America’s Treasures: State and National Parks

by Diana Perry

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America is home to over 10,234 state parks and 59 national parks. While there are many to visit, I recommend starting with the parks in your home state, then try to visit as many others as you can, including our national parks. While every park has an abundance of wildlife to see as well as hiking trails, boating, camping, and other outdoor activities, each also has specific things to do or see that makes them special. Here are some to consider:

The Grand Canyon National Park, AZ – Made of red rock, it certainly is a most photographic park at more than 277 river miles long, 18 miles wide and 1 mile deep. It is one of the seven wonders of the world and is the second highest national park. Most of the Grand Canyon is found here. Bison herds can be seen as you hike on the trails or ride a raft down the Colorado river.

Yosemite National Park, CA – Famous for its breathtaking waterfalls, Yosemite takes up 1,189 square miles and has one of the three largest exposed granite monoliths in the world; one is El Capitan, which rises 3,600 feet high from the valley floor. There is a train that you can ride throughout the park that exposes you to all the wonders of the nature, including the vast variety of wildlife. Stand next to the ancient giant sequoia trees or visit the Upper Yosemite Falls. At 1,430 feet, it is one of the five highest waterfalls in the world.  

Yellowstone National Park, WY – While you may not see Yogi Bear or his pal, Boo-Boo, you certainly won’t be disappointed when you visit this national treasure. You can see “Old Faithful,” the most famous geyser in America. It erupts on a regular schedule, which can range from 60 to 110 minutes between eruptions. Geyer spouts can vary from 106 to 184 feet high and normally last between 1½ to 5 minutes and can contain 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of water. Another great site to see is Mammoth Hot Springs, made of a form of colored limestone.

Niagara State Park, NY – It shares its border with Canada and is America’s oldest state park with over 400 acres. The Niagara Falls are what tourists come to see, but don’t stop there. Ride the Maid of the Mist, a boat tour that starts and ends on the American side but briefly crosses into Ontario. This ride takes you right under the falls and near the Rainbow Bridge, which is 1,450 feet long and 202 feet high.  Don’t forget to visit The Cave of the Winds, a natural cave behind Bridal Veil Falls. It is 130 feet high, 100 feet wide and 30 feet deep!

Moore State Park, MA – With 737 acres, there is much to do, such as canoeing, biking, hiking, motorized boating, cross-country skiing, fishing, hunting, and all sorts of fun activities and educational programs.  This state park is very historical and is home to some of the nation’s first stone mill foundations and a restored sawmill. There is a labyrinth of wooded paths that prove great fun to explore. 

Mammoth Cave National Park, KY – This park boasts of the longest cave system in the entire world with huge caverns and brightly colored stalactites and stalagmites. Make sure to take the Violet City Lantern Tour, where you walk through the cave with lanterns to light your way; it is three miles long and takes three hours to complete. You will also see the Star Chamber cavern, called that because there are formations in the dark ceiling that light up from the lanterns of visitors –they appear as if they’re starlights.

Everglades National Park, FL – This is one of the most primitive of the national parks and is the third-largest in the continental 48 states. The park is 2,400 square miles and offers some of the best birding experiences. Today’s high-tech population of young and old will enjoy geocaching. Geocaches are containers trackable by a GPS device and are hidden throughout the park. Families go on treasure hunts to find them. Make sure to visit Gator Park; not only can you see alligators in their natural habitat, but trainers put on gator shows!

Big Bend Ranch State Park, TX – This is as Wild West as it gets from the towering Chisos Mountain Range and much of the Chihuahuan Dessert. Take a rafting trip down the Rio Grande river through the beautiful Santa Elena Canyon with photographic limestone cliffs. You can also relax in one of the hot springs at Langford.

Custer State Park, SD – With 71,000 acres to explore, it won’t take long to spot one of their many buffalo herds. You can venture the territory on a trail ride or sit in a Safari Jeep. Try to make it up to Black Elk Peak. At 7,242 feet tall, it is the highest point east of the Rockies.

Sequoia National Park, CA – This is home to the world’s largest trees, one in particular is the General Sherman Tree at 275 feet tall and weighs over million pounds!

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There are so many reasons to visit your local state and national parks. While they all offer the chance to commune with nature, each park is unique. Unlike many vacations, visiting our parks is most affordable. You can even camp out in a tent or rent a cabin for very little money. With our lives so hectic, it is healthy for us both mentally and physically. There are not too many things more relaxing than being out in nature.

Kids and adults alike will get an education first-hand when exploring one of our parks. Rather than just reading about them, experience them for yourself, especially when you get to see some of the wonders of the world up close. It’s the perfect way for anyone to learn about America and its history. Fresh air and exercise are so healthy. Just take a hike to see the sights—you’ll feel better and you’ll certainly sleep well, too. Not only can you bond with family members and friends, but you get the rare chance to bond with nature itself. What are you waiting for? Go have an adventure at one our America’s great parks!

Story Monsters Ink August Book Reviews

 

Check out this month's book reviews!

Anne’s Colors
by Kelly Hill (Tundra Books) Reviewer: Diana Fisher
For children learning colors, this unique board book is engaging and delightful to explore. The illustrations—hand-embroidered tableaus—are cozy and sweet, with enough elements in each to hold interest and entice the imaginations of little ones. Inspired by the story, Anne of Green Gables, it stands alone as a darling way to introduce and teach colors. (Ages 3+)

The Three Little Superpigs
by Claire Evans (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Have you ever wondered what happened to those three little pigs once that big bad wolf was outsmarted? Well, here’s the sequel! The wolf has had lots of time to plot his revenge while incarcerated for his dastardly deeds. The winning illustrations bring this old classic a fresh twist on its telling. It’ll be fun for all. (Ages 3-5)

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Misunderstood Shark
by Ame Dyckman, Scott Magoon (Orchard Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The filming of an underwater TV show goes awry when the crew gets interrupted by a sharrrk! Poor Shark, he wasn’t trying to scare them, he’s just misunderstood! Then he’s accused of trying to eat a fish. Will Shark ever catch a break? After all, he wasn’t going to eat the fish, he was just showing it his new tooth! Or was he? Interesting fun facts throughout the story. (Ages 3-5)

Nanny Paws
by Wendy Wahman (Two Lions) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
We take our pets seriously. They are members of our family, and a vital part of our personal community. And, they too, seem to view us with the same love and devotion. Nanny Paws is an adorable tribute to that returned loyalty. Nanny watches over her girls with pure delight. This is a bright and lively depiction of the joys that are shared growing up with our furry friends. (Ages 3-7)

What’s Next Door?
by Nicola O’Byrne (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Julianne Black
All he wants to do is get home … or, he’ll eat you. Each page brings a problem for poor Carter the Alligator and that means a new task for the reader. With every page, your preschooler will squeal with delight watching what happens to poor Carter. Completely adorable interactive story in cheeky Mo Williams style humor paired with bright and busy illustrations. Most definitely a smile winner! (Ages 3-7)

Goodnight, Anne
by Kallie George, Genevieve Godbout (Tundra Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
I am a true fan of L.M. Montgomery’s classic novel, Anne of Green Gables, and found this sweet reminiscence of Anne’s ability to catch you up in her exuberance, a great delight. Kallie George depicts Anne’s lively ability to breathe in the very essence of life all around her, and will encourage readers everywhere to capture and release every joy with a full and thankful heart. (Ages 3-7)

Pippa & Percival, Pancake & Poppy: Four Peppy Puppies
by Deborah Diesen, Grace Zong (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This delightful story is sure to bring shouts and pleas to read it again. Its upbeat rhythm keeps pace with these four peppy pups! It’s fun, colorful, and adventurous. (Ages 3-7)

I’m a Duck
by Eve Bunting, Will Hillenbrand (Candlewick) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This sweet, rhythmic tale rolls as easily across the heart as it does the tongue while reading aloud. The illustrations by Hillenbrand so capture Duck with endearing charm that you love him from the first page. An adorable story to remind us we are wonderfully made, and perfectly equipped to undo our fears. (Ages 3-7)

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Night Job
by Karen Hesse, G. Brian Karas (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a sweet story of life shared between a boy and his dad. Memories of moments embraced together in the face of daily, or in this case nightly, routine events. Passing time may rub and smudge the details, but the heart catches and holds the togetherness forever. (Ages 3-7)

The World-Famous Book of Counting
by Sarah Goodreau (Big Picture Press) Reviewer: Diana Fisher
Based on a magic show, this pop-up, lift-the-flap, pull-the-tab board book makes learning to count fun and interactive. Each page represents a number—one through ten, and additionally, zero—by way of revealing elements of the magic show, which must be discovered and then can be counted. The interactive aspect and colorful illustrations will entice children to play with this book over and over. (Ages 3-7)

A Campfire Tail
by Sarah Glenn Marsh, Ana Gómez (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Playing to your strengths. Staying true to your friends. Being yourself. Acceptance. Inclusion. Celebrating differences. There are so many lessons wrapped up into this adorable picture book about a summer camp set of buddies that go through the worst and best camp life has to offer. Adorable illustrations, wonderful rhythm, and hysterical situations bring this picture book to its conclusion, a feel good reminder of what makes strangers into great friends. (Ages 4+)

The Thank You Book
by Mary Lyn Ray, Stephanie Graegin (HMH Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
I love this little book! The illustrations are heartfelt and endearing. Its message monumental. At times we look out over the horizon and our world seems to be crumbling. Coming from an older generation, I see things that once were that no longer are. Oh, the motions are the same. The words remain the same, but the heart that lit and carried them forth has dimmed its light. This little book stokes the dying embers, and reminds us that Thank You is more than good manners. More than vague responses to actions. It’s life stirring in the heart and giving a response of genuine joy. Let’s rekindle the excitement in our little ones, and bring a new beat to our steps. (Ages 4-7)

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Quiet Wyatt
by Tammi Sauer, Arthur Howard (Clarion Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Life would soon become boring if everything and everyone were the same. It’s the differences that supply depth and shading to the overall picture. In this story, Wyatt is quiet, and he likes it that way. Until one day, he is paired up with noisy Noreen. We all find ourselves in similar situations at some time or another. Times when the differences and contrasts pinch and bind. But, Wyatt manages to stay true to himself, and still find acceptance for those who are different. (Ages 4-7)

I am the Boss of this Chair
by Carolyn Crimi, Marisa Morea (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Having a sense of ownership and pride with certain things is a special treat and luxury as we get older and more comfortable, and that is exactly how kitty cat Oswald Minklehoff Honey Bunny III feels in his lovely and beautifully, brightly illustrated home: comfortable. Readers with siblings will make lots of personal connections to this story as Oswald’s life changes when a new member named Pom-Pom arrives. Pom-Pom especially loves Oswald’s chair, provoking Oswald to behave like a naughty little cat until they both get in trouble with their owner! Fantastic story for picture book lovers of all ages! (Ages 4-7)

See Hear: There’s magic all around you. What can you see? What can you hear? 
by Tania McCartney, Jess Racklyeft (EK Books) Reviewer: Julianne Black
A friendly and engaging explanation and illustration of situations involving the senses. The first half of the book dives into sight, but then twists in the middle to where the back cover becomes the beginning of the hearing section. Both senses meet in the middle in a clever way that invites the viewer to flip the book in order to explore the complementing side. Designed for children three and up, I think this could be used in kindergarten and even first grade as an introductory to basic sense exploration in science programs. Successful coverage of the topic plus the added bonus for being fun to flip through. (Ages 4-7)

Bitty Bot’s Big Beach Getaway
by Tim McCanna, Tad Carpenter (Simon & Schuster) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Bitty Bot doesn’t think the beach is much of a vacation. The sun is too hot and the sand is too gritty. He’d be much happier back home in Robot City. Until he makes some new friends, that is. Together, they let their imaginations play and find real adventure in Botco Bay. Fun can always be found where you allow it! (Ages 4-8 )

