Author Spotlight: Tim Vasquez


Tim S. Vasquez’s casual, easy-to-read writing style has collided with his vast life experiences to create his long-awaited first book, The Taco Stand. Growing up in the kitchen of his parents’ Mexican restaurant in Tempe, Arizona, has provided him the impetus for the book. Tim is the owner and operator of his family’s restaurants, Someburros and Isabel’s Amor, where he strives each and every day to honor the legacy of his Nana Isabel and Tata Poncho.

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Where did you grow up?
Tempe, AZ.

Did you read a lot as a child?
I loved children’s books but I enjoyed writing more than reading.

What were some of your favorite books/authors?
I enjoyed Shel Silverstein and A Light in the Attic as a child. As a high school student I loved The Count of Monte Cristo.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a professional baseball player.

Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer.
I worked in my parents’ restaurant, Someburros, growing up and now I own the business and that is my full-time job.

How did you get started writing?
My grandma Betty was a good writer and so was my mom, Mary. They always made writing fun and something enjoyable to do. My mom still loves writing poetry and she has had a huge influence on my writing.

What do you like best about writing?

I love the storytelling aspect of writing. I enjoy using words that paint a picture in the reader’s mind so they actually feel like they are a part of the story.

What do you find the most challenging about writing?
Finding the time to actually do it.

What do you think makes a good story?
I think the best stories are ones that the reader can relate to and totally picture in their mind.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I love getting a cup pf coffee and “people watching.” I try to think about who they are, what they are doing, and how they got there. Every person has a story and if I think about what it might be, sometimes it inspires me to write.

What is your favorite reading/writing snack?
Coffee.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?
I write best right after exercising outdoors. It seems to get my creative juices flowing.

What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
There are no rules and there is no right or wrong with writing. Be creative. Be yourself. Write what’s on your mind.

If you could spend a day in any imaginary world from a book you’ve read, where would it be and why?
I’d love to be adventuring in Where the Wild Things Are.

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Tell us about your latest book/project.
My book, The Taco Stand, tells the story of my Nana Isabel and her passion for cooking and making tacos for her boys to sell on the street corner. One day, she is approached by a man in a black suit and he presents his greedy plan to expand her business while taking time away from her family. Isabel is faced with the decision between fortune or time spent with family.


For more information about Tim Vasquez and his book, visit www.thetacostandbook.com.

New Story Monsters Approved Books Announced

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

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Family Matters

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

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Picture Books (Ages 3–8)

Green Snakes on the Ceiling
by Sandy Richards, illustrated by Ella Rose Picture books

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

Along for the Ride
by Michael DiPinto, illustrated by Sue Lynn Cotton

The Adventures of Connor the Courageous Cutter: Saving Sarah
by Scott McBride & Rod Thompson, illustrated by Brian Martin

The Adventures of Connor the Courageous Cutter: Caution at Calamity Canal
by Scott McBride & Rod Thompson, illustrated by Brian Martin

Eli's Magic Moment
by Kevin Poplawski, illustrated by Michael Rausch

What's Going Down in Prairie Dog Town?
by Alan J. Bartels, illustrated by Hannah Segura

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Early Readers (Ages 5–9) – Nonfiction

On Safari to See the Animals and the Birds
by Sandy Hill, illustrated by Gene and Sandy Hill

School Life

How the Peacock Got Its Feathers
by Clayton Francis & Cherylann Francis, illustrated by Ryan Trautmann

Young Adult Novel (Ages 13 and up)

Voiceless Whispers
by Jane Frances Ruby, illustrations by Dean Silvia

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

Story Monsters Approved Books Announced


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

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Cultural Diversity

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

 

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Early Reader (Ages 5-9)

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

 

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Family Matters

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


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First Chapter Books (Ages 6–10)

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

 

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First-time Author

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

 

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Making a Difference

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

 

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Middle-Grade Books (Ages 8–12)

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

 

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Picture Books (Ages 3–8)

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

 

School Life

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

 

Tween Novels (Ages 10-14)

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Finding Tate by Ann Anthony

 

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













2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Award Winners Announced

 

 

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2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Award Winners

 

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

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

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Activity Book

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


Aging/Senior Living

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

 

Animals/Pets

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

 

Best Cover Design

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

              

 Best Illustrations

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


Best Interior Design

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

  

Biography/Autobiography/Memoir

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


Book Series

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

 

Book Trailer

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

 

Children’s Chapter Books

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

 

Children’s Picture Books 5 & Younger

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


Children’s Picture Books 6 & Older

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

 

Children’s Poetry

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

 

Coffee Table/Gift Books

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

 

Cultural Diversity

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

 

Education

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

 

Fiction – Collection of Short Stories

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

 

Fiction – Novel

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

 

Fine Art/Photography

Honorable Mention: From Behind by David Jerome

 

Green Books/Environmental

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

 

Historical Fiction

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

 

Holiday

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

How-To

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

 

Humor

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

 

LGBT

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

 

Middle Grade Fiction

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

Mystery

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

 

New Author (Fiction)

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

 

New Author (Nonfiction)

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

 

Other Nonfiction

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

 

Poetry

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

              

Psychology

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

 

Relationships

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

 

Religion/Spirituality

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

 

Romance

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

 

Science Fiction/Fantasy

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

 

Self-Help/Inspirational

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


Westerns

Honorable Mention: Armed Men and Armadillos by John Sharp               

 

Women’s Interests

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

 

Young Adult Fiction

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

 

Youth Author Fiction

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

 

Youth Author Nonfiction

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

  

* E-Book Award Winners *

 

Animals/Pets

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

 

Audiobooks

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

 

Children’s Poetry

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

 

Cultural Diversity

1st Place: Vivir el Dream by Allison Garcia

 

Education

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

 

Fiction: Novel

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

 

Health

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

 

Mystery

1st Place: Fountain of Revenge by Richard Dodge Davidson

 

New Author (Fiction)

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

 

New Author (Nonfiction)

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

 

Performing Arts

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

 

Picture Books 5 & Younger

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



Picture Books 6 & Older

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

 

Romance

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


Science & Technology

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

 

Science Fiction/Fantasy

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

 

Self-Help/Inspirational

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

 

Unpublished Manuscript

Honorable Mention: Rumpelstiltskin: the Untold Story by Michael Brandt

 

Young Adult Fiction

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

 

Young Adult Nonfiction

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

 

 

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

Sponsored by Story Monsters LLC

 

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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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.



Story Monsters Approved Books Announced


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

Picture Books (Ages 3-8)

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

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

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

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

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The Jaguar's Story
by Kosa Ely, Radhe Gendron

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

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

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


Health and Medicine

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Froga Yoga at the Pond
by Hannah Rose Roswell

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

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

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


Making a Difference

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Thiago the Tiger and the Light Within
by Vanessa Caraveo

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


Education/Reference

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When I Grow Up
by Rick Grant, Anabel Alfonso

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

Green Living/Environmental Issues

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The Jaguar's Story
by Kosa Ely, Radhe Gendron

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


School Life

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Thiago the Tiger and the Light Within
by Vanessa Caraveo

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

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

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

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

Author Spotlight: Lora Rozler


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Author Spotlight: Alex Beard


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Tell the truth!

2) Expect OTHERS to tell the truth, and

3) Be honest with yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information please visit miamibookfair.com

Story Monsters Ink October Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Subscribe to Story Monsters Ink so you don't miss an issue! 



Author Spotlight: Zack Bush


From a child’s first uttered “Dada” to his or her first unsteady steps, nothing can adequately convey the joy and awe of watching the birth and growth of a new child. Filled with adorable illustrations and the refrain, “You are the one made just for me,” Made for Me is a winning presentation of tender moments that tie a father and his new child together … forever.

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Where did you grow up?
Miami, Florida

Did you read a lot as a child?
Yes—always loved reading.

What were some of your favorite authors and books?
Growing up I loved Judy Blume (who doesn’t?) and Roald Dahl, but my absolute favorite was Shel Silverstein.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always knew I wanted to surround myself with live music. The traditional path never interested me too much. As a bar owner and a writer, I can say my career dreams have really come true!

Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer.
I spent many years working with my family in the waste/recycling business. I also spent a great deal of time promoting/marketing events as well. And of course, as co-owner of Ball & Chain (located in Miami)—I spend a great many days and nights listening to jazz, salsa, and Afro-Cuban funk.

How did you get started writing?
I always enjoyed writing. However, life kind of “takes off” and often times we, myself included, lose site of hobbies. In my case, my passion and zest for writing came back when my first child was born. I was overcome by emotion and KNEW I had to find the words that matched the feelings in my heart.

Why do you write books?
Besides being overcome with emotion and wanting to give words to the feelings in my heart, I really wanted to show that it is ok—and should be encouraged—for a dad to coo over his baby (just as we often see moms doing). My wife and I began reading to our children and I found no books that truly captured what I was trying to capture.

What do you like best about writing?
The challenge. When writing a children’s picture book (especially one that rhymes)—every word has to be perfect. As long as I can remember I always wanted to be published—it just took my kids being born to remind me of this lifetime goal.

What do you find the most challenging about writing?
For me, I have to be inspired and this inspiration comes at any and all times—and sometimes not at all. I find I do my best work when I am focused on finding words to match my very own feelings.

What do you think makes a good story?
For me there is something very powerful when a story evokes emotion. This is what I tried to do with Made For Me.

Where do you get your inspiration?
My incredible children and my superhero wife. The best inspiration comes from real-life experiences. Each day is an adventure and I find myself constantly jotting things down on paper or in my phone. With infants and now toddlers —I am inspired each and every day.

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Tell us about your latest book.
Made For Me is a story about a father’s love for his little one. It captures the everyday moments that I experienced (and believe most dads do as well). These moments are beyond precious and I found myself both excited and emotional on a daily basis.

What’s next for you?
I am continuing to write (many new projects in the works)—and of course I am continuing with my passion for the hospitality industry. Besides Ball & Chain (www.BallAndChainMiami.com), I have a Mexican restaurant and bar opening within the next two months and a hotel food and beverage program that will roll out before the end of 2018.

Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like people to know about you and/or your books?
I have been overwhelmed by the support and feedback from Made For Me. I never in my wildest dreams imagined becoming a Publishers Weekly bestseller. More than that, I am blown away by the comments on the Made For Me Facebook page and Amazon review page. I read and reply to each and every one of the comments and they keep me smiling from the inside out.


For more information about Zack Bush and his books, visit facebook.com/MadeForMeBook

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

Zack is presenting Made for Me at 12:30 pm on Sunday, Nov 18
at Mr. Wembley’s Storytorium in Children’s Alley.

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

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

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

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

For more information please visit miamibookfair.com


Story Monsters Approved Books Announced


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

Picture Books (Ages 3-8)

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Piccadilly and the Jolly Raindrops
Lisa Anne Novelline, Nicola Hwang

The third installment in the Piccadilly and her Magical World picture book series, Piccadilly learns to reframe her gloomy and rainy afternoon into one of the most fantastic days of her life! Piccadilly and the Jolly Raindrops is a tale of joy and wonder wrapped around what is perhaps one of the mightiest messages of all... children possess the power to choose a positive view of challenges. And when they exercise that power, the most magical of possibilities await!

 

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Gillie Can Share
by Sarah-Leigh Wills

Learn about sharing with friends and family in this colorful and charming story following a little rabbit called Gillie! The Gillie Can series can form a great basis for all kinds of learning.

 

Early Reader (Ages 5-9)

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Ricky and the Grim Wrapper
by Allen L. Pier, James Koenig

Ricky is a good boy with one very bad habit: he likes to litter. But one day while on a drive in the country with his parents, Ricky throws an empty root beer cup out the car window and in a blinding flash, he is catapulted into a strange and frightening world where litter comes to life and gathers along the roadside. Will he finally learn that littering is bad for the environment and change his ways? 

 

Middle Grade Fiction (Ages 8–12)

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Stormy Summers Fifth Grade Detective: Museum Mayhem
by Erin Danko, Clarizza Tumpap

Stormy Summers and her two friends thought it was going to be a field trip like any other. That was until the museum was robbed. Now the three girls are on the case to discover who the thief is. Can they find out before the thief finds them?

 

Young Adult Novels (Ages 13 and up)

 

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The Uncontrolled
by Zachary Astrowsky

From 14-year-old author Zachary Astrowsky comes the story of three teenage friends, John, Chase, and Hazel, who join together in the aftermath of a striking revelation and attempt to fight back against the majority around them that has been secretly implanted with a tracking and brainwashing device. The fight seems hopeless until John realizes that he has the ability to see the future, and the kids devise a plan to outwit the leader of The Controlled. 

