unplanned garden guest
wood and wet quench appetite
feast, tiny world king.
feast by Angie Quantrell
photos by Angie Quantrell, Yakima Valley
Squish, Squash, Squished
Written by Rebecca Kraft Rector
Illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2021
As the oldest child in a family of 4 children and 2 parents, I can relate to being squished in the car. And squabbling and fighting about it, especially over who gets a window seat. (This was before the time of cell phones, electronic games, and movie viewing options many children have now. Back in the dark ages. We had a car. A station wagon car. With fold up bench seats in the way back, but that was usually full with the family dog and picnic lunch stuff.)
I won a copy of Squish, Squash, Squished from Rebecca Kraft Rector through Kathy Temean’s blog, Writing and Illustrating. You can view the original post to learn more about Rebecca and Dana here. THANK YOU, Rebecca and Kathy!
Squish, Squash, Squished is such a delight to read! I loved the problem (squished in the back seat), the characters (adorable cuties with their no-nonsense mom who takes extreme-but fun-measures to stop the bickering), and the imaginative cast of characters who hop in for a ride. The words are just perfect with plenty of language and word-play, and the illustrations are the icing on the cake.
I suggest this book for anyone who has bickering children in the backseat, anyone who has children (or is a child), those who love fun word-play and stories, and creative minds who believe animals can do the things they do in this book.
Why I Love This Book:
~ told in the style of It Could Always Be Worse, the escalating drama is wonderful
~ I love the word-play and sing-song silliness
~ fun cast of characters, a mix of people and animals (love it)
~ adorable setting and the perfect illustrations to make this picture book of the magical sort
~ while not preaching about keeping it quiet in the backseat, readers will get the hint that it could always be worse . . .
Living in an RV, I sometimes drift into the theme of being squish, squash, squished, but I better hush-mush or my hubby might invite in some passers-by…
Nibbles, A Green Tale
Written and illustrated by Charlotte Middleton
Marshall Cavendish Children, 2009
I have so many wonderful memories of the guinea pigs we loved during my years of teaching preschool. Our mama gave us hours of delight as we watched her lead her trail of babies around the room. Rustling plastic bags brought squeals demanding whichever “greens” we had brought. Both preschoolers and my family members loved snuggling and playing with these cuties.
Imagine my delight when I saw Nibbles, A Green Tale at the library! Nibbles is obviously a guinea pig, one who loves dandelions. With our current pasture-wide crop of dandelions, I couldn’t wait to read this picture book. If only I could borrow a city of dandelion-loving guinea pigs and let them camp out in the pasture for a week or two. That would take care of the clouds of white seeds.
Why I LOVE this book:
~ guinea pigs! Wheet, wheet!
~ guinea pigs who eat dandelions
~ guinea pigs wearing clothes!
~ a fun story of how one guinea pig rescued dandelions from becoming extinct
~ a green strategy to solve dandelion problems (though the sheer number of them needed to clear a pasture…)
~ adorable illustrations
~ wonderful story and characters
There is a sequel to this book, Nibbles: Another Green Tale. I can’t wait to track down a copy.
Happy Book Birthday to The Vanishing Lake!
Hello, dear readers! Welcome to a very important blog post featuring a special book birthday for The Vanishing Lake by Paddy Donnelly!
Be sure to read to the bottom to learn how you can get your name in the hat to win a free copy of The Vanishing Lake, compliments of Yeehoo Press (US only). Thank you, Yeehoo Press and Helen Wu, for this opportunity!
Let’s get right to it.
1. Welcome, Paddy! Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a picture book illustrator and author, originally from Ireland and now living in Belgium. I’ve had seven picture books published so far, with my debut author illustrated one, The Vanishing Lake, being my 8th. I also illustrate covers for middle grade novels, as well as a bunch of other things. My background is in web design and I did that for a number of years following university, then I transitioned into doing kids’ apps for the iPhone. That introduced me to illustrating for kids and I really enjoyed it. For the last two or three years I’ve been focusing on children’s publishing and I really love it.
You have had a very a fascinating career path!
2. Congratulations on your new book! What was your inspiration for The Vanishing Lake?
Thank you! Well, it’s actually based on a real vanishing lake close to my hometown! It’s called Loughareema and it actually does disappear and reappear every few days. While my book contains a few more magical elements like mermaids, giants and narwhals, Ireland is a place full of mythical stories, so I was always surrounded by that growing up. When I was coming up with a few picture book stories a couple of years ago, the real vanishing lake from back home popped into my head and I thought it’d be an interesting premise for a picture book.