When a Dragon Moves In
by Jodi Moore, Howard McWilliam (Flashlight Press) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
When a Dragon Moves In is a delightful story about adventures with your dragon on the beach and all the creative things you can do with a pointy-tailed, crimson-winged friend by your side. The story starts with a little boy building a magnificent sand castle which attracts the attention of a home-seeking dragon. He comes in especially handy for keeping beach bullies away and creating the flight in a kite. Eventually the boy’s family gets a bit annoyed with all the dragon talk and the two companions part ways, until the next beach day, of course. (Ages 5-7)

When a Dragon Moves In Again
by Jodi Moore, Howard McWilliam (Flashlight Press) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
When a Dragon Moves In Again has equally gorgeous illustrations from corner to corner and captures the human characters expressions/emotions so magically that readers will find something new to look at with each read. This sequel begins with the father building a “castle” and of course this brings our fiery friend back into the plot. I marvel at the imagination and writing of author Jodi Moore as she ties the whole story together to the dragon adventures (is he part of the boys imagination or isn’t he?) into welcoming a baby into the family and the boy changing his mind about the new addition in a heartwarming ending. (Ages 5-7)

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The Fox on the Swing
by Evelina Daciutè, Aušra Kiudulaite (Thames & Hudson) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Paul is a young boy who lives in a tree with his parents. In Paul’s world, everything wonderful is orange, especially an odd fox he meets along his routine walk. Paul always keeps his eyes wide open, hoping to find adventure in any unsuspecting place. One special day, he comes upon the oddest thing, an orange fox on a swing. This sweet story of friendship will forever keep children hoping to find adventure. (Ages 5-9)

Waves: Physical Science for Kids  
by Andi Diehn, Hui Li (Nomad Press) Reviewer: Dawn Menge
Science can be fun for your children when they try the STEM activities included in this beautifully illustrated science book about waves. If you have a ball floating in a bucket of water and you move your finger around to make waves in the water, what happens to the ball? ”Waves in water, waves in wheat. Waves at a game: ‘Stand up! Take a seat!’ Waves in your hair, waves with your hand, powerful waves under the land. Make waves in a string, then stretch it taut, Waves are everywhere, whether we see them or not!” (Ages 6-9)

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Mr. Wolf’s Class
by Aron Nels Steinke (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Mr. Wolf has just started teaching at Hazelwood Elementary. He wants the first day of school to go well, but he’s got his hands full with his new class. Some of his students include: Margot, who is new in town and is trying to make friends. Sampson, who brought something special to school for show-and-tell. Aziza, who just wants everyone to be quiet and do their work. And Penny, who is VERY sleepy because she has a new baby brother at home, goes missing! I found this book to be a funny and adventurous tale that will keep any reader’s attention. (Ages 7-10)
  
Dream Big: A True Story of Courage and Determination
by Dave McGillivray, Nancy Feehrer, Ron Himler (Nomad Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a true story of heart. Life may not always play fair, challenging our dreams, testing our grit. But, if it’s a true dream of the heart, we always manage to find our way through it. Dave’s dream to be an athlete is sorely pressed upon, but he never gives up and finds his own personal way to achieve. A story of love and determination. (Ages 7-12)

Sewing School Quilts: 15 Projects Kids will Love to Make  
by Amie Petronis Plumley, Andria Lisle, Justin Fox Burks (Storey Publishing) Reviewer: Dawn Menge Quilt-making dates back to the Egyptian Pharaohs in 3400 BC. This step-by-step guide book gives you pictures and patterns for a variety of quilts, including how to make a fabric story. It even has a list of 10 uses for quilts, including keeping one in the car, using it as a bedspread, and snuggling up with your favorite handmade one. There’s a quilting dictionary that defines words such as appliqué, array, patchwork, and selvage. This how-to book will become a favorite and provide hours of fun and creativity. (Ages 8-12)

You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! 
by Alex Gino (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! is a heartfelt story of family, friendship, and discrimination. Jilly learns that every day in life she can grow and learn from her mistakes. Jilly’s baby sister is born deaf and her online friend is deaf and black. This opens her eyes to the world around her and discrimination of both deaf people and people of color. Jill is determined to stand up to bullies. (Ages 8-12)

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Making Friends
by Kristen Gusdnuk (Graphix) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Making Friends is a comical, graphic novel. Dany moves to a new school for 7th grade, which turns out to be difficult. Especially in the area of making friends. Dany gets a magical notebook from her deceased aunt’s attic. And much to Dany’s surprise, her drawing of what her “dream best friend” would be comes alive along with other people she draws. But sometimes what we image isn’t always the case. (Ages 8-12)

Panther Creek Mountain: The Big Adventure
by Clyde McCulley (Story Night Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Clay and Luke are brothers who live in the Appalachian Mountains during the 1950s. The boys and their cousin Sally Jane are trying to come up with ways to make money. They discover a hidden cave with pots and pans inside; there is also a wooden table and a fire pit. They wonder if someone still lives there and if they’ll come back. They decide to make this cave their secret clubhouse but have no idea of what’s to come. A great book to inspire kids to turn off their video games and head outside for some wholesome outdoor adventures. The included map of the Appalachians gives great visual aid to the story. (Ages 8-12)

Hailey Queen Pranking Makes Perfect: The Alien Encounter
by Rosie. J. Pova (Spork) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Hailey Queen can’t seem to stop herself from playing pranks on everyone—her friends, her classmates, her teachers and principal, perfect strangers, and anyone one who crosses her path. Each time, she promises herself to stop as she gets in serious trouble, but she just can’t help herself when the next opportunity arises. She finally meets her match when she wakes one day to find a female alien in her room. The alien is an even worse prankster than Hailey so she must find a way to stop it from playing pranks, especially since everyone thinks they were done by her! Kids will enjoy it. (Ages 9-12)

Strays
by Jennifer Caloyeras (Ashland Creek Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Sixteen-year-old Iris Moody has a problem controlling her temper, but then, she has a lot to be angry about. When a note in Iris’s journal is mistaken as a threat against her English teacher, she finds herself in trouble not only with school authorities, but with the law. In addition to summer school, dog-phobic Iris is sentenced to an entire summer of community service, rehabilitating troubled dogs. This story teaches that healing can come from the last place you’d expect—which could be a frightened, three-legged pit bull named Roman. The title is fitting, not just for dogs, but for troubled teens who feel like unwanted strays. (Ages 13+)

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Upside Down in a Laura Ingalls Town
by Leslie Tall Manning. Reviewer: Diana Perry
Sixteen-year-old Brooke Decker used to be the perfect girl but since her Mom died, she’s starting to get out of control. She drinks alcohol and sneaks out to college parties. She soon learns that her dad has signed up for a reality show which includes her and her little sister. She finds herself in a pioneer town with no modern conveniences; even her clothes are pioneer outfits. How will she make it to the end? This endearing tale will make any young reader realize the importance of family, especially when one of them is no longer there. I found this book to be touching, heartwarming, humorous and inspiring. (Ages 13+)

 

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Authors Receive Story Monsters Seal of Approval

 

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Picture Books (Ages 3-8)

Dear Master Dragon
Alva Sachs, Patricia Krebs

Danny Dragon decides to write a letter to The Master Dragon for help. Will The Master Dragon write him back or will he have to solve his problems by himself? Join Danny on his adventure as he discovers what it is like to be a REAL dragon.

The Fly with One Eye
R.M. Halterman

The Fly with One Eye follows an imperfect toy’s quest to belong as she grows from an outcast among the sale rack of toys to a hero. After the store closes for the night, one of the toys finds himself in trouble. It is the fly with one eye who brings everyone together and shows that we can’t be defined by our differences.

The Bat Book
Conrad J. Storad, Nate Jensen and Tristan Jensen

Bats are NOT scary! Little Boy Bat lives under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas. One day he overhears some human kids saying mean, nasty things about bats. He decides to write and illustrate a book so that he can teach those human kids some facts and the truth about bats.

Ollie the Autism-Support Collie (Therapy Dogs) 
Billie Holladay Skelley, James Paul Skelley

Ollie the Autism-Support Collie provides an easy rhyming text and colorful pictures to help children understand how support dogs provide comfort and security.

First Chapter Books (Ages 6–10)

Lindie Lou Adventure Series
Jeanne Bender, Kate Willows

When puppies Lindie Lou, Jasper, Topaz, Ruby and Diamond are born in St. Louis they have no idea of the adventures that await them. Each of the books in the series take place in a different place and in a different month of the year. Three clues at the end of each book give the reader hints as to where Lindie Lou will go on her next adventure. Follow her to Seattle, Des Moines, New York, San Diego, Tokyo and more.

Middle-Grade Books (Ages 8–12)

Dilby R. Dixon’s The Dilbonary
Tony J. Perri

Dilby R. Dixon was no ordinary 10-year-old boy. He was an outcast, the odd kid in school. To occupy his time, Dilby turned to his wild imagination as he would dream of the most unbelievable places and have the most amazing adventures. From these dreams, he created a secret journal of weird words that he called, the Dilbonary, which he took it everywhere he went, guarding it with his life. No one knew the Dilbonary existed, that was until the 6th grade when Riley Rogers, the school bully, got a hold of it, setting off a chain of events that would alter Dilby’s life forever.
 

Tween Novels (Ages 10-14)

The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak
Wendelin Gray  

Trouble is brewing in the province of Ling-xiu when the murder of an elderly queen sends young Princess Bingsong into exile at a forgotten mountain villa. When a series of hauntings begin and she finds her father’s old diary, Bingsong, her handsome bodyguard Azuma, the villa’s mysterious steward LimTamm, and teenage servant girls Peitho and Lysithe are drawn into a 400-year-old murder mystery hinted at by a string of small nightingale paintings. 

Making a Difference

Hiccup's Hiccups: The Bubble in Me
Dr. J. Alvarez

The Hiccup's Hiccups series was written with the intention of teaching children to embrace their differences and to cultivate the values of empathy and kindness. With shorter chapters, bigger print, and a few illustrations, these hilarious chapter books will entice and enrapture even the most reluctant readers.

Bacon's Big Smooching Adventure
Olivia Johnson

Bacon's Smooching Adventure celebrates diversity and how wonderfully unique we all are. This book is fun, whimsical, and empowering to children who care about animals in need.

Leyni's God Adventure: Read, Imagine, Draw
Sandy Hill

Can a five-year-old make a difference in our world today? Can she dream a big dream and make it come true? Follow Leyni as she explores the possibilities of her dream in Leyni's God Adventure. Leyni's true experiences inspired this story.

School Life

Dear Master Dragon
Alva Sachs, Patricia Krebs

Danny Dragon decides to write a letter to The Master Dragon for help. Will The Master Dragon write him back or will he have to solve his problems by himself? Join Danny on his adventure as he discovers what it is like to be a REAL dragon.

First-Time Author

Bacon's Big Smooching Adventure 
Olivia Johnson

Bacon's Smooching Adventure celebrates diversity and how wonderfully unique we all are. This book is fun, whimsical, and empowering to children who care about animals in need.

Dilby R. Dixon’s The Dilbonary
Tony J. Perri

Dilby R. Dixon was no ordinary 10-year-old boy. He was an outcast, the odd kid in school. To occupy his time, Dilby turned to his wild imagination as he would dream of the most unbelievable places and have the most amazing adventures. From these dreams, he created a secret journal of weird words that he called, the Dilbonary, which he took it everywhere he went, guarding it with his life. No one knew the Dilbonary existed, that was until the 6th grade when Riley Rogers, the school bully, got a hold of it, setting off a chain of events that would alter Dilby’s life forever.

