Love, Laughter, and Life

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Book Report: How Long Is Forever? by Kelly Carey, Illustrated by Qing Zhuang

 

How Long Is Forever?

Written by Kelly Carey

Illustrated by Qing Zhuang

Charlesbridge, 2020

 

Who loves blueberries, farms, kitties, and grandparents? I do! Thank you, Kathy Temean, for hosting Kelly Carey and Qing Zhuang. Thank you, Kelly Carey, and Qing Zhuang, for sending me a copy of this lovely picture book! I was thrilled to read it and I can recommend How Long Is Forever? to young readers (and their grandparents) everywhere. Happy reading!

And while you’re at it, let’s have blueberry pie.

 

News from Charlesbridge

Waiting for pie takes a long time, but not forever.

Mason is waiting for Nana’s blueberry pie and complains that it’s taking forever. So Grandpa challenges him to figure out how long forever really is. Is it as long as Grandpa has had his tractor? No. As long as it took Nana to grow the roses to the top of the chimney? Not even close. After a trip around the farm to figure out the answer, Nana’s pie is ready.

 

What I LOVE About This Book:

~ Nana! I am a Nana, so I love that the grandmother is named Nana

~ Blueberry pie!

~ The kitty included on almost every spread (I love kitties)

~ The concept of forever and how it is explored through the eyes of a young child

~ The lovely story

~ Wonderful, colorful illustrations

~ Farm and farm house!

 

Amazon Blurb:

Mason is waiting for Nana’s blueberry pie and complains that it’s taking forever. So Grandpa challenges him to figure out how long forever really is. Is it as long as Grandpa has had his tractor? No. As long as it took Nana to grow the roses to the top of the chimney? Not even close. After a trip around the farm to figure out the answer, Nana’s pie is ready. And Mason’s finally got the answer: forever is how long he’ll love Nana’s pie and how long he’ll love Nana and Grandpa, too.

 

 

 


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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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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.


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Gratitude for this Fantastic Way to Kick Off the New Year: 12 x 12 Challenge Scholarship Winner!

12x12 Challenge

Happy New Year to me and my fellow winners of the diversity and financial need scholarships for the 2020 12 x 12 Writing Challenge. Yay! Follow the link below to read more about the scholarship and the thankful recipients.

12 x 12 2020 Scholarship Winners

I’ve been steadily working on picture book manuscripts, but sometimes feel like I’m spinning wheels. The 12 x 12 Writing Challenge is the perfect way to jump start my new year of writing and help me focus on writing, editing, and polishing picture book manuscripts.

The main goal of 12 x 12 is that participants complete the year with at 12 picture book manuscripts/drafts. This is accomplished through videos, expert advice, writing exercises, inspiration, and online critiques by 12 x 12 members-a comprehensive endeavor by kidlit writers. At least, that’s what I believe to be true about 12 x 12, since this will be my first year to join. In reality, I know my experience will be much, much more.

Much thanks and gratitude for this awesome opportunity goes to Julie Hedlund and the entire 12 x 12 community who generously donated to give scholarships to other writers. THAT is what the kidlit community is all about-supporting and helping other writers. I love it!

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Cheesy happy grin from a writer who is very grateful and excited!


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Writing Successes for 2019

Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution!

Sometimes I feel like I am spinning my writing wheels but going nowhere. Here is my list of SUCCESSES in my writing related-activities for 2019.

Angie’s Anti-Resolution Revolution:

1. I met my contracted deadlines and celebrated over 26 years of writing work-for-hire with an organization I adore.

2. I was awarded a writing residency at Holly House through Hypatia-in-the-Woods. I enjoyed a fabulous week to work on a picture book and Haiku.

3. I had a heart during #kidpit at the end of 2018. I received a rejection this year, but still…I tried!

4. Our critique group has increased to 4 active members and we’ve been really working hard.

5. I’ve been blogging more and supporting writers.

6. I had my first author interview and my first author/illustrator interview on my blog.

7. I read tons of picture books, chapter books, and YA books.

8. I participated in Storystorm and have a great list of picture book ideas.

9. I participated in ReFoReMo and studied great picture books.

10. I participated in 12 Days of Christmas last year. Thanks, Julie, for this year and last year!

11. I wrote 4 new picture book manuscripts.

12. I edited 12 different picture book manuscripts.

13. I participated in Multicultural Children’s Book Day for the first time.

14. I wrote and edited more this year.

15. I have editing opportunities to explore in 2020.

16. I connected more with other writers in the wonderful kidlit community.

 

How about you? What SUCCESSES did you have in 2019?

 


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Book Report: The Memory Keeper by Jennifer Camiccia

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The Memory Keeper

Written by Jennifer Camiccia

Aladdin, An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division; 2019

 

I received a copy of The Memory Keeper through Natalie Aguirre’s blog Literary Rambles. Thank you, Natalie and Jennifer!

I enjoyed reading The Memory Keeper. The cover is very attractive and captured my attention while also giving me a place of setting. The characters are really fun and engaging. I learned SOOOO much about brains in this book. Do not be turned off by that statement. This is a far cry from medical descriptions of brain information. Jennifer expertly wove brain facts into the story. Each chapter begins with a new bit of information relevant to that chapter, and then off we go!

