Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Drawn to Help: Children’s Books to the Rescue!

Check out this wonderful program Tara Lazar shared on her blog today. Kidlit authors and illustrators are visiting sick children in the hospital, sharing books, and giving art lessons. What a great way to help someone who is going through a tough time! Way to go!

Thank you, Tara for sharing this!

Click the link below to read more about Drawn to Help: Children’s Books to the Rescue!


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Book Report: Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el

Not Your Typical Dragon

Written by Dan Bar-el

Illustrated by Tim Bowers

Viking, 2013

I first heard Not Your Typical Dragon being read aloud on Julie’s Library, a podcast by Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. For a wonderful read aloud, check out then July 29th podcast at: https://www.julieslibraryshow.org/episode/2020/07/29/not-your-typical-dragon-rooster-wore-skinny-jeans .

After hearing Julie read Not Your Typical Dragon in her beautiful voice, I had to get a copy of my own. I fell in love with Crispin, the not-so-typical dragon. Truly an individual, Crispin fell far short of expected dragon-y behaviors and disappointed his father, family, and even a few knights. This book is a fun and surprising read!

What I Loved About This Book:

~ The not-your-typical dragon, Crispin

~ The humor and unexpected happenings once Crispin grew into his dragon abilities at the age of seven

~ Help that comes from unexpected places

~ Fun, colorful illustrations

~ Clever story and interactions between characters

Amazon Blurb:

Everybody knows your typical dragon breathes fire.

But when Crispin tries to breathe fire on his seventh birthday, fire doesn’t come out—only whipped cream! Each time Crispin tries to breathe fire, he ends up with

Band-Aids

marshmallows

teddy bears?

Crispin wonders if he’ll ever find his inner fire. But when a family emergency breaks out, it takes a little dragon with not-so-typical abilities to save the day.

With wry humor and whimsical illustrations, Not Your Typical Dragon is the perfect story for any child who can’t help feeling a little bit different.


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Author Interview: Playing Possum by Jennifer Black Reinhardt (Clarion Books)

Playing Possum

Written and illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Clarion Books, July 2020

What joy! Playing Possum is such a delightful book! I fell in love with Alfred and Sophia and the way fear and anxiety dictated their actions. I enjoyed their many interactions and the way the forest creatures joined their adventures, many of them with their own responses to fear. The illustrations and story captivated my imagination and I couldn’t wait to turn the pages to see what happened next.

How does one make friends when burdened with such a built-in fear factor? Calmly and patiently! Jennifer Black Reinhardt has skillfully woven the story of kindness and friendship between unlikely friends in a magical woodland. I invited Jennifer to visit and tell us more about Playing Possum.

Here’s Jennifer!

Welcome, Jennifer! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, Angie, thank you so much for having me visit. I grew up with a mother who was an artist, and her mother (my MomMom) was an artist as well. So, I was always encouraged to create. When I was in second grade, I discovered that I could put words with pictures to tell even more of a story—- I was hooked.

I grew up in Pennsylvania and got my degree in Illustration from Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating, I worked as a freelance illustrator and had success illustrating pretty much everything except picture books. Finally, after many, many years of being persistent, I’m now getting to live my dream of writing and illustrating books for kids.

One is never too young (or I hope, too old) to write stories and draw pictures!

What was your inspiration for Playing Possum?

One night several years ago, my husband was taking out the trash and called to me to identify the animal in our trashcan. Sticking out of the top of the can was a snarling, frozen, possum! I remember feeling sorry for him. He looked so scared and I thought that it was probably even scarier not being able to run away.

Poor thing!

What was the writing and illustrating journey you took as you created this beautiful picture book?

I wrote the initial draft of the story (we all know there are many, many, drafts, and revisions) quite quickly. It is sparse text, but once I had my characters, this story seemed to fall into place (It’s not always like that). I shared it with my critique group and then sent it to my agent. We had interest from editors right away who wished to acquire it (again, not usually like that). Illustrating-wise it was important to me to find a believable balance between what is real and what is imagined. I wanted readers to feel Alfred and Sofia’s kindness toward each other and then having the desire to spread their empathy to help others.

Wow, you are right! Playing Possum fell together quite easily, but it’s not always like that.

How did you celebrate the July 2, 2020, release of Playing Possum? 

Well, a bit differently than for past books, of course. I teamed up with a local bookstore, Sidekick Coffee and Books, and held a virtual Zoom launch party.

Good for you! It is an odd year for book releases and gatherings. Sounds like you had a perfect plan.

Surprise us. What else would you like to share?

One of my earliest and warmest memories is of my mother reading me The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by one of my very favorite illustrators, Gyo Fujikawa. There is a tiny mouse that she has hidden on some of the pages. I can remember so clearly how much I adored looking for that little detail with my mom. It made me extremely happy that I could put so many hidden ‘critters’ in Playing Possum for other young readers to find. I hope they enjoy all those secret surprises.

I love surprises! I can’t wait to go back and reread my book and see how many I can find. Fun!

Thank you, Jennifer, for visiting today! Thank you so much for sending me a copy of Playing Possum via Picture Book Builders. I am very grateful to meet such wonderful characters and read about their adventures.

We send all the best wishes to you and much success with Playing Possum. I hope we get to meet Alfred and Sophia in a new adventure!

Here’s how you can support and get in touch with Jennifer:

Website: jbreinhardt.com

Instagram: jenniferblackreinhardt

Facebook: @jenniferblackreinhardtillustration

Twitter: @jblackreinhardt

Check out the book trailer for Playing Possum.

https://youtu.be/8eOKMhHWO08


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Book Report: Goodbye Kindergarten by Andrea Williams #BookBirthday

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Goodbye Kindergarten

Written by Andrea Williams

Illustrated by Vanessa Alexandre

Mascot Books; May 5, 2020

 

Coming soon! Happy May 5 Book Birthday!

Thank you, Andrea Williams, for writing this book. Thank you, Mascot Books, for sending a review copy of Goodbye Kindergarten.

What a year we are having! As some people say, the 4th year of April . . .Be sure to read to the bottom of the post for some ideas on ways to add closure to this school year.

Just in time for helping unsettled and disappointed young readers, Andrea Williams has her Goodbye Kindergarten book arriving on the book scene.

Andrea Williams decided to write a book for her kindergartners with the goals of saying goodbye, reminding the students of all the great things they did during the year, and giving students an opportunity to say goodbye and transition to the next grade.

Instead of being full of tears, Goodbye Kindergarten is uplifting as it reminds readers of what they learned, the friends they made, and the fun they had. Most of all, students are reminded that teachers are proud of them and they will never forget their students.

With this odd year of school, most schools have already closed for the remainder of the school year. Students are learning at home. This could be a fun time for young students, or a time of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. At least in our district, our students did not even get a chance to say goodbye to their teachers, classmates, and classrooms. On a Friday, they learned school was closing. By the end of the weekend, they couldn’t even return except to pick up a packet, personal items, and a Chrome book. Shortly after, it was announced that school (as they used to know it) was over for the year.

Saying goodbye is an important step in adjusting to change. Goodbye Kindergarten will help kindergarten students (and preschool students, as they do some of the same activities) remember the good times and talk about what comes next. Goodbye Kindergarten will remind readers that even though classrooms are virtual, their teachers and friends remember them.

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What I Like About This Book:

~ the sharing of normal kindergarten activities

~ the remembering of all the things kindergartners do throughout the year

~ the joy and sense of accomplishment by both students and teacher

~ the opportunity to acknowledge the upcoming changes and the ending of kindergarten

~ the simple text, reminiscent of Goodnight Moon

~ the colorful illustrations

 

Amazon Blurb:

Kindergarten has been full of fun and learning, but the school year is almost done. Its time to say goodbye to your teacher and friends. No need to be sad! Celebrate the special people, places, and things in your classroom, and all the knowledge you’ll take with you into first grade!

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Some Ways to Add Closure to the School Year:

~ complete school work given by teachers; this will help your student feel the sense of accomplishment

~ celebrate the last day of school with a special breakfast, last day of school pictures, a walk down memory lane of favorite school memories (both at school and at home)

~ draw pictures of favorite school memories, or as you finish the school year, help your child journal about things he or she remembers (they draw, you help them write, or take dictation)

~ print photos you’ve taken during the school year (parties, field trips, classroom visits); let your child add them to a small photo album; label pictures with names and locations

~ ask the teacher to plan a virtual meet and greet (Zoom is quite popular for this); the last day of school would be a perfect time, though multiple visits would be great as well

~ call your child’s teacher and let your child visit

~ video your child doing something new and share the video with your child’s teacher; my daughter-in-law did a live video of my grandson riding a bike (without training wheels!), which was something new he learned. This was quite exciting for him! Having the teacher celebrate was a treat.