Education/Reference

Annabelle & Aiden: Worlds Within Us 
J.R. Becker

"How did our universe form?" Annabelle & Aiden wonder. Luckily, the friendly Tardigrade Tom answers by taking the children on their biggest adventure yet! Soaring through space and time, they witness the universe's earliest stages, marvel at the big bang, and learn how each and every one of us is literally made of the same stardust. Readers will be empowered, learning how we each hold a part of the universe inside us, and are far more special, interconnected, and “larger” than we may think.

Spirituality/Religion

Heaven, Just Believe: Read, Imagine, Draw
Sandy Hill   

Just think how much fun it will be to imagine and draw all your own art. You get to add your name, photo, and share about yourself as the artist of the book. The Imagine Book is a companion book to the illustrated version, Heaven, Just Believe.

 

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Story Monsters Ink July Book Reviews

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Neck & Neck
by Elise Parsley (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Competition has its place in life. It can nudge us on to be our best. It can teach us the thrill of winning a prize, and reaching success. But sometimes, it can lose perspective and turn a positive into a threatening negative. Leopold, the zoo’s highlight of the fans, becomes threatened by the presence of a look-a-like balloon, and the battle begins. This comical story is sure to bring laughter, along with some clever insight. The illustrations are fun and lively, making this an all-around good time.

Scaredy Book
by Devon Sillett, Cara King (EK Books). Reviewer: Diana Fisher
Book—who has an endearing personality—loves his nook in the library, which is safe and cozy. But Book’s life is boring, until he summons up just a little courage, and then his adventure begins. Children will root for Book and applaud him in the end. His story will make you smile, and tickle your insides with warmth. The narrative is sweet, clever, inspiring, and amusing. And the whimsical illustrations complement the story wonderfully.

Anne’s Numbers
by Kelly Hill (Tundra Books). Reviewer: Diana Fisher
This charming board book, inspired by Anne of Green Gables, takes us along a walk through nature and teaches the numbers one through ten. The homey and gentle embroidered illustrations invite children to investigate and count the flowers, trees, friends, and other adorable elements of each tableau. Another in a series with Anne’s Colors—both books are captivating worlds to be in.

Roof Octopus
by Lucy Branam, Rogério Coelho (Sleeping Bear Press). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a lighthearted romp children will surely enjoy. It’s a delight from start to finish. A friendly giant octopus on the roof of an apartment building? Whatever could it want? The story, the colors, and the illustrations by Coelho all work hand in hand, making it truly a feel-good experience!

Animal Planet Chapter Book Series
by Animal Planet. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Animal Planet is a popular division of Discovery Communication. This fact-packed series is as enjoyable and entertaining as its TV counterpart. Each book is filled with details, education, and great facts. Perfect for kids on all levels. Great for school reports. I read Book #5 Horses!, and Book #6 Dolphins! and found them both impressive.

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Saffron Ice Cream
by Rashin Kheiriyeh (Arthur A. Levine Books). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Moving is hard. Whether it’s across town or across the big oceans, adjustments can be most uncomfortable. Excitement surrounds each new place, and each new discovery. Yet, sadness whispers in memory of old things left behind. Rashin lets herself find new joys, while she holds tenderly the old ones.

The One and Only Owen
by Nicole Evans Haumesser (Blurb). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Owen has lost sight of himself, and falls to wishing he were like others. Until he can refocus and find is own true value, his world takes on a gloomy outlook. We all have a part to play, a gift to add to the whole. Something so unique to us that it cannot be done by another. So, when we look and admire others, let it be for their special identity, and don’t let it take away from our own. Along with Owen, we learn life lessons to strengthen the heart.

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Don’t Touch My Hair!
by Sharee Miller (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This story is a great reminder to regard the personal space of others with respect and that courteous and gracious behavior promotes strong and friendly relationships. Everyone has boundaries. A personal space we find comforting. We all may have encountered a person who stands a bit too close when they speak. As kind and considerate people, we should be aware of these unseen barriers, and do our best to respect them.

Bulldozer Dreams
by Sharon Chriscoe, John Joven (Running Press Kids). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The illustrations will surely hold the interest of little ones as they read this story. Gentle reinforcement of nightly routines will tickle their fancy with these amazing machines. Additional titles include Race Car Dreams and Fire Truck Dreams. A great series to offer encouragement for strong and healthy bedtime habits.

Unstinky
by Andy Rash (Arthur A. Levine Books). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Living up to our name can be tough sometimes. Take Bud, he’s a stinkbug. Only thing is, he doesn’t stink! While all the others are outstinking each other, he comes up smelling like roses. Desperate to fit in, Bud tries hard to find his own personal foulness, but instead discovers a totally different talent. Sometimes, we just have to bring what we got and find our own special spot.

The Kool Kids & the Land Of the Giants
by James Tate. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
A fresh take on an old tale. Size isn’t always necessary to win a battle, but a strong faith that dares to believe it’s winnable. The Kool Kids have that kind of faith. They have their own giant wreaking havoc in their land. His name is Obesity, and with faith and prayer, they know just how to bring him down. Tate opens the topic of fitness and health in terms and interests kids can enjoy. Positive stories told, and retold, bring confidence and strength for our children to meet all the giants of life that may cross their path.

Dust Flowers (Tales from American HerStory series)
by Lisa Gammon Olson, Kyle Olson (Eifrig Publishing). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Everything about this touching story is soft and moving. From the illustrations by Kyle Olson, to the times in history that tore at the heart of its people. The reality of loss and hardship seen through a young child’s eyes, relates to us the dark days of drought that created the historic Dust Bowl Era of the early 1930s. This is a tender tale of love and hope, reminding us of the strength of those before us who endured and overcame, and forged the path we now travel. This is the first in a series to discover our nation’s past. I’m looking forward to the next.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul
by Susan Verde, Matthew Cordell (Abrams Books for Young Readers). Reviewer: Sherry L.
Hoffman
This is a book that resonates in the heart of its reader as the words by Susan Verde and illustrations by Matthew Cordell blend together in literary harmony. Told through the main character’s point of view as she poetically plans her act for the upcoming talent show at her school, readers are bound to make a connection through her love of music. This story trumpets the important message of being true to yourself and finding your inner voice. 

A Lion is a Lion 
by Polly Dunbar (Candlewick). Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
This wonderful story answers the age-old question, “Is a Lion still a lion..?” What if he’s dressed himself up and uses his manners? Has his inner self changed because he appears to be kind or is he still dangerous? Should you welcome him into your home and treat him to lunch? This book is an enchanting way to help teach children to stand up for themselves, trust their instincts, and just say “No.”

Frog and Beaver
by Simon James (Candlewick). Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
Frog and his friends the ducks and voles live happily beside the beautiful river. Along comes beaver searching for a place to build his first dam. Frog kindly invites him in to share in their world. But the animal friends soon learn that beaver might not be a good fit for their community when he stops the river from flowing. What happens next is a lesson on learning from your mistakes and how they affect others. This delightful book will help teach young readers about cause and effect and how to correct your mistakes when they have hurt others.

Goodnight, Seahorse
by Carly Allen-Fletcher (Muddy Boots). Reviewer: Denise A. Bloomfield
This is a delightful picture book that is reminiscent of the famous children’s story Goodnight, Moon, but the main characters are an adorable seahorse and other wonderful animals in the ocean. It is a simple book that children will enjoy hearing over and over again. I love the brightly colored illustrations and the pages at the end that include pictures and names of the animals of the coral reef. I even learned about an animal that I had never heard of before! I highly recommend this book for ages 2-5. 

Sewing the Magic In at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
by Lisa Gammon Olson, Lauren Rutledge (Eifrig Publishing). Reviewer: Denise A. Bloomfield
This is a charming story of a little girl named Nora who is a young seamstress for the circus. Nora is unaware of her part in the grand scheme of it all but she learns that she plays a big part in creating the magic. It’s a great story and it flows well from beginning to end. It also includes interesting facts about the circus and the illustrations are delightful! I would recommend this book for ages 6-11.

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I Feel Teal
by Lauren Rille, Aimée Sicuro (Beach Lane Books). Reviewer: Julianne Black
There are so many reasons to love I Feel Teal. First, the illustrations are simply adorable, each spread creates such a deep plunge into the corresponding feeling of emotion. Second, it’s totally relatable. Each situation represented is a very solid, very real experience to which we all can connect. But I think the biggest reason is that while the book uses colors to describe emotions, it doesn’t use the same stock colors and situations with which young viewers are already familiar. This book doesn’t regurgitate “red is mad, yellow is happy,” but includes more shades and variations introducing scarlet, mauve, ecru, etc. A wonderful read for anyone, but an especially fun eye-opener for a younger crowd.
 
I’m Sad (The I’m Books)
by Michael Ian Black, Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Simon & Schuster). Reviewer: Julianne Black
I didn’t know I could feel so much love for a book about a little girl, a flamingo, and their potato friend. Wonderful quick read about not fixing feelings, but experiencing them and letting them be okay. Sometimes we are all just sad. This story is about not being cheered up, and how that is okay, too. Wonderful characters, easy to absorb dialog for younger readers, and a completely relevant and important subject for a 4 years and up audience.

Know Where You Are series
by Dennis Brown (Ricky Reader, LLC). Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
The Know Where You Are series is fantastic selection of board books intended to educate, enlighten, and explore the world around us and explains how our brain processes this invaluable knowledge. Each book includes gorgeous pictures, easy-to-understand dialogue, and topics presented in an approachable way. I just loved how topics like geography, the human brain, and thoughts and emotions are explained so clearly, with fun characters sharing extra tidbits of information in speech bubbles. The Know Where You Are series is leading the way for readers of all ages to understand and appreciate how truly amazing our mind, body, and world really are. 

Hammer and Nails
by Josh Bledsoe, Jessica Warrick (Flashlight Press). Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
This fresh and fun story begins with Darcy’s devastation over her play date cancellation and the expression on her face when Daddy tries to console her captures every emotion little children experience when they are disappointed. Darcy reluctantly agrees to have a “Darcy Daddy” day instead, but they must follow her play date plan list, of course! Dress-up? Daddy surprises Darcy in his tutu. Lawnmower turned into a carriage? Daddy had pink ribbons to spare. Hair salon time? Fancy hairdo’s coming right up! The illustrations are superbly done, and the relationship between father and daughter is perfectly captured. A must-read for every family. 

Megabat
by Anne Humphrey, Kass Reich (Tundra Books). Reviewer: Diana Perry
Daniel Misumi has just moved to a new house. It’s big and old and far away from his friends and his life before. And it’s haunted! Megabat is now living in an old house far from home, feeling sorry for himself and accidentally scaring the people who live there. Daniel realizes it’s not a ghost in his new house. It’s a bat. And he can talk. And he’s actually kind of cute. Megabat realizes that not every human wants to whack him with a broom. This one shares his smooshfruit. This is the cutest story I’ve ever read. A great book for an early reader. 

Louisiana’s Way Home
by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick). Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Louisiana’s Way Home is a sweet, heartfelt story. I can tell you I wouldn’t want to be in Louisiana Elefant’s situation, which is to leave her home and everything in the middle of the night because her Granny wants to escape a family “curse.” Louisiana ends up in a small town in Georgia. Will she make her way back home to Florida or find a new home in Georgia? Will she discover the truth of the curse?  Sometimes the most difficult situations can be the best life lessons. I’m sure Louisiana can attest to that!

Red’s Planet
by Eddie Pittman (Harry N. Abrams). Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Red’s Planet is a quirky, imaginative and fun graphic novel! This comic-style book is engaging, especially following headstrong, adventurous 10-year-old Red. Red longs to leave her annoying foster family for her perfect world but before she does a UFO mistakenly kidnaps her. I like this book because it’s funny and you can relate to this type of story. Sometimes things don’t always turn out as you expect, but making the best of what comes is pretty much what Red must do to survive. 

