns? was just released in September, but what’s next?

A: Yes! I just finished the final art for The Favorite Book, another collaboration with Candlewick Press. It’s a picture book that explores how we make choices, allowing readers to pick all sorts of favorites along the way. I’m very excited to see this one in print (Fall 2019). And, I recently launched a site, findmoremagic.com, that’s an extension of Do You Believe in Unicorns?. I wanted to create an experience that would expand on the themes of the book. The site has fun DIY activities, a unicorn mystery, and a UnicornCam app for spotting unicorns (iOS).

Bethanie Murguia is represented by Rubin Pfeffer at Rubin Pfeffer Content and you can learn more about her at aquapup.com.

Julianne DiBlasi Black has written and illustrated several books, including Sleep Sweet, the multi-award winning Augmented Reality picture book. bookturnip.com.



November Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

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What If Dinosaurs Were Pink?
by Jarrett Whitlow, Daniela Dogliani (Warren Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Many great discoveries may have started with those small, but powerful words, “What if?” They are words that provoke thought, stir imagination, and often push us to greatness. Or, maybe just provide us with moments to giggle and wonder. What If Dinosaurs Were Pink? opens possibilities, and encourages us to go beyond the common and wonder. (Ages 2-8)

Made For Me
by Zack Bush, Gregorio De Lauretis (Familius) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This tremendously sweet book will fill every empty space it finds. Love and a sense of belonging flow on every rhythmic word like a cool brook satisfies on a warm summer day. Illustrations by De Lauretis bring this loving father’s heart into full vivid view. It’s simply delightful. The stamp on the inside cover is a very special touch. (Ages 3-5)

The Best Mother
by C. M. Surrisi, Diane Goode (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Maxine is convinced that the problem is with her mother. The answer is, of course, to find a new mom—one who doesn’t bother her with hair brushing and would let her wear her slippers in the snow. But as she interviews other moms for the position, a funny thing starts to happen … she realizes that her mom just might be the best one after all. Loveable read for all ages. (Ages 3-7)

Nanna’s Button Tin
by Dianne Wolfer, Heather Potter (Candlewick) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Life is captured in moments and held in stories. And who better than Grandma to rehearse them through time? Nanna’s special button tin holds treasures from that past that just may hold the answer to today’s problem. The illustrations of Heather Potter are as heartwarming as the tale of this child and her grandma, sorting through memories and tokens past to refresh childhood treasures of the present. Bonding at its best! (Ages 4-6)

Hello, Monster!
by Clémentine Beauvais, Maisie Paradise Shearring (Thames & Hudson) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a great exercise of imagination! Its creativity and delightful rambling are sure to be a winner. It also carries a humorous and enlightening perspective of child vs. adult playground meetings. It’s quite an entertaining tale. (Ages 4-7)

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Thank You, Omu!
by Oge Mora (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
A giving heart is never left lacking. Omu’s stew smells so good! As it cooks, the wonderful aroma fills the air and brings many in search of a taste. Omu’s preparation for her own dinner brings much pleasure to a parade of visitors, leaving her big pot empty at dinnertime. However, as she sits at her table, another knock comes, and all her guests return bearing ample treats to share. A heartwarming story of sharing and community. (Ages 4-7)

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant Of Surprise
by David Ezra Stein (Candlewick) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This story is sure to delight ALL its readers! Especially those who have held such wonderfully unforgettable conversations with a child. Chicken has misunderstood her teacher’s comment, “Every good story has an element of surprise,” and she searches for him with pure joy as Papa reads. The illustrations are fun and lively. Whatever stage of life we may occupy, this book is sure to delight! (Ages 4-8)

Lester, The Scared Little Leaf
by Nina Gardner (Certa Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Letting go and fear of the unknown can have crippling effects. Fall has arrived with all its beauty and changes. Chuckles of splendor can be heard in the air as leaves let go of their tree and soar in the breeze. But, Lester clings tighter to his branch with a fear of falling. What if he doesn’t like it on the ground? His friends assure him of the joy that’s ahead of him as he watches them sail with laughter filling the air. Can Lester let go of the life he knows so well? Can he find the excitement of change? This is a great confidence-builder as we follow this tender leaf into the exhilaration of newness. (Ages 4-8)

Super Manny Stands Up!
by Kelly DiPucchio, Stephanie Graegin (Atheneum Books) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Author Kelly DiPucchio and illustrator Stephanie Graegin unveil their brilliant picture book with a super-sized lesson, showing a raccoon that remembers he is strong, brave, and powerful at just the right moment. Super Manny Stands Up! is written to let all readers know that they have their own superpower within themselves. Rather than being a bystander when seeing injustice, they can don their invisible cape like Manny the raccoon and remind themselves that their voice can make a huge difference in a difficult situation. This story is a reminder that one person can make a world of difference in the lives of others. (Ages 4-8)

I Love Kisses
by Sheryl McFarlane, Brenna Vaughan (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Sheryl McFarlane and Brenna Vaughan shower readers with affection with their story I Love Kisses. This adorable picture book is a sweet story to read with a little one. Kisses from our pets included, youngsters will hear about lots of different kinds of kisses from the ones who love them. Children can gift this book to a parent or grandparent as a reminder that they appreciate having them in their lives. (Ages 4-8)

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My Grandfather’s War
by Glyn Harper, Jenny Cooper (EK Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This story bridges the chasm that separates young and old, and reminds us of the precious sacrifices that secure our freedom, and the aftermath of war. As a young girl innocently seeks answers to her grandfather’s grief, she unknowingly opens old wounds and discovers his sadness is a legacy of the Vietnam War and his experiences there. This is a sensitive exploration of the lingering cost of war and of the PTSD so many returned servicemen experience. (Ages 4-8)

A Tuba Christmas
by Helen L. Wilbur, Mary Reaves Uhles (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
There is so much goodness packed in these pages. My delight doesn’t know which one to address. The empowerment of Ava’s self-declaration, the hardships she must overcome to achieve it, the pure joy of success, or the history of a tuba concert and the fun and amazing facts about the tuba itself? There is just so much to enjoy in the story. And the illustrations are just as fun and lively as the content they express. (Ages 5-7)

Hannah’s Tall Order: An A to Z Sandwich
by Linda Vander Heyden, Kayla Harren (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Hannah’s Tall Order is delicious fun for parents and children alike! Adorable illustrations pull you through the sing-song storytelling at a comfortable pace while your audience is entranced by its goofy details. The mess, the wear and tear on poor Mr. McDougal, and the craziness of the food combinations are wonderfully amusing. This is among my top picks for read-aloud books this school year! (Ages 5-7)

The Things That I Love about Trees
by Chris Butterworth, Charlotte Voake (Candlewick) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Teachers rejoice! Here is a beautiful, fun, and factual book about trees that will be a treasured addition to an art or science room. From spring to winter, The Things I Love about Trees places quiet little tree factoids along the storyline for an information double dose, cleverly wrapped in soft illustration. This showcase of buds to bark makes a wonderful gift for nature lovers of any age. (Ages 5-8)

The Lying King
by Alex Beard (Greenleaf Book Group Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a quality book all the way around. Its large size, bright color, and solid binding gives an assurance it will be around for a while. And its timeless tale we’ll never outgrow. Foundation blocks that build successful lives are often found in childhood stories. This simple, well-rounded story gives full view to the multilayered effects and outcomes of liars, bullies, and those who would misuse privilege and authority, while enforcing the strength of unity sufficient to overthrow it. (Ages 6-9)

