2019 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Winners

 Grand Prize Winner:

Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth, Jessica Blank

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$100 Drawing Winner:

Maria's Marvelous Bones by Dr. Carrie Kollias, Gill Guile

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 Activity Books

1st Place (tie): BigFoot Visits the Big Cities of the World: A Spectacular Seek and Find Challenge for All Ages! by D.L. Miller

1st Place (tie): BigFoot Goes On Vacation: A Spectacular Seek and Find Challenge for All Ages! by D.L. Miller

1st Place (tie): How to Draw for Kids: Favorite Animals by Diana Fisher

2nd Place: If a Caterpillar Can Fly, Why Can't I? by Deedee Cummings, Erika Busse

Honorable Mention:

Journey to Cloud City by Eliot Kersgaard                                             

Nissa's *Mom and Me* Activity Book by BB Walsh, Mike Quinones                      

Charlie The Caterpillar: What Can I Be Today? by Andy Gutman


Animals/Pets

1st Place (tie): Cloud the Horse: Cloud and Patty Chicken by Elizabeth Goodman Hardwick, Lindsey Rowland

1st Place (tie): Oscar Goes to School by Meaghan Fisher and Emma Rose Fisher-Rowe, Timothy Rowe

1st Place (tie): Penny the Pink Nose Poodle: A Day with Zoey by Dana DiSante

1st Place (tie): Hickory Doc's Tales: The Pack: First Generation by Linda Harkey

1st Place (tie): The Moonlight Dancer by Lisa Calhoun-Owen & Matthew Scott Reilly, Jordan Wray

1st Place (tie): My Name is Curly by Andi C. Kryszak, G.C. Schlea

2nd Place (tie): Mom Shelley's Eggs by Linda S. Smith

2nd Place (tie): The Gift of Haley by Terri Bene and Rosemary Lyn, Marty Petersen

Honorable Mention:

The Puppy who Loved to Cuddle by Geordie Sabbagh, Yoshiko Harada                 

Little Cat Lost by Judy Bergman Hochberg                         

Quincy the Quail and the Mysterious Egg by Barbara Renner, Amanda Wells   

Unforgettable Neighbours by Anna Wing-bo Tso, Joanne Wai-nam Lo

Bubba the Purple Cat by Angelica Y. Rodriguez, Luis Perez        

D-Pug in New York by Janie Nugent                      

The Adventures of Samba Rat and Friends in Sherman the Last Dragon by Steven and Mary Munsie                   

Most Wanted! The Sock Thief by Nancy Binger                               

Oink and Gobble and the 'No One Can Ever Know Secret' by Norman Whaler, Mohammad Shayan     


Arts/Music 

1st Place: Anna at the Art Museum by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert, Lillian Ruth Crump

2nd Place: Adventures in Boogieland by A.R. Bey

Honorable Mention:

Charlie The Caterpillar: What Can I Be Today? by Andy Gutman                             

Shy Little Monster by Stephanie Leavell, Sarah Pilar Echeverria              

Tevye the Magical Theater Cat: An Introduction to Community Theater by Peggy Sullivan        

Even by Andy Gutman 


Best Cover Design

1st Place (tie): The Mystery of the Lost Map by Jim Rhoden and Mickey Goodman

1st Place (tie): Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons by Joseph Goodrich, Traci Van Wagoner

2nd Place: The Secrets of Shannon-Berry Kingdom by Caroline H. Eklund, Karen L. Haynes

Honorable Mention:

The Tiny Tree by Norman Whaler, Polina Hrytskova      

Fortune Cookie Surprise! by Jacqueline Prata                   

Lion & Mouse, Aries the Sheep and other Fairy Tales by Oleg Kush, Vladimir Kush        

Moonlight and Molly by Maureen Harris                            

The Great Grace Escape by Pam Saxelby, Anne Saxelby              

Uncle Allan's Stinky Leg by Jennifer Somervell, Margery Fern

 

Best Illustrations

1st Place (tie): Mr. Mouthful Learns His Lesson by Joseph Kimble, Kerry Bell

1st Place (tie): Spring! Time to Build a Nest, A Story about Trumpeter Swans by Barbara Renner, Rita Goldner

1st Place (tie): Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons by Joseph Goodrich, Traci Van Wagoner

1st Place (tie): Lion & Mouse, Aries the Sheep and other Fairy Tales by Oleg Kush, Vladimir Kush

2nd Place (tie): Songbird's Friendship Scale by Marianne Savage

2nd Place (tie): Willoughby and the Terribly Itchy Itch by Pam Halter, Kim Sponaugle

2nd Place (tie): The Gold Egg by Ule B. Wise, Jaimee Lee

2nd Place (tie): Where Does the Man In The Moon Go During the Day? by Jared Jackson

Honorable Mention:

Tex the Explorer: Journey to Mars by Ellie Smith, Eyen Johnson             

The Puppy who Loved to Cuddle by Geordie Sabbagh, Yoshiko Harada               

Uncle Allan's Stinky Leg by Jennifer Somervell, Margery Fern  

Mirth Meets Earth: Discover the Continents with a Most Curious Space Pup by Michelle Glasser, Jaclyn Stein                

Wilhelmina's Wish by Lisa Reinicke, Analise Black          

The Bat Cave by Jonathan Walker, Rosaria Costa            

Scoop the Ice Cream Truck by Patricia Keeler                   

Big Cat, Little Fox by Cheryl Stephani, Margarita Sikorskaia       

forgiven. by Alison Smallwood                 

Jet & Scoot: A Story About Us by Stephanie Smith-Kenny, Lauren Looney         

The Great Grace Escape by Pam Saxelby, Anne Saxelby              

The Adventures of Samba Rat and Friends in Sherman the Last Dragon by Steven and Mary Munsie                   