 

Green Living/Environmental Issues

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Ricky and the Grim Wrapper
by Allen L. Pier, James Koenig

Ricky is a good boy with one very bad habit: he likes to litter. But one day while on a drive in the country with his parents, Ricky throws an empty root beer cup out the car window and in a blinding flash, he is catapulted into a strange and frightening world where litter comes to life and gathers along the roadside. Will he finally learn that littering is bad for the environment and change his ways? 

 

Family Matters

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Dinner on the Doorstep
by Elizabeth Cummings, Bronte Goodieson

Mikey and Simon are missing their mom who is in hospital. Friends and neighbors want to help and so they take turns to bring a dinner to the family. Each day Mikey and Simon look forward to coming home and finding out what is on the doorstep. This heart-warming story celebrates community spirit while touching on a deeper conversation of coping with illness and the emotions that go with it. 

 

Education/Reference

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Deputy Paws and the Puppy Mill Cause
by Peggy Race, Mike Motz

Deputy Paws was born in a puppy mill. He didn’t have any freedom to run and play like other dogs get. He was stuck in a small cage and not looked after properly. This fully illustrated children’s book follows his story from a sad and unhappy pup to one full of life in his new home where he is loved. Deputy Paws carries a message of hope for one young dog and an important lesson for us all about the dangers of puppy mills and how to avoid buying dogs that are sold through them.

 

First Time Author

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Ricky and the Grim Wrapper
by Allen L. Pier, James Koenig

Ricky is a good boy with one very bad habit: he likes to litter. But one day while on a drive in the country with his parents, Ricky throws an empty root beer cup out the car window and in a blinding flash, he is catapulted into a strange and frightening world where litter comes to life and gathers along the roadside. Will he finally learn that littering is bad for the environment and change his ways? 

 

Making a Difference

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Dinner on the Doorstep
by Elizabeth Cummings, Bronte Goodieson

Mikey and Simon are missing their mom who is in hospital. Friends and neighbors want to help and so they take turns to bring a dinner to the family. Each day Mikey and Simon look forward to coming home and finding out what is on the doorstep. This heart-warming story celebrates community spirit while touching on a deeper conversation of coping with illness and the emotions that go with it. 

 

 

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

Story Monsters Ink September Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

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Bear Moves
by Ben Bailey Smith and Sav Akyuz (Candlewick Entertainment) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Well, put on the music and move over, cause Bear’s got some moves and he doesn’t mind sharing them. This is a fun, feel-good read. Bear introduces the reader to music and dance, and the illustrations are sure to add laughter to the beat. (Ages 2-5)

Stick
by Irene Dickson (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The simplest of things can often bring the greatest rewards. Following all the joys a boy and his dog can share with a simple stick. You can throw it, balance with it, float it down a stream, and draw pictures in the sand. And we agree, building friendships is the very best of all. (Ages 2-5)

Try a Little Kindness
by Henry Cole (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The sweet, rhythmic flow of the text, and soft, easy appeal of the illustrations make this a great feel-good reading experience that can linger for a lifetime. Each page features a different way to be a good person, like using proper manners, telling someone they are special, or sharing a treat! The opening page will catch the heart and quickly become a childhood mantra. (Ages 3-5)

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Mae’s First Day Of School
by Kate Berube (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
I bet we all remember our first day of school. Oh, we may not remember the details, but that cold clammy feeling that stirs every time we face a new venture, reminds us. Life is never as hard when we encounter it with a friend. Mae is afraid to go to school. Riddled by the monstrous “what if” thoughts, she hides and determines not to go. But, lucky for Mae, she meets others who are just as frightened as she is. And together, they are able to overcome. A great reminder for all of us. Let’s grab a hand and do all those wonderful things we wish we could do! The illustrations are simple and sweet, and capture the heart. (Ages 3-7)

Storm
by Sam Usher (Templar) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Wind and thunderstorms can be cozy, exciting, and evoke lots of adventures—inside and outside of the house! A little boy and his grandpa go searching for a kite to fly on a windy, stormy day and throughout their search, reminisce about other experiences they had together as they bump into special mementos. A beautiful story that will inspire children to look for adventures in nooks and crannies, and most importantly, with their families. (Ages 3-7)

