Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Book Review: One Little Child by Joye Smith

One Little Child

Written by Joye Smith

Illustrated by Gayle West

Woman’s Missionary Union, SBC; 2019

I was delighted to receive a copy of One Little Child. Thank you, Joye Smith and Woman’s Missionary Union!

Written by Joye Smith, preschool consultant and Preschool Resource Team Leader for Woman’s Missionary Union, this lovely picture book shares ways even the smallest child can help others around the world. Gayle West filled the pages with wonderful full-spread illustrations featuring preschoolers, families, and people in need of some of the most basic necessities. I love the combination of text and illustrations that share the stories and inspire readers to get involved in helping others.

Clothing, housing, food, access to medical care, clean drinking water, and protection from weather are just a few of the needs and situations preschoolers read about in One Little Child. While the subject matter is serious, the delicate handling of tough issues provides hope and strategies for young readers to care, pray, and help in their own way. This book is well-written using words and emotions perfect for the preschool audience and their families.

Back Cover Blurb:

Through images of children from around the world, One Little Child encourages preschoolers’ care for others and teaches that they have a place in helping others as part of God’s plan.

Read more about One Little Child at https://www.wmustore.com/one-little-child.


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My Monsterpiece by Amalia Hoffman, Book Birthday and Interview

My Monsterpiece

Written and Illustrated by Amalia Hoffman

Yeehoo Press (March 2, 2021)

Amazon Blurb:

Ever tried to make the meanest, wildest, scariest monster? What if even a green tongue, pointy horns, creepy sharp teeth, and claws won’t frighten anyone away?

Join the frustrated artist on a hilariously hair-raising adventure where the scary and not scary mingle and lead to the discovery that overcoming fear and prejudice can bring about a wonderful FRIENDSHIP.

I’m pleased to introduce Amalia Hoffman, author and illustrator of the upcoming book My Monsterpiece (Yeehoo Press, 2021). I met Amalia when I won a copy of her book All Colors from Kathy Temean’s Writing and Illustrating blog. https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2019/10/01/book-giveaway-all-colors-by-amalia-hoffman/

Welcome, Amalia! Let’s get to it and learn more about your newest book.

What was your inspiration for My Monsterpiece?

My inspiration for My Monsterpiece was the many years I worked with young children. I noticed that kids love to experiment with art. They explore many media and like to paint on paper plates, scraps of paper, and even grocery bags. This inspired me to create the illustrations for the book using kid-friendly art techniques and supplies.

I was inspired to create a book that will be funny and entertaining but will have a non-preachy message that when we free ourselves from bias and stereotyping, our word is more colorful and we can befriend each other even if we don’t look or behave in the same way.

-I loved that your inspiration came from the children!

What was the writing and illustrating journey you took as you created My Monsterpiece?

My Monsterpiece involved a monstrous journey of over 2 years, from the time I started exploring the idea and “playing with it” in my mind to the time it actually sold to Yeehoo Press. I spent months just making a whole menagerie of monsters. I worked with crayons, color pencils, chalk, poster paints, and finger paints. It was important to me that the monsters will be fresh and not over-done.

I had the story idea lined up but I went through dozens of revisions with agent Anna Olswanger. I shared my drafts with my critique group as well and kept tweaking the story.

After the book sold to Yeehoo Press, I had many conversations with my brilliant editor, Brian Saliba. We brainstormed over the phone and via email. Then, I went through a couple of rounds of revisions. When we felt that the story was tight and solid, I created a dummy—based on the new text, which was quite different from the original text. Since Yeehoo Press publishes simultaneously in English and Simplified Chinese, my dummy had to fit within the format and dimensions for both versions.

Once we were happy with the black and white sketches and pagination, I worked with the art director, Molly Shen, and the graphic designer, Xuyang Liu, on the final interior pages. Once these were completed, I came up with concept designs for the endpapers, final cover, and jacket design. We decided to make the jacket slightly different than the cover underneath, which is something that I really love about the book design. Also, the front endpapers are different than the endpapers on the end of the book. I believe that the endpapers are just as important as the interior pages in a picture book and I was delighted that the Yeehoo’s creative team agreed with me. We also spent many hours deciding what fonts to use and the colors of the lettering.