The News about Jesus and How He Saved the World by Benjamin Morse                          

One Little Bella by Georgina Schroeder, Sam Balling     

My best friend, Dylan! by Angelica Rodriguez, Krystel Ivannie 

Petite Ga-Tor and The Musical Grande Bois by David Bertrand                

The Secrets of Shannon-Berry Kingdom by Caroline H. Eklund, Karen L. Haynes             

 

Best Interior Design

1st Place (tie): Lion & Mouse, Aries the Sheep and other Fairy Tales by Oleg Kush, Vladimir Kush

1st Place (tie): Uncle Allan's Stinky Leg by Jennifer Somervell, Margery Fern

2nd Place: Mr. Mouthful Learns His Lesson by Joseph Kimble, Kerry Bell

Honorable Mention:

The Legend of the Fairy Stones by Kelly Anne White                     

Big Cat, Little Fox by Cheryl Stephani, Margarita Sikorskaia       

forgiven. by Alison Smallwood                 

The Great Grace Escape by Pam Saxelby, Anne Saxelby              

 

Best Photography

1st Place (tie): Common Backyard Birds by Doris Dumrauf         

1st Place (tie): F is for Feminist, An A to Z Guide for Feminists of All Ages by Kim Collins, Jeff Bartee

2nd Place: Growing up in Alaska: A Baby Arctic Tern by Constance Taylor, Ben O'Brien

  

Chapter Books

1st Place (tie): Artemis and the Violin by Vanessa Chase, Jo Gershman

1st Place (tie): The Rabbit Princess: The Path by R. Chen, Ed Chen

1st Place (tie): Word Dragon by Tevin Hansen

2nd Place: The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return to Coney Island by Melissa Stoller, Callie Metler-Smith

Honorable Mention:

The Adventures of Phatty and Payaso: Central Park by Marie Unanue, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriquez    

Hickory Doc's Tales: The Pack: First Generation by Linda Harkey

Finn Mouseson by Melody Gersonde-Mickelson                            

Digital Girl and the Greenish Ghosts by Pat Hall, Emmeline Hall Forrestal          

The Mystery of the Lost Map by Jim Rhoden and Mickey Goodman                     

Adventures Of Iyani: The Voyage West by Aunty Marcella, Stephanie Wilbanks              

Corallai by Michelle Path                            

The Secrets of Shannon-Berry Kingdom by Caroline H. Eklund, Karen L. Haynes             

The Determined Sofa by Caroline Leland            

  

Charity/Making a Difference

1st Place: Andre the Five-Star Cat by Alma Hammond, Carla Klosowski

2nd Place: Journey to Cloud City by Eliot Kersgaard

Honorable Mention:

One Too Many by Linda Grace Smith, Emmi Ojala          

The Sheep Who Could Not Leap by Chirine Alameddine, Andy Kefford

The Bully Who Learned to Love by Claudia Villarreal, Michael Koch      

My Name is Curly by Andi C. Kryszak, G.C. Schlea           

Squire With Fire: A Happy Dragon Tale by Joseph Cassis                             

No Head Fred Said Help Others by Stephanie Keegan                  

You Can Call Me Katelyn by Keri T. Collins, Marcia Adams Ho   

Another Tuesday at Popcorn Elementary: Teamwork by Meeka Wojo, Ivan Wojo         

Another Tuesday at Popcorn Elementary: No Bullies by Meeka Wojo, Ivan Wojo

  

Children’s Nonfiction

1st Place: F is for Feminist, An A to Z Guide for Feminists of All Ages by Kim Collins, Jeff Bartee

2nd Place: You Call Everybody George by Kathleen Cummings, Colleen Jaeb

Honorable Mention:

The Knock...a collection of childhood memories by Carolyn Watkins, Lindsey Erickson                 

Tom Max in the Wild West by Tomás Maximiliano Benavídez, Luciano Martinez                            

H is for Hummingbirds by Merry Bradshaw, David Boyarski                      

Not A Purse by Stephanie Dreyer, Jack Veda                    

The Summer of 1997 by Anna Wing-bo Tso, Joanne Wai-nam Lo                           

Coral Reef Animals Book 1: Invertebrates by Eve Heidi Bine-Stock                                         

Snowballs For Severance: The Terrifically True Story of Dane Best and the Snowball Ban by Richie Frieman     

The News about Jesus and How He Saved the World     by Benjamin Morse                       

A Promise by Rosa M. Campbell, Jun Junica

  

Cultural Diversity

1st Place (tie): Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth, Jessica Blank     

1st Place (tie): The Bully Who Learned to Love by Claudia Villarreal, Michael Koch

1st Place (tie): The Tiny Tree by Norman Whaler, Polina Hrytskova

1st Place (tie): This is the Earth by Deedee Cummings, Charlene Mosley

2nd Place (tie): Just Like You by Keosha Sath, Yasushi Matsuoka

2nd Place (tie): Spencer's Adventure: An Unexpected Friend by Jacquelyn Francis, Nicoleta Stavarache

Honorable Mention:

Super Satya Saves the Day by Raakhee Mirchandani, Tim Palin               

The Adventures of Little Miss Crazy Hair: The Girl with Curl by Christopher and Alejandro Garcia-Halenar, Sophia Jin

Ahmed's Journey: A Story of Self-Discovery by Jill Apperson Manly         

Indi-Alphabet by Shobha Srinivasan, Christy McCreery

Amazing Africa: A to Z by Dr. Artika Tyner and Monica Habia, Reyhana Ismail 

Taming Babel by Anna Wing-bo Tso, Joanne Wai-nam Lo           

Dorje the Yak by Caryn Hartman, Lexi Vay         

Little Hope Big Hope by Anita Kissi                        

Mommy Do My Hair by Yesenia Hernandez, LeVar J. Reese      

Tom Max in the Wild West by Tomás Maximiliano Benavídez, Luciano Martinez            

Bubba the Purple Cat by Angelica Y. Rodriguez, Luis Perez        

Through the Eyes of Om: Exploring Malaysia by Sonny Tannan, Agus Prajogo  

Mirth Meets Earth: Discover the Continents with a Most Curious Space Pup by Michelle Glasser, Jaclyn Stein
  