The story of Lulu, a young girl with HSAM (Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory) and her grandmother, who might be beginning to suffer from dementia OR memory-related stress incidents, is a great read.

Why I Loved This Book:

~ The characters are fantastic.

~ I learned so much about brain science (in a fun, non-textbook sort of way).

~ Mystery, danger, intrigue!

~ I liked the friendship factor.

~ Dysfunctional family. Who doesn’t have one of those?

~ I enjoyed the history and inter-generational relationships.

~ The problem-solving and hidden secrets really upped the story intrigue.

~ Excellent writing and story telling.

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Amazon Blurb:

Fish in a Tree meets The Thing About Jellyfish in this heartfelt middle grade debut about long-buried secrets, the power of memory, and the bond between a girl and her gram.

All Lulu Carter wants is to be seen. But her parents are lost in their own worlds, and Lulu has learned the hard way that having something as rare as HSAM—the ability to remember almost every single moment in her life—won’t make you popular in school.

At least Lulu has Gram, who knows the truth about Lulu’s memory and loves her all the more for it. But Gram has started becoming absentminded, and the more lost she gets, the more she depends on Lulu…until Lulu realizes her memory holds the very key to fixing Gram’s forgetfulness. Once Lulu learns that trauma can cause amnesia, all she needs to do to cure Gram is hunt down that one painful moment in Gram’s life.

With her friends Olivia and Max, Lulu digs into Gram’s mysterious past. But they soon realize some secrets should stay buried, and Lulu wonders if she ever knew Gram at all. It’s up to Lulu to uncover the truth before the only person who truly sees her slips away.

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I hope you enjoy The Memory Keeper. Great read!

 

 

 


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Book Report: Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph

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The REAL front cover is a sunshiny yellow, but I cannot make my photo true to color. Please use your imagination to view ODD DOG OUT in brilliant yellow. My apologies!

THIS is closer to the true color. 🙂

Odd Dog Out

Written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph

Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2019

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Oh, doggy lovers, this one is just too cute! Odd Dog Out will bring joy to your young readers and encourage them to be confident as they go through life marching to their own beat.

I received a copy of Odd Dog Out from Abigail at Wunderkind in exchange for a review.

What I love about Odd Dog Out:

~ The adorableness of the illustrations! You need to check out this book. There is only one type of dog-weiner dogs-and they are so cute. The bright colors on each page appeal to me as well. The odd dog out stands out from the crowd and is easy to identify.

~ The simple rhyming text perfectly tells the story and matches the illustrations.

~ The message of being comfortable in your own skin, marching to your own drum, and feeling confident in yourself rings through loud and clear.

~ The variety of doggies at the end, all uniquely expressing themselves, is a great ending (SORRY, spoiler alert!)

~ The appropriateness for young readers (4-8 years old, Preschool-3rd grade).

~ The clever wordplay.

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This is one of my favorite spreads in ODD DOG OUT.

Amazon Blurb:

A heartwarming and poignant story from award-winning creator Rob Biddulph about the power of embracing your true colors. Perfect for fans of Peter Brown’s Tiger Goes Wild.

It’s a dog’s life in the big, busy city, but there’s one lonely pup who doesn’t quite fit in. She behaves differently from the rest, sports rainbow in a sea of gray, and marches to the beat of her own drum.

She’s one Odd Dog.

Join Odd Dog as she journeys to the other side of the world to find her place in it, only for her to discover that maybe she’s meant to be right where she started.

And check out Rob Biddulph’s other books for children, including:

Blown Away

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR!

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Thanks so much, Sally, for sharing my review of Winter Cats by Janet Lawler. We all appreciate your willingness to find and share great information!

Head on over to Sally’s blog to read her blog lineup. Happy reading!

via Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Thursday December 12th 2019 – #Storycontest Stevie Turner, #FlashFiction Charli Mills Carrot Ranch, #Bookreview Angie Quantrell.

You can meet Sally here.


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Book Report: Winter Cats by Janet Lawler

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Winter Cats

Written by Janet Lawler

Illustrated by Ela Smietanka

Albert Whitman & Company, 2019

 

I won a copy of Winter Cats by Janet Lawler from Writing and Illustrating, a blog by Kathy Temean, Janet Lawler, and Albert Whitman & Company. Thank you! I adore cats (and have one who believes she is queen of both indoor and outdoor realms).

There are so many new and wonderful books being released. I enjoy reading about them on a variety of blogs. Sometimes the blogs have giveaways. If one takes the time to read and comment about the new books, authors, or illustrators, your name is put into a hat.  On good days, your name is pulled out. And TA-DA, a shiny new book appears in your mailbox! I love shiny new books in my mailbox.

I encourage you to support authors and illustrators by learning about their work and searching for their books at bookstores and libraries, two of my most favorite places to visit.

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Why I love this book:

~ Cats! I love cats. I’ve nearly always had a cat or two in my life. Right now I have a cat who adores her daddy (not me). But that’s a different story.