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The Boy Who Sprouted Antlers
by John Yeoman, Quentin Blake (Thames & Hudson) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This extravagantly fanciful tale brings two conflicting thoughts to mind with great hilarity. Anything is possible if you set your mind to it, but at the same time, be careful what you wish for! Great story for an encouraging good laugh! (Ages 6-9)

EZ and the Intangibles
by Bob Katz (Fitzroy Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Ethan “EZ” Zanay loves the sport of basketball and it’s really unfortunate he’s so darn bad at it. When he makes an embarrassing mistake in front of his teammates, EZ finally decides to call it quits. But he still clings to the fantasy that somehow, he might yet turn into that unheralded player who surprises everyone by coming through in the clutch. His best shot at a comeback is to specialize in those subtle moves and unseen maneuvers that don’t show up in the standard stat sheets. This story will inspire kids like Ethan, who don’t excel at sports and yet want to make their parents proud. I really love how Ethan found a great solution to make himself an important part of the team. (Ages 7-12)

Through the Barbed Wire (A Wild at Heart Mystery)
by Isabella Allen, Cynthia Meadows (Brown Books Kids) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This new mystery series will be rubbing elbows with some pretty elite writers in this genre. The author’s fresh approach to the story’s wild child heroine brings a fascinating appeal. We are welcomed in to explore the vastness of a sprawling land, and the heart of a young girl who loves it. She knows every inch of it, and every critter and creature she shares it with. It’s there where she feels most alive. And someone wants to take it from her. Can she find out whom? Can she save her land and preserve the beauty of her wildness? It’s worth the read to find out! (Ages 8-12)

The House with Chicken Legs
by Sophie Anderson (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Macaulay Smith, age 7
The House with Chicken Legs is one of the most creative books I have ever read! I can relate to the main character Marinka, even though she is 12 and I am only 7. Like me, Marinka is an only child so she does not have other kids at home to play with. Unlike me, her house has chicken legs that take her all over the world at a moment’s notice, which makes it pretty tough to make friends. In my family, we move every three years; Marinka sometimes moves three times a year! But when Marinka does finally get the chance to make a real-life friend, that is when the book really gets interesting! She must go on a mysterious journey into the afterlife to try and save her grandma, and she will need all the friends she has if she is going to succeed. If you like to use your imagination, then this is the book for you. (Ages 8-12)

The Third Mushroom
by Jennifer L. Holm (Random House) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
The Third Mushroom is a playful book that also teaches important life lessons. Ellie has a passion for science and convinces her grandpa Melvin (a famous scientist in a 14-year-old boy’s body) to do science experiments with her at the county fair. I really liked that the book includes Mellie’s Gallery of Scientists that gives you facts about notable scientists, what they achieved, invented, a little about their childhood as well as a quote. (Ages 8-12)

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Baking Class: 50 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Bake!
by Deanna F. Cook (Storey Publishing) Reviewers: Sherry and Jocelyn Hoffman
Baking Class is a complete compilation of over 50 child-friendly recipes equipped with stickers, stencils, and gift tags to encourage creativity. Step-by-step instruction with pictures and descriptions make this recipe book user-friendly, especially for beginners and visual learners. The setup is so welcoming, and the helpful advice incorporated throughout seems to elicit a feeling as if a good friend is right there walking the reader through each recipe. Deanna F. Cook has stirred up another delicious recipe of fun with this book. (Ages 8-12)

The Lotterys More or Less
by Emma Donoghue, Caroline Hadilaksono (Arthur A. Levine Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Sumac Lottery is the keeper of her family’s traditions—from Pow Wow to Holi, Carnival to Hogmanay, Sumac’s on guard to make sure that no Lottery celebration gets forgotten. But this winter all Sumac’s seasonal plans go awry when a Brazilian visitor overstays his welcome. A terrible ice storm grounds all flights, so one of her dads and her favorite brother can’t make it home from India. Can Sumac hang on to the spirit of the season, even if nothing is going like a Lottery holiday should? This is a great lesson that shows sometimes you must try many ideas before you finally find the one that solves your problem. Kids will love this story. (Ages 8-12)

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Short & Skinny
by Mark Tatulli (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Diana Perry
As a middle schooler, Mark finds himself on the smaller side of the physical spectrum and it has really wreaked havoc on his confidence. So to end his bullying woes and get the girl—or at least the confidence to talk to the girl—he starts to explore bulking up by way of the miracle cures in the backs of his comic books. But his obsession with beefing up is soon derailed by a new obsession: Star Wars, the hottest thing to hit the summer of 1977. As he explores his creative outlets as well as his cures to body image woes, Mark sets out to make his own stamp on the film that he loves. This is a wonderful book to inspire kids who feel left out and long to fit in and feel special. It teaches that the answer to this dilemma is closer than you think. (Ages 9-12)

Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee
by Stacie Haas (Melody Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
As the Civil War rages, 15-year-old Thomas Beck longs to fight for his country. He’s underage, but his brother claims there’s another reason he can’t fight: There’s no such thing as a Chinese Yankee. Assumed a slave because of his odd appearance—including his traditional Chinese queue (long braid), Thomas soon discovers that giving battle with his regiment isn’t enough to shed the Chinese label from his Yankee status. It’s not until Thomas befriends a runaway slave and the war moves toward a pivotal moment in Gettysburg that he begins to understand the true meaning of freedom in America. Young readers need to know this story and how our country, once divided, became the strong nation it is today. (Ages 10+)

The Reckless Club
by Beth Vrabel (Running Kids Press) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
The Reckless Club is a book about five middle schoolers who spend their last day of summer before school starts volunteering at Northbrook Retirement Village as a punishment from their principal. This very diverse group includes Jason (the nobody), Lilith (the drama queen), Wes (the flirt), Ally (the athlete), and Rex (the rebel), who come together and learn a lot about compassion, the meaning of friendship, the aging process and how to get along. I really loved the letter from the principal in the front of the book as well as the letter from the five kids at the end. The Reckless Club is filled with heart and humor. (Ages 10-14)

Curse of the Komodo
by M. C. Berkhousen (Progressive Rising Phoenix Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Luke and Austin Brockway can’t seem to stop arguing. Luke says he’d rather have a grizzly bear for a brother and Austin would prefer a Komodo dragon. While on a school trip to the zoo, a violent storm creates chaos in the atmosphere and their wishes are granted! Luke can’t eat the frozen rats he gets for supper, and Austin is scared of his 700-pound roommates. A mean guard with a temper and a cattle prod adds to their misery. They soon learn that they are victims of an old family curse that can’t be undone until the next violent storm. Until then, they must help each other survive. This is the ultimate field trip nightmare ... and young readers will be most entertained. (Ages 10-14)

Intrigue in Istanbul: An Agnes Kelly Mystery Adventure
by Christine Keleny (CKBooks Publishing) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Set in 1961, during a time of the Cold War and space race. But that isn’t on 12-year-old Agnes’ radar. Her dad has died and during a trip with her grandmother to Istanbul, she accidentally finds out it was under “suspicious” circumstances, but that’s just the beginning. I really enjoyed the letter from Agnes that teaches readers definitions of many of the words and phrases used in the book. True to its title, this book was very intriguing. A great bedtime read. (Ages 10-14)

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Nate Expectations
by Tim Federle (Simon & Schuster) Reviewer: Diana Perry
When the news hits that E.T.: The Musical wasn’t nominated for a single Tony Award, the show closes, leaving Nate both out of luck and out of a job. And while Nate’s castmates are eager to move on, Nate knows it’s back to square one, also known as Jankburg, Pennsylvania. Where horror—aka high school—awaits. Desperate to turn his life from flop to fabulous, Nate takes on a huge freshman English project: He’s going to make a musical out of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. But he soon realizes the only thing harder than being on Broadway is being a freshman—especially when you’ve got a secret you’re desperate to sing out about. This story teaches young readers how to be problem solvers and to utilize their talents. A very entertaining book. (Ages 10-14)

Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend
by Cheryl Carpinello (Beyond Today Educator) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Guinevere and Cedwyn find themselves embroiled in a life-or-death struggle. Not only are they in danger, but so are the kids of Cadbury Castle. Renegades—foiled in their attempt to kidnap the princess—steal the children of Cadbury Castle to sell as slaves. Guinevere and Cedwyn vow to rescue the children, but a miscalculation puts them all in more danger. Will their courage be strong enough to survive, or will one make the ultimate sacrifice? This story has everything a young reader wants: action, adventure, tests of bravery and friendship, magic, and so many twists and turns. It is quite an adventure! (Ages 10-14)

 

To submit your book for review, email cristy@storymonsters.com for submission guidelines.

Author Spotlight: Tracey Hecht


“We can be bold in adventure. We can be brave in challenge. We can be friends.”

The Nocturnals series features three unlikely friends: Dawn, a serious fox, Tobin, a sweet pangolin, and Bismark, the loud mouthed, pint-sized sugar glider. The stories all play out in their nighttime world with teamwork, friendship and humor in every adventure.

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Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the suburbs of San Francisco but knew even when I was young that I wanted to move and live in New York City. As soon as I finished college, I moved to New York and for the most part have been there ever since.

Did you read a lot as a child?
Yes! I loved to read, and I remember in elementary school choosing many recess periods to sit in my classroom and finish a book. I remember once in sixth grade staying to read Where the Red Fern Grows, and when everyone came back from break, I was sobbing on a bean bag in the reading corner of Mrs. Lapachet’s homeroom! That was a bit embarrassing.

Who are some of your favorite authors/books?
I love Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo. For me as a reader, it is immensely engaging, and for me as a writer, it is immeasurably inspiring. Kate DiCamillo’s characters and story lines have always possessed poignant clarity and honesty. I also love the Save the Story series. The best book is a book that leaves you wanting more, and that’s just what Antigone from the Save the Story series did for me. My 25-year-old actor/writer/poet daughter gave my 9-year-old video game/soccer-playing son the Save the Story version of Antigone for Christmas last year. He read it, I read it, we read it aloud, and then we ordered the nine other books from the Save the Story series. These books captivated my entire family.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always been a writer, since I was young. As a child, I also wanted to be an illustrator, and I remember using oil paints in particular to create characters, mostly human at that time. I was an English/creative writing major in college and found jobs from early on that allowed me to write.

Tell us about some of the jobs you had before you became a writer.
I had many jobs! From my early days of babysitting to office administrator and temp jobs in high school. I was a waitress, and I worked in advertising and marketing as well. Then, when I was 40, I sold my business and took a year off. I spent the year thinking about what I wanted to do next. I knew I wanted to write and create, and I also believe strongly in the value of children’s literature as both a form of entertainment and a cognitive tool for children’s development. I decided to write a children’s series that recognized storytelling more broadly. It was over the course of that year that The Nocturnals brand was born.

How did you get started writing?
It’s fun to think of the progression. It all started with the challenge of putting my kids to bed! I thought it would be fun to do a series for kids based on characters that woke up right when kids were just going to sleep. The Nocturnals animals came from that basic idea, and that’s when the series started to take shape. I truly remember sitting on a deck in Maine early one morning four years ago. There was a heavy fog over the lake, and I was the only one in my family awake. I sketched the first ideas for The Nocturnals that morning. Now I’m surrounded by an incredible team and all of our amazing readers, librarians, teachers, and bookstores, and I’m filled with many more ideas of what we’ll do next.

Why do you write books?
I wanted to create a world that children were usually excluded from—nighttime! And once I decided on nocturnal animals, the rest came from there. An exciting aspect—and one that actually surprised me—was how much I like the research. Learning about unusual animals is one of the most fun things about the series. I love using the physical traits and unique characteristics of the animals to help develop characters and enhance plot.

What do you like best about writing?
One of the main reasons I write is to encourage families to incorporate reading together into their routines. Reading aloud is not only vital for a child’s critical thinking and development, but it’s fun and a great opportunity for family bonding. To extend my belief in reading as the center of shared family entertainment, my team and I partnered with The Wyndham Grand Hotel Group for a nationwide family program, Reconnected, a Family Experience—a program that addresses the need for family quality time over screen time—and my first book, The Mysterious Abductions, was included as part of the program for families on vacation. 

What do you find the most challenging about writing?
The moment right before you start. As soon as I am writing, I’m happy, but most days the moments leading up to writing are when I begin to feel daunted. I just have to force myself to dive in!

What do you think makes a good story?
I think rhythmic voices make for compelling stories, especially when reading aloud. When I started writing The Nocturnals, I had just finished writing for film and television. At the time, I was inspired to write a dialogue-based book series in a kind of cinematic vernacular, as I thought kids would find it fun to read. I wrote the three main characters of The Nocturnals in a 3-2-1 staccato. It gives the books a distinct tone, which I love!

Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere. People, places, conversations, events, books, television. My imagination can run away pretty quickly, and all it takes is some tiny instigator to get it started. I use my phone less than most people as a result. I like the empty time—the time when I’m not doing anything or looking at anything when my mind can run away.

Tell us about your latest book/project.
My latest book, The Peculiar Possum, is the third addition to my Grow & Read program. It’s a story on the importance of staying true to oneself and not being afraid to be “peculiar” or unique. The story is told with plenty of humor while underscoring the importance of respecting differences in others—a key lesson for children in this age group. My team and I have also developed The Kindness Game. It’s a game designed to support literacy skills and social and emotional learning. The game is ideal for incorporating into bullying-prevention programs and concludes with a student-lead exercise in identifying kind words and behaviors to promote a culture of kindness in schools and libraries.

What’s next for you?
I’m writing two more early readers right now. One deals with cheating and wanting to win; I think many kids can relate to that desire. And the other is about imagination, how letting your mind wander can be great entertainment.

Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like people to know about you and/or
your books?
My favorite time to read is on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when I’ve finished any weekend work and I don’t have to worry about starting anything new. I love to read with a snack, and depending on my mood, salty or sweet, I have three favorite reading snacks:

1. Homemade popcorn (popped in a pot, not an air popper) with lime, butter, and salt
2. Supersize whole-wheat scone with raspberry jam
3. Either Mother’s Chocolate Chip Cookies or Nabisco’s Chips Ahoy with mint tea


For more information about Tracey Hecht and her books, visit NocturnalsWorld.com.

Story Monsters Approved Books Announced


Kid-tested, Story Monsters Approved! 
Congratulations to our newest approved authors!

Picture Books (Ages 3-8)

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Monsters First Day at School
by Karen Bell-Brege, Darrin Brege

What a day for little monsters this is going to be, the first day of school at Beastly Elementary! It can be a scary time, that very first day, until so much fun gets underway. For ghosts and gremlins, aliens and mummies, this book will take away that scary feeling in their tummy. Little monsters don't know how to behave on that very first day of school, which makes this charming, funny book a perfect guide to help them understand what behavior is right and wrong. From grooming to recess, art class to the library, they will laugh at the adorable artwork and the fantastic messages delivered throughout.

