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Too Much Space (March 13th, 2018)
Party Crashers (March 13th, 2018)
Take Us To Your Sugar (September 11th, 2018)
Double Trouble (December 11th, 2018)

Author & Illustrator: Jonathan Roth
Published by Aladdin Publishing

Book 1 Summary: Meet space-school attendee Bob and his alien bestie Beep in this start to an outrageously funny and action-packed chapter book series that’s great for “kids who love funny stories but may be too young for books like ­Diary of a Wimpy Kid” (School Library Journal) !

Astro Elementary is a school near Saturn attended by the bravest, smartest kids in the solar system . . . and Bob. Bob never wanted to go to school in space. He even tried to fail the admissions test by bubbling in C for every answer – but ended up with a perfect score!

Then Bob meets Beep, a little lost alien. Beep instantly takes to Bob, even thinking of Bob as his new mother! And with Beep by his side, Bob begins to find his courage. But will courage even matter when Beep and Bob find themselves about to be sucked inside the most terrible wonder of the universe, a super-massive black hole?

Book 2 Summary: It’s Bob’s friend Lani’s birthday, and she’s having her party on a super fancy space cruiser called The Starship Titanic. The cruiser has three water parks, sixteen amusement parks, and 12 million hyper-show channels on TV!

But when Beep and Bob arrive, they realize they forgot to buy Lani a birthday gift! But that’s not their biggest problem. Suddenly, guests’ jewelry is stolen from right under their noses—and Beep and Bob get blamed for the crime!

Things go from bad to worse when Beep and Bob discover that their “indestructible” ship is headed right for the ice rings of Neptune—and then starts plummeting toward the planet below! Can Beep and Bob reveal the true thieves and save the Starship Titanic – or will this be their last birthday party EVER?

Book 3 Summary: Beep and his best friend Bob hatch a plan to save Halloween—and their school—in this third book in the hilarious, action-packed Beep and Bob series!

It’s October in space, and Bob is getting excited for his favorite holiday: Halloween. When Bob tells Beep that soon they’ll get to dress up like monsters and get as much free candy as they can carry, Beep thinks he has gone to heaven. But Lani informs them that Halloween isn’t celebrated at Astro Elementary.

Bob cannot imagine life without Halloween! He appeals to Principal Quark, but with no success. Determined to save Halloween, Bob and Lani organize a secret club: SCARES (Scary Costumes Are the Right of Every Student, or, more truthfully, the Society of Candy Addicts who Rely on Energy from Sugar).

As the secret club grows, Halloween fever invades Astro Elementary. Unfortunately, a horde of grotesque aliens, attracted by the treats, also invades the school on the last day of the month. With everyone in costume, no one can tell who’s who. Beep and Bob may have saved the holiday, but can they somehow use their sugar-addled wits to save the school?

Book 4 Summary: Beep and Bob accidentally clone themselves for the school science fair in this fourth book in the hilarious, action-packed Beep and Bob series!

What’s twice as fun as Beep and Bob? Two Beeps and Bobs!

While up too late working on his science fair project, Bob accidentally points a duplication ray at Beep. To his shock, another Beep appears! Beep decides the more, the better, so he points the ray at Bob and PRESTO: it’s Bob 2 (or Backwards Bob).

At first Bob thinks their clones are creepy, but it doesn’t take long to realize that having duplicates comes with perks: they can sleep in while their clones go to class!

Then the real Beep and Bob discover a hitch: the Beep and Bob clones are EVIL, and are planning to duplicate an EVIL Earth to rule! How will they possibly get themselves (and themselves!) out of this one?

About the Author:

Author-illustrator Jonathan Roth is a public elementary school art teacher in Maryland who likes reading, writing, drawing, cycling, and napping. Though he has never left the Earth, he has met four of the astronauts who have gone to the moon. Beep and Bob is his first series. To learn more, and to download a free Beep and Bob activity kit, visit his website: beepandbob.com.

  • Born: Detroit, MI. He has also lived in Zaire, Africa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, rural Virginia, and Brooklyn, NY.
  • Current home: Rockville, Maryland, where he lives with his wife, two cats, and three (or more!) bicycles.
  • College: the Cooper Union School of Art, New York.
  • Occupation: Public elementary school art teacher by day; author/illustrator by evenings, weekends and glorious summer.
  • Previous occupations: paper boy, house painter, dairy farmer, photographer, cartoonist and library tech.
  • Number of years in school: 1 year Kindergarten + 12 grades + 4 years art school + 1 year teacher school + 18 years teaching = 36. (All the more amazing, because he’s only 29 years old!)
  • Number of students taught: 28 average per class x 25+ classes per week x 40 school weeks a year x 18 years = a broken calculator! Definitely too many enthusiastic young artists to count!
  • Number of Apollo astronauts who have been to the moon he has met: four.
  • Historical figure he would most like to meet: Leonardo da Vinci
  • Childhood favorites (that are still totally worth checking out): Spiderman, Batman, Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, Star Trek, Star Wars, ET, Alice in Wonderland, the Lord of the Rings, The Odyssey, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Pigman, the Beatles, Stand By Me.
  • First Book: Duel in Dimensions, a novel about Batman and Superman in Wonderland; written in sixth grade, still unfinished and unpublished.
  • Elements he feels are most important to his books: humor and heart. He wants kids to laugh, learn and love.

Praise: 

“Pretty sporky, as Bob would approvingly put it.” —Booklist

“A strong addition to any library’s chapter book selection.” —School Library Journal

Review: Trent and I really loved reading about Beep and Bob! The stories combine heart and humor just as the author hopes it would! Beep is a great comic relief yet also adds a wonderful element of heart as he loves his Bob-Mother. Bob is also going through all the same ups and downs that many kids go through in school such as crushes, bullies, mistakes, and successes, so that adds a direct connection between his story and the readers. For Trent specifically, the element of space and the information you learn in the book really pushed it over the edge into awesome in his eyes. Not only did we laugh and want to know what was happen next, we also learned about Pluto and black holes (in book 1) and even more in the sequels! This book is a great addition into the early chapter book collection of any classroom or library!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Beep and Bob books would be a perfect read aloud in an early elementary classroom because there are so many different things that could be done in class that would connect to the book such as students writing their own blogs (or is there a fun name they could name them?) and they could study the science shared in the book.

Discussion Questions: 

  • If you had an alien best friend, what would you hope they’d be like?
  • What did you learn about ___?
  • How does Bob face his fears throughout the books?
  • If you were in space school, where would you look forward to visiting?
  • What mistakes did Bob make that led to a shift in the plot?

Flagged Passages (from Too Much Space, Book 1): 

 

Read This If You Love: Frank Einstein series by Jon Scieszka, HiLo series by Judