Titan Gabrielse is Recruiting Heroes for a Special Club


by Melissa Fales
photos by Crystal Kneeland Photography
Story Monsters Ink, August 2019 issue

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Titan Gabrielse may be a little boy, but he has big plans. Recently diagnosed with dyslexia, this 7-year-old has taken his struggles with reading and writing, the extra school work he needs to do, and the weekly private tutoring he requires all in stride. One day, Titan casually told his mother, Tiffanie about an idea he had. “He said, ‘I want to create an army of friends with dyslexia so we can beat up dyslexia together,’” says Tiffanie, who came up with the idea of turning that army into an afterschool club. Thus, the idea for Read with the Titans was born. Now Titan and his family are working to make his vision a reality. “With any luck, Read with the Titans will be functioning by the next new school year,” Tiffanie says. 

Titan will be entering second grade at Swansboro Elementary School in North Carolina. Tiffanie recalls the anguish she felt last year watching him struggle to read. “You could tell it was painful for him,” she says. Tiffanie says she was confused but not surprised when she got called into his classroom to talk to the teacher about his below-grade level reading skills.

Fortunately, Titan was diagnosed with dyslexia early. Too often, says Tiffanie, dyslexia is not diagnosed until third grade. “By then, you’re so far behind,” she says. Titan is currently reading at a Kindergarten level, but he’s also participating in an extended school year so he won’t lose any of his progress over the summer. Every week, Titan travels over an hour each way for his lesson with a private tutor who specializes in dyslexia. “He gets motion sickness,” says Tiffanie. “But he doesn’t complain.” 

Once the Gabrielse family had the word, “dyslexia,” to describe why Titan was having such a hard time with reading and writing, they started using it often. “I wanted him to own it,” Tiffanie says. “I have dwarfism. I own that. I’m small. The grass is green. The sky is blue. By owning it, you take the shame away from it.” The fact that dyslexia is an invisible learning disability made it a little harder for Titan to understand. “My son doesn’t have a physical disability like I do,” says Tiffanie. “Wrapping your head around something when you can’t see it is hard.” 

In stories, titans are strong. They have superpowers and they help people. They are heroes. They have to work hard to be a hero just like other kids like me with dyslexia have to work hard to read and write.

Titan is already compiling a list of things he’d like to do with his “army” after school, including playing word games and practicing reading and writing through activities such as sending letters to pen pals. Titan has also recently started talking about having his Read with the Titans club create graphic novels since the image-heavy genre helps give the words context for dyslexic readers.

A key component of Read with the Titans will be to encourage self-acceptance among these young people. Dyslexia is hereditary, and Titan’s father, Marine Ssgt. Eric Gabrielse, endured it without ever knowing that there was a word for the issues he was experiencing. "I struggled with my own dyslexia for years as a child,” he says. “I still struggle with it. It's not just the reading and writing, but the thoughts that there's something wrong with you. I saw everyone else read and write easily and I figured I was just stupid.”

Perhaps most importantly, says Tiffanie, she and Titan hope Read with the Titans will spread the word about dyslexia. “October is dyslexia awareness month,” Tiffanie says. “That seems like a good place for us to start.” She believes that even a simple, inexpensive campaign can be effective. “Things like wearing t-shirts,” she says. “Wristbands. Talking about it. Confronting it. Embracing it. You can't have an army if you don't have recruits.”

Titan has expressed concern about dyslexic kids who don’t have the type of loving, supportive family and friends that he has been blessed with. “He said, ‘I don’t want them to be alone and dyslexic,” says Tiffanie. “He is the most sensitive, loving little boy. He’s come so far and he’s worked so hard.”

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Titan didn’t choose the name “Read with the Titans” for his club because it’s his name, but because of what it means. “In stories, titans are strong. They have superpowers and they help people,” Titan says. “They are heroes. They have to work hard to be a hero just like other kids like me with dyslexia have to work hard to read and write.” 

Tiffanie is beyond proud of her son and all he has gone through. “I think I named Ty correctly,” she says. “He is a true titan because of his ability to persevere … I’m not shocked he wants to help others. It’s who he is. That’s why I want to help his idea come to life any way I can. Especially if that means by doing so, he'll see being dyslexic is nothing to be ashamed of. It's nothing to be embarrassed over. Everyone has something. And dyslexia is certainly nothing that will ever hold him back.”

For more information about Read with the Titans, contact titanreads@hotmail.com, and follow on Instagram @titanreads or Facebook at Titan Reads.

Author Spotlight: Nicole M. Stevenson


Nicole M. Stevenson is the author of Diamond's Kindergarten Madness, a story about a very anxious little girl who is about to start her first day of school!

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Where did you grow up? 
In Queens, NY. “Queens is Where Creativity is Born.” A mixture of cultures that got along.

Did you read a lot as a child?
Yes, I read. I didn’t read every day. When I did, I really would get into the story. Books would provide an essential escape for me, whether it was to get away from my brother or because there was reruns of my favorite shows. My mother was an avid reader.

What were some of your favorite books/authors?
Where the Wild Things Are. When I was teen, Nancy Drew. I enjoyed reading comics, especially Archie.

What did you want to be when you grew up? 
Believe it or not, I wanted to be a pediatrician. Later on when I entered college, I realized that biology and chemistry were a lot harder than I thought.

Tell us about some of the jobs you’ve had before you became a writer. 
Babysitting my godbrother was one of my first jobs. I worked for PAL summer youth—a whole bunch of children that were full of energy. I was an Usher at a theater in Queens, where I met Cool & the Gang, as well as a country singer. It was great experience getting paid to show folks to their seats and seeing free shows.