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Unwind. Up, Up, and Away!
by Christopher Gates

In this captivating story, six-year-old Alyssa finds it hard to cope with her emotions. In her head, they appear like scary monsters, their strength overwhelming her. In these moments, Alyssa sets off on a journey to find the power to conquer those emotions and unwind. Through mindfulness, Alyssa embraces the power she has to control her thoughts and emotions, supporting her social emotional well-being to "Unwind. Up, Up, and Away" into a great day.

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The Jaguar's Story
by Kosa Ely, Radhe Gendron

Journey to the Amazon to meet Inti and Chasca, two jaguar cubs who live in the rainforest with their mama. They spend their days making friends with birds and butterflies, swimming in rock pools, and learning to roar. Everything changes the day sky machines and land machines invade their forest. Afraid for their lives, the cubs escape with their mama under the cloak of night. Now everywhere they travel, surprises and dangers await them. Will they ever find a safe home?

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The Adventures of Keeno & Ernest: The Banana Tree
by Maggie van Galen

Keeno and Ernest are the best of friends living in the jungle. Keeno, a very mischievous monkey, finds a big, shiny new banana tree. Unfortunately, it is on the other side of the river and his parents have told him never to cross without an adult. Ernest, a clever young elephant, reminds him of this, but Keeno decides to go anyway. Follow the adventure as Keeno finds himself in great danger and relies on Ernest to rescue him. In the end, Keeno learns two very valuable lessons about friendship and family rules.


Health and Medicine

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Froga Yoga at the Pond
by Hannah Rose Roswell

Froga is an unusual and fantastical tree frog who imitates the creatures he admires in and around his pond. The muskrat, dragonfly and bobtail cat are some of the creatures he admires and imitates. Children are encouraged to imitate Froga's movements as he explores life at his small pond. The results help children calm themselves and have better focus. Adults may even want to join in the fun!

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Molly, the Dog with Diabetes
by Kevin Coolidge, Stephanie Webb

Molly, the Dog With Diabetes is a true story about a dachshund mix dog and her journey with diabetes. Molly's story is not only a dog story—who doesn't love a dog story?—but the story of living a happy and healthy life with diabetes.


Making a Difference

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Thiago the Tiger and the Light Within
by Vanessa Caraveo

Thiago the tiger was born with stripes like no other tiger ... stripes that make him stand out. The other animals make fun of him, but a misadventure on a school trip teaches them to accept his uniqueness. Thiago comes to understand that showing his true colors will make everything brighter.


Education/Reference

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When I Grow Up
by Rick Grant, Anabel Alfonso

This poetic and colorful book speaks to the dreamer in all of us and serves as a reminder that when searching for the best job in the world, the heart is the first place where we should look.

Green Living/Environmental Issues

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The Jaguar's Story
by Kosa Ely, Radhe Gendron

Journey to the Amazon to meet Inti and Chasca, two jaguar cubs who live in the rainforest with their mama. They spend their days making friends with birds and butterflies, swimming in rock pools, and learning to roar. Everything changes the day sky machines and land machines invade their forest. Afraid for their lives, the cubs escape with their mama under the cloak of night. Now everywhere they travel, surprises and dangers await them. Will they ever find a safe home?


School Life

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Thiago the Tiger and the Light Within
by Vanessa Caraveo

Thiago the tiger was born with stripes like no other tiger ... stripes that make him stand out. The other animals make fun of him, but a misadventure on a school trip teaches them to accept his uniqueness. Thiago comes to understand that showing his true colors will make everything brighter.

The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest.jpg

The Adventures of Keeno & Ernest: The Banana Tree
by Maggie van Galen

Keeno and Ernest are the best of friends living in the jungle. Keeno, a very mischievous monkey, finds a big, shiny new banana tree. Unfortunately, it is on the other side of the river and his parents have told him never to cross without an adult. Ernest, a clever young elephant, reminds him of this, but Keeno decides to go anyway. Follow the adventure as Keeno finds himself in great danger and relies on Ernest to rescue him. In the end, Keeno learns two very valuable lessons about friendship and family rules.

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Is your book Story Monsters Approved?
Enter today at www.DragonflyBookAwards.com!

Author Spotlight: Lora Rozler


“Like many authors, my books are very personal to me, creations that I have nursed from their infancy until they are shared with the world. Readers will find that they can enjoy my stories on many levels: as literal stories, symbolic allegories, educational tools, and of course, bedtime treats.”

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Israel and moved to Toronto when I was 11 years old. My family had just emigrated from Russia when I was born. I grew up weaved into a mix of cultures which taught me to have an appreciation for differences. But I can honestly say, having lived in Canada most of my life, I feel very much Canadian at heart.

What were some of your favorite authors and books?
I loved (and still enjoy) Shel Silverstein’s color-outside-the-lines style of poems and stories. One of my absolute favourite books by him is The Giving Tree. Also, I’ve always enjoyed fairy tales (but didn’t we all?). Charlotte’s Web, The Babysitter’s Club series and The Outsiders were some of my other favourites when I was growing up.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was 5 years old. At some point that changed to wanting to become an interior designer, a lawyer, and even a psychologist. I finally opted for my first love and chose a career in teaching.

Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer.
Some years into my teaching career, I began writing poems and stories for my students. I guess you can say that writing became a calling after I began to see how important storytelling was as an educational tool. But then, I also learned that books added a fun element as well. I’m delighted that I had a built-in audience before I even published my first book!

How did you get started writing?
I wrote quite a bit as a teenager (mostly poetry) but found an audience for my writing in the classroom, writing mainly to support areas of study at school. I eventually discovered a terrific outlet to share my work with others—on my blog (wordsonalimb.com) and associated social media. This allowed me to create a digital library of some of my classroom content. In fact, several years ago, I wrote a poem to teach students about the power of words and their impact. It began to receive positive feedback from students, parents, colleagues, and online subscribers. It soon took a life of its own as an animation and eventually as my first a picture book, Words. This was the breakthrough that marked the beginning of my writing journey.

Why do you write books?
I love taking an idea and molding it to life with words and images. I also love being able to convey important messages through literature. These notions shine through in my book Freshly Baked Pie. It is a simple story, based on a poem that I wrote, that, through effective illustrations and whimsical writing, both gently teaches a lesson and entertains readers.

What do you like best about writing?
I love the creativity and flexibility that writing offers. Anything and everything can exist in our imagination. Real life may have boundaries, but stories, not so much. I revel in seeing a concept, that exists only as a mental sketch, come alive through words and images. I also appreciate the way an author can arrange letters, words, and sentences into a composition that evokes strong emotions—joy, sadness, surprise, wonder or inspiration. I also feel that picture books give me the freedom to take a lyrical form of writing, like poetry, and transform it into a story that can be enjoyed at bedtime. There is something unique about being able to create art from a simple idea.

What do you find the most challenging about writing?
Writing requires commitment, dedication, and most of all, discipline in order to take it beyond a hobby. So I have learned to carve out time from my busy schedule to meet self-imposed deadlines. Sometimes I find that ideas flow through my head faster than I have time to devote to them, and that can be quite frustrating.

What do you think makes a good story?
I think a good story has a redeemable value, something the reader can take away, all the while being entertained. Also, a good story has an element that the reader can relate to, whether it be a character or an event. That connection between literature and real life experiences make the story more meaningful to the reader.

Where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from working with kids, my students, and my children. Sometimes an idea strikes amid a busy, noisy day. Other times a vision sneaks up in quiet moments of contemplation. My book, Lucky Me, stemmed from a theme we discussed in school. It was around the time of Thanksgiving and we had a great conversation about gratitude and things we felt blessed to have in our lives. This inspired me to write a poem for my class, and eventually I wanted to share this message of gratitude with a wider audience. Regardless of where in the world we each came from, and what stories we each had to tell, we had one thing in common—a sense of gratitude. This element inspired me to incorporate thank you in many languages. Several arduous months later, we published a truly global and memorable, sweet picture book. It was a hop, skip, and a jump from conversation to message-filled pages.