Educational

1st Place: F is for Feminist, An A to Z Guide for Feminists of All Ages by Kim Collins, Jeff Bartee

2nd Place (tie): Jimmy, the Nature SMART Ninja: A book about Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences by Mary R. Massey, Ed.D., April Bensch

2nd Place (tie): Meet the Pops by Belinda Barbieri

2nd Place (tie): My Adventures in Alphabetland by Nathaniel P. Jensen

Honorable Mention:

Writing to Respond to Text and Tests by Martha Joseph Watts, Ed.D                   

The Alphabet Thief Who Stole The Vowels by Claudia Villarreal, Michael Koch

Meet the Pops: Flag Day Every Day by Belinda Barbieri                               

Little Katie Explores the Coral Reefs by Carmela Dutra                

Dirty Birds by Madge H. Gressley

               
Family Matters

1st Place (tie): Happy Tears & Rainbow Babies by Natasha Melissa Carlow, Keevyn Mohammed and Kyle Stephen

1st Place (tie): Tillie & Clementine & Mikey by Dan Killeen

2nd Place (tie): Feel Better, Mommy by Risa Kirschner, Anna Kubaszewska

2nd Place (tie): I Didn't Ask To Be Creative by Dontavious Pittman, Max Rambaldi

Honorable Mention:

The Great Grace Escape by Pam Saxelby, Anne Saxelby                              

The Knock...a collection of childhood memories by Carolyn Watkins, Lindsey Erickson 

Even by Andy Gutman

 

 Fiction: Collection of Short Stories

Honorable Mention: Kevin & Colin's Tales of Mischief & Mayhem by Robert Prior-Wandesforde

  

Food Related

1st Place: What am I? Fruits by John Benzee

2nd Place: Culinary Charades by Anna Wing-bo Tso, Joanne Wai-nam Lo

  

General

1st Place (tie): Puffy Gets Angry by Rich Pfeiffer, PhD and Susie Post Roberts   

1st Place (tie): The Gold Egg by Ule B. Wise, Jaimee Lee

2nd Place: Mr. Mouthful Learns His Lesson by Joseph Kimble, Kerry Bell

Honorable Mention:

JACK by Norman Whaler, Nina Mkhoiani                            

Princess Monroe & Her Happily Ever After by Jody Vallee Smith, Glynise Martin                            

Meet the Pops by Belinda Barbieri                                         

Meet the Pops: Flag Day Every Day by Belinda Barbieri                                               

What Do You Do in Winter? by Jennifer Baxter, Sarah McGinnis                             

The Amazing Adventures of Cheechako-Fette by Kelsey McDaniel, David Riley                               

Terence the Space Tomato by Jennifer Baxter and Thomas O'Brien, Mercedes Buckingham     

No Head Fred Said Stay Safe by Stephanie Keegan                        

  

Green Books/Environmental

1st Place: Taking Flight (The Nature Club) by Rachel Mazur       

2nd Place: Little Katie Explores the Coral Reefs by Carmela Dutra

Honorable Mention:

Where's Winter? by Erin Rounds                            

Flash and Fancy -  More Otter Adventures on the Waccamaw River Book Three: A Dolphin Rescue by Christine Thomas Doran, Nancy Van Buren           

The Butterfly Trap by Lee-Ann Matthews, Katerin Juretic           

  

Growing Pains

1st Place: Scoop the Ice Cream Truck by Patricia Keeler               

2nd Place: One Little Bella by Georgina Schroeder, Sam Balling

  

Health

1st Place (tie): Maria's Marvelous Bones by Dr. Carrie Kollias, Gill Guile

1st Place (tie): The Sofa Sloths by Miriam Kay, Jenny Dang

2nd Place: Sam Finds the Sugar Gram by Diane Lash Decker, MS, Doina Paraschiv

Honorable Mention:

No Head Fred Said Get Healthy by Stephanie Keegan                  

Like Rainwater by Deedee Cummings, Charlene Mosley                      

Your Incredible Liver by Edwin Lee, M.D. and Jim Huth, Lauren Coney

 

Historical Fiction

1st Place: The Oregon Trail: Ollie's Great Adventure by Melanie Richardson Dundy

2nd Place: Meet the Pops: Flag Day Every Day by Belinda Barbieri

Honorable Mention:

Petite Ga-Tor and The Musical Grande Bois by David Bertrand                

Uncle Allan's Stinky Leg by Jennifer Somervell, Margery Fern

  

Holiday

1st Place: The Secret of Santa's Naughty-Nice List by Pat Hall, Tamara Campeau

2nd Place: Meet the Pops: Flag Day Every Day by Belinda Barbieri          

Honorable Mention:

Festeva's Holiday Cheer by Molly McCluskey-Shipman                

The Legend of Dragonfly Pond: Book Four by Alene Adele Roy                

Elves on the Naughty List by David Smith, Marilyn Jacobson    

A Christmas Carol by Norman Whaler, Bianca Milacic   

  

Humor

1st Place (tie): Hooray, I Farted! by Shana Chartier, Karissa Hunter

1st Place (tie): Uncle Allan's Stinky Leg by Jennifer Somervell, Margery Fern

2nd Place: Mr. Mouthful Learns His Lesson by Joseph Kimble, Kerry Bell

Honorable Mention:

Silly Animal Rhymes and Stories A to Z by Anil, Kalpart

Bubble Trouble by Marianne Savage

  

LGBT

1st Place: The Butterfly Trap by Lee-Ann Matthews, Katerin Juretic

2nd Place: Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones       

  

Middle Grade Fiction

1st Place (tie): Britfield and the Lost Crown by C.R. Stewart

1st Place (tie): The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron

1st Place (tie): The Crow Child by Sherrie Todd-Beshore

2nd Place: Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China by Sherry Ellis