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I Am Actually a Penguin
by Sean Taylor, Kasia Matyjaszek (Templar) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Playing dress-up is a childhood experience that will never get old and this is a funny, sweet, and
completely relatable story about a little girl who loves this pastime. Her imagination, creativity, and perseverance is adorable (and admirable) as she really embraces becoming her costume—in this case, a penguin. The illustrations are vibrant, fun, and different with the use of mixed media and multiple picture and plot points on each page. Readers will enjoy reading this delightful story and then quickly running to their own dress-up box. (Ages 3-7)

Duck Gets a Job
by Sonny Ross (Templar) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
This is a story about being yourself and not a carbon copy of the vast majority. Sonny Ross creates a combo of creative words and illustrations to entertain young readers with his tale. Children will delight in the silliness of Duck as he takes readers through the steps of getting a job in a big city. Duck soon discovers that spreadsheets are not his cup of tea, so he opts for a job that fits his special gifts and passion. A perfect read-aloud for discussing sequencing and introducing job skills and goals, this picture book really fits the bill! (Ages 3-7)

Little Robot Alone
by Patricia MacLachlan, Emily MacLachlan Charest, Matt Phelan (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Little Robot Alone is a story about a robot curing boredom by using his imagination, technical skills, and some elbow grease. The authors and illustrator have created a story that showcases the importance of friendship. The occasional rhyming text intermixed with the imagery produced from the descriptive wording allows readers to purely enjoy the robot’s surroundings and appreciate the soft, dreamlike illustrations. What a wonderful text to use with young children to bring up the topic of befriending others and discussing what it feels like to be alone. This profound story is more than the superficial idea of a robot creating a friend; digging deeper, teachers and parents can easily help readers have text connections by incorporating this story into lessons about having positive character traits and finding them in others. (Ages 3-7)

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Rock What Ya Got
by Samantha Berger, Kerascoet (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
I love the opening of this story! It opens wide the imagination and excitement rushes in. Carrying a powerful message, each page delights with its endearing illustrations. For anyone who has ever whispered, or shouted, “If only....” Happiness comes when we own who we are, and success follows when you can rock what ya got. This is a fun presentation for kids who are finding, and claiming their own unique spot in this iffy world. (Ages 4-7)

Snail Mail
by Samantha Berger, Julia Patton (Running Press Kids) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
We’ve all heard and used the term “snail mail” for ages now, but Samantha Berger and Julia Patton have adorably and brilliantly put pictures and a story to this cute term. Snails actually delivering mail! Berger captures our heart from the beginning with a little girl mailing a letter across the country, and the long and exhausting trek the determined snails must make to get it to her recipient. The story also takes the reader on a journey through special landmarks of America with sunsets and rainbows in every backdrop. Snail Mail will teach many, and remind more, of how exciting it feels to run to the mailbox and have a special delivery waiting inside. (Ages 4-8)

Energy: Physical Science for Kids
by Andi Diehn, Hui Li (Nomad Press) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
Energy, energy everywhere! This is an educational book to help young readers learn about the many forms of energy. The illustrations bring to life the concepts to engage visual learning and processing. The author has also included STEM activities to help further solidify the concepts. Energy races through your feet and is fueled by food and rest. What happens when your energy runs out? Do you get cranky, tired, or thrash about? Have a snack! Take a snooze! Keep your energy up and you’ll never lose! Energy is everywhere, you just need to look. One thing for sure, you’ll find it in this book. (Ages 4-8) 

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Matter: Physical Science for Kids
by Andi Diehn, Hui Li (Nomad Press) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
Let’s begin to learn about matter in this science educational book. ”Birds in the sky and rocks on the ground. Things made of matter are all around! Solids and liquids and gasses, too. Make up the world including you. Matter is everything, everywhere you look. Does matter, matter? Learn how important matter is as you read through this book. The illustrations are vibrant and will keep your child’s attention as they take their first steps into science experiments. Be sure to try the STEM activities included to reinforce the learning of the science concepts. (Ages 4-8)

Ted the Friendly Frog and the Tale of the Diamond
by Scott Mcall (Brown Books Kids) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Learning can be tough, and some lessons can last a lifetime. We have much to learn growing up, and our parental guidance far outlasts that of the animal kingdom, but both share the wisdom of the aged and the benefit of a listening heart. Ted the frog learns the importance of obedience the hard way. And we the readers learn, the choice is always ours. (Ages 5-6)

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Bully
by Jennifer Sattler (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Bully’s middle name might just be Greedy. He thinks the pond and its beautiful lilies are all for his own private enjoyment. Running off all those who pass by to share in the pond’s beauty, Bully finds himself quite content all alone. Can anyone stop Bully and his bullying ways? Using humor and whimsy, authorillustrator Jennifer Sattler masterfully shows young readers that standing up together can make all the difference in the world. (Ages 5-7)

Dino
by Diego Vaisberg (Templar) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a cute lighthearted story about a mysterious find. A large egg appears in the backyard. Is it a giant canary? A large lizard? A huge turtle? Life changes when the egg hatches. It’s sure to bring giggles to little readers and maybe even secret hopes that they, too, might find such wondrous things in their own backyard. (Ages 5-8)

Squiffy and the Vine Street Boys in Shiver Me Timbers
by Steve Stinson (Muddy Boots) Reviewer: Denise A. Bloomfield
This is a really fun story about Squiffy, who builds a pirate ship on a tree and invites the Vine Street boys to come aboard. The boys learn “Pirate talk” with a hilarious and predictable ending. I loved the characters, creativity, and imagination of this story. The illustrations bring the story to life. This is a fun and laugh-out-loud type of story. (Ages 5-8)

Howl Like a Wolf!
by Kathleen Yale, Kaley McKean (Storey Publishing) Reviewer: Denise A. Bloomfield
This book has so many educational and fun activities for young children! They can learn to howl like a wolf, see like a bat, and even dance like a honey bee! You didn’t know that a honey bee can dance? Well, you better get reading! This is a wonderful book for children and they will have lots of fun while learning. Also includes a link to download animal masks. A must-read! (Ages 6-9)

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Big Foot and Little Foot
by Ellen Potter, Felicita Sala (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Big Foot and Little Foot is a fun, adventurous book about seeing each other’s differences and overcoming fear to become friends. Hugo, the main character, is a young curious Sasquatch who wants to adventure in the Big Wide World, but that’s off limits. The most important Sasquatch rule is to never be seen by a human. But Hugo breaks that rule when he meets a human and they become pen pals. (Ages 6-9)

Love for Logan
by Lori DeMonia, Monique Turchan (Halo Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
These two darling sisters return with another story of love and inspiration. Logan’s older sister has trouble processing sensory signals, and that can make life challenging. When one member of a family struggles, it affects them all. Leah’s family supports her with understanding and awareness and learning, but most of all with a love that can overcome those difficult obstacles most of us will never face. This story of love and compassion will inspire us all to become aware of the struggles of others, and be a positive influence with understanding. (Ages 6-12)

Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System
by Bethany Ehlmann, Jennifer Swanson (National Geographic Children’s Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This one is sure to thrill any kid with their head in the clouds, and beyond! Packed with amazing facts, awesome photographs and diagrams, famous scientists, and so much more, it is sure to please. Whether just-for-fun reading, information for reports or projects, it will fill many interests. Science is fun! (Ages 8+)

My First Book Of Quantum Physics
by Kaid-Sala Ferrón Sheddad, Eduard Altarriba (Button Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
When I hear terms like elementary particles, my mind runs to the massive crumbs left in the middle school lunchroom. Or quantum entanglements fills my mind with visions of playground altercations needing attention. But, what if the concepts of quantum physics were introduced in an easier and more entertaining way? These authors have lifted the gray haze, and brought the quantum world to our fingertips. Children (and adults) will enjoy pushing the boundaries of what we call reality, and stepping into the quantum world! (Ages 8+)

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24 Hours in Nowhere
by Dusti Bowling (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Welcome to Nowhere, Arizona, the least livable town in the United States. For Gus, a bright 13-year-old with dreams of getting out and going to college, life there is made even worse by Bo Taylor, Nowhere’s biggest, baddest bully. When Bo tries to force Gus to eat a dangerously spiny cactus, Rossi Scott comes to his rescue by giving Bo her prized dirt bike. Determined to buy it back, Gus and his friends decide to go searching for gold in Dead Frenchman Mine. As they hunt for treasure, narrowly surviving one disaster after another, they realize this adventure just might lead them somewhere. A great, actionpacked story. (Ages 8-12)