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Tell us about your latest book/project.
My most recent title, The Three Witty Goats Gruff is a modern adaptation of the fairytale, Three Billy Goats Gruff. Once again, the idea came from a simple math lesson about measurement and patterning. My students loved learning math through this story of the three goats! The math unit became my best-selling teacher resource package on a website I love to contribute to, called Teachers Pay Teachers. Once again, I felt compelled to transform this simple lesson into a book that can both teach and entertain kids all over the world. In my remake of the story, I proposed an alternative way for the goats to solve their dilemma—rather than using force to subdue their bully, they use their wit to outmaneuver the greedy old troll. As well, I incorporated a female goat as the heroine of the story as girls are seldom depicted as the hero, and I felt it was time to turn the tables! The book also contains plenty of fun learning opportunities for young children. I am so pleased to have completed and published this title.

What’s next for you?
I am currently working on a compilation book that features many of my poems and short stories that I composed throughout my writing and teaching career. Obviously not all of them can make it into a full picture book! But I wanted to share them in the shorter format just the same. I feel this book will be a landmark piece on a personal and professional level. Sometimes writers can feel vulnerable when they compile an anthology of personal thoughts in words. For me, it is especially the case since I will be sharing work that spans from my early years as a writer to some of my latest poems and short stories. We are currently deciding on the illustrations and book design, but it won’t be long! I am also working on converting my published books into a digital format so parents all over can swipe through my stories on their tablets before bedtime.

Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like people to know about you and/or your books?
I want your readers to know that, like many authors, my books are very personal to me, creations that I have nursed from their infancy until they are shared with the world. Readers will find that they can enjoy my stories on many levels: as literal stories, symbolic allegories, educational tools, and of course, bedtime treats.

For more information about Lora Rozler and her books, visit www.lorarozler.com and www.wordsonalimb.com.


Author Spotlight: Nic Stone


"Poignant and necessary… a novel vital to young adults’ lives that examines the intersections of sexuality, gender, and race—issues and blurred boundaries that teens grapple with in a society that favors neat and tidy boxes." -Booklist, Starred

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Where did you grow up? 
Mostly Norcross, GA. It's about twelve minutes north of Atlanta.

Did you read a lot as a child? 
I did! 

What were some of your favorite authors and books? 
I lived for the Encyclopedia Brown books by Donald J. Sobol and anything with Judy Blume, Roald Dahl or Louis Sachar on the cover. Also wanted to be a spy like Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet and cure strange childhood quirks like Betty MacDonald's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Then I hit seventh grade, Harry Potter busted his way onto the scene, and that was all she wrote. 

What did you want to be when you grew up? 
I don't think I really knew. This is where the whole “representation matters” piece comes in because I think there were occupations I was interested in (lawyer/judge, author, plastic surgeon) but I didn't see anyone who looked like me actually DOING those jobs ... so subconsciously, I didn't really think I could do them either. For a while, I wanted to be an astronaut, but that was all because of Mae Jemison. I figured out the writer thing eventually.

Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer. 
What job have I NOT had is a better question! I've worked in childcare and retail, I've been a personal trainer, I've managed a formal gown store, I've sold shoes ... I've even worked in Israel designing Holy Land pilgrimages for American tourists. It's been wild. 

How did you get started writing? 
Email updates during my first summer in Israel. I would do these extensive things with pictures and all that. People loved them. Then I moved into lifestyle blogging. Took me a minute to try my hand at fiction because I was convinced I didn't "have the imagination for it," but clearly, I was wrong. LOL.

How do you write books? 
Very methodically. I spend a good bit of time jotting storyish things—plot points, character quirks/traits, lines of dialogue, you name it—in a composition notebook, and then when there's enough stuff in there, I put things in order and build an outline. Then I draft. Then I revise. 

What do you like best about writing? 
I literally am paid to make things up and/or express my opinion. What could be better?

What do you find the most challenging about writing?
At this point: making time to DO it. 

What do you think makes a good story? 
Solid characters that transform over the course of a believable plot taking place in an immersive setting and driven by emotion-tugging stakes. 

Where do you get your inspiration? 
Literally any and everywhere. 

Tell us about your latest book. 
Odd One Out (Crown Books for Young Readers) follows three high schoolers trying to navigate the intersections of friendship and romance, and figure out who it's okay to love. It's about questioning and attraction and sexuality and labels (or the lack thereof), and it's really my love letter to my teen self, who needed a book just like it. 

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What’s next for you? 
MORE BOOKS! And maybe some other stuff too ... stay tuned!

Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like people to know about you and/or your books? 
You didn't ask my favorite word or what I like to do in my free time! The former is "sesquipedalian" and the latter: sleep. 


For more information about Nic Stone and her books, visit www.nicstone.info.
Photo by Nigel Livingstone.


Visit Nic Stone at the Miami Book Fair! November 11-18, 2018 at Miami Dade College.

Nic is presenting Odd One Out on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 1 p.m. at the MDC Live Arts Lab

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For more than three decades, Miami Book Fair has been committed to fostering a love of reading in children of all ages. This includes Miami Book Fair’s literacy initiative Read to Learn Books for Free, in partnership with The Children’s Trust, which distributes of thousands of free children's books around Miami-Dade county via its bookshelves; during the 2017-18 school year, over 91,711 books were distributed to the children of Miami-Dade County.

Additionally, MBF hosts over 10,000 school kids – elementary, middle and high school students from all over Miami-Dade County to listen to and meet their favorite authors – many of whom leave with free books.

All-aged fairgoers will enjoy the lively Street Fair and Children’s Alley, a pop-up children’s learning activities village boasting live performances; and, students in K-12 enjoy special author presentations and workshops at the Fair and in their schools as part of the Generation Genius program, and college students will meet with selected authors for in-depth discussions on specific subjects as part of the Fair’s Classroom Collaborations program.

Tickets: Free for kids; $5 12-17 and seniors and $8 general admission

For more information please visit miamibookfair.com

Story Monsters Ink Announces New Column from Judy Newman, President of Scholastic Book Clubs

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Each month, Scholastic Book Clubs distributes fliers to more than 800,000 teachers with images of colorful, promising books for their students, who enthusiastically select which ones they want to order and read. According to Judy Newman, President and Reader-in-Chief of Scholastic Book Clubs, a division of Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education, and media company, teachers do the most important work on the planet: educating children and inspiring them to see themselves as readers. “At Scholastic Book Clubs, teachers are our partners in our efforts to get more books into all kids’ hands,” Newman says. “Our model is all about choice. And we know from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, when kids choose their books, they read more. It’s about making books and reading fun and accessible to all.”

To continue that effort, Newman has begun a monthly column in Story Monsters Ink magazine. She will share stories of her own and resources for educators to encourage a joy and love of reading in all children. Her first column will appear in the November, 2018 issue of the magazine.

The column, entitled “Life of a Reader,” similar to Newman’s own weekly Scholastic Book Clubs blog, is one more way people can connect with Scholastic Book Clubs and Story Monsters Ink magazine and learn about books they might want to read or authors they want to know more about—and get behind the scenes glimpses into the world of children’s literacy. “I am so honored that Judy will be writing a monthly column in Story Monsters Ink,” says Linda F. Radke, a former special education teacher, president of Story Monsters LLC and publisher of Story Monsters Ink. “She is a champion of children’s literacy and we share the same goal: to encourage and inspire a love of reading in young minds.”

Story Monsters Ink® is an award-winning magazine that offers the latest news on children's books and products, celebrity and independent author profiles, book reviews, activities, reading guides, special featured columns, and more! It’s a monster of a magazine, filled with great reads for growing minds! To learn more, visit www.StoryMonsters.com. To learn more about Judy Newman and Scholastic Book Clubs, visit www.judynewmanatscholastic.com.

Author Spotlight: Kiersten White


"Exquisitely disturbing. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a beautiful tapestry of horror, sewn together with threads of madness, obsession, and murder. Kiersten White has written a masterful and monstrous retelling." — STEPHANIE GARBER, #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Caraval and Legendary


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Where did you grow up? 
In Utah. I’ve lived in San Diego, California, for fourteen years now.

Did you read a lot as a child? 
Yes! Every chance and every thing I could.

What were some of your favorite authors and books? 
I loved Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery and The Redwall series by Brian Jacques. They were some of my first favorites.

What did you want to be when you grew up? 
I always wanted to be an author. It worked out!

Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer. 
In high school I worked in a sandwich shop. In college I worked as an editor for professors. And after college I wrote articles for websites before I sold my first book.

How did you get started writing? 
I always wanted to write. When I graduated from college, I had my first baby a couple of weeks later, so I was home with her while my husband did graduate school. He bought me a notebook and said I should start writing the book I was always talking about. It took me two years, but it showed me I could do it!

Why do you write books?
I genuinely love the thrill of discovering a story and the puzzle of pulling it all together. There’s nothing I would rather do.

What do you find the most challenging about writing? 
I have three kids, and sometimes it can be hard to have enough quiet in my brain for a story to take root. But once I get momentum, I love drafting and editing.

What do you think makes a good story?
Characters who you don’t necessarily always like, but who you always understand and care about.

Where do you get your inspiration? 
Movies, music, other books, folklore, history, and travel.

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Tell us about your latest book. 
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a retelling of the original novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. My version makes Elizabeth Lavenza, Victor Frankenstein’s childhood companion and fiancée, the main character. With Victor missing and her place in the Frankenstein house threatened, Elizabeth sets out to find him, determined to let no one—and no thing—stop her.

What’s next for you? 
Slayer, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff, comes out in January!

Visit Kiersten White at the Miami Book Fair! November 11-18, 2018 at Miami Dade College.

Kiersten is presenting on the Tales of Transformation: Thrilling YA Fantasy panel on Saturday, Nov. 17, at noon w/Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles), Somaiya Daud (Mirage), Megan Shepard (Grim Lovelies) in the MDC Live Arts Lab. 

 

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For more than three decades, Miami Book Fair has been committed to fostering a love of reading in children of all ages. This includes Miami Book Fair’s literacy initiative Read to Learn Books for Free, in partnership with The Children’s Trust, which distributes of thousands of free children's books around Miami-Dade county via its bookshelves; during the 2017-18 school year, over 91,711 books were distributed to the children of Miami-Dade County.

Additionally, MBF hosts over 10,000 school kids – elementary, middle and high school students from all over Miami-Dade County to listen to and meet their favorite authors – many of whom leave with free books.

All-aged fairgoers will enjoy the lively Street Fair and Children’s Alley, a pop-up children’s learning activities village boasting live performances; and, students in K-12 enjoy special author presentations and workshops at the Fair and in their schools as part of the Generation Genius program, and college students will meet with selected authors for in-depth discussions on specific subjects as part of the Fair’s Classroom Collaborations program.

Tickets: Free for kids; $5 12-17 and seniors and $8 general admission

For more information please visit miamibookfair.com

Author Spotlight: Alex Beard


Can warthogs fly? Do tigers eat broccoli? For answers, follow along as Warthog lies his way to the throne in this timeless, yet most timely tale from the Watering Hole. With a nod to Aesop and Kipling, The Lying King has lessons for everyone, from the playground to the boardroom and beyond.

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Where did you grow up? 
I grew up in NYC in the 1970s, back when the city was a little grittier than it is today, but wonderful for its eccentricity.

Did you read a lot as a child? 
I didn’t really start reading voraciously until I was about 10 years old. I was swept away by Roald Dahl’s Danny, Champion of the World, and from there it was off to the literary races.

What are some of your favorite authors and books? 
I’m still a big fan of Roald Dahl, but I also like Kipling and Conrad, in addition I’m a big fan of the genre of anthropomorphic parables, from Animal Farm to Watership Down, Yertle the Turtle and Maus.

What did you want to be when you grew up? 
I always wanted to be an artist and author, which I am, but I also would have liked to play third base for the Yankees. I never got the call from George Steinbrenner, though. Oh well.

Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer. 
I don’t know that I’ve ever really had a job as one might think of it, but I’ve been working pretty hard on the whole artist/author role for quite a while now ... all the way back to my first solo exhibit in SoHo when I was in my early 20s, and while sometimes it’s a little hand to mouth, at least there’s no retirement age.

How did you get started writing? 
I started writing because I was presumptuous enough to think that what I had to write was worth reading, and while my wife would tell you that more often than not what I have to say is hot air, I still think I’ve got a few thoughts worth conveying.

Why do you write books? 
I write books to try to impart truth, and I use wildlife as a means of doing so, because I believe that it’s easier to reflect back on ourselves through the eyes of animals than it is by using people. 

What do you like best about writing? 
I like the process of chewing on a thought until I can refine it down into its most simple and concise form. It’s a little like putting together a puzzle until every piece fits just right to complete the whole.

What do you find the most challenging about writing? 
The most challenging aspect is having something worth saying in the first place, and then working on it until the message is conveyed in its least pedantic fashion. It can be hard not to get too preachy, but I learned early to kill my darlings, and that’s been quite helpful.

What do you think makes a good story? 
The best stories are those that transcend the time in which they’re written. A good story  is one that entertains and teaches at the same time.

Where do you get your inspiration? 
I draw my inspiration from Nature. I use animals to soften what I think to be particularly pointed subjects, and try to search for truth and beauty (even when it’s ugly) in what I observe.

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Tell us about your latest book. 
My latest book, The Lying King, is a parable about the rise and fall of the archetypal demagogue. At a time when it seems that truth is on the defensive, The Lying King is my version of what happens in the end to the serial liar. Hint, it never ends well for the liar!

What’s next for you? 
As soon as I’m done touring to promote The Lying King, I’m off to the coast of East Africa to dive with the whale sharks, to spend some time with my family, and to listen to the wind blowing off the Indian Ocean. After that, it’s all wait-and-see pudding!

Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like people to know about you and/or your books?
I’m not sure what more to say about me and my books, but I would like to leave you all with the following three things:

1) Tell the truth!

2) Expect OTHERS to tell the truth, and

3) Be honest with yourself.

If we all do those three things, I think the world would be a better place.

For more information about Alex Beard and his books, visit alexbeardstudio.com.

Visit Alex Beard at the Miami Book Fair! November 11-18, 2018 at Miami Dade College.

Alex is presenting The Lying King at noon on Sunday, Nov 18
at Mr. Wembley’s Storytorium in Children’s Alley.

For more than three decades, Miami Book Fair has been committed to fostering a love of reading in children of all ages. This includes Miami Book Fair’s literacy initiative Read to Learn Books for Free, in partnership with The Children’s Trust, which distributes of thousands of free children's books around Miami-Dade county via its bookshelves; during the 2017-18 school year, over 91,711 books were distributed to the children of Miami-Dade County.