~ contact the parents of your child’s friends; arrange for them to have a virtual play date by using a computer app; they could work puzzles at the same time, draw a picture at the same time, share a favorite book, or eat a snack together (yet apart!)

~ revisit first day of school pictures; encourage your student to remember how he or she felt on that day; compare how he or she feels now

~ use technology to your advantage. If your child’s classroom used an app for keeping in touch (our preschoolers used Bloomz), reach out and contact families. I shared a picture of my two preschoolers (grands) on this app. Soon enough, most parents had shared pictures of the rest of the classmates. I shared these with my grands.

~ birthdays? Our granddaughter will turn 4 next week. Her mother has arranged a drive-by and wave birthday party.

Do you have any other great ideas? I’m sure we’d all love new ideas. Share them in the comments. Thanks!


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Book Report: Kelan and The Magical Glove by Kelan Davoud #BookBirthday

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Kelan and The Magical Glove

Written by Kelan Davoud

Illustrated by Eric M. Strong

Mascot Books, March 2020

 

Kelan and The Magical Glove is a fun adventure for readers who love Legos, Fortnite, and using their imagination. Thank you, Mascot Books, for sending a review copy.

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*spoiler alert* Kelan and his best bud love Legos, Fortnite, and hanging out. But after one bullying session by Billy the Bully, Kelan has to use a long stick to retrieve his new Lego set from beneath poison ivy. That is when he discovers a sparkly glove. This magical glove turns Kelan’s creations into real life things! Kelan and his friend are able to soak Billy and his sidekick, but Billy promises revenge.

Kelan and The Magical Glove is full of boy adventures. Legos, gaming, and problem bullies. Using the fantasy of the magical glove, Kelan now has a resource to help him stop the bullies. Creative, imaginative, and full of fun. With illustrations resembling cartoons and graphic novels, elementary-aged readers will be drawn to the story and adventures. Lego lovers will dream of finding their own magical glove.

 

What I Liked About This Book:

~ Fun, imaginative, and problem-solving

~ The themes of friendship and bullies

~ The magical glove (I want one!)

~ Bright, colorful illustrations

~ The hint of further adventures, since Billy threatens revenge . . .

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Amazon Blurb:

Kelan and his best friend Noah are fed up with bullies. At every turn, their tormenters come up with new and creative ways to make Kelan and Noah s lives miserable. Luckily, everything changes once Kelan finds a sparkly, colorful glove in the forest. They soon discover that whenever Kelan wears the glove, magical things start to happen! Finally, Kelan and Noah are able to put a stop to their bullies mean pranks. Join our friends as they figure out how to stand up for themselves with the help of one magical glove, a few Legos, and their imaginations!

Find Kelan and The Magical Glove at Amazon.

 


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Book Report: Andres and His Rubik’s Cube Madness by Andrea Alvarez #BookBirthday

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Andres and His Rubik’s Cube Madness

Written by Andrea Alvarez

Illustrated by Ana Sebastian

Mascot Books, March 2020

 

Andres and His Rubik’s Cube Madness is the perfect book for these anxious days! If you and your child are stuck at home due to the coronavirus, get yourself a copy of this book and your own Rubik’s cube. Accept the challenge!

Much thanks to Mascot Books for sending a review copy. Happy book birthday, Andres and His Rubik’s Cube Madness (March 3, 2020).

I loved reading this book about Andres. Introduced to the Rubik’s Cube by a new neighbor, Andres was inspired and challenged to try to solve the cube. He eventually discovers that there are Rubik’s Cube competitions all over the world and decided he wanted to compete. Hard work, practice, and dedication helped Andres learn ways to solve the cube.

I was amazed at how FAST Andres and other competitors solve the cube. At the time of the printing, Andres had a personal best time of 8.33 seconds to solve the cube. That is seconds! I take longer to sneeze. Congratulations, Andres!

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Why I Enjoyed This Book:

~ The story is wonderful! Based on a true story, the author (mother to Andres) shares how he decided to accept the Rubik’s Cube challenge.