A Long Line of Cakes
by Deborah Wiles (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Emma Lane Cake has five brothers, four dogs, and a family that can’t stay put. The Cake family travels from place to place, setting up bakeries in communities that need them. Then, just when Emma feels settled in with new friends … they move again. Now the Cakes have come to Aurora County, and Emma has vowed that this time she is NOT going to get attached to anyone. Why bother, if her father’s only going to uproot her again? But fate has different plans. And so does Ruby Lavender, who is going to show Emma a thing or two about making friendships last. This is a perfect story for young readers with a very sweet ending. (Ages 8-12)

Daring Dreamers Club: Milla Takes Charge
by Erin Soderberg, Anoosha Syed (RH/Disney) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Milla loves nothing more than imagining grand adventures in the great wide somewhere, just like Belle. She dreams of traveling the world and writing about her incredible discoveries. Unfortunately, there is nothing pretend about the fifth-grade overnight and Milla’s fear that her moms won’t let her go. Enter Piper, Mariana, Zahra, and Ruby. Together with Milla, they form the Daring Dreamers Club and become best friends. But can they help Milla believe she’s ready for this real grand adventure? Kids will particularly love how the book ideally ends, then leads into a sample of the next book. I found this to be a perfect fifth grade story. (Ages 8-12)

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Kid Scientists: True Tales of Childhood from Science Superstars
by David Stabler, Anoosha Syed (Quirk Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
What a delightful way for young readers to take more of an interest in science—by learning about our famous scientists’ childhoods. Did you know that there is one famous scientist who also invented the first pair of swim fins? Another scientist was also a genius mathematician whose calculations helped astronaut Neil Armstrong to be able to walk on the moon. Who are these people? You’ll have to read the book to find out. This is a brilliant book that will inspire and enlighten our budding future scientists. It proves to young readers that they, too, should dare to reach for the stars. (Ages 9-12)

Everything I Know About You
by Barbara Dee (Aladdin) Reviewer: Diana Perry
During a class trip to DC, 12-year-old Tally and her best friends, Sonnet and Caleb are less than thrilled when they are assigned roommates and are paired with kids who are essentially their sworn enemies. For Tally, rooming with “clonegirl” Ava Seely feels like punishment, rather than potential for fun, but Tally soon discovers several surprising things about her roommate—including the possibility of an eating disorder. This is a must-read for parents and teachers and a perfect lesson on bullying and another less-talked-about problem facing young girls today. (Ages 9-13)

The De La Cruz Diaries: Oops-A-Daisy
by Melody Delgado (Clean Reads) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
The De La Cruz Diaries: Oops-A-Daisy is a fun and captivating book. Daisy De La Cruz is a 12-year-old girl with dreams of becoming a famous singer. I liked that the book dealt with real issues including family issues, bullies, and how hard you have to work to accomplish something. This is a good book for anyone facing these life challenges. (Ages 12+)

The Crow Child
by Sherrie Todd-Beshore (CreateSpace) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Twelve-year-old Elijah Day Clearwater is not your average child. Since the death of his parents when he was three years old, he has been living with his paternal grandfather. He struggles every day with Cystic Fibrosis. What sets Elijah apart from everyone else is something … magical. Thirteen days before his 13th birthday, Elijah begins to have vivid dreams. Perhaps the dreams are just an outlet from the stress of a bully at school, or maybe they hint at a destiny that was foretold prior to his birth under the firesign. This story teaches young readers how their very lives today were formed by others who came before them. It is easy to bond with the well-developed characters. A great read. (Ages 12+)
 

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

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Authors Receive Story Monsters Seal of Approval

 

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

Picture Books (Ages 3-8)

Dear Master Dragon
Alva Sachs, Patricia Krebs

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

The Fly with One Eye
R.M. Halterman

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

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

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

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

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

First Chapter Books (Ages 6–10)

Lindie Lou Adventure Series
Jeanne Bender, Kate Willows

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

Middle-Grade Books (Ages 8–12)

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

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

Tween Novels (Ages 10-14)

The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak
Wendelin Gray  

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

Making a Difference

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

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

Bacon's Big Smooching Adventure
Olivia Johnson

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

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

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

School Life

Dear Master Dragon
Alva Sachs, Patricia Krebs

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

First-Time Author

Bacon's Big Smooching Adventure 
Olivia Johnson

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

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

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

Education/Reference

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

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

Spirituality/Religion

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

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

 

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Announcing our Newest Story Monsters Approved Books

 

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

Picture Books (Ages 3-8)

Eden and Her Happy   Tracy Schlepphorst, Charlie Martin

Eden and Her Happy
Tracy Schlepphorst

One day Eden wakes up and thinks her Happy is gone. Her emotions take over as she searches in all of the wrong places for her Happy. You will never guess where she finally finds it!