It certainly is interesting! I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Vanishing Lake! It’s such a fun, imaginative story!
3. What was the writing and illustrating journey you took as you wrote this book? As both author-illustrator, how did that impact your creative process?
I started first with the basic idea – a lake that would mysteriously vanish and reappear and vanish and reappear. Then I needed a main character – a child for the reader to identify with. I wanted the character to be searching for the reason for the mystery and ended up with a Grandad character who would tell fantastic stories. Having the main character, Meara, refuse to believe the stories allowed me to keep pushing them to be bigger and more unbelievable. That was the premise and then I started sketching out the roughs, knowing that I had a certain number of pages to work with and that I wanted a few different beats to happen through the book – the lake gone, then flip the page and it was back, then gone again, and then a double page spread for each story, and conclusion. Once I had all of that lined out, I started to write the actual words. Then it was a real back and forth process, with the words informing the illustration and vice versa. This is certainly different to the usual process when I’m illustrating someone else’s story, and I really loved the creative freedom it gave me to have full control over both aspects.
I’m fascinated by the process you used for The Vanishing Lake. How fun to be able to switch back and forth between writing and illustrating, and to have total control over the whole project.
4. Everything is different right now with COVID-19, but how will you celebrate the book birthday of The Vanishing Lake on April 20?
I actually have a few virtual events lined up with bookshops in the book’s birthday week, so that’s going to be lots of fun! I guess one of the silver linings of the pandemic is the emergence of virtual author events, so I’m looking forward to doing a few storytimes, drawalongs and Q&A sessions with bookshops and their customers. I would of course absolutely love to be doing something in-person in a bookshop, so hopefully when the world goes back to normal I’ll get the opportunity to do that for a future book. I have been trying to take the time to celebrate the good moments more and more this past year though, so I may have to raise a glass at home on publication day.
Sounds like the perfect combination of events to make the week very special! We have learned some new tricks and skills in the days of the pandemic, haven’t we?
5. I love the joyful imagination that is such a huge part of The Vanishing Lake. How do imagination and your childhood experiences impact your creativity?
I definitely had (and still do I think) a vivid imagination as a child and used to draw my own stories so much. Growing up with natural wonders like Loughareema and the Giant’s Causeway on my doorstep maybe made me take them for granted, but I think I’ve now got a renewed appreciation for them now. And definitely the rugged cliffs, mountains and magical greens of the Irish landscape have an influence on my illustration style. As imagination is the centre of this story, it allowed me to keep pushing to come up with more extravagant stories for Grandad to tell.
Ooh, perhaps there will be a future picture book about the Giant’s Causeway! 😉 One of my bucket list items is visiting Ireland.
6. What are you working on now?
I’m working on a lot of picture books at the moment. I’ve got a few more coming out later this year and next year. And I’ve got a few middle grade covers on the go too. Lots of different projects happening at once, but that’s the way I like it. I like to hop between projects as it helps keep my imagination going and I don’t get too bogged down in one set of illustrations for months on end. I think I need that variation for my creativity.
So, you also work as a professional project juggler? LOL. I like to juggle writing projects as well. Like you said, it helps keep my imagination and creativity fresh.
7. Surprise us! What else would you like to share?
Perhaps the most exciting project I’m working on is my second author illustrated picture book, Dodos Aren’t Extinct, which I’m illustrating right now. That’ll be coming out in Spring 2022. Very exciting!
Congratulations! That is exciting! It sounds like another captivating story!
Thanks so much for stopping by to visit, Paddy! Best wishes on The Vanishing Lake and all of your other projects.
Readers, you can purchase your own copy of The Vanishing Lake by clicking the following links.
The Vanishing Lake links:
Paddy’s social links:
Here are 3 ways to get your name in the hat to win a copy of The Vanishing Lake (US only). A winner will be randomly chosen in one week on Tuesday, April 27.
1. Like and comment on this blog post. Please make sure I have your email address so I can notify you if you win.
2. Follow this blog and tell me how you follow. Please make sure I have your email address so I can notify you if you win.