The Key to Everything
by Pat Schmatz (Candlewick). Reviewer: Diana Perry
Tash didn’t want to go to camp, didn’t want to spend the summer with a bunch of strangers, didn’t want to be separated from the only two people she has ever been able to count on: her uncle Kevin, who saved her from foster care, and Cap’n Jackie, who lives next door. Camp turns out to be pretty fun, actually, but when Tash returns home, Cap’n Jackie is gone. All she has is the key Cap’n Jackie always insisted had magic in it. Jackie always said all Tash had to do was hold it tight and the magic would come. Was it true? Could the key bring her back? Young readers will be aware of the foreverness of love, especially when it’s mixed with a little magic.

Whatshisface
by Gordon Korman (Scholastic). Reviewer: Diana Perry
When 12-year-old Cooper Vega moves for the third time in five years, he receives a state-of-the-art smartphone to help him stay in touch with old friends. He’s had phones before, but this one is buggy and unpredictable. When a boy named Roderick Northrop communicates with him through the phone, Cooper realizes that his phone isn’t buggy at all; the thing is haunted! I loved the ending that transformed both Roddy and Cooper from self-imposed losers to unexpected stars.  A great read with a great ending. Kids will love it.

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Be Prepared
by Vera Brosgol (First Second). Reviewer: Diana Perry
All Vera wants to do is fit in―but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range―Russian summer camp. This is the perfect coming-of-age story for any young girl who is new at school or the most unpopular. It serves as the perfect example that when you change a few things about your character, you can become a new person and that can change how everyone else sees you, too. A most encouraging and inspiring story – I just loved it.

Doodle Journeys: A Fill-In Journal for Everyday Explorers
by Dawn DeVries Sokol (Harry N. Abrams). Reviewer: Diana Perry
This is a fun activity book that gets kids to develop and increase creativity by drawing and writing to create a story. It opens young minds to real and imaginary experiences. This is not one for a young reader to finish in a few hours—I could easily see this entertaining youngsters for a few days. This is the perfect book to take on a long ride; your little creatives will enjoy using their imaginations to complete the many pages. Not only is it fun, it is most educational as well.

Rock Log Kids (Nature Journals)
by Daniel Brandt, DeAnna Brandt (Adventure Publications). Reviewer: Diana Perry
This is a scientific and exciting read for any youngster. It contains everything you need to know to start your own rock collection. The Brandts also include games and projects and teach everyday uses of rocks and minerals. There are pages and pages of log sheets—enough to assist the weekend junior geologist in logging all their many finds. A great way to spend a weekend outside in the fresh air. I highly recommend this book to young, aspiring collectors.

Racing Manhattan
by Terence Blacker (Candlewick). Reviewer: Diana Perry
Jasmine Barton grows up hearing terrible stories about her now-deceased mother. To make things worse, Dad mysteriously disappears. She lives her early teen years with relatives who treat her more like hired help than family. She lives a lonely life until the day she meets another unwanted creature—a horse named Manhattan. Young readers who love horses will get an insider’s view on the sport of equestrian riding and particularly, life with these beautiful animals. I particularly love how Jasmine and Manhattan bring out the best in each other and the wonderful surprise ending. A fantastic read!
 

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

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Author Spotlight: Lea Herrick

Lea Herrick is the award-winning author of The Courageous Corgi and Ace, King of My Heart, and was inspired to write the books as tributes to her love for animals and the environment, with the hope that all living things will be cherished and protected.

Where did you grow up?    
I grew up in the Baltimore/Washington area but lived in Europe during part of my grade school years where my father was stationed abroad. I was given a wonderful opportunity to see other countries and cultures as a child at a time when most people were not traveling yet.

Did you read a lot as a child?  
Some of my first memories were of going to the Woolworth or Kresge dime stores with my mother and if I behaved, right before leaving the store, I would be allowed to select a Golden Book. Also, in elementary school, every child was given a Scholastic Books flyer to order books to purchase for reading at home. It was so exciting when the books arrived! I loved Margaret Rey’s Curious George series, the Homer Price books by Robert McCluskey, and Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary. I think there was a theme of curiosity and mischievousness that intrigued me. I also loved the Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene.

What were some of your favorite authors and books?   
I still love to read books for young readers, such as Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague series. I also have enjoyed Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie, Lisa Greenwald’s Dog Beach Unleashed and Gilbert Byron’s Mission Boy, which is a novel about Spanish Jesuits in the Chesapeake Bay area. My all-time favorite book is Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and I spent one entire summer reading that as a teenager.

What did you want to be when you grew up?   
Believe it or not, I wanted to be a geologist. At some point, I decided that maybe rocks were not my thing. Years later, I went on to get a Bachelor of Science degree and have loved animals, the beach, and things pertaining to nature ever since.

Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer.  
I began babysitting and had a neighborhood carwash business at age 11. Then in my teen years, I worked in a movie theatre and eventually had jobs as a secretary, bookkeeper, bartender, waitress, social worker, and volunteer coordinator.

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How did you get started writing?    
I was writing reports and newsletters in some of my full-time jobs, but when I retired, I felt a need to write a book as a tribute to my beloved corgi rescue dogs who came to my aid during a debilitating illness—hence, my first book in 2004, The Courageous Corgi, which is based on a true story. My two corgis came over to America from Wales and since my family also came to America from Europe, it became kind of autobiographical. I was thrilled when a London magazine picked up the story, and I even received a letter from Queen Elizabeth’s secretary regarding my book! Best Friends Magazine was the first to review The Courageous Corgi and just being a tiny part of the no-kill movement and seeing the growth in animal rescue is beyond words! Over the years, our family has had a number of rescue dogs, and currently my husband and I have two rescues—a standard poodle and a cocker spaniel. They came as a bonded pair and these “brothers” make us rich in love and teach us that the simplest pleasures in life are things that money just can’t buy.

Why do you write books?   
I love the creative process of telling a story, envisioning the cover, the art work, etc., but most importantly, want to convey a message in what I write. I want people to feel good at the conclusion of my books and take away something to inspire them as they go about their daily lives.

What do you like best about writing?   
I love watching the story unfold as it all comes together in a neat package.

What do you find the most challenging about writing?   
Multiple edits and rewrites to get the story and syntax just right can be very challenging, especially when you are trying to remember all your grammar rules from so many years ago.

What do you think makes a good story?   
Inspiration from a true event or place that the writer has experienced and has a passion for makes a great story. Write what you know.

Where do you get your inspiration?   
My inspiration these days are the animals and the beauty of our surrounding environment and wanting to share this message of protecting and conserving what is right in front of all of us. Also, my mother was my role model as she was a terrific writer and had a weekly column in our local newspaper as I grew up. She wrote poems during World War II, which unfortunately have been lost, but she also wrote a beautiful synthesis about immigration and her family in the early 1900’s, coming to America in steerage through Ellis Island.

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Tell us about your latest book.  
Ace, King of My Heart is my latest book and is a celebration of the 50th birthday of Assateague Island National Seashore and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. It tells the story of the herd behavior of the wild horses on the barrier island off the coast of Maryland and incorporates the animals and plants of the ecosystems that co-exist with the horses on Assateague. The herd on the Maryland side of the island are never rounded up and sold. They are allowed to live out their days as free, wild animals. The book was written at the time of the first round of talks regarding off-shore drilling off the coast of Maryland, and I wanted to capture a snapshot of what Assateague was like at that moment in time, through the eyes of a young colt, so that no matter what happens in the future, we will always have a mental picture of the island before any man-made intervention.

I remember listening to the baseball games with my dad on the radio, and the announcers were so adept at describing everything that you could envision it, and it was like you were sitting right in the stands at the ballpark. That is what I try to do when I am writing a story so that you feel like you are in that place and time. The park rangers and so many people that take care of Assateague State and National Park need to be commended for the terrific job they do, and a special shout-out to all that helped with the book! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my husband, who has worked with me and whose photographs served as templates for many of the illustrations in Ace, King of My Heart.

What’s next for you?   
I don’t think I am finished with the Maryland Eastern Shore as we have such bounteous gifts of beauty of our natural environment, and there are still more stories to tell.

Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like people to know about you and/or your books?
I’d like people to know that every person can have a second act, or a third act in life, and whatever that is, use your talents to try and make our world a better place. Take a chance, take a risk, and just go for it!

Lea's books are available on Amazon.com.

 

2018 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards Winners Announced

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Grand Prize Winner:
The Hugsmiler’s Hugs: A Story About Learning Values by Jessica L. Simons

$100 Drawing Winner:
The Lost Celt by A.E. Conran


Activity Books

1st Place: Dino Mazes: The Colossal Fossil Book by Elizabeth Carpenter
2nd Place: Mindful Me Activity Book by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Stacy Peterson

Animals/Pets

1st Place: Looking for Lola/Taco by Jennifer Kuhns, illustrated by Gabrielle Pate and Edward Luena
2nd Place (tie): Penny the Pink Nose Poodle by Dana DiSante, illustrated by Ingrid Lefebvre        
2nd Place (tie): Bubby’s Puddle Pond: A Tortuga’s Tale of the Desert by Carol Hageman, illustrated by Nathaniel Jensen
Honorable Mention:
Cloud the Horse: Cloud and Reddy the Red-Shouldered Hawk by Elizabeth Goodman Hardwick, illustrated by Lindsey Rowland                             
Ellie the Wienerdog: It’s Hard to Swim by K.J. Hales, illustrated by Serene Wyatt    
Judah’s Promise by Irene Maslowski                                     
Noname The Feral Cat! by Cynthia O’Brien, illustrated by Anne Berry                   
Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far by Regan W.H. Macaulay, illustrated by Javier Duarte
Chuck’s Journey Home by Anne E. Soares, illustrated by Randy Jennings                            
Miles and Jax by Kimber Iverson, illustrated by Jill Pearson                       
Quincy the Quail Saves a Life by Barbara Renner, illustrated by Amanda M. Wells
Tales From A Crowded Pet Room by Theresa Cones                                        
The Tortoise Tales by Sally Scott Guynn                                 
Tootsie McPeezalot by Sharon P. Stanley, illustrated by Jack Foster                        
Don’t Feed the Elephant by Sherry Ellis, illustrated by Md. Anwar                            
Miles and Jax: Master Planners by Kimber Iverson, illustrated by Jill Pearson                    
Wings and Feet by Lisa Reinicke, illustrated by Scot McDonald                 
Look Out, Gentry! by Elizabeth Moerschel, illustrated by Eve Funnell                    
Adelita  by Dorothy F. Potash                                     
Super Rooster and Wonder Cat by Alma Hammond, illustrated by Hugh Keiser                 
Bart’s Escape out the Gate by Lisa Reinicke, illustrated by Analise Black                             
Bob’s Spiritfly by Laura Kristi Cronin, illustrated by Dominic Glover                        
The Twin Dolphin’s Adventure: Meet Dusk and Dawn by V.A. Boeholt                                
Cody the Pony Goes to Pony Club by Michelle Path                                         
Gifts of Spirit 2: Animals and Their Natural Gifts by Kimberly Heil                             
Why are the Pigs Purple? by Sharon P. Stanley, illustrated by Eugene Ruble                     
Fenix: The Fearless Feline by Corey Seemiller, illustrated by Kacey Seemiller-Mitchell  

Arts/Music

1st Place: Los pajaritos by Yolanda Borras, illustrated by David Hicock
2nd Place: Charlie the Caterpillar by Andy Gutman
Honorable Mention:
Pop Lullaby by Andy Gutman                                     
Singing Bird: A Child’s Story by Naejh, illustrated by Natalya Kharitonova            