-It’s incredibly captivating to see how much work goes into a book when you are both author and illustrator. And the number of revisions. Wow!

What plans do you have to celebrate the release of My Monsterpiece?

I usually like to celebrate my book releases with author’s presentations. I already created a monster headpiece that I tend to wear when I present the story. It looks like a tiara with a monster head on it. I am planning very exciting Zoom and in-person presentations. My publisher, Yeehoo Press is putting together a book trailer.

I also plan to offer book giveaways and the publisher will have many freebies for costumers and for large orders.

-Great news! Hope all goes well!

I see your publisher is Yeehoo Press. What can you tell us about Yeehoo Press?

Yeehoo Press is an independent publisher who publishes in English and Simplified Chinese. Headquartered in LA, it’s part of Shanghai Yihe Industrial Co., Ltd, founded on August 2007. The company publishes over 200 titles per year with annual output value of $15 million. 

-That’s pretty amazing!

Surprise us. What else would you like to share?

Apparently, I was a very temperamental child. When I got angry with my mom and dad, I used to punish them by tearing the greeting cards I created for their birthdays and anniversaries.  Years later, when I visited my parents who lived in Jerusalem, I found an envelope with all the bits of torn art that my father saved. When I created My Monsterpiece, I showed the kid’s frustration by creating one spread that feature the kid’s torn monsters.

I remember that when I was about 8, I entered a contest, sponsored by a children’s magazine, to draw a scary witch. Apparently, just like the kid in my book, mine didn’t scare anyone and I didn’t win.

-Fascinating fun facts!

Thank you so much, Amalia, for sharing with us. Best wishes and congratulations on the upcoming release of My Monsterpiece!

To learn more about Amalia, her art, and her books, you can visit her at:

http://www.amaliahoffman.com/

https://amaliahoffman.wordpress.com/


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Book Reviews: So You Want a Pet Dragon? by Tania Pourat, Be a Big Hero by Jennifer Bacon, Scromlette the Omelet Chef by Zach Christensen, Finding Feelings by Jennifer Gafford #BookBirthday

I am sharing four books in this post. Please scroll down to read more about the book that catches your eye!

So You Want to a Pet Dragon?

By Tania Pourat

Illustrated by Tristan Tait

Mascot Books, December 2020

Be a Big Hero

By Jennifer Bacon

Illustrated by Lara Calleja

Mascot Books, December 2020

Scromlette the Omelet Chef

By Zach Christensen

Illustrated by Chiara Civati

Mascot Books, December 2020

Finding Feelings

By Jennifer Gafford

Illustrated by Terri Kelleher

Mascot Books, December 2020

So, you want a pet dragon? Of course I do! I loved this adorable and funny picture about about how to care for your dragon (or else). Easy reading, wonderful illustrations, and plenty of enjoyment to go around. I’m pretty sure I now know enough to care for my own dragon. So You Want a Pet Dragon? is a great read!

Amazon Blurb:

Taking care of a pet is no easy task, and a dragon is no exception. Luckily, this book has all the tips and tricks you’ll need to take care of your very own feisty, fiery friend. Simply follow this advice, and see for yourself how rewarding owning a pet dragon can be!

I appreciate the message of this book, something I taught to my children and now my grands. Care for the world around us. Be a Big Hero focuses on how garbage negatively impacts our oceans and rivers. But it also goes on to suggest very concrete ways to help solve the problems of trash in our bodies of water. Told in rhyme, this story shows how wildlife struggles with trash and offers some solutions for readers to take action in caring for the natural world. Great environmental message!