Honorable Mention:

Terror in Boring Town: A Sam and Rex Adventure by Hoot N. Holler                                     

The Rabbit Princess: The Path by R. Chen, Ed Chen                       

The Crowns of Croswald: The Girl With The Whispering Shadow by D.E. Night                                

Curse of the Komodo by M.C. Berkhousen                                        

90% Human by M.C. Berkhousen                                           

Squire With Fire: A Happy Dragon Tale by Joseph Cassis                                             

Greg's Fourth Adventure in Time by C.M. Huddleston                                  

The Legend of Dragonfly Pond: Book Four by Alene Adele Roy                                

Thumperino Superbunny and the Laser of Doom by Amber L. Spradlin, Ron Borresen

                                 

Mystery

1st Place: Terror in Boring Town: A Sam and Rex Adventure by Hoot N. Holler

2nd Place: Who Ate the Moon? by Darlinda Jacobs, Tara Salar

  

New Author: Fiction

1st Place: What's Your Favorite Color? by Amber L. Lassiter

  

Picture Books 5 & Younger

1st Place (tie): My Daddy is Always There by Charles Trimble, Meghan Fox

1st Place (tie): Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons by Joseph Goodrich, Traci Van Wagoner           

2nd Place (tie): Starfish Gazing  by Patricia Gleichauf

2nd Place (tie): The Puppy who Loved to Cuddle by Geordie Sabbagh, Yoshiko Harada

Honorable Mention:

Anna at the Art Museum by Hazel Hutchins & Gail Herbert, Lillian Ruth Crump              

Bradley and the Magic Carpet by Julian Hilton, Jacqueline East               

Skyla and the Snowflake Fairy by Reina Bonici-Mompalao-Lee, Sarah-Leigh Wills           

The Good Mood Book by John Arvai                     

The Real Farmer in the Dell by Sandra Sutter, Chantell and Burgen Thorne       

Garden Party: A Counting Adventure Book by Tania Guarino, Emma Allen        

Be Happy to Be You! by Diane Hull, Jan Dolby  

What Wonderful Things in the Darkness Creep by Vjolca Capri                               

Willoughby and the Terribly Itchy Itch by Pam Halter, Kim Sponaugle  

Gracie Jane by Janet Squires                     

Little Cat Lost  by Judy Bergman Hochberg                       

The Gold Egg by Ule B. Wise, Jaimee Lee             

Wilhelmina's Wish by Lisa Reinicke, Analise Black          

Even by Andy Gutman                 

Pixie Problems: A Nissa the Woodland Fairy Book by BB Walsh and Kyle Ann Robertson, Mike Quinones                          

The Adventures of The Floating Baby Cloud by G.V. Conners, Ed Olson               

The Great Grace Escape by Pam Saxelby, Anne Saxelby              

Lion & Mouse, Aries the Sheep and other Fairy Tales by Oleg Kush, Vladimir Kush        

Charlie The Caterpillar: What Can I Be Today? by Andy Gutman                             

Jitterflies by Joanna Rosner, Mariia Andrieieva

Shand the First Sailor by B. Boscacci                      

D-Pug in New York by Janie Nugent                      

Fortune Cookie Surprise! by Jacqueline Prata                   

Piccadilly and the Jolly Raindrops by Lisa Anne Novelline, Nicola Hwang            

Sarah Buttons, Master Doll Maker by Joe Moore, Mary Moore               

French Fries in the Park by JM Sheridan, Jamie Forgetta             

Scoop the Ice Cream Truck by Patricia Keeler                   

The Sheep Who Could Not Leap by Chirine Alameddine, Andy Kefford

In the Land of Ireland by Lynda Suwala, Claudio Icuva 

Growing up in Alaska: A Baby Arctic Tern by Constance Taylor, Ben O'Brien     

I Am Worthy by Cachet Allen                    

Tex the Explorer: Journey to Mars by Ellie Smith, Eyen Johnson             

What's Your Favorite Color? by Amber L. Lassiter          

  

Picture Books 6 & Older

1st Place (tie): Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth, Jessica Blank

1st Place (tie): Dorje the Yak by Caryn Hartman, Lexi Vay

1st Place (tie): I Am Worthy by Cachet Allen

1st Place (tie): I Used to be a Fairy...a True Story by Granny by Cynthia Kern OBrien, Rosemarie Gillen

1st Place (tie): I'll Always Clap for You by T. Lynn, Marty Petersen

1st Place (tie): Most Wanted! The Sock Thief by Nancy Binger

1st Place (tie): Mr. Mouthful Learns His Lesson by Joseph Kimble, Kerry Bell

1st Place (tie): Percy: The Racehorse Who Didn't Like to Run by M.J. Evans, Gaspar Sabater

1st Place (tie): Super Satya Saves the Day by Raakhee Mirchandani, Tim Palin

1st Place (tie): Tied In by Anthony Tucker, Charlene Mosley

1st Place (tie): When I Fly With Papa by Claudia May, Jena Holliday

2nd Place (tie): It's Just a Bunnypalooza by Brenda Faatz and Peter Trimarco

2nd Place (tie): Andre the Five-Star Cat by Alma Hammond, Carla Klosowski

2nd Place (tie): Birdham Dream Bear by Lynne Healy, Sarah-Leigh Wills

2nd Place (tie): Freddy Follows by Melanie Quinn, Andrew McIntosh

Honorable Mention:

John's Johns by Eytan Nicholson, Spike Stone  

forgiven. by Alison Smallwood                 

Angel's Forever Home by Rita Gigante, Bobbie Sterchele-Gigante and Donna McDine, Renie De Mase                               

Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons by Joseph Goodrich, Traci Van Wagoner                         