Best Cover Design

1st Place: Ellie the Wienerdog: It’s Hard to be Good by K.J. Hales, illustrated by Serene Wyatt
2nd Place: Castle in Danger by Karen Rita Rautenberg, illustrated by Valierie Sokolova
Honorable Mention:
Grandpa! Grandpa! What Will I See? by William P. Bahlke, illustrated by Lothar Speer  
Sonya Dor: Child Extraordinaire & Dreamer Galore by Saul Stoogenke, illustrated by Yoga D.C. Ariesta and Saul Stoogenke                               
Red Boots: Landis and his Magical Birthday! by Adam Wacker, illustrated by Aaron Boyd   
A Very Squeaky Mystery by Laura Angelina & Randy Williamson                               
Charlie the Caterpillar by Andy Gutman                                
The Very Loving Caterpillar by Sean Browne, illustrated by Doan Trang                
Pop Lullaby by Andy Gutman                                     
Why Can’t Uncle Come Home? A story for children struggling with the wrongful conviction of a loved one by Christiane Joy Allison, illustrated by Liz Shine

Best Illustrations

1st Place (tie): Gifts of Spirit 2: Animals and Their Natural Gifts by Kimberly Heil
1st Place (tie): Lily Pond by Shelley Daniels Lekven
2nd Place (tie): Ellie the Wienerdog: It’s Hard to Swim by K.J. Hales, illustrated by Serene Wyatt
2nd Place (tie): Bubby’s Puddle Pond: A Tortuga’s Tale of the Desert by Carol Hageman, illustrated by Nathaniel Jensen
Honorable Mention:
Los pajaritos by Yolanda Borras, illustrated by David Hicock                       
Sonya Dor: Child Extraordinaire & Dreamer Galore by Saul Stoogenke, illustrated by Yoga D.C. Ariesta and Saul Stoogenke                               
Bart’s Escape out the Gate by Lisa Reinicke, illustrated by Analise Black                              
Howl of the Lambergoon by Anthony Spaeth, illustrated by Marta Stawska                        
Pop Lullaby by Andy Gutman     
Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker                
Miles and Jax by Kimber Iverson, illustrated by Jill Pearson                       
Sammy’s Flame by Sam Ashkenas, illustrated by Dorene Uhrich                             
A Very Squeaky Mystery by Laura Angelina & Randy Williamson                                 
Grandpa! Grandpa! What Will I See? by William P. Bahlke, illustrated by Lothar Speer  
Why Can’t Uncle Come Home? A story for children struggling with the wrongful conviction of a loved one by Christiane Joy Allison, illustrated by Liz Shine               
Red Boots: Landis and his Magical Birthday! by Adam Wacker, illustrated by Aaron Boyd Miles and Jax: Master Planners by Kimber Iverson, illustrated by Jill Pearson                    
Charlie the Caterpillar by Andy Gutman                                
Cowboy Cody by Becky Wigemyr, illustrated by Dane Larocque

Best Interior Design

1st Place: Sonya Dor: Child Extraordinaire & Dreamer Galore by Saul Stoogenke, illustrated by Yoga D.C. Ariesta and Saul Stoogenke
2nd Place: The Twin Dolphin’s Adventure: Meet Dusk and Dawn by V.A. Boeholt

 Book Series

1st Place (tie): Other Life Lessons series by Meaghan Hadwyn and Niki Snjaric                  
1st Place (tie): If You Were Me and Lived in... A Child’s Introduction to Cultures Around the World series by Carole P. Roman, illustrated by Kelsea Wierenga
2nd Place: If You Were Me and Lived in... An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time series by Carole P. Roman, illustrated by Mateya Arkova
Honorable Mention:
Junior Lifeguards series by Elizabeth Doyle Carey                                           
The Legend of Dragonfly Pond series by Alene Adele Roy                                           
Talking Tales series by Erica Graham                                      
The Centaur Chronicles series by M.J. Evans                                       
The Engirlneers series by Shannon DeVivo and Heather DeVivo-Winz

Book Trailer

1st Place: Daisy, Bold & Beautiful by Ellie Collins
2nd Place: The We Belong Bunch: Pookie J.’s School Day by Dr. Samuel and Angela Johnson, illustrated by Fanny Liem
Honorable Mention:
Lily Pond by Shelley Daniels Lekven

Bookmark

 1st Place: Martina Ballerina by Imelda Sobiloff, illustrated by David Pfendler
 

 Chapter Books

1st Place (tie): Castle in Danger by Karen Rita Rautenberg, illustrated by Valierie Sokolova
1st Place (tie): Oh Susannah: It’s in the Bag by Carole P. Roman, illustrated by Mateya Arkova
2nd Place: The Tooth Collector Fairies: Batina’s Best First Day by Denise Ditto, illustrated by Gabhor Utomo
Honorable Mention:
Seaper Powers: In Search of Bleu Jay’s Treasure by Kim Cameron, illustrated by Rebekah Phillips
Seaper Powers: The Mystery of the Blue Pearls by Kim Cameron, illustrated by Rebekah Phillips
The Ghosts of Stony Manor by Roberta Hoffer, illustrated by Madison Gaines                   
Gross Heroes: The Snot Free Zone by D. W. Dawson                                         
Nerdi Bunny and the Busy Bee Bully Bear Business by Aisha Toombs, illustrated by Michael Morris                         
Hare ‘n’ There by Jenny Morris, illustrated by Sarah Hardy                          
The Tooth Collector Fairies: Home from Decay Valley by Denise Ditto, illustrated by Gabhor Utomo                                         
Seaper Powers: The Riddle by Kim Cameron, illustrated by Rebekah Phillips                     
Seaper Powers: The Rescue by Kim Cameron, illustrated by Rebekah Phillips

Charity/Making a Difference

1st Place (tie): Dynomike: Love Bug by Frankie B. Rabbit
1st Place (tie): The Lost Celt by A.E. Conran
1st Place (tie): When a Child Cries by Cassie Lee, illustrated by Reginald Byers
1st Place (tie): Justice Makes a Difference: The Story of Miss Freedom Fighter, Esquire by Dr. Artika Tyner and Jacklyn Milton
2nd Place: Sesame Street: Celebrate You! Celebrate Me! by Leslie Kimmelman
Honorable Mention:
Chuck’s Journey Home by Anne E. Soares, illustrated by Randy Jennings                              
The THING on Mount Spring by Jenny Morris, illustrated by Sara Hayat                 
The Bubble in Me by Dr. J. Alvarez                                           
The Very Loving Caterpillar by Sean Browne, illustrated by Doan Trang

Children’s Nonfiction

1st Place: Super Rooster and Wonder Cat by Alma Hammond, illustrated by Hugh Keiser
2nd Place: Buckets, Dippers, and Lids: Secrets to Your Happiness by Carol McCloud, illustrated by Glenn Zimmer
Honorable Mention:
Sammy the Seahorse by Martha Driscoll & Ann Driscoll, Ed.D, illustrated by Susan Andra Lion   
I’ve Got Dibs! A Donor Sibling Story by Amy Dorfman, illustrated by Darren Goldman

Cultural Diversity

1st Place: A Recipe for Home by Ghenwa Yehia, illustrated by Inna Ogando          
2nd Place: My Brown Skin by Thomishia Booker, illustrated by Jessica Gibson
Honorable Mention:
The We Belong Bunch: Pookie J.’s School Day by Dr. Samuel and Angela Johnson, illustrated by Fanny Liem
The Shapeless Shape by Victor Saad & David Kelley, illustrated by Edu Vea                         
Pola’s Flower by Diana Lynne Nadeau, illustrated by Lobsang Gyatso                     
Super Rooster and Wonder Cat by Alma Hammond, illustrated by Hugh Keiser                 
Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee by Stacie Haas                                           
Bonjour! Let’s Learn French by Judy Martialay                                   
Fenella and the Enchanted Forest by K.M. Ryant Hutzel, illustrated by Denis Proulx

Educational

1st Place: Ellie Rae Discovers Eight Ways to be SMART: A book about Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences by Mary R. Massey, Ed.D., illustrated by April Bensch
2nd Place: Little Katie Goes to the Moon by Carmela Dutra
Honorable Mention:
Talking Tales: Catch that Chinchilla by Erica Graham                                       
So You Want to Learn: Juggling by Matthew Wall            

Family Matters

1st Place: A Recipe for Home by Ghenwa Yehia, illustrated by Inna Ogando
2nd Place: The Tiny Mouse by Nakita Foreman, illustrated by Mary Ann Clawson
Honorable Mention:
I’ve Got Dibs! A Donor Sibling Story by Amy Dorfman, illustrated by Darren Goldman     
Daddy’s Family Tree by Kenneth Braswell, illustrated by Merve Terzi                    
Stuck in Bed: The pregnancy bed rest picture book for kids ... and moms by Jennifer Degl & Angela Davids, illustrated by Jennifer Lynn Becker                    
A Family Just Like Mine by Barbara-Anne Puren                                
Why Mommy Works by Meaghan Hadwyn and Niki Snjaric                   
Bobby Birthday by Larissa Juliano, illustrated by Joshua Allen                   
Why Can’t Uncle Come Home?: A story for children struggling with the wrongful conviction of a loved one by Christiane Joy Allison, illustrated by Liz Shine

Fiction: Collection of Short Stories

1st Place: Winter Wonder: A Collection of Stories for Children & Young Adults by C.M Huddleston, Katherine Ladny Mitchell, D.G. Driver, M.J. Evans, Joyce McPherson, Catherine McCarran, Meg Trotter, Cassandra Davis, Rebecca Hammond Yager
2nd Place: The Tortoise Tales by Sally Scott Guynn             

Food Related

1st Place: What’s On Your Plate? by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Christiane Engel
2nd Place (tie): A Recipe for Home by Ghenwa Yehia, illustrated by Inna Ogando
2nd Place (tie): Maddy & Cole (Vol. 1): The Food Truck Grand Prix by Richie Frieman

General

1st Place: The Shapeless Shape by Victor Saad & David Kelley
2nd Place: Mason’s Messy Room by Chris McClean
Honorable Mention:
Aimee and Divine Inspiration: On a Journey by Diane Bourgeois

Graphic Novel

1st Place: The Hidden Loch by Marlaine Maddux White, illustrated by Claude St. Aubin
2nd Place: Audrey’s Magic Nine: The Pencil and the Fuzzy, Book One by Michelle Wright, illustrated by Courtney Huddleston

Green Books/Environmental

1st Place: The Natural Storyteller by Georgiana Keable, illustrated by Shirin Adl
2nd Place: The Mystical Magical Abracadabracal Daniel McDougal McDouglas McFly by Sheryl Davis, illustrated by Eric Summers
Honorable Mention:
Sweet T and the Turtle Team by Cat Michaels, illustrated by Irene Jahns                               
I Am a Butterfly: A Story About Big, Beautiful Changes by Sally Stone                                    
Magic Moon: Bears Ears by Shirley Moulton, M.S.