Amazon Blurb:

With a message that is as educational as it is heartfelt, Be a Big Hero takes the readers on a journey that follows plastic and litter as they make their way into our oceans. Detailing the human actions that allow for trash to pollute the seas, this lyrical tale gently teaches children about the harmful effects of littering and the overuse of plastic on the environment. With uplifting words and encouragement, this book explores the ways in which we can all be heroes- and how we can help take steps to be better global citizens.

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What a great message! Scrom goes from a bullied child to an adult who shares his love of making omelets with those on the streets. I enjoyed reading how Scrom survived the bullies of his childhood by hanging on to what he loved: making omelettes. The closure of what the bullies did and seeing them later in life as adults in need helps Scrom understand why they did what they did, and offers him a chance to help even more. The colorful illustrations help tell the story. Scromlette the Omelet Chef makes me hungry for an omelet!

Amazon Blurb:

Scromlette the Omelet Chef is a story that encourages children to pursue things that are life-giving for themselves- while also providing services for others. In this lyrical tale, Scromlette learns how to succeed in a way that benefits himself and the world around him. Exploring themes of anti-bullying and forgiveness, Scromlette the Omelet Chef encourages readers to make peace with their enemies, and allow themselves to heal.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the richness of this book about feelings. Instead of just being told how someone feels, as a reader, I heard what was going on and then had to search and find the person experiencing those feelings. I loved the seek and find aspect of this picture book. An answer key is included at the end, complete with an illustration of each person experiencing the feelings. The detailed illustrations provided me with plenty of opportunities to look for specific emotions and actions. Oh, the conversations that could be had when reading this book! Finding Feelings is a great read and a very good resource for parents, teachers, therapists, and care givers.

Amazon Blurb:

Have you ever been nervous to walk into your classroom? Have you ever felt frustrated with the long lines at the grocery store? Do you feel brave when you make a new friend? What makes you feel peaceful? In Finding Feelings, you will look for kids experiencing the same feelings you have in your life. How many feelings can you find? In this unique search-and-find book, children read body language and use situational clues to locate both good and difficult feelings in the characters. Finding Feelings builds emotional vocabulary, gently exposes children to uncomfortable emotions, and encourages compassion towards others. It is a little book for big hearts!

Books can be found at www.mascotbooks.com and www.amazon.com.


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Book Reviews: The Butterfly Tree by Kelly Harrison Spining; The Adventures of Chips & Salsa by Cynthia Petillo; Lunk by Connor Anvar

I am sharing three books in this post. Please scroll down to read more about each books.

The Butterfly Tree

Written by Kelly Harrison Spining

Illustrated by Abby Rocha

Mascot Books: December 8, 2020

The Adventures of Chips & Salsa

Written by Cynthia Petillo

Illustrated by Ana Sebastian

Mascot Books: December 8, 2020

Lunk

Written by Connor Anvar

Illustrated by Tristan Tait

Mascot Books: December 1, 2020

The Butterfly Tree by Kelly Harrison Spining

Who wouldn’t love a butterfly tree? This tale of three evokes memories of a folk tale. Three trees, three personalities and gifts, and three opportunities to welcome a tired butterfly. But only one has the gift of hospitality. I enjoyed this lovely tale of looking beyond appearances and importance to see what is truly in someone’s heart.

Amazon Blurb:

Three trees sat upon a grassy hill, two tall and strong, one small and frail. As the gentle breezes of spring blew one day, a beautiful butterfly floated by looking for a new home. What happened next would create a lifelong friendship between two unlikely creations of nature. Inspired by the writers experience of seeing the beauty of a tree covered in butterflies, The Butterfly Tree conveys a timeless message of love and acceptance.

The Adventures of Chips & Salsa by Cynthia Petillo

Chips loved his neighborhood and watching out the window. When neighbors moved in, Chips met a new friend named Salsa. Play time at the local dog park offered Chips and Salsa plenty of opportunity to play with friends, and unfortunately, have run-ins with dog bullies. I enjoyed reading about this story about a hero in a tiny package and changed hearts.