Additionally, MBF hosts over 10,000 school kids – elementary, middle and high school students from all over Miami-Dade County to listen to and meet their favorite authors – many of whom leave with free books.

All-aged fairgoers will enjoy the lively Street Fair and Children’s Alley, a pop-up children’s learning activities village boasting live performances; and, students in K-12 enjoy special author presentations and workshops at the Fair and in their schools as part of the Generation Genius program, and college students will meet with selected authors for in-depth discussions on specific subjects as part of the Fair’s Classroom Collaborations program.

Tickets: Free for kids; $5 12-17 and seniors and $8 general admission

For more information please visit miamibookfair.com

Story Monsters Ink October Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

Mrs. Mole, I’m Home!
by Jarvis (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Jarvis crafts a humorous tale in Mrs. Mole, I’m Home! After losing his pair of glasses, Mr. Mole cannot seem to find his way home. Time after time, he is mistaken as he burrows his way into some interesting situations. Equipped with a map and brilliant colors, young readers will surely dig this story. Used as a teaching tool, this laugh-out-loud story would be a great read aloud to discuss responsibility, map skills, and problem-solving. (Ages 2-5)

A Typically Random Extraordinary Day
by Patrick Enders, Barbara Counsil (Snowbelt Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Story time will surely take on laughter and a snort when this delightful, rhythmic story comes to an abrupt stop with a typically random silly thought. So often, we fail to keep our thoughts corralled to the end of a conversation, and we begin to jump ahead and anticipate what is to be said. Patrick Enders’ humor is light, fun, and very insightful. (Ages 3+)

We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands
by Rafael Lopez (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
A salute to the lives of all young people with rhythmic verse and repetitive emphasis on “we” and “our” encourages inclusive communities and the celebration of unity and diverse friendships all around the world. I bet you can’t read this book without singing! Its positive message and colorful illustrations are sure to delight. (Ages 3-5)

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Sammy’s Spooktacular Halloween
by Mike Petrik (Two Lions) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Diehard Halloweenies unite! Sammy is ready for next Halloween—starting November 1st! A fun story about a little boy in love with preparing for his family’s annual haunted house. Little ghosts and ghouls will love watching Sammy getting ready for next Halloween; that is, if his family can handle a full year of tricks! (Ages 3-7)

What If Everybody Said That?
by Ellen Javernick, Colleen Madden (Two Lions) Reviewer: Julianne Black
This is a great one for bullying awareness and kind campaigns at school or difficult talks at home. Why? Because there are many situations where it makes a bigger impact to see the consequences of one’s actions or, in this case, words. In What if Everybody Said That, not only do we see the remarks that are hurtful as examples of what not to say, but they are paired with possible consequences about how they make others feel or what impact negative words have on our surroundings. Javernick and Madden let you experience what it looks like to be on the other side of unkind words and it makes an impact. Powerful but not preachy, it’s a wonderful pro-kindness tool. (Ages 3-7)

That Bear Can’t Babysit
by Ruth Quayle, Alison Friend (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Ruth Quayle and Alison Friend create a delightful tale about a family of rabbits needing a babysitter for an evening. Bear answers the call to help Mr. and Mrs. Burrow and the rabbit family. The bunnies soon find out that Bear is not quite ready to take on the task of watching seven energetic bunnies. Test after test proves Bear’s inexperience, leaving the bunnies questioning his ability to babysit. However, eventually Bear captures their attention with his imaginative ship, much to the bunnies’ delight. Children will enjoy the colorful illustrations and humorous situations which are found in this hoppy tale. (Ages 3-7)

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The Prince and the Pee
by Greg Gormley, Chris Mould (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
You never know when those trying predicaments may just lead you to greatness. Prince Freddie is off to conquer a nasty dragon after a leisurely afternoon spent sipping lemonade. He isn’t far into his task before jostling upon his faithful steed makes him have to pee! Difficulties along the way make it impossible to relieve himself, until he thinks he will burst. This giggle-worthy tale will keep your little ones wiggling in their seats right to the end. It’s sure to be a pleaser. (Ages 3-7)

Big Brown Bear’s Cave
by Yuval Zommer (Templar) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
This book made me smile from start to finish. What a beautifully clever and fun concept to share the story of a bear looking for fulfillment, discovering lots of ‘stuff’ that he likes, only to realize that his cave really feels like home when he is with his family and friends. The underlying theme of material goods versus meaningful relationships is powerful, but gently and subtly reflected in the book’s sweet story and stunning illustrations. The setting of Bear’s cave, human homes, and backdrop of the forest is exquisite. A story that will linger with readers long after it has been shared. (Ages 3-7)

The Treasure of Pirate Frank
by Mal Peet, Elspeth Graham, Jez Tuya (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Treasures, pirates, and adventures? The Treasure of Pirate Frank combines these fascinating, engaging, and high interest topics in a colorful, special and unique tale that children will find absolutely enchanting as they follow a curious boy on his quest for gold. Snowy mountains, monkey filled forests, bullfrog packed swamps, and islands filled with spice are no match for this boy and his determination to find Pirate Frank’s gold! Readers will giggle as they discover who Pirate Frank really is. A great mentor text for cumulative tales. (Ages 3-7)

Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes
by Eva Chen, Derek Desierto (Feiwel and Friends) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Trying to fit into someone else’s shoes can often be clunky and awkward. Instead of making us feel cooler, it can pinch our own bedazzling flow. Juno Valentine discovers there are some truly amazing shoes out there. But she also learns that she could take something special from each one and make her own perfect fit. Illustrations by Desierto are spunky and fun! This is a great seed planted in the field of individual style. (Ages 4-6)

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No Frogs in School
by A. LaFaye, Églantine Ceulemans (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is sure to bring a silent smile to every parent who deals with a child who follows very closely to the strict meaning of words used while being instructed them. Bartholomew Botts loves his pets, and while doing his best to follow the teacher’s rules, he determines which pets are best to share. I found this story highly enjoyable as a mom and grandma. The illustrations by Ceulemans are truly fun and entertaining. (Ages 4-7)

Mixter Twizzle’s Breakfast
by Regan W.H. Macaulay, Wei Lu (Mirror World Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The eye-catching illustrations will capture and hold the audience, while its text tugs the heart and makes one think. A glimpse into careless, selfish behaviors can be clearly seen, while hope for recovery bursts onto the scene. Love may just be the soft little thing that can turn this mischievous imp from being so mean! This is a great story to build powerful foundations of kindness and empathy, while warding off selfish behavior. (Ages 4-7)

The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael
by Bonny Becker, Mark Fearing (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The illustrations in this spooky tale are sure to send delightful shivers up and down every word read. A clever twist unfolds, and is sure to leave its reader howling with laughter. Remember, things are not always as they appear. (Ages 4-8)

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This is a Good Story
by Adam Lehrhaupt, Magali Le Huche (S&S/Paula Wiseman Books) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
There comes a time in an educator’s life when you find a treasure on the bookshelves that will be a definite game-changer in the classroom. This is destined to be that book. This tale teaches children the important parts of a fictional story while they are reading the storyline. What a novel idea! Teachers will appreciate this as a fun, educational read-aloud to introduce and teach literary terms like: hero, heroine, protagonist, antagonist, setting, conflict, plot, and climax. Together the author and illustrator brilliantly teach readers how to take a story from boring to extraordinary by adding depth to the details. A perfect addition to help young writers flourish and build upon their writing skills. (Ages 4-8)