Ready, Set, GOrilla! by Melissa Stoller, Sandy Steen Bartholomew                        

Why Should I Walk? I Can Fly! by Ann Ingalls, Rebecca Evans                   

Wilhelmina's Wish by Lisa Reinicke, Analise Black                          

Even by Andy Gutman                                 

Lion & Mouse, Aries the Sheep and other Fairy Tales by Oleg Kush, Vladimir Kush                        

Charlie The Caterpillar: What Can I Be Today? by Andy Gutman                                             

The Adventures of Connor the Courageous Cutter: Mystery of the Baffling Blackout by Scott McBride & Rod Thompson, Brian Martin             

The Real Farmer in the Dell by Sandra Sutter, Chantell and Burgen Thorne                       

Meet the Pops by Belinda Barbieri                                         

Sam Finds the Sugar Gram by Diane Lash Decker, MS, Doina Paraschiv                               

Uncle Allan's Stinky Leg by Jennifer Somervell, Margery Fern                  

Willoughby and the Terribly Itchy Itch by Pam Halter, Kim Sponaugle                  

Team Natural by Crystal Chante, Marco Bernard                            

Think of it Like This! by Deedee Cummings, Erika Busse                         

Tom Max in the Wild West by Tomás Maximiliano Benavídez, Luciano Martinez                            

What's Your Favorite Color? by Amber L. Lassiter                          

Coral Reef Animals Book 1: Invertebrates by Eve Heidi Bine-Stock                                                                       

Pixie Problems: A Nissa the Woodland Fairy Book by BB Walsh and Kyle Ann Robertson, Mike Quinones                          

Scarlet's Magic Paintbrush by Melissa Stoller, Sandie Sonke                     

The Bat Cave by Jonathan Walker, Rosaria Costa                            

The Gold Egg by Ule B. Wise, Jaimee Lee                             

The Legend of Dragonfly Pond: Book Four by Alene Adele Roy                                

Come with Me by Tracy Ahrens                              

Meet the Pops: Flag Day Every Day by Belinda Barbieri                                               

Indi-Alphabet by Shobha Srinivasan, Christy McCreery                

Gracie Jane by Janet Squires                                     

Piccadilly and the Jolly Raindrops by Lisa Anne Novelline, Nicola Hwang                            

What If Mercury Had Marshmallows? by Jarrett Whitlow, Daniela Dogliani                      

Tex the Explorer: Journey to Mars by Ellie Smith, Eyen Johnson                             

Big Cat, Little Fox by Cheryl Stephani, Margarita Sikorskaia                       

The Adventures of Mimi and Lulu: The Fallen Star and the River Mystery by Hayde Romero, Lauren Curtis                      

Ahmed's Journey: A Story of Self-Discovery by Jill Apperson Manly                        

My Name is Curly by Andi C. Kryszak, G.C. Schlea           

Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black by Norman Whaler, Mohammad Shayan                           

The Cows Go Moo! by Jim Petipas                                         

The News about Jesus and How He Saved the World by Benjamin Morse                                          

Jet & Scoot: A Story About Us by Stephanie Smith-Kenny, Lauren Looney                         

The Sofa Sloths by Miriam Kay, Jenny Dang

  

Poetry

1st Place: Designed to SHINE! Read Aloud Rhymes for Any Size Heart by Joy Resor, Lauren Connell

2nd Place: I Am Worthy by Cachet Allen

Honorable Mention:    

Take a Hike by Brett Fleishman, David Harston

  
School Issues

1st Place (tie): Ally Alone by L.S.V. Baker, M.E.B. Stottmann

1st Place (tie): Quigley the Quiet Hedgehog by Claudine Norden, Bonnie Wiegand

1st Place (tie): Sideways Fred by L.S.V. Baker, M.E.B. Stottmann

1st Place (tie): The Bully Who Learned to Love by Claudia Villarreal, Michael Koch

1st Place (tie): The UGLY Bug Club by Gail Abbitt, Rosie Venner

1st Place (tie): There's A Norseman in the Classroom! by Grayson Smith, Timothy Banks

2nd Place: Songbird's Friendship Scale by Marianne Savage

Honorable Mention:

Ellema Sneezes by L.S.V. Baker, M.E.B. Stottmann         

What A Tree It Will Be! by L.S.V. Baker, M.E.B. Stottmann         

Leonardo the Lion: A Leap of Faith by Jessica Sinatra                    

Clod Makes a Friend by David Pedersen                             

Am I Black or Am I White? by Norman Whaler, Jasmine Mills   

Gerome Sticks His Neck Out, L.S.V. Baker, M.E.B. Stottmann    

Thiago the Tiger and the Light Within by Vanessa Caraveo                        

It's Just a Bunnypalooza by Brenda Faatz and Peter Trimarco                   

Oakley in Knots by L.S.V. Baker , M.E.B. Stottmann        

Demetrio Says "No" by Linda Griffin, Jill Dubin

This Is Who I Am by Jessica Herndon                    

Being Small (Isn't So Bad After All) by Lori Orlinsky, Vanessa Alexandre              

The Knock...a collection of childhood memories by Carolyn Watkins, Lindsey Erickson 

You Can Call Me Katelyn by Keri T. Collins, Marcia Adams Ho   

Flabby Abby Beach Ball by George Neeb                            

It's Perfect Being Me by Robert O. Martichenko, Blueberry Illustrations             

Jitterflies by Joanna Rosner, Mariia Andrieieva

Myrtle the Purple Turtle by Cynthia Reyes, Jo Robinson

 

Science Fiction/Fantasy

1st Place: The Crowns of Croswald: The Girl with the Whispering Shadow by D.E. Night

2nd Place: Clod Makes a Friend by David Pedersen

Honorable Mention:

The Bee Maker by Mobi Warren                                             

The Lights of Time by Paul Ian Cross                                     

The Rabbit Princess: The Path by R. Chen, Ed Chen

  

Special Needs/Disability Awareness

1st Place (tie): Let's Go by Brenda E. Koch          

1st Place (tie): Let's Play by Brenda E. Koch       

2nd Place: Oswald the Onion Finds a Friend by Michael Lackey

Honorable Mention:

The Adventures of Team Super Tubie by Kristin Meyer, Kevin Cannon                

Matthew Rides Into "Space" by Erika Rutley, Basil Millevolte                   

A Song for Birdie: A Child's Journey with Autism by Cindy Shirley, Cleoward L. Sy

  

Spiritual/Religious

1st Place (tie): Abigail's Search for God by Kelly Coulson, Julie Sneeden

1st Place (tie): Happy Tears & Rainbow Babies by Natasha Melissa Carlow, Keevyn Mohammed and Kyle Stephen

2nd Place: Tiny Tim and The Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge: The sequel to A Christmas Carol by Norman Whaler

Honorable Mention:

The Little House Who Didn't Lose Hope by Nita Brady                 

How Do I Know God Loves Me? by Melanie Richardson Dundy               

When I Fly With Papa by Claudia May, Jena Holliday     

The News about Jesus and How He Saved the World by Benjamin Morse                          

forgiven. by Alison Smallwood                 

The Light of Hope by Basma El-Khatib                  

Annabelle & Aiden: What Happens When We Die? by J.R. Becker, Max Rambaldi          

I'll Always Clap for You by T. Lynn, Marty Petersen       

                 

Sports

1st Place: Go-Cart Gertie by Cindy Shirley, Cleoward L. Sy

2nd Place: I Love To Watch You Play by Beanie Hazelton, Tara J. Hannon            

  

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

1st Place (tie): Just Like You by Keosha Sath, Yasushi Matsuoka

1st Place (tie): Maria's Marvelous Bones by Dr. Carrie Kollias, Gill Guile

1st Place (tie): The Curious Little Snail by Ashley M. Young

2nd Place: Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist by Mike Allegra, Elizabeth Zechel

Honorable Mention:

Where Does the Man In The Moon Go During the Day? by Jared Jackson                                          

Little Katie Explores the Coral Reefs by Carmela Dutra                                

Dr. Brainchild & Radar: A Popcorn Discovery by Cole Williams, Laura Acosta

  

Unpublished Manuscript

Honorable Mention:

Mr. Mouthful Has Mighty Big Trouble by Joseph Kimble

  

Young Adult Fiction

1st Place (tie): The Chronicles of Henry Roach-Dairier: The Inception of the Combined Colonies by Deborah K. Frontiera

1st Place (tie): The Rabbit Princess: The Path by R. Chen, Ed Chen

2nd Place: Remeon's Destiny by J.W. Garrett

Honorable Mention:

Sophia's Journal by Najiyah Diana Maxfield                      

The House of One Thousand Eyes by Michelle Barker 

Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones            

  

Youth Author Fiction

1st Place: Fortune Cookie Surprise! by Jacqueline Prata

2nd Place: The Elephant Dentist by Elizabeth-Jade Beattie, Amanda J. Beattie

  

Youth Author Nonfiction

1st Place: Paloma's Dream by Paloma Rambana and Hillary Ring

 

 
* E-Book Award Winners *

  

Animals/Pets

1st Place: Quincy Freckle Paws Sings in the Forest by Gloria Hartmann, Al Margolis

Honorable Mention: Pirate Bear by Sonya Annita Song, Javier Giménez Ratti      

  

Arts/Music

1st Place: The Lemunion Tree by Cynthia Morrison

  

Book Trailer

Honorable Mention:

Shand the First Sailor by B. Boscacci

The Great Grace Escape by Pam Saxelby, Anne Saxelby

  

Best Illustrations

1st Place: Persephone by Simon Spence, Colm Lawton

  

Chapter Books

Honorable Mention:

Carmilla by Fiza Pathan                                                               

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Fiza Pathan                                                    

Through the Looking-Glass: And What Alice Found There by Fiza Pathan                           

  

Historical Fiction

1st Place: The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia Toney

   

Memoir/Autobiography

Honorable Mention:

The Reclusive Writer & Reader of Bandra: Essays by Fiza Pathan                            

 

Outdoor Recreation

1st Place: The Fishing Lure by Greer Bacon         

  

Picture Books 5 & Younger

1st Place: The Traveling Javelinas by Laura Bullock, Rondi Kutz

2nd Place: The Present is a Gift by Elchanan Ogorek

Honorable Mention:

Never Take the Skwerdlock to the Doctor! by John Jamison

                 

Picture Books 6 & Older

1st Place: My Teacher Dad by Sonya Annita Song, Kate Fallahee

2nd Place: Persephone by Simon Spence, Colm Lawton

Honorable Mention:

Pirate Bear by Sonya Annita Song, Javier Giménez Ratti      

               

Science Fiction/Fantasy

Honorable Mention:

Mylee in the Mirror by Ellie Collins        

  

Young Adult Fiction

Honorable Mention:

Mylee in the Mirror by Ellie Collins

  

Youth Author Fiction

1st Place: The Infinity Pendant by Poem Schway


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

Sponsored by Story Monsters LLC

December Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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Author Spotlight: Zachary Astrowsky


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Q&A with Bethanie Murguia


by Julianne Black


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Author Spotlight: Tracey Hecht


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Story Monsters Ink October Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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James Patterson Joins Story Monsters Ink as Monthly Columnist

 

James Patterson has a way with words. Best known for his suspenseful thrillers and middle grade book series, his titles have sold over 375 million copies and he holds the record for the most New York Times bestsellers. With a generosity as endless as his imagination, he has donated millions of dollars to school libraries over the years through his partnership with Scholastic with one simple goal: To get kids reading. From his vantage point as a literary lion, Patterson knows as well as anyone the power that words can wield.

photo by Stephanie Diani

photo by Stephanie Diani

Not only does Patterson write for kids, he will now be writing directly to them and their teachers and parents in a monthly column with Story Monsters Ink magazine. His column will debut in the October 2018 issue of the popular magazine. 