~ Winter! Winter is a favorite season for me. The snow, the holidays, the expectant hope of new life in spring.

~ The story is told in rhyme. This is a lots of fun to read aloud to young readers.

~ The winter activities are the same ones we enjoy, but in Winter Cats, the cats enjoy them. Too adorable!

~ Indoor versus outdoor cats. I love both. This is a good problem for a main character to have. When our cats were forced to be indoor cats for a short time, there was no joy in our lives. They were monsters! I am glad Willy was able to sneak out and enjoy the outside.

~ I appreciate the nature activities and the characters getting outside. Nature is a very important theme to me.

~ Friendship is a main theme for Winter Cats. Willy makes new friends while he is outside. He invites them home to visit. These friends are responsible and clean up their mess. What great guests!

~ The colorful winter blue illustrations are perfect.

Amazon Blurb:

Willy’s an indoor cat who dreams of becoming an outdoor cat, but his parents tell him that indoor cats and outdoor cats are different. When he sees the outdoor cats having tons of wintery fun, he decides to sneak out and join in! Willy and his new outdoor friends soon learn that labels are meaningless in the face of friendship.

So if you love picture books, winter, cats, or rhyming, be sure to check out Winter Cats.

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Author/Illustrator Interview PLUS Giveaway: Meet Nomar Perez

Welcome! I’m excited to introduce you to Nomar Perez. Thanks to Vivian Kirkfield, I was sent a copy of Baby’s First Nativity by Nomar Perez. After reading this adorable board book, I reached out to Anna Howland of Little Bee Books and she connected me with Nomar. Thank you, Anna, Paul Crichton, and Little Bee Books.

Without further ado, here’s Nomar Perez! Be sure to read to the end and find out how to get your name in the hat for a drawing to win a copy of Baby’s First Nativity.

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Baby’s First Nativity

Illustrated by Nomar Perez

Little Bee Books, 2019

1. I was delighted to receive a copy of Baby’s First Nativity (September 17, 2019) from Little Bee Books. I love the colors of the illustrations and the patterns you’ve chosen to use to add texture. When were you asked to illustrate this adorable board book? How did you connect with Little Bee Books?

I was approached to work on the Baby’s First Nativity board in September of last year.  Little Bee connected with my agent to have me work on this and another board book. It has been a delightful project to work on. Especially being such wonderful story that I grew up listening to it.  Also is a very special story that I truly value during the Christmas time.

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2. Tell us about the process you used to illustrate Baby’s First Nativity.

The process was pretty simple. I was giving some style and technique direction. This was a bit of a change in style that I normally work on. The process starts with sketching lots of ideas of how the characters will look like. Once the publisher and me feel we are in the right direction on look and style. I begin to put together the rest of the animals, characters, and scenes.  I was delighted to create something new and different from what I’m use to doing.

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3. What is your favorite part of illustrating picture books?

I enjoy the entire process of creating a book, but my favorite part is when I have all my sketches finalize and I start to paint and add color. This is really exciting because you start to see the book in such a wonderful new way.

4. Tell us a little about your background. What was your path to becoming an illustrator?

I’m originally from Puerto Rico. I came to the United States at the age of 10. I’ve always love to draw and paint. I still remember drawing in my notebooks from school.  Once here in the USA I went to school for Computer Animation and Digital Art. After college I was given the opportunity to work at a wonderful company called American Greetings. I’ve been working as an Illustrator for over 17 years as a Senior Illustrator and as a Freelance illustrator.

5. What other illustration projects are you working on?

Currently, I work on a variety of school publishing work. But one thing that I am most excited about is a book I’m currently writing and illustrating called “Coqui in the City” this will be my first book as an Author and Illustrator. It will be a semi-autobiographical children’s book of my experiences coming from Puerto Rico to America.

6. Fantastic news! Does Coqui in the City have a book birthday yet? Have you completed any illustrations?

The release of the book will be the fall of next year. Here is a sneak peek at what I’ve been working on. 

Congratulations, Nomar! I look forward to reading Coqui in the City. Thank you for visiting with us today and sharing your journey. Best wishes as you continue to illustrate and write.

 

About Nomar Perez

Nomar Perez was born on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, where he grew up in the city of Ponce, a unique city with new and Old Spanish colonial architecture and an amazing array of colors, sounds, and flavors. These aspects of his Puerto Rican culture have influenced Nomar throughout his artistic life. After leaving his homeland at the age of 10 for the U.S., Nomar found himself in touch with all types of media, including animation, puppetry, and computer art. He studied computer animation and painting at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and since then has worked as an illustrator and designer on humor, kids, and young adult products for over 17 years in the social expressions market. Nomar has had the opportunity to work on a variety of children books including both educational and mainstream markets.

 

You can connect with Nomar here:

Nomar Perez

Instagram

Painted-Words Portfolio

GIVEAWAY!!!

Thanks to Little Bee Books for sending a giveaway copy of Baby’s First Nativity.

To enter the giveaway, comment on this blog and tell me the name of your favorite Christmas picture book.

A winner will be chosen on Friday, December 6. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States.