Amazon Blurb:

Meet Chips, a happy-go-lucky, friendly beagle, and his pals as they welcome Salsa, a tiny, shy Chihuahua who is new to the neighborhood. The dogs become fast friends and, before they know it, find themselves on a playful adventure in the park. And though Salsa may be tiny, he proves that true loyalty, friendship, and love come in all sizes. Join Chips and Salsa as they take readers on a fun-filled and exciting journey full of new adventures!

Lunk by Connor Anvar

Oh, Lunk! A plain chicken wants to be a fancy lunkalicious chicken. But things do not go as planned for the fancy version of himself. I laughed as I read this fairy tale tale (including a fairy chicken godfather). This fun tale was written by six-year-old Connor Anvar.

Amazon Blurb:

Lunk is an ordinary chicken who desires to become something greater. As his wish comes true, he wonders if his new life will bring him the happiness he was expecting.

Books can be found at www.mascotbooks.com or on www. amazon.com.


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Book Review: “Smelly” Kelly and His Super Senses by Beth Anderson

“Smelly Kelly” and His Super Senses, How James Kelly’s Nose Saved the New York City Subway

Written by Beth Anderson

Illustrated by Jenn Harney

Calkins Creek, An Imprint of Boyds Mills & Kane; 2020

Thank you, Beth Anderson and Tina Cho, for sending me this delightfully smelly picture book! I first read about “Smelly Kelly” and His Super Senses when I read a post by Tina Cho on the Group Blog. You can read the post here: https://groggorg.blogspot.com/search?q=smelly+kelly

We all want to be special in some way, right? James Kelly had a super sense-his nose! Besides his great sniffing skills, Kelly was an inventor and investigator. Using his skills, “Smelly” Kelly kept the New York City subway safe for years.

I enjoyed reading this well-written and colorful picture book. I shared it with two of my grands, and my grandson in particular was captivated by the information and illustrations. His little scientific mind was hard at work, trying to figure out what was going on. He often figured it out before I even read the entire page!

Congratulations, Beth Anderson and Jenn Harney, for a book well done!

Why I Loved This Book:

~ fascinating story about a historical person

~ reading about someone with an unusual super power

~ wonderful illustrations that set the tone just perfectly

~ lots of interesting tidbits and events from the life of James Kelly

~ very informative backmatter, which includes a photo of the real James Kelly

~ great read

~ lots of STEM concepts and problem solving included

Amazon Blurb:

James “Smelly” Kelly used his super-senses and intelligence to make sure that the New York City subway in the 1930s ran safely throughout his lifetime and beyond.

James Kelly smelled EVERYTHING: rats in the shed; circus elephants a mile away; tomorrow’s rain. His sense of smell was EXTRAORDINARY. But what good was a powerful nose? How could his super-sniffer make him special? In the New York City subway, James found his calling–and earned the nickname “Smelly” Kelly. Armed with his super-sniffer and the tools he invented, he tracked down leaks from the dangerous to the disgusting, from the comical to the bizarre. Then, he sprang into action to prevent cave-ins and explosions in the tunnels beneath the city. Smelly Kelly not only hunted leaks but also saved lives–and he discovered the truly extraordinary power inside him. Beth Anderson’s fast-paced text and Jenn Harney’s comical illustrations bring to life this everyday superhero.


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Book Review: Way Past Worried by Hallee Adelman

Way Past Worried

Written by Hallee Adelman

Illustrated by Sandra de la Prada

Albert Whitman & Co., 2020

I first heard about Way Past Worried when I read a post by Kathy Temean on her Writing and Illustrating blog. (By the way, this is a great place to read about new books, agents, editors, publishers, and so on.) Here is the link to Kathy’s original post about Way Past Worried: https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/book-giveaway-way-past-worried-by-hallee-adelman/

Thank you so much, Kathy for featuring this great book! Thank you, Hallee, for the swag bag of fun gifts and a copy of Way Past Worried! It’s already a hit with the two young readers next door (my grands).

Brock is beyond worried about going to his friend Juan’s superhero party. He has so many questions and concerns about who will play with him (or not play with him), what if his costume is not good enough, who will he visit, and what if someone laughs at him. Brock’s worries build and build, making him feel way past worried.