 

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Oogie's Rainy Day Adventure
Michael Weinbergrer, Steve Bonham

Children's Picture/Story Book about a little bear that doesn't give up on achieving his goals.

 

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Greenbeard the Pirate Pig
A.T. Balsara

Sail into adventure with Greenbeard the guinea pig pirate as Snug Rumkin, Greenbeard's ratty first mate, tries to teach him how to be a "proper" pirate!

 

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Tummy Turner    
Kimberly Puckett, Izabela Ciesinska

By the end of the book the reader has not only enjoyed getting to know an adorable monster, but also learns the secret behind the monster.

 

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Growing Up Tobey: The First Year
Caroline Barthen, Blueberry Illustrations

In this short story, Tobey shares with his readers some of his greatest adventures that happened in his first year of life.

 

First Chapter Books (Ages 6–10)

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Charlie Sparrow and the Secret of Flight
D.F. Anderson, Daniel McCloskey    

Charlie Sparrow has no idea he can fly. It's no wonder—in Tree City, none of the birds do. When Charlie seeks out the secret behind his feathers, Doctor Nightingale claims he has a dangerous childhood disease, the cure for which is feather plucking...

 

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Charlie Sparrow and the Book of Flight    
D.F. Anderson, Daniel McCloskey    

Charlie Sparrow is the only bird in Tree City who can fly, but Mayor Peck insists he's faking it. When Charlie learns of a book proving the truth about flight, he leaves Tree City to find it, facing a sharp-beaked thug and a den of mythical bird-eating creatures with claws and whiskers.

 

Tween Novels (Ages 10-14)

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The Maker    
D.F. Anderson

When a mysterious drawing binder appears on thirteen-year-old Nate Smith’s windowsill, he starts having visions—and drawing them. Strange creatures come for his work, launching him on a space adventure to learn the alien art of making.

 

School Life

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Henry and His Manners    
Tracy Schlepphorst, Charlie Martin

Henry learns the importance of manners when he wakes up one morning without them. Follow Henry as he goes through his day and watch his manners try to catch him.

 

Green Living/Environmental Issues

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The Engirlneers Protect the Ground Water
Shannon DeVivo and Heather DeVivo-Winz    

During a long morning of sledding, Chloe's younger brother encounters a gasoline spill near the school. Chloe enlists Gillian and Elan to evaluate the spill and help clean it up before it endangers their friends and neighbors. Can the engirlneers combine their different skills to clean up the spill before it's too late?

 

Spirituality/Religion

Eden and Her Joy.jpg

Eden and Her Joy    
Tracy Schlepphorst, Charlie Martin

Follow Eden through the untimely loss of her dad. Watch her emotions and the emotions of those she loves. Experience the return of her happy as she realizes that the love of her dad is a forever love.

 

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LuLu Faces Fear    
Gail Trauco, Mahfuja Selim

This magical children’s story can be read as a simple tale of a beautiful young unicorn in an enchanted wood. She has a rainbow-colored horn like a freshly made ice cream cone and a soft white coat. When she loses her precious mama, she has to find a way to overcome her fears.

 

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LuLu's Denial    
Gail Trauco, Mahfuja Selim

This charming book for youngsters can be read on two levels. It is a simple story about a young unicorn who has lost her mama and is trying to find her. On another level, this book can be used as a tool to help children who have been affected by the loss of a loved one.

 

Education/Reference

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Sixty-Minute Shakespeare Series
Cass Foster

To make the works of Shakespeare accessible to all ages and levels of education, Cass Foster combines his experience as a professor emeritus of theatre, fight choreographer, and stage director to provide the Sixty-Minute Shakespeare series. Foster’s renditions of the timeless tales are not adaptations, but rather judiciously condensed versions of the Bard's classics.

 

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teachers, librarians, and parents they are giving children the very best.

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