Growing Pains

1st Place: The Shapeless Shape by Victor Saad & David Kelley

Health

1st Place: Mindful Me: Mindfulness and Meditation for Kids by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Stacy Peterson
2nd Place: Jayla Spreads Loving Kindness by Antonia Aviles, illustrated by Lovyaa Garg
Honorable Mention:
Planet Scrabbage and the Vegerons by Paul Ian Cross, illustrated by Philip Wills          
The Kool Kids & The Land Of The Giants by James Tate, illustrated by Jay Reed  

Historical Fiction

1st Place: A Family for Leona by Beverly Stowe McClure
2nd Place: Castle in Danger by Karen Rita Rautenberg, illustrated by Valierie Sokolova  
Honorable Mention:
Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee by Stacie Haas                                           
Wanted: Bronco Charlie Rides the Pony Express by Alexandra Parsons, illustrated by Beatrice Favereau

Holiday

1st Place: Catching The Christmas Spirit by Bob Outman, illustrated by Dave Franks
2nd Place (tie): Dancing Dreidels by Alva Sachs, illustrated by Patricia Krebs
2nd Place (tie): The Very Best Christmas Tree EVER! by Mark Edgar Stephens
Honorable Mention:
George by Roxy Morgan, illustrated by Laura Winslow                  
Spivey’s Web by Sandra Warren, illustrated by Susan Fitzgerald                               
Felice the Christmas Fairy by Irene Mathias, illustrated by Anja Uhren

Humor

1st Place: Cinderella’s Other Shoe by Philippa Rae, illustrated by Tevin Hansen

LGBT

1st Place: Xander’s Story by Alejandro and Christopher Garcia-Halenar

Media Kit

 1st Place: Martina Ballerina by Imelda Sobiloff, illustrated by David Pfendler

 Middle Grade Fiction

1st Place: The Lost Celt by A.E. Conran    
2nd Place (tie): The Centaur Chronicles: The Stone of Integrity by M.J. Evans         
2nd Place (tie): The Crystilleries of Echoland by Dew Pellucid                       
Honorable Mention:
Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend by Cheryl Carpinello, illustrated by Zyad Kadri
Gross Heroes: The Snot Free Zone by D. W. Dawson                                         
The Longest Halloween: Gabbie Del Toro and the Mystery of the Warlock’s Urn by Frank Wood
Danny and the DreamWeaver by Mark Poe                                        
Castle in Danger by Karen Rita Rautenberg, illustrated by Valierie Sokolova                      
The Villains of Splazat by Jesse Arrington III                                       
The Tortoise Tales by Sally Scott Guynn                 

Mystery

 Honorable Mention: Some Dude Fell Overboard by Grant Fieldgrove

 Outdoor Recreation

1st Place: Cowboy Cody by Becky Wigemyr, illustrated by Dane Larocque

Picture Books 5 & Younger

1st Place (tie): Half-Cat by DJ Corchin, illustrated by Tyler Hawx
1st Place (tie): How to Move an Elephant by AJA               
1st Place (tie): Never Have I Ever Seen by MaryKate Cohane, illustrated by Bonnie Wiegand
1st Place (tie): The Hugsmiler’s Hugs: A Story About Learning Values by Jessica L. Simons
2nd Place: Pop Lullaby by Andy Gutman
Honorable Mention:
5,4,3,2,1 Ka-Boom! by Sarah Stevenson, illustrated by Ozzy Esha                             
Cassie Pup Takes the Cake?? by Sheri Poe-Pape                                               
Los pajaritos by Yolanda Borras, illustrated by David Hicock                       
Cowboy Cody by Becky Wigemyr, illustrated by Dane Larocque                               
Every Month I Love You More by Ashley West                                   
Grandpa! Grandpa! What Will I See? by William P. Bahlke, illustrated by Lothar Speer
I Am a Butterfly: A Story About Big, Beautiful Changes by Sally Stone                                    
Little Mouse’s Sweet Treat by Shana Hollowell, illustrated by Jennifer Finch                      
Brayden’s Magical Carousel Horse by Anita A. Caruso, illustrated by Randy Jennings     
Brayden’s Magical Forest by Anita A. Caruso , illustrated by Randy Jennings                      
More Than A Princess by Shaista Pabla, illustrated by Drew Maunula                     
Sir Walter Farluba by Donna LeBlanc, illustrated by Anton Servetnik                      
Brayden’s Magical Jungle by Anita A. Caruso, illustrated by Randy Jennings                       
Bronson Has A Toothache by Cynthia Ng                                             
Peggy Pelican Goes Fishing by Janet Givens                                        
Why Can’t Uncle Come Home?: A story for children struggling with the wrongful conviction of a loved one by Christiane Joy Allison, illustrated by Liz Shine                
The Twin Dolphin’s Adventure: Meet Dusk and Dawn by V.A. Boeholt                                    
A Very Squeaky Mystery by Laura Angelina & Randy Williamson                                              
Things Can Grow Between Your Toes! by Laurie L. Bolanos                                          
Sonya Dor: Child Extraordinaire & Dreamer Galore by Saul Stoogenke, illustrated by Yoga D.C. Ariesta and Saul Stoogenke               
Growing Up Tobey: The First Year by Caroline Barthen, illustrated by Blueberry Illustrations Bart’s Escape out the Gate by Lisa Reinicke, illustrated by Analise Black                               
Martina Ballerina by Imelda Sobiloff, illustrated by David Pfendler                        
Gillie Can Share by Sarah-Leigh Wills                                      
Charlie the Caterpillar by Andy Gutman                                
Ellie the Wienerdog: It’s Hard to be Good by K.J. Hales, illustrated by      Serene Wyatt
Talking Tales: Puppy’s Bubble by Erica Graham                                  
Sammy’s Flame by Sam Ashkenas, illustrated by Dorene Uhrich                              
I Don’t Like Vegetables! by Mrs C, illustrated by Crosland Jennings                         
Oogie’s Rainy Day Adventure by Michael Weinbergrer, illustrated by Steve Bonham     

Picture Books 6 & Older

1st Place (tie): Dancing Dreidels by Alva Sachs, illustrated by Patricia Krebs
1st Place (tie): Ellie the Wienerdog: It’s Hard to Swim by K.J. Hales, illustrated by Serene Wyatt
1st Place (tie): Grandpa! Grandpa! What Will I See? by William P. Bahlke, illustrated by Lothar Speer
1st Place (tie): I Am a Butterfly: A Story About Big, Beautiful Changes by Sally Stone
1st Place (tie): Lily Pond by Shelley Daniels Lekven
1st Place (tie): Martina Ballerina by Imelda Sobiloff, illustrated by David Pfendler
1st Place (tie): Red Boots: Landis and his Magical Birthday! by Adam Wacker, illustrated by Aaron Boyd
1st Place (tie): Sammy the Seahorse by Martha Driscoll & Ann Driscoll, Ed.D, illustrated by Susan Andra Lion
1st Place (tie): Sonya Dor: Child Extraordinaire & Dreamer Galore by Saul Stoogenke, illustrated by Yoga D.C. Ariesta and Saul Stoogenke
1st Place (tie): The Blue Footies by Joan Dee Wilson
1st Place (tie): The Hugsmiler’s Hugs: A Story About Learning Values by Jessica L. Simons
2nd Place (tie): A Tale About Ears by Joshua August, illustrated by Jonas Scott
2nd Place (tie): The Krayon Kids by Karen Márquez Morales, illustrated by Caitlyn Notaro
Honorable Mention:
Bubby’s Puddle Pond: A Tortuga’s Tale of the Desert by Carol Hageman, illustrated by Nathaniel Jensen
Gifts of Spirit 2: Animals and Their Natural Gifts by Kimberly Heil                                             
The Smiley Face Blatoon Lady by Nefari Ydarb, illustrated by Araceli Casas                          
Big Fish Dreams by Lori Fisher Peelen, illustrated by Consie Powell                       
The Wish by Tara McCarton, illustrated by Allison Lagueux                         
Lester, The Scared Little Leaf by Nina Gardner, illustrated by Chad Thompson                    
Sammy the Station Wagon by Tal Nuriel, illustrated by Aidar Zeineshev                             
The Mystical Magical Abracadabracal Daniel McDougal McDouglas McFly by Sheryl Davis, illustrated by Eric Summers
Up and Down Twins by Susan Manzke, illustrated by Rachel Manzke                     
A Recipe for Home by Ghenwa Yehia, illustrated by Inna Ogando                             
Wings and Feet by Lisa Reinicke, illustrated by  Scot McDonald                 
Planet Scrabbage and the Vegerons by Paul Ian Cross, illustrated by Philip Wills
Miles and Jax: Master Planners by Kimber Iverson, illustrated by Jill Pearson                    
The Most Splendidly Spectacular Circus of Starborough by Michelle Path, illustrated by Hanna Purkiss  
Crazy Crab by Mark C. Evans, illustrated by Steve Page                 
Noname The Feral Cat! by Cynthia O’Brien, illustrated by Anne Berry                   
Why Can’t Uncle Come Home?: A story for children struggling with the wrongful conviction of a loved one by Christiane Joy Allison, illustrated by Liz Shine                
Eli’s Magic Moment by Kevin Poplawski, illustrated by Michael Rausch                
Odonata: The Flying Jewel of Maiden Grass Pond by Barbara Gervais Ciancimino, illustrated by Steve McGinnis                               
Veva and the Beaver by Carlos F. Tarrac                                               
Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker                
Xalien the Purple Alien: Xalien Goes to the Zoo by Michelle Path, illustrated by Charlotte Roberts            
The Power of Me by Gibson Maximillian Sabalos, illustrated by Lisa J. Michaels                
An Underwater Adventure - "Your Name" and the Dolphin by Saskia Resuens and illustrated by Katrien Van Schuylenbergh               
Cody the Pony Goes to Pony Club by Michelle Path         
Miles and Jax by Kimber Iverson, illustrated by Jill Pearson                       
Dragonfly Surprise by Theresa A. O’Kane, illustrated by Tamara R. Sayre                              
Adelita  by Dorothy F. Potash                                     
Buckets, Dippers, and Lids: Secrets to Your Happiness by Carol McCloud, illustrated by Glenn Zimmer    
The Twin Dolphin’s Adventure: Meet Dusk and Dawn by V.A. Boeholt                                    
Pharaoh’s Arrow by George Neeb                                          
Clondike and Mudo’s Adventure by M.C. Armbruster                                     
The THING on Mount Spring by Jenny Morris, illustrated by Sara Hayat                 
The Moon and Star by Peggy Sullivan                                   
The One and Only Owen by Nicole Evans Haumesser                                     
Hare ‘n’ There by Jenny Morris, illustrated by Sarah Hardy                          
How Christmas Got its Colors by Jim Melko, illustrated by Sammi Davis                
A Dozen Differences by Kirsten Elaine, illustrated by Gabriela Alayón                    
Nanny in the Nursery by L.M. Azpiazu                                   
New Jack Rabbit City: A Colorful Children’s Story by Gail Galvan & Mike Evanouski

Poetry

1st Place: Shimmer, Songs of Night by Raven Howell      
2nd Place: American Days by Georgina Schroeder             

School Issues

1st Place (tie): Bury the Bully by Stefanie Noonan
1st Place (tie): Kindness is Key by Alexis Bloomer
1st Place (tie): Sophie Washington: The Snitch by Tonya Duncan Ellis
1st Place (tie): The Shapeless Shape by Victor Saad & David Kelley
2nd Place: Adriann Takes a Stand by Melondy Roberson, illustrated by Roszella Roberson-Offord
Honorable Mention:
Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump by Carole P. Roman, illustrated by Mateya Arkova
The Thumb Book of Kindness by Tevin Hansen and Nichole Hansen                                        
Buckets, Dippers, and Lids: Secrets to Your Happiness by Carol McCloud, illustrated by Glenn Zimmer    
Magic Moon: A New Beginning by Shirley Moulton, M.S.                                             
The Big Cheese Festival by S. Jackson & A. Raymond, illustrated by Mary Schmidt             
Wings and Feet by Lisa Reinicke, illustrated by  Scot McDonald                 
Bobby Birthday by Larissa Juliano, illustrated by Joshua Allen   
The CrimeFighters: The Heroes Stop a Bully by Chris McClean                                     
Odonata: The Flying Jewel of Maiden Grass Pond by Barbara Gervais Ciancimino, illustrated by Steve McGinnis