This well-written book gives simple strategies for dealing with worry as the young characters attend a party. If you have a child (or even an middle grade or early teen) who deals with social anxiety, reading this book will help readers talk their way through possible strategies.

What I Loved About This Book:

~ So cute! The characters, setting, story, all of it.

~ Excellent premise! Who has not struggled with anxiety at one time or another? I imagine there will be many more instances of social anxiety once COVID is contained (or managed) and people of all ages are allowed to return to in-person social activities.

~ Great story! As I said before, I think this is well written and it’s very easy to read aloud. My granddaughter was enthralled from beginning to end. That’s her, wearing the mask sent by Hallee and holding my copy of Way Past Worried (which will probably end up at her house).

~ Perfect illustrations! Child-friendly and fun. I enjoyed looking at the illustrations as we read the story together.

Read more about Hallee Adelman at: https://halleeadelman.com/

See more of Sandra de la Prada’s illustrations at: https://www.sandradelaprada.com/

Amazon Blurb:

Brock is worried. Way past worried, with his heart thumping and his mind racing. Today is his friend Juan’s superhero party and he’s going all by himself. What if nobody plays with him? What if everyone laughs at him? Brock doesn’t feel like a superhero, but… what if he can save the day and find a way past worried all by himself? This engaging story speaks to kids’ emerging emotional intelligence skills and helps them learn to manage worry.


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Book Review: Bess the Barn Stands Strong by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia

Bess the Barn Stands Strong

Written by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia

Illustrated by Katie Hickey

Page Street Kids, 2020

Barns and me, we go way back. My family can probably still whip up perfect eye rolls if I mention a barn I saw or attempt I made to have the vehicle stop so I can take a few photos. Backseat eye rolls, accompanied by the driver eye roll, sideways glance, and scurry to find an appropriate place to pull over, filled many happy family road trips.

Barns are fabulous. Of course I was super interested in reading Bess the Barn Stands Strong. Fortunate for me, I received my own autographed copy from Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia via Vivian Kirkfield’s www.viviankirkfield.com site. WordPress has changed and I haven’t figured out how to add JUST the words I want in a link, but here is the specific link for Bess the Barn Stands Strong: https://viviankirkfield.com/2020/09/08/happy-book-birthday-bess-the-barn-stands-strong-plus-double-book-giveaway/#comment-202883

Thank you, Elizabeth and Vivan, for sharing this wonderful picture book!

Bess the Barn Stands Strong is a story about a barn. Bess is a sweet barn, strong, beautiful, and caring. As a main character, Bess is pretty awesome. But she ages, as we all do, and eventually becomes overlooked for the new fancy barn build just over the fields. And Bess is ignored. Until the storm.

And that’s all I’m going to tell you, because YOU need to read the story yourself and see what happens to Bess and all of her barnyard friends.

If you love farms and barns, you will enjoy Bess!

Why I LOVE This Book:

~ barns!

~ a barn as a main character – how often does that happen? This could be the first time ever. (Don’t quote me on that.)

~ great story with just the right amount of tension

~ reading that there is purpose to old things, and old things can still be useful (I’m working on the older part as my birthday comes this month)

~ barnyards and animals are very popular with young readers

~ old versus new; I’m definitely of the older is better school

~ beautiful illustrations enrich and fill out the story

~ barns!

Amazon Blurb:

A steadfast old barn shows she’s sturdy enough to save the day.

Beam by beam and board by board, Bess the barn is built by able hands to keep the farm’s animals safe and sound. Through many seasons and celebrations, that’s just what she does, until she starts to sag…and creak…and slump. Then new everything comes along: a new farmer and a shiny new barn. A mean storm arrives not far behind, putting both barns to a dangerous test―can old Bess weather this threat to the farm?

Bess opens her doors wide, welcoming all to celebrate the year-round ups and downs of farm life and admire the enduring strength and importance of something made to last.