With content kids can relate to, Story Monsters Ink is the go-to literacy resource for K-12 teachers and librarians. Each issue offers the latest book news, reviews, author interviews, reading lists, and more. In their efforts to get more students reading and writing, the editors also work with teachers and parents to publish student-written articles and book reviews in each issue.

“There’s no such thing as a kid who hates reading,” Patterson says. “There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books. If we can put the right book in their hands, the story will do the rest.”

To learn more about Story Monsters Ink, visit www.StoryMonsters.com, email info@storymonsters.com or call 480-940-8182.

Author Spotlight: Sherry L. Hoffman

A teacher, reading specialist, book reviewer, and author whose educational and inspiring books have earned the Story Monsters Seal of Approval, Eric Hoffer Award, Mom’s Choice Award, Royal Dragonfly Book Award, Purple Dragonfly Book Award, and most recently, Book of the Year for Creative Child Magazine, today’s author spotlight is Sherry L. Hoffman.

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Where did you grow up? 
I grew up on Forest St. in Franklin Township, which is part of Carbon County in Northeast PA. My parents’ ranch home was located directly across from my grandparents’ campground, providing endless summer memories of swimming, volleyball, campfires, riding golf carts, and playing cards with friends and family. Being nestled in the foothills of the Poconos near the borough of Lehighton allowed me to witness all four seasons in beautiful landscapes of mountains, valleys, fields, and lakes. Changing of the seasons always seemed to elicit a feeling of peacefulness, yet excitement of what was to come. There is something about the beauty of nature that inspires me to reflect and want to capture it in pictures or in words.

I still remain in Franklin Township, a few miles from my childhood home. I love that my children could enjoy the area where I grew up and even attend the same elementary school as I did years ago.    

Did you read a lot as a child? 
Reading was and still remains a huge part of my world. My mom was one of my first teachers. She knew how to capture my attention and teach new words by doing crafts like creating a picture book about my family. As a child I enjoyed pop-up books and books like Hop on Pop, Ten Apples Up on Top, Are You My Mother?, There is a Monster at the End of this Book, and Amelia Bedelia. Later on, trips to the grocery store typically yielded new additions to our library with Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High books, as well as Bop! and Teen Beat! magazines. 

What are some of your favorite literary memories? 
Some of my favorite literary memories were snuggling next to my mom as she read picture books. She always showed an interest in my reading and learning. I loved when we would set up the Fisher Price record player to listen to books on records while reading along to the stories. The narrators and characters speaking in the stories grabbed my attention and made me want to continue reading more and more. 

What did you want to be when you grew up? 
Around the time I was 10 years old, my friends Dorinda, Alicia, and I formed the Gals’ Club, in which we were the sole creators, writers, and editors of our own neighborhood newspaper entitled Whippoorwill Lake Newspaper; the newspaper was named after my grandparents’ campground located directly across the street from my house. We used a typewriter and set up our shop in our clubhouse, the tent camper in my family’s backyard. We sold our newspapers for 10 cents each and delivered the papers via our bikes and sometimes by my friends’ little red Radio Flyer wagon. Our newspaper captured the attention of a reporter from the local newspaper. Our story was featured in the Times News, and we were invited to visit and tour the Times News building. Seeing the whole process of creating the local newspaper was fascinating. I began to think that one day I would love to be a writer or reporter, as well as being a teacher. 

Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer. 
I grew up helping with office work in my family’s fuel oil delivery business R.F. Ohl Fuel Oil located in Lehighton, PA. My older brother Brad delivered fuel oil with my dad, while my mom, big brother Steve, and I worked in the office. Seeing the business grow through the family’s hard work and perseverance was inspiring to me. I knew I would have to do the same to reach my life goals. 

I went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Kutztown University and a master of education degree from East Stroudsburg University. I worked in my hometown school district for 17 years. I substituted grades K – 12 for two years until I was hired as a full-time classroom teacher at Lehighton Area Middle School in 2002. While a middle school teacher, I taught science and reading to 6th graders for 10 years, and I was a grade 5 to 8 reading specialist for three years. Later, I transferred within the district to Mahoning Elementary and Shull-David Elementary schools as a Title 1 reading specialist for grades 1 to 4. 

Recently, I joined my husband at our towing and repair business All-Points Towing, Recovery, and Service Center to work as the office manager, concentrate on my writing, and having a flexible schedule to raise our three children Megan, age 13, Jocelyn, age 10, and Sawyer, age 9. 
  
How did you get started writing? 
As soon as I could hold a crayon, I grew an interest in writing. I recall watching my parents write at the kitchen table as I tried to copy what they wrote in my best handwriting. Although others may have seen scribbles and swirls on my paper, I saw letters and words making up my name and stories. My parents entertained my ideas by listening and encouraging. 

As previously mentioned, my best friends and I had our own newspaper. Their parents and mine supported our endeavors, as well as our neighbors. One next-door neighbor in particular, Mary Miller, enjoyed writing letters to our column “Dear Gals.” She asked us questions about the baby deer that were spotted in the neighborhood, sent us recipes for our newspaper, and even requested answers for our crossword puzzles to be printed in our following newspaper. If we sold lemonade to raise funds for our paper or other endeavors, she was there as a solid customer and supporter. 

As I continued school, my teachers were influential in my writing. From Mrs. Snowberger and Miss Cox teaching how to write the ABCs, form my first words, and rhyme to Mrs. Sowden and Miss Mulligan teaching me how to write in my neatest cursive writing, teachers were some of my biggest supporters and influences along my literary journey. I can recall Mr. Gimble and Mr. Eisenhower teaching me about the classics and introducing me to literary greats in stories as well as building upon the fundamentals of writing, enabling an expansion of vocabulary and stretching my mind to new levels. 