Science Fiction/Fantasy

1st Place: The Keeper of Fire by Davina Marie Liberty
2nd Place (tie): The Aeonians by J.E. Klimov
2nd Place (tie): The Great & the Small by A.T. Balsara
Honorable Mention:
The Uncontrolled by Zachary Astrowsky                                               
The Adventures of Biker Frog and Lady White Bear Volume Three: The Hermit by C. Kindler

Special Needs/Disability Awareness

1st Place: Sesame Street: Celebrate You! Celebrate Me! by Leslie Kimmelman    
2nd Place: Dragonfly Surprise by Theresa A. O’Kane, illustrated by Tamara R. Sayre
Honorable Mention:
The A in Autism Stands For Awesome by Lindsay James, illustrated by Jamie Wolenter
A Very Tubie Christmas by Meikele Lee, illustrated by Rebecca Robertson          
Arianna’s Magic Boots by Karen Gasperini, illustrated by Deanna McRae                            
Arianna’s Magic Boots VOL 2: Underwater Sea Adventure by Karen A. Gasperini, illustrated by Deanna McRae                 
Sophie and the Magical Wheelchair by Kari Kadrmas

Spiritual/Religious

1st Place (tie): The Kool Kids & The Land Of The Giants by James Tate, illustrated by Jay Reed
1st Place (tie): Bob’s Spiritfly by Laura Kristi Cronin, illustrated by Dominic Glover
2nd Place: Sometimes Someone Dies by Meaghan Hadwyn and Niki Snjaric
Honorable Mention:
Dear Diary: My Brother Died Today by Suzanne Gene Courtney                                
Noname The Feral Cat! by Cynthia O’Brien, illustrated by Anne Berry                   
An Angel from Above / Un angel desde arriba by Dr. Ma. Alma Gonzalez Perez, illustrated by Patricia Gonzalez
Stella’s Story: Dealing With Sibling Loss by Amanda Seefeld Markle, illustrated by Christopher Bowman                              
The Tiny Mouse by Nakita Foreman, illustrated by Mary Ann Clawson                   
Judah’s Promise by Irene Maslowski                                     
After ‘While, Crocodile by Jack Runion, illustrated by Emmalee Ellison                  
Pola’s Flower by Diana Lynne Nadeau, illustrated by Lobsang Gyatso                     
When a Child Cries by Cassie Lee, illustrated by Reginald Byers

Sports

1st Place: Skating Forward: Olympic Memories, Olympic Spirit by Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz
2nd Place: Junior Lifeguards by Elizabeth Doyle Carey     
Honorable Mention:
Lionel Messi: A Soccer Star Who Cares by Kimberly Gatto

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

1st Place: Geometry is Fun for Me by Vicky Owyang Chan, illustrated by Crystal Ferguson
2nd Place: Little Katie Goes to the Moon by Carmela Dutra            
Honorable Mention:
The Engirlneers Protect the Ground Water by Shannon DeVivo and Heather DeVivo-Winz My Mummy is a Scientist by Kerrine Bryan & Jason Bryan, illustrated by Marissa Peguinho         

Unpublished Manuscript

1st Place: Drifty; Broken to Beautiful. A (Mostly) True Story by Dave Ives, illustrated by John Loyer
2nd Place: The Tale of Tyriii by Bianca Staines
Honorable Mention:
Brutal Hackage: A Young Adult Thriller by Jane Frances Ruby

Young Adult Fiction

1st Place: A Drop of Blue by Isa Briarwood
2nd Place: The Great & the Small by A.T. Balsara
Honorable Mention:
The Crystilleries of Echoland by Dew Pellucid                                     
IF by Mike and Renee Winterbauer

Young Adult Nonfiction

1st Place: Skating Forward: Olympic Memories, Olympic Spirit by Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz

Youth Author Fiction

1st Place: The Power of Me by Gibson Maximillian Sabalos, illustrated by Lisa J. Michaels


* E-Book Award Winners *

Arts/Music

1st Place: Mr. Hoopeyloops and His Amazing Glass by Andi Cann, illustrated by Fabrice Bertolettp

Best Illustrations

1st Place: Theseus by Simon Spence        


Chapter Books

1st Place: Sweet T and the Turtle Team by Cat Michaels, illustrated by Irene Jahns                
2nd Place: The Girl by Leeah V, illustrated by Sammy Jay
 

Charity/Making a Difference

1st Place: From Riches to Rags by Jaclyn Howell
 

Children’s Nonfiction

1st Place: If You Were Me an Lived In... Cuba: A Child’s Introduction to Cultures Around the World by Carole P. Roman    


Cultural Diversity

1st Place: Alabama Oh by Andi Cann, illustrated by Micaela Stefano                       
2nd Place: If You Were Me and Lived in...the Ancient Mali Empire: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time by Carole P. Roman, illustrated by Mateya Arkova


Family Matters

1st Place: Selah’s Painted Dream by Susan Count Hastings, illustrated by Elena Shved     2nd Place: Can A Princess be A Firefighter? by Carole P. Roman, illustrated by Mateya Arkova     
Honorable Mention:
Someone You Love Has Cancer: A Child’s Guide to Understanding by Robin Martin, illustrated by Kalpa Joshi     
The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Short Stories by Fiza Pathan
 

Green Books/Environmental

1st Place: Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Oceans by Janet Balletta, illustrated by Alyssa Figueroa & Alexander C. Appello
2nd Place: The Futurevators by S. Thomas, illustrated by G. Thomas
Honorable Mention:
Nuclear! (The Rosemary Series Book 1) by Alan French                                  
The Plastic Pollution Adventure by Monty J. McClaine, illustrated by Abira Das                  
Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton

Growing Pains

1st Place: Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life by Carole P. Roman


Health

1st Place: Special Food for Sam by Dr. Nicole Audet, illustrated by Mylène Villeneuve   
2nd Place: Felix Is Curious About His Body by Dr. Nicole Audet, illustrated by Mylène Villeneuve

Humor

1st Place: Dragon Breath by Dixie Phillips and Jacob Gibson, illustrated by K.C. Snider


LGBT

1st Place: Jake, Lucid Dreamer by David J. Naiman
2nd Place: The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Short Stories by Fiza Pathan                 


Middle Grade Fiction

1st Place: Special Food for Sam by Dr. Nicole Audet, illustrated by Mylène Villeneuve  
2nd Place (tie): Felix Is Curious About His Body by Dr. Nicole Audet, illustrated by Mylène Villeneuve
2nd Place (tie): Daisy, Bold & Beautiful by Ellie Collins
Honorable Mention:
Hedda Stein-Sun’s UnRemembered Islands by Anthony Nordvik-Nash


Picture Books 5 & Younger

1st Place (tie): Mother’s Day with Snowman Paul by Yossi Lapid, illustrated by Joanna Pasek
1st Place (tie): Rocket-Bye by Carole P. Roman, illustrated by Mateya Arkova
2nd Place: Cub’s Wish by Angie Flores, illustrated by Yidan Yuan
Honorable Mention:
Snuggle, Sniggle, and Sometimes, Snickle by Stephen Spivey, illustrated by Adam Hembrough
 

Picture Books 6 & Older

1st Place: Theseus by Simon Spence
2nd Place: A Flag for the Flying Dragon: A Captain No Beard Story by Carole P. Roman
Honorable Mention:
Sarah’s Shadow by Nick Jones, illustrated by Si Clark


School Issues

1st Place: Daisy, Bold & Beautiful by Ellie Collins
2nd Place: From Riches to Rags by Jaclyn Howell

           
Science Fiction/Fantasy

1st Place: Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster           

 

Special Needs/Disability Awareness

1st Place: My Special Mind by Laura and Trey Day

 

Spiritual/Religious

1st Place: From Riches to Rags by Jaclyn Howell


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

Honorable Mention: The Beedog by Addie Broussard, illustrated by Joyeeta Neogi


Young Adult Fiction

1st Place: My Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick
2nd Place: Adele and the Giant King by Izzy Beisiegel
Honorable Mention:
Owl Eyes: A Fairy Tale by Molly Lazer                                     
Lucid World by Denise Lammi   

For more information or to enter a book in one of our contests, visit dragonflybookawards.com.

Sponsored by Story Monsters LLC


 

Clash of the Pronouns: Colossal Battles in a Book of Dinosaur Riddles

 

 

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by Noelle Sterne, Ph.D.

Writing a children’s book of riddles about dinosaurs may not seem an obvious arena for a clash over sexism. But during the final manuscript editing of my Tyrannosaurus Wrecks: A Book of Dinosaur Riddles (HarperCollins), with shock and frustration, I fought the battle of the dinosaur pronouns.

Nouns were natural for most of the 146 riddles—mother or father scenes, fairy tale characters. For the 35 riddles requiring a pronoun, in the earliest drafts I used the masculine form. But my (female) editor and I agreed that in the final version the feminine should get equal representation. A simple matter, we thought. We couldn’t have been more immensely wrong! Our painful conversation lasted a good hour. Despite women’s great strides, I saw how subtly sexual stereotypes still influence our language. 

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks is a just-for-fun children’s book. The riddles are punny, groany, and giggly, with no hidden agendas for gender-biased propaganda. Yet my editor and I were besieged by plaguing pronoun questions: What would support or offend various viewpoints? What would truly express our own convictions? What would aid or damage sales? And how much should a book mainly for entertainment defer to issues of social change?

Priorities kept changing and sometimes bashed head-on. The hostilities, and final truces, fell into three main camps:

1. Entrenched Male Stereotypes—Almost impenetrable stereotypical male occupations or activities forced us to keep the male pronoun.
2. Damaging Female Stereotypes—When the female pronoun would fortify stereotypes, we capitulated to the male.
3. Breaking Through the Stereotypes—We stormed the pronominal bastions with either pronoun, neutralizing stereotypes of both genders and illustrating positive role or behavior changes.

Entrenched Male Stereotypes
The Entrenched Male Stereotypes glared out at me, and one of the most glaring was cowboys. Only two cowgirls spring to mind—Annie Oakley and Dale Evans, and they weren’t exactly typical ranchhands. The male had this area tightly roped off:

Why was the Pentaceratops a good cattle rancher?
Because he had a lot of longhorns.

To bring us current, there’s the executive. This one really hurt, especially since so many women today are successful (and with their own Dino’s Club cards). But there were no women CEOS in the Fortune 500 companies at the time the book was published. In the latest update in 2017, only 6.4% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies were women. So, despite a few eminent exceptions, most women climbing to the glass ceiling succeed only in windexing it. Again the male pronoun was firmly wedged: 

Where does the dinosaur company president sit?
At his Tyrannosaurus desk.

Damaging Female Stereotypes
The second pronoun problem involved the largest number of riddles. Damaging Female Stereotypes kept surfacing in an insidious array of common, apparently harmless situations. We felt forced to keep the male pronoun to blunt female stereotypes of foolishness, ineptitude, or weakness. For example, that women are bad drivers:

Why is a dinosaur dangerous at the wheel of a car?
He’s a back-feet driver.

The clincher, though, for the male in several riddles was that little word “weight.” We women wrestle incessantly with the “right” body image that dominates our culture and wastes our energies. The male pronoun had to be used with blatant excess pounds: 

Why did the dinosaur go on a diet?
He weighed too much for his scales.

But the most damaging female stereotype was the ancient stamp of woman as sex object, which insinuated itself into many riddles. In protest against antediluvian sexism, we kept the male pronoun.

Why did the Stegosaurus go to the car repair shop?
So they could fix his broken tail spike.

What instrument does a dinosaur fossil play?
His trom-bone.

We kept the male pronoun because a bawdily graphic picture surfaces with her broken tail spike, which could attract a little too much attention. And what about that instrument? If she were playing, could she be accused of barely disguised piccolo envy?