~ I learned so much about Rubik’s Cubes. There is an entire community built around competing and solving the puzzle cubes.

~ Excellent illustrations perfectly match and enhance the story. The reader is engaged in the story and illustrations.

~ Information is included for readers to use as they learn the algorithms to solve the cube.

~ Good writing and great story telling!

Our state just closed ALL schools for 6 weeks. That’s a long time, friends. I think this book AND several Rubik’s cubes might just help us to fill the long, long hours.

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Amazon Blurb:

When Andres saw the new kid in the neighborhood solve a Rubik’s cube super fast, he wondered if he could learn to solve one too. He tried twisting and turning the multicolored cube but it seemed impossible. With a little encouragement from his mom, Andres began to practice every day. And when he discovered a Rubik’s cube competition to qualify for the biggest championship, he knew he had to try!

Andres and His Rubik’s Cube Madness is based on the true story of Andres a boy who cleverly practiced hard and learned hundreds of algorithms to solve the Rubik’s cube in lightning speed. He was dedicated and persistent, but most importantly, he never gave up.

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Book Report: Jessica Tandy, The Girl Who Loved Candy by Susan Dils

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Jessica Tandy, The Girl Who Loved Candy

Written by Susan Dils

Illustrated by Juan Diaz

Mascot Books, 2020

 

What happens when Mom finally gives up on the whining and lets her daughter eat all the candy she wants?

Yikes! Most can (correctly) predict the consequences of this sweet-tooth folly. Quick, make a list of what you think happens. I bet you’ve guessed at least one disastrous consequence!

Thank you, Mascot Books, for sending a review copy of Jessica Tandy, The Girl Who Loved Candy.

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Why I Liked This Book:

~ Like Jessica, I love candy (though I rarely eat it due to the consequences of too much sugar)

~ Jessica, free to eat all the candy she wants, gorges herself, and then suffers overwhelming health issues

~ This book really lets readers know what will happen if too much sugar is in your diet (cavities, rotten teeth, poor health, grumpy attitude, sleepiness, general malaise)

~ The real consequences of eating straight sugar, even with brushing, are mouth and health issues; I’m glad this is included in the book

~ The book shares the path back to good health (and renewed friendships)

~ Love the importance of eating healthy, which was shared in ways I thought not too pushy

~ Great illustrations

~ I did want to shake the mom a bit (really? Jessica could eat ALL the candy she wanted??? But then, where would the story be?)

~ Fun and engaging, told in rhyme

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Amazon Blurb:

Oh, how delicious it would certainly be
If we could all eat what we wanted freely!
Join Jessica Tandy in this humorous tale as she learns a lesson the hard way, finding out that poor eating habits can lead to a lot more than just cavities.
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Throwback Thursday: Making Their Voices Heard, The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield #TBT

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Now, I know this Throwback Thursday only goes back to last fall (October), but look at the beautiful book I received in the mail from Little Bee Books! I thought I would share the cover and a few inside pages again. Just because.

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You can read the original posts (throwbacks) by clicking the links below.

Book Report: Making Their Voices Heard, The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

Author Vivian Kirkfield Interview

***The Giveaway mentioned in the Author Interview post has concluded.

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About Vivian Kirkfield (Author)

Vivian Kirkfield’s career path is paved with picture books. From shelving them in a children’s library and reading them with her kindergarteners, to writing them, her goal has always been to help kids become lovers of books and reading. She is the author of many picture books including: Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book; Pippa’s Passover Plate; From Here to There: Inventions that Changed the Way the World Moves; and Sweet Dreams, Sarah. Her parent-teacher guide, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking is a valuable resource for child-care facilitators. Vivian lives in the quaint New England village of Amherst, New Hampshire, where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her ten-year-old grandson is her favorite Monopoly partner.
Visit Vivian’s website.

About Alleanna Harris (Illustrator)

Alleanna Harris has been drawing for as long as she can remember. As a little kid, she would draw on every page of her mom’s legal pads, her notebooks at school, and on the programs at church. She graduated from the University of the Arts with a BFA in animation with honors, and it was during this time she realized her love for illustration. Alleanna finds inspiration in the beauty of everyday things. She seeks to create images that are immersive, rich in color, and have a sense of warmth. She lives in New Jersey. Find out more about her at alleannaharris.com.