Mr. Novey in high school provided opportunities for projects and life lessons as my friends Misty, Mike, Brett, and I learned the value of researching, preparing, creating, and presenting a project about the decade of the 1940s. Through this, we collectively learned that sometimes we can have the best laid plans fall through, and at times we just need to use our research and knowledge to “wing it” to get the desired results. That concept has been applied to my writing and in life on many occasions; sometimes the best pieces of writing happen when you take a different direction and let go of anything holding you back.

College professors like Professor Harkins at Lehigh Carbon Community College expressed with animated gestures that “Variety is the spice of life.” Dr. Chambers at Kutztown University opened my eyes to new literature by Patricia Polacco and her love of Harry Potter was contagious. I found myself immersed in children’s books during the summer of 2000 while studying to become an elementary school teacher. I wrote reviews to create a book log of 40 books as assigned, and she encouraged me to one day write children’s book reviews. Though I did not pursue that at the time due to a busy school schedule, I kept that positive remark in the back of my mind. Years later, I joined with Story Monsters Ink to do just that. Dr. McLaughlin, Dr. Ramano, and Dr. Moore from East Stroudsburg University challenged me to research, read, and reflect, all while finding creative ways to reach the different learning styles of my students. 

Dr. R and the Colonial Association of Reading Educators (CARE) championed my writing efforts by connecting opportunities to present at the Keystone State Reading Conference in State College, PA and educator receptions and book signings at Barnes and Noble stores. 

Together the teachers in my life taught me that writing can be fun, entertaining, and a learning tool. Because of that, I used my love of poetry and songwriting to create songs about character, science, and reading for my middle school students and later turned them into books for others to enjoy.

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Why do you write books? 
One of the most pivotal moments of my writing career happened in 2011 as my daughter Megan stepped off of the bus as a kindergartner. We chatted as we walked down the driveway to our house. I asked her about her day and she told me it was “Good.” I said, “What did you learn about?” and she said, “Buckets.” Intrigued by this comment, I had to learn more. It turned out that her principal at the time Gretchen Laviolette had just read Have You Filled a Bucket Today? to her class. My daughter continued to tell me all about how everyone has a bucket and if we do something nice we fill that person’s bucket and our own. If we don’t do something nice we dip into that person’s bucket. 

I thought it was such a great concept and couldn’t wait to find the book. I searched online and found the bucket books. I wrote many poems to teach this concept to my students and own kids, eventually sending the poems to the author, Carol McCloud. She encouraged me to write my own book of bucket filling poems. It took me a year to write my book, and then she said I could send it to her publisher. I did just that. Nine months later, I was holding my book with a new title from the publisher: A to Z Character Education for the Classroom

The publishing process was a learning experience and so much fun. It made me want to continue writing for my students and kids. I went on to write Be the Best Version of You: A Teacher’s Poem for Her Students, which was a letter I wrote to my middle school students for their last day of classes. Because two students excitedly asked me for a copy of the poem, I decided to turn it into a book for them. Later, I penned Can You Dig It? All About the Temperate Soil Profile because former students every year would come back and visit me in my classroom, asking for a copy of the “Soil Song.”  

Every book had a purpose, and Driver Dad: Towman to the Rescue came to be because my tow truck driver husband had a close call one night while towing a car alongside the highway. I wanted to spread the message about the “Slow Down, Move Over” law, hoping to make drivers aware of the need to slow down and move over when emergency vehicles are alongside the road. 

Elf Olaf, Santa’s Magical Gift was a promise that my longtime friend and pet photographer Dietra DeRose decided to create when we were in Mr. Miller’s Art class in seventh grade in 1990. We always talked about how one day we were going to create a book together. Our book showcases her love of pet photography and includes adorable ferrets and cocker spaniels in Christmas settings. Through her pictures, I pieced together a story about a magical ferret elf named Olaf who learns about the importance of giving and bringing smiles to others.

Forever Thankful, Good Night was the result of a long winter snowstorm and snow day vacations from school. It is a story about being thankful for the many reasons in our life. It led me to write my latest book Grateful for You, Good Night!

What do you like best about writing? 
Writing is therapeutic and helps me to relax, create, and reach goals. However, my favorite part is weaving words together that hopefully will help to put positive vibes into the world. I hope to make a difference and help others find their gifts through writing and inspiring. 

What do you find the most challenging about writing?
The most challenging part of writing is concentrating on one project at a time. I usually have many stories going at once. I pick the story I want to work on, depending on my mood. 

What makes a good story? 
A good story is like meeting a new friend. It has character, captivates, and inspires.

Tell us about your latest book. 
Grateful for You, Good Night! is a sweet, relaxing bedtime story, which develops a routine of responsibility, prayers, and gratefulness. This story has a poetic quality with soothing illustrations and design by Jacqueline Challiss Hill. It allows readers to take their own special journey of making memories with their families. Together, the poetic nature of the story and the illustrations reflect how saying good night and being thankful are two important parts of a loving bedtime routine.

Families play a vital role in building and supporting children’s sense of security and comfort. Through the sequencing of events, of which children can expect to follow every night, parents help to develop a feeling of relaxation, transitioning their children to a night of restful sleep. 

This is the second book Jacqueline has illustrated and designed for me; the first book was a character curriculum book as previously mentioned A to Z Character Education for the Classroom

What’s next for you? 
I am super excited for my next book, which has a working title of How the Farm Wakes Up. This children’s story will feature illustrations and design by my dear illustrator friend Jacqueline Challiss Hill. Young readers will enjoy reading a rhyming story about animals waking up in the morning on a farm.

Where do you get your inspiration? 
Inspiration for my stories comes from my children, teaching, and life experiences. I feel that words of encouragement can go a long way. From a principal reading a story, to my oldest daughter retelling the story, to a children’s author responding to my enthusiastic email, to students expressing interest in my songs and poems, to the support of my teachers, family, and friends, words matter. I am thankful for the people in my life and the words of encouragement offered along my literary journey. They made me feel empowered to continue to write and reach my dreams. 


For more information about Sherry L. Hoffman and her books, visit SherryLHoffman.com.