How did you get started writing?
Poetry was my introduction. In school I learned about poetry and fell in love with it. It is the words in the card you love, the lyrics to your favorite song.

What do you like best about writing? 
When I write and people enjoy what I’ve written, and I can evoke different emotion from the reader.

What do you find the most challenging about writing? 
The biggest challenge I’ve had to face is when I’m on a writing streak and then there is a dry season. The point when it seems your writing is at a standstill and you are awaiting the downpour.

What do you think makes a good story? 
A story that can hold up to its genre in which it’s written and leave the reader wanting to read more. A story that makes readers ask if there is going to be a sequel or series.

Where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration can come from anywhere. Diamond’s Kindergarten Madness started with my eldest girl, the main character is named after her. This is not her story, just something that I made up.

What is your favorite reading/writing snack?
My favorite snack are Oreos and ice cream. They make me happy.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?
I will write on anything from a napkin to toilet paper.

What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write, write, read, rewrite and repeat.

If you could spend a day in any imaginary world from a book you’ve read, where would it be and why?
Well, I would have said Where the Wild Things Are, but after careful thought it would be inside Diamond’s Kindergarten Madness. In her world, she lets her mind get the best of her and she envisions some of the silliest things that occur. It makes me laugh and I feel like a kid again.

Tell us about your latest book/project.
My latest project is about a prominent black figure. This time I’m going back to my roots—poetry, of course.

Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like people to know about you and/or your books?
I’ve written four books thus far and aside from children manuscripts, I’m working on adult manuscripts as well. “I also host “On the Wall” live chat interviews on Facebook, I am the founder of Profile magazine fashion and entertainment, and I draw, paint, and write songs.

For more information about Nicole M. Stevenson, visit her on Facebook.

A Letter to My Younger, Nervous Self


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Dear little Ben,

I heard that you’re taking a test in school this week and that you’re very worried about it. You’re worried that you’ll forget everything you memorized. You’re worried that you’ll end up with a bad grade. I also heard that you have to play in a piano recital and that you’re freaked out. You’re scared that you’ll play the wrong notes. You’re afraid that your parents and teacher will be disappointed and angry.

Everything’s so hard when you have to do something important and you get worried. Believe me, I know. I remember how I felt when I was your age. When I took a test my stomach hurt, and my head ached, and it was hard to come up with the right answers. And when I had to play the piano in front of an audience my hands shook and it was so hard to get my fingers on the right notes. I remember my piano teacher saying, “You play so beautifully, why are you so nervous?” I remember my parents telling me, “You’re smart, you shouldn’t worry. You’ll do fine on the test!” This made me very frustrated and angry. I felt like they just didn’t understand. And I know you feel that way, too. You’re suffering and no one understands you. You feel alone.

But I have news for you. You are not alone! Many kids your age feel these things. And no one’s really helping them, either. So here’s the really good news: I can show you how to feel calm when you take a test and you play the piano in a recital. You don’t have to be scared and nervous. You can feel calm and confident.

I can hear you asking, “How can I do that?” Well, right now you’re focusing on how nervous and scared you are. How about if you learned to focus on being calm instead? “Focus” means what you’re thinking about and where you’re putting your attention. In a basketball game, the players are focused on the net and getting the ball into it. Then they score points and win the game. Right now, when you take a test and play in a piano recital you are focused on how nervous and scared you are. Your attention is going to your tight stomach and your throbbing head. So of course you can’t “score.” Of course you feel like you are failing. Learning how to be calm is not hard. In fact, it’s easy. You just have to learn to focus on something else. Let me show you how.

Being calm takes two steps: 

Step 1: Breathing. Of course you’re breathing all the time, but there’s a special way to breathe that will help you calm down. To do this, first you place both hands on your belly. Next, when you breathe in, you feel your belly filling up with air. You don’t have to push your belly out. Just send the breath down to your belly and feel it gently expand. This is called deep breathing. Your body and brain enjoy this. They want to be calmed down.

Step 2: Grounding. This is also easy, and fun. To do it, put both feet flat on the floor. Now feel the floor under your feet. Next, feel the chair you’re sitting on against your legs and bottom and back. Once you’ve done that,  now feel the floor and chair supporting you. Feel them holding you up. And don’t forget to breathe!

When you breathe and ground, you are focusing on calming down, not on how nervous you are. In fact, breathing and grounding are the best ways to calm yourself down.

Let’s practice. Right now, close your eyes and imagine you are taking a test or playing in a recital. If you start to feel a little nervous, use the tools right away! Breathe and ground. Do it again. And do it one more time. You’ll feel better and better.

And remember ... just keep doing it. I did, and now, when I have to take a test or play the piano, I remember to breathe and ground, I don’t get all upset and scared. I stay calm. You can do it, too. I know.

Your bigger self,
Ben (but now people call me “Dr. B”!) 

Ben Bernstein, Ph.D., is an author, educator, and performance psychologist. Trained as a teacher in inner city schools in New York and London, he was a prominent figure in the progressive education movement in the early 70s, and has since gone on to teach at every level of the educational system.

Over the last 50 years he has coached thousands of clients, from high school students to business executives to Pulitzer Prize, Tony and Academy Award winners. He has received numerous awards and grants from the U.S. and Canadian governments, and has been a speaker at national and international conferences. He was the first director of improvisation at Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute in Utah.


For more information, visit drbperformancecoach.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













Story Monsters Ink October Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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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)

Charlie Sparrow and the Secret of Flight.jpg

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)

The Maker.jpg

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

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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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