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I hope you’ll find a copy of Making Their Voices Heard and enjoy it yourself.


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Book Report: THE BOY WHO GREW DRAGONS by Andy Shepherd #BeeAReader

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The Boy Who Grew Dragons

Written by Andy Shepherd

Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

Yellow Jacket, An Imprint of Little Bee Books; 2020

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Thank you, Yellow Jacket Books, for this review Advanced Reader’s Copy of The Boy Who Grew Dragons. I’m happy to announce that I totally enjoyed reading this middle grade novel.

Honestly, I can’t say enough about this fun read. Dragons with explosive poop, an unsuspecting boy and his friends, an interesting gardening experience, trouble with neighbors, and adventures galore provided a very entertaining read of The Boy Who Grew Dragons.

Why I Love This Book:

~ Dragons! Tiny dragons who bond with humans, drop explosive poop, and get into trouble. Books with imagination always catch my attention.

~ A mysterious tree in the garden grows funny (weird) fruit. Dragon fruit tree? Is there not a real life fruit called dragon fruit? Does that fruit also grow dragons? I digress.

~ Tomas is a believable, interesting main character. I enjoyed all of the characters, even the not-so-nice neighbor.

~ The cover and internal illustrations are fantastic and perfectly compliment the story. Yes, this middle grade novel is illustrated with funny, clever, and enticing artwork.

~ Great writing and engaging story

 

I think young readers will devour The Boy Who Grew Dragons.

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Yellow Jacket Blurb:

This hilarious middle-grade novel with illustrations throughout sees Tomas discover that he can grow dragons in his own garden!

When Tomas discovers a strange old tree at the bottom of his grandfather’s garden, he doesn’t think much of it. But he takes the funny fruit from the tree back into the house and gets the shock of his life when a tiny dragon hatches! The tree is a dragon fruit tree, and Tomas now has his very own dragon, Flicker!

While Tomas finds out that life with Flicker is fun, he also finds that it is very…unpredictable. Yes, dragons are wonderful, but they also set fire to your toothbrush and leave your underwear hanging from the TV antenna. Tomas has to learn how to look after Flicker—and quickly! And then something extraordinary happens: More dragon fruits appear on the tree! Now it’s official, Tomas is growing dragons.

 

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Book Report: Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley

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Three Things I Know Are True

Written by Betty Culley

HarperTeen, 2020

 

Two best friends. A single shot. A family broken.

These words on the book jacket perfectly set the scene for Three Things I Know Are True.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this debut YA novel by Betty Culley. Thank you, KidLit411  and Betty Culley, for sending me a copy!

***Spoiler Alert

Three Things I Know Are True is the tale of (as mentioned above), friends, a loaded gun, and two families broken. The story, written with brilliant and spare words, packs this emotionally charged tale about dealing the the aftermath of an accidental shooting. Liv, the younger sister of the victim, tells the story through her viewpoint. I absolutely love how she processes and reacts to the situation. Raw, honest, painful, witty, flawed. All of the good things. And I say two families are broken, because Liv’s family and the family who owned the weapon are both torn apart by a tragic event.

Why I Love This Book:

~ Raw, honest, emotional (you will be amazed, cry, admire, and appreciate the reality of living with tragedy)

~ Brilliant writing (the book looks huge, but it’s not; I stayed up well past my bedtime to read it)

~ I CARED about the characters in the book and what happened next

~ The pain and conflict in the book are phenomenal; it’s full of emotional landmines!

~ I love the Three Things I know Are True game

~ Hope and acceptance in difficult circumstances

~ Friendship and romance

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Amazon Blurb:

Fans of Jandy Nelson and Marieke Nijkamp will love this deeply moving novel in verse about the aftermath of a gun accident.

Life changes forever for Liv when her older brother, Jonah, accidentally shoots himself with his best friend Clay’s father’s gun. Now Jonah needs round-the-clock care just to stay alive, and Liv feels like she’s the only person who can see that her brother is still there inside his broken body.

With Liv’s mom suing Clay’s family, there are divisions in the community that Liv knows she’s not supposed to cross. But Clay is her friend, too, and she refuses to turn away from him—just like she refuses to give up on Jonah.

This powerful novel is a stunning exploration of tragedy, grief, compassion, and forgiveness.