The Very Last Castle
by Travis Jonker, Mark Pett (Abrams) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The pictures of this story captured me, so the words could work their magic. Bravery comes in packages both big and small. There is so much to digest in this simple story! I encourage you to get hold of it, devour it, and find the satisfaction in life it can avail. If we can look beyond opinions, rise above the fear of the different or unknown, what a treat we may find! (Ages 4-8)

Best Friends in the Universe
by Stephanie Watson, Le Uyen Pham (Orchard Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a delightfully realistic depiction of childhood friendship! Or maybe friendship in general. The illustrations are adorable and lively and bring forth the best of the text’s intentions. It’s a good learning tool in preparation for beginning friendships, and a perfect reminder of the joys of old ones. (Ages 4-8)

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The Greatest Adventure
by Tony Piedra (Arthur A. Levine Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Eliot won my heart from the first page! His eyes dance with wonder and excitement. Adventure and love fills his enormous heart. That is till the world disrupts its daily routine. The story carries the joy of imagination and childhood while capturing the heart of love and relationship. A grandparent and child seem to find magic in togetherness. Truly a heartwarming tale. (Ages 4-8)

The Peculiar Possum: The Nocturnals
by Tracey Hecht, Josie Yee (Fabled Films Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Our three Nocturnal friends encounter strange sounds and smells in the valley. When an unfamiliar animal appears, Bismark is not pleased! He is put off by his new encounter with a possum. She’s different, and he tries to find fault in her. But together with his friends, they discover different isn’t bad, it’s just an opportunity to discover something or someone new! A great book on acceptance, tolerance, and inclusion. (Ages 5-7)

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Mother Ghost: Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters
by Rachel Kolar, Roland Garrigue (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Is it Halloween yet? Get the kids ready for trick-or-treating with the cleverly adapted fairy tales from Mother Ghost! Here you will find spirited remakes of favorite nursery rhymes told with a ghoulish twist like “What are Little Bats Made of?” Along with “Hey Diddle Diddle, Black Cat with a Fiddle,” they are so much fun to read and share! Illustrator Roland Garrigue knocks it out of the park with his creepy visual pairings that give the whole book a wickedly fun appeal. (Ages 5-7)

Mission Defrostable (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast)
by Josh Funk, Brendan Kearney (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The brightly-colored cover will grab your attention. The illustrations by Kearney will hold it, and the unique characters are sure to bring a chuckle or two. It’s a fun take on problem-solving and teamwork, dusted with understanding and compassion. It’s easy to get caught in a trap of misperception, making poor judgements, and missing out on otherwise good things. A cute story that builds lasting foundations. (Ages 5-9)

Soccer School Season 1: Where Soccer Explains (Rules) the World
by Alex Bellos, Ben Lyttleton, Spike Gerrell (Walker Books US) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
I don’t play a lot of soccer, but right when I looked at Soccer School, I knew it would be tons of fun. I noticed as I got deeper into the book that there were facts, questions, and quizzes about soccer to keep you on your toes. I learned about all the planning, effort, and hard work that goes into playing the game. I loved the funny illustrations and how the book talks about every aspect of soccer, including what meal everyone eats before a game. I had a blast reading this book and I am now interested in the culture of soccer. This is a great book to bring on a plane or road trip to quiz friends and family. (Ages 7-10)

Night Buddies: Impostors and One Far-Out Flying Machine
by Sands Hetherington, Jessica Love (Adventures After Lights Out) Reviewer: Diana Perry
For young John Degraffenreidt, a sleepless night is no reason to fret when tossing and turning brings a bright red crocodile named Crosley out from under his bed. The impostors must be stopped, and Night Buddies John and Crosley are just the guys to stop them! Racing blimp stakeouts high in the sky, impostor traps organized with the help of a friend, and a never-ending supply of pineapple cheesecake frozen yogurt make for one totally super sleepless night. I not only found this book to be completely fun and entertaining to read, but very relatable. Kids will just love this funny and adventurous story. I can’t imagine a better bedtime book! (Ages 8-10)

Breaking the Barriers: A Girl’s Dream to Play Little League with the Boys
by Robbin Miller (Pen It! Publications, LLC) Reviewer: Diana Perry
During a summer family picnic in 1974, Robbin observes a little league game being played in a nearby baseball field. Seeing how much fun the game is, she wants to play too, but soon discovers that girls are not allowed to play little league baseball with boys. Refusing to give up her dream, Robbin learns about a famous court case ruled that same year, that girls were to be allowed to play. This is a fun-to-read story of a young girl’s pathway to breaking the all-boy barrier of her hometown and showing her community that girls could play the game just as well as the boys. I see both boys and girls rooting for her as they read this delightful story. (Ages 8-11)

Rosetown
by Cynthia Rylant (Beach Lane Books) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Rosetown is about a girl named Flora who is nine years old and already has a lot changing in her life. She has to deal with the loss of her dog, starting 4th grade, and moving back and forth from her mom’s house and her dads. This is a lot for anyone to go through, especially a nine-year-old, but luckily Flora has two good friends—one old and one new, which really helps. With her friends she laughs, has fun, goes on adventures, and talks. I can really relate to Flora because she loves to read! (Ages 8-12)

The Memory of Forgotten Things
by Kat Zhang (Aladdin) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
The Memory of Forgotten Things is a heartwarming story about a kid named Sophia who lost her mom. Sophia continues to share fond detailed memories of her mom when she was 10 years old and other ages but we learn that these “event memories” never happened, because Sophia’s mom died when she was six years old. Everyone can relate to this story of losing someone, and the grief that it can cause. The good news is Sophia finds a someone that she can relate to and who also has memory events like her that never happened. I like how the book has fantasy/science elements to it as well. (Ages 8-12)

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Dewey Fairchild: Teacher Problem Solver
by Lorri Horn (Amberjack Publishing) Reviewer: Diana Perry
In this follow-up to Dewey Fairchild: Parent Problem Solver, our genius problem solver, Dewey takes up the challenge of troublesome teachers. It turns out that tons of kids have problem teachers, so he’s soon up to his neck in cases. To make matters worse, the school is rationing toilet paper to one square per student and replacing the vending machines with a garden! This sparks a student protest and Dewey may have his hands full as he tries to come up with a solution that will please both sides. Kids will enjoy all the ways Dewey tries to become the Teacher Problem Solver that everyone needs. What a fun read! (Ages 8-12)

Dilby R. Dixon’s The Dilbonary
by Tony J. Perri (BookBaby) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Dilby R. Dixon is no ordinary 10-year-old boy. He is an outcast, the odd kid in school. To occupy his time, he uses his imagination to visit the most unbelievable places and have the most amazing adventures. From these dreams, he creates a secret journal of weird words that he calls the Dilbonary. No one knew about the Dilbonary until the school bully gets a hold of it and sets off a chain of events that will alter Dilby’s life forever. Kids who relate to Dilby will find comfort in this book knowing that they are not the only ones with these experiences. Young readers will have fun creating their own secret code words on the back pages and perhaps sharing with new friends. (Ages 8-12)

Secret Scouts and the Lost Leonardo
by Mr. & Mrs. Kind (Mokum Media) Reviewer: Diana Perry
When best friends Tom, Lisa, Sophie, and Jack stumble upon a mysterious sketch that has all the hallmarks of an Old Master, they decide to investigate. Soon they discover an original 15th century codex full of Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches, writings, and calculations. Their discovery tests their friendship and their journey brings them closer to the great Leonardo da Vinci than anyone ever before. But their quest comes with risks—including death, or worse, being lost in time. Young readers will get both an adventure and a history lesson in this new fact-fiction series. (Ages 10-16)


To submit your book for review, email cristy@storymonsters.com for submission guidelines.

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