Breaking Through the Stereotypes
I’m very glad to say, though, that with several riddles we really could break through the stereotypes. Some riddles reversed women’s traditional roles and others enlarged the possibilities for either sex in previously exclusive domains. In one riddle, we countered woman as the perpetual sole food supplier:

What did the dinosaur say as he lugged home the groceries?
“Oh, my aching Brachio-saurus!”

Woman’s driving cruised with no sexist implications and the added bonus that she can, and does, pay her own way:

What does a dinosaur pay when she drives over a bridge?
A reptoll.

At least one occupation broke through entrenched activities for both men and women. With children’s piano teachers stereotypically female, the male pronoun here was especially gratifying.

    What did the dinosaur piano teacher tell his students?
    “Be sure and practice your scales.”

The final two examples also gladdened my heart. In the first, woman is more than a body:

    What did the dinosaur say when she bought a new book?
    “I can really sink my teeth into this.”

A lifelong reader and writer, I could identify. And my blood surged at her biting intelligence. In the other riddle, a traditional role is reversed as a fine female speaks her mind:

    What does the dinosaur say to her sweetheart on Valentine’s Day?
    “I’m mud about you!”

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So, this is the saga of my dinosaur pronoun battle. Maybe it reopened some old wounds and left a few scars, but after the mud settled, the women held their own. Yet, I await the day when our language finally fashions a third set of pronouns that serves both sexes with equal rightness. On that day, with a book of dinosaur riddles or any other subject, male and female pronouns will provoke no fighting words (especially pronouns), even from the most fossilized among us.

Noelle Sterne, Ph.D. is a published author, editor, and writing coach. Visit her at www.trustyourlifenow.com.

Author Spotlight: Alva Sachs


Alva Sachs says her days in the classroom were the real beginnings for becoming the children’s author she is today. She uses her teaching experience of 16 years and her love of writing for kids to create stories that engage, empower, and excite young readers.
 

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Where did you grow up? 
I hail from the windy city of Chicago, Illinois, but moved around a few times to various parts of the city. I miss my favorite Chicago food that I get as soon as I visit.

Did you read a lot as a child? 
Well, at that time I was really into Archie Comics. I couldn’t decide whom I liked better, so I chose Veronica. 

What were some of your favorite authors and books?  
John Grisham, Nora Ephron, Sophie Kinsella, Mitch Albom, Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Lawyer comes to mind. I had to write a couplet for eighth-grade graduation, and I remember to this day: “A Perry Mason, I would like to be, to defend my client’s liberty!” Pretty classy … don’t you think?

Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer. 
Golly gee, how much room do I have? Of course, almost all girls my age babysat for sure. For the price of .50 an hour, (actually started a manuscript about this) the going rate, and then I graduated to a mother’s helper of twins, which I loved and made $12 for the week and gave the money to my mom for groceries. In high school, at 15 I got a great job working for a small department store in the credit department. This was way before computers, and everything was done by hand or phone. After a short time, I was promoted to assistant to the women’s buyer and also got jobs for my girlfriends in high school, and we had so much fun being together. In college, at the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana Illinois, I worked at Carson Pirie Scott and Company department store, then over the summers back in Chicago I was sent on location for temporary placements. Had to work for the summers, as my parents were divorced. My best job ever was working at a music/bar/restaurant with live bands in my junior and senior years of college. It was fun to serve the students, dance, and yes, clean the place up at 1 a.m.! Needless to say, all of these experiences were an amazing benefit to me as I grew into who I was. Too long, right? Well, I am a writer!

How did you get started writing?  
My school district where I taught was instituting a writing seminar for any teachers interested from K-12. I jumped at the chance! It sounded so wonderful and I hoped it would help me with my students. Well, it was AMAZING! I also mentored staff in my school, incorporated it into our school day with my kids, and we all had to write in the seminar as well. Like my students, initially I stared at the blank page. Somehow out of that came Circus Fever. My first story was written and sat in a folder until 10 years ago. 

Why do you write books? 
Good question. It is certainly not for the money. Reading to my 4th and 5th graders every day. It was a very special part of our day together. Teaching and the wonderful experiences I had with my kids, I guess from being in the classroom, and how they would inspire me with their writing left an imprint on my heart. It was incredible to see their growth in writing once we began our writing process in the classroom. Their excitement turned into their own “published” books with book covers, illustrations, and the whole enchilada. What an inspiration. But I didn’t start writing again until my own children were in college.

What do you like best about writing? 
Writing takes me to a place in time where I feel like a kid again. Thinking, experiencing, and seeing the world through those eyes. It connects me to moments I had with my own children and their friends that were so special, you didn’t want them to end. 

What do you find the most challenging about writing? 
Once I start the story, I am pretty good to go, but then I want to be sure to develop it in a way where the content, characters, and storyline does arc while maintaining the integrity of where I want the reader to go and experience. Keeping in mind, these readers are various ages. They get bored easily and they come with a wealth of experience these days. You want it to be a page-turner, a story they can connect to, and feel part of it all by the end. Pretty challenging, huh?

What makes a good story? 
That is hard to define. So many ways to do a good story, and of course, I feel all my stories are good, but it is good in my humble opinion. Let’s say if a child reads the story at 5, revisits it at 7 or 10 and still feels connected, relates to it on a new level, and can relate to it again and again. I think that is what keeps those incredible classics around by those authors who had that recipe back in the day.

Where do you get your inspiration? 
Life all around me. My children, who are very close in age and how they played with each other, their interaction, their pure sense of imagination, their friends, their honesty, their sensitivity and love. My family inspires me every day. 

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Tell us about your latest book. 
Dancing Dreidels. My desire to write a Judaic book from growing up Jewish. My illustrator, Patricia Krebs is Jewish as well and from Argentina. It was special for both of us, but I wanted to write a fun story that all children could relate to. It’s about four dreidels who are best friends, and they all spin or dance better than all of the other dreidels in the house. That is, except for Sheila. The story goes on in a very subtle way to illustrate for children that there are times in our lives when we are growing up and we may face difficult situations. We have to look inside ourselves and sometimes with the help of our family and friends, we can succeed. 

What’s next for you?
Aye, matey, don’t ya think it’s time for the best pirate story, ever? Been writing this one for several years, as I usually dream my stories before I write them down. So, this adventure has been literally driving me crazy. I see it so vividly in my mind with the illustrations because Patricia and I have worked so long together. This story also lives in my memory from a time when my three children were young. 

Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like people to know about you and/or your books? 
The one thing my illustrator and I really work on together is creating movement, rhythm, and connection to each page in the story. Keeping the reader actively engaged as well as the person reading to them. It’s like a symphony that cannot be separated; every part is integral to the entire story. It makes a whole child experience, and increases their love to read, to be read to, and understand that reading is key to succeeding in life, regardless of the path you choose. 

For more information about Alva Sachs and her books, visit www.alvasachs.com.

Enter the Story Monsters Coloring Contest

 

Attention Arizona Kids!

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It’s a monster of a contest!

Sponsored by Story Monsters Ink, Payson Public Library, and Payson Book Festival

Grab your crayons and download your coloring sheet or pick up at the Payson Public Library and return to the library in person or by mail to:

Payson Public Library
Attention: Story Monsters Coloring Contest
328 N McLane Rd.
Payson, AZ 85541

Prizes will be awarded in four age groups: 5 & under; 6-10, 11-14; 15-18

Winner to be announced at the Payson Public Library on July 18.

Prizes will be awarded by Story Monsters LLC at the Payson Book Festival on July 21, 2018 at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino.


Deadline is July 17!
Happy Coloring!

For more information, contact Linda F. Radke at 480-940-8182 or email info@storymonsters.com

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Author Spotlight: Mark Stevens

Bestselling author Mark Stevens loves to tell stories. Ever since his Golden Retriever "Sky" was a puppy, Mark would put him to bed every night by reading a story to him. Now he has written a very special book about his very special dog to bring smiles to little readers all over the world.

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Where did you grow up? 
On the streets of New York. And literally on the mean, lower middle-class streets. 
 
Did you read a lot as a child? 
Voraciously for an interesting reason. Somehow, I was attracted to the famous men of the Old West – Kit Carson, Daniel Boone, General Custer – and read all of their biographies. It was as if I was transporting myself to a time and place I never lived in but somehow knew. 
 
What were some of your favorite authors and books? 
The book that had the biggest impact on my life to this day, is Hemmingway’s A Moveable Feast. He was right. “If you are lucky enough to live in Paris as a young man, it will stay with you the rest of your life because Paris is truly a moveable feast.”
 
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I came from a broken family, wildly dysfunctional, violent, and nearly psychotic, and the last thing I had was the ability to plan what I wanted to do with my life. Except to survive. 
 
Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer. 
On the surface, every job you could have – porter in a children’s hospital, bus boy, magazine subscription sales in the inner city – but paradoxically, they proved to be the greatest training ground and the most rewarding experiences a person who goes to prep school at Harvard could only dream of. 
 
How did you get started writing? 
I was always a storyteller. And the stories turned somehow to plays. And I became the Neil Simon of my elementary school, writing the now world-acclaimed “The Case of Safety Sam and the Rocking Chair.” I was a playwright first and then I took on the school newspaper. But my proudest coup was getting published in Poetry Magazine: The Lobby of the St. Agnes Hotel. 
 
Why do you write books? 
To continue the storytelling tradition and equally important, to educate myself. 
 
What do you like best about writing? 
The experience of discovery. What I mean by that is I don’t write with a plan or an outline and I am always amazed at what materializes before my eyes. This is particularly true for my first novel Evidence of Love. Each time I sat down to write (which I only do on my iPhone), I didn’t think I was creating characters’ tales, I believed I was joining them in action. Like they had lives of their own. And of course, my beloved dog Sky is the son who stayed home, who hikes with me every morning, who gives his life to my happiness, who I thank God for every day. So who wouldn’t want to write about such a beautiful creature who has magical powers? 
 
What do you find the most challenging about writing? 
Nothing. 
 
What do you think makes a good story? 
One that opens your eyes and your mind to something that you never knew, absorbed, experienced, or understood before. 
 
Where do you get your inspiration? 
The eternally mystifying, gorgeous, perplexing and exhilarating interaction between men and women. 
 
Tell us about your latest book.
I hike every single morning with my Golden Retriever, Sky, in rain, sleet, snow and sun. And I talk to him as if he’s a wonderful human being. Which, in part, I think he is. One morning on one of our hikes, a woman approached us, embraced Sky and said almost as if to the heavens, “You don’t have a mean bone in your body.” That day, I wrote a story about my boy, printed it and forgot about it. About a year later, my wife Carol found what I had written, as Sky’s loving mother, recognized it for the book it could be, arranged a photo shoot for Sky, and the rest is history. 

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Sky’s Amazing Dream is the story about a real Golden Retriever named Sky. He has a phantasmagorical dream: he can turn rocks into gold, he takes poor and sick children to happy times in a hot air balloon and he makes amusement parks appear. Sky goes to Hollywood to make movies, but only if they are free for children, including the popcorn! Word travels fast and the president of the United States visits Sky and names him “King Sky!” But Sky starts to get homesick for the big white house and his mommy and daddy so the president gives him a ride home on Air Force One. 
 
What’s next for you? 
I don’t plan. 
 
Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like people to know about you and/or your books? 
How I’ve managed to stay so devastatingly handsome. I wrote 25 books which have been translated into many languages around the world including the bestseller, Your Marketing Sucks, I am also the sole biographer of Carl Icahn, King Icahn: The Biography of a Renegade Capitalist and I also became a successful entrepreneur who built and sold a successful marketing firm.

For more information about Mark Stevens and his books, visit www.skysamazingdream.com