“There’s a marvelous mix of peppy text and bone-deep comfort at work within the language of this story . . . [and] visual treasures abound in the corners of the art . . . Seasons come and seasons go, but cozy concepts like barns on farms will never die.” – Kirkus Reviews


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Book Review: The President of the Jungle

The President of the Jungle

Written and Illustrated by Andre Rodrigues, Larissa Ribeiro, Paula Desgualdo, Pedro Markun

Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018 in Brazil, 2020 in America

Let me introduce you to the perfect book for elections, whether they take place in the jungle or the, er, human jungle. Meet The President of the Jungle, a tale translated from Portuguese by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Thank you so much, Linda Ashman and Picture Book Builders, for sending me a copy!

I totally loved reading The President of the Jungle! Humorous, funny, heartfelt, and perfect for showing a simple explanation of the democratic process. The illustrations are spot on, colorful, and bring this story to life. Pick up this book and read it with your littles. Or just yourself. All of you will enjoy it.

What I Loved About This Book:

~ humorous, tongue-in-cheek

~ well written

~ cleverly explains the democratic process in a fun, engaging way

~ vocabulary and glossary

~ jungle animals!

~ the story itself

~ colorful, captivating illustrations

Amazon Blurb:

In this fabulous and funny introduction to how elections work, the animals decide they are tired of their king and that it is time to vote for a president.

Lion may be King of the jungle, but lately he only seems to care about himself. His subjects are fed up, so they decide to try something new–hold an election! Once Owl explains the rules, the fun begins, and Snake, Sloth, and Monkey all announce they will be candidates. But oh no, Lion is going to run too! It’s a wild campaign season as the animals hold rallies, debate, and even take a selfie or two, trying to prove why they’d make the best president of the jungle.

This funny, non-partisan story features lively illustrations, a helpful glossary, and colorful characters who have an infectious enthusiasm for the election process.


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Happy Book Birthday: Elephant Ears by Fanya Randall

Elephant Ears

Written by Fanya Randall

Illustrated by Alejandro Echavez

November 3, 2020; Mascot Books

Coming soon! Happy Book Birthday to Elephant Ears, written by Fanya Randall, illustrated by Alejandro Echavez! Thank you, Mascot Books http://mascotbooks.com for sending me a copy to review.

Going to school is fraught with all sorts of anxiety and social issues (especially in 2020). A significant part of going to school is learning to navigate in groups of people = social skills. Academics feature in as well. But this book is about bullying, a huge issue nearly any place we go, whether in-person or online.

Max was super excited to begin kindergarten. Mom dropped him off at school, and he was ready to go, new backpack, clothes, and all. What Max was not prepared for was meeting the class bully, who called out attention to Max’s larger than normal ears. Billy continued bullying Max and shouting out, “Max has elephant ears.”

The situation escalates, but I don’t want to ruin the ending, which is perfectly satisfying. Many examples of appropriate behavior are portrayed through other characters. In the end, what we hope would happen in all bullying situations happens. While we cannot expect perfect endings all the time, this book is just right for laying groundwork on how to deal with bullies.

I really enjoyed reading Elephant Ears and came away with good ideas of how to encourage young readers how to avoid becoming a bully, how to help a bully, and how to help someone is being bullied.

What I Liked About This Book:

~ the topic of bullying is relevant and very important

~ the age of the characters is when bullying sometimes begins-kindergarten

~ characters were in place to reflect someone being bullied, a friend who struggled with how to help, and the bully

~ sound examples and story of a bullying incident

~ great story

~ perfect illustrations to go with the story

Amazon Blurb:

Max is starting kindergarten and is excited for his first day of school. On the playground, a bully starts to tease Max about his ears making him feel sad. Will Max get enough courage to speak up for himself to the bully, and will his classmates help him?

This book teaches children about bullying and the importance of how to properly handle a bully situation. Through early education our hope is that it will change the narrative where bullying statistics will decrease and children will learn to be more empathetic and inclusive to all.


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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!