3. Visit my Twitter page @AngieQuantrell for more chances to win a copy of The Vanishing Lake.
CONGRATULATIONS TO Janet Frenck Sheets! You won a copy of The Vanishing Lake!
Prompt: monster (my monster is actually the drained fly; I prefer spiders to flies)
#Inktober52 is a weekly ink drawing challenge, one ink drawing a week for the entire year, 52 weeks a year.
I know I could never do #inktober for October, it just gets too crazy when I try to do something EVERY single day. But I am excited and challenged by the #inktober52. I think I can manage 52 weekly drawings inspired by prompts from https://inktober.com/. The part about having a week to complete a drawing helps me out.
“Jake Parker created Inktober in 2009 as a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.”
Here are my February drawings.
Are you enticed to join me? It’s fun to play and use my imagination. And maybe I’ll learn a new trick along the way.
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.
*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 . . .
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.
The Boy Who Grew Dragons
Written by Andy Shepherd
Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
Yellow Jacket, An Imprint of Little Bee Books; 2020
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.
Yellow Jacket Blurb:
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.
Ribbon’s Traveling Castle
Written by Elizabeth Godley
Illustrated by Paige M. Leyh
CreateSpace, An Amazon.com Company; 2017
Ribbon’s Traveling Castle was gifted to me for review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Thank you, Elizabeth Godley, for sharing your book with me!
Ribbon’s Traveling Castle is an imaginative picture book about a young girl who faces the changes that come with moving (and life). Through creative situations, Ribbon explores what is going on in her life. Each imaginary person Ribbon encounters joins her in this tale as they play together.
Why I Like This Book:
~ imagination is KEY to enjoying this story
~ the story explores change, which is pretty scary to most people
~ clever illustrations, gradually transforming from mostly monochromatic to color
~ the fun story
~ the focus on play, which is pretty important to young readers
~ Ribbon’s trust in her dad to take care of her
This heartwarming, silly story with a dash of magic, illustrates that a big heart grants you tolerance. And it’s okay if things change, they’re supposed to shift. Change happens to everyone and the solution to the struggle is love, love for yourself and others.
Ribbon, traveling with her father, encounters a group of bizarre individuals in need of simple guidance. Ribbon rises above the worries of the day to day with the joy of play and love as her compass. Her example is an inspiration to everyone.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.
Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.
Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books, TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books, Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales
Author Sponsor Link Cloud
Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Lauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series Green Kids Club, Inc.
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts
FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day
TWITTER PARTY! Register here!
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.
Oh, The Places You’ve Been
Written by Ben Everard with Mary Everard
Illustrated by Andrea Alemanno
Mascot Books; BOOK BIRTHDAY on February 4, 2020
Happy Book Birthday to Oh, The Places You’ve Been! (February 4, 2020)
Thank you, Mascot Books, for this review copy of Oh, The Places You’ve Been.
I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who will stoop to pick up a forgotten coin, no matter the value. Pennies seem to be the most popular coins to leave behind, most likely due to the low value. BUT only 99 more, and I will have a dollar.
The appearance of these dropped or discarded pennies does make one wonder. How did it get here? Why does it look like this? Where has it traveled?
Oh, The Places You’ve Been is told from the viewpoint of a lost penny. With great imagination, the penny tells a young girl about many of the places it has traveled, rested, stayed, and escaped. This story is told in rhyme.
BE SURE to READ all the way to the bottom for an INTERVIEW with Ben Everard.
What I Liked About This Book:
~ the imagination! I love considering where my coins have been.
~ the periods at the end of the sentences are tiny pennies! Very cute.
~ the story of the coin. I mean, if only we could have all of the same experiences, life would be grand.
~ the illustrations are mostly at the eye level of the penny
~ this story is told from the viewpoint of a penny. Now that is unique and fun!
~ lovely colors and a variety of illustrations
~ the ending page asks the reader to consider “Where has your penny been?” I love thinking about this. Great job!
Where has your penny been? Oh, the Places You’ve Been is a delightful picture book following the life of a small penny. From city sidewalks to snowy mountaintops, fields full of fireflies and all the way to the Moon, a young girl learns this little coin has traveled far and wide to end up in her pocket. But how can something so small have traveled so far? This playful rhyming tribute to Dr. Seuss explores how even small, long-forgotten things have amazing stories to tell.
Welcome, Ben Everard! Tell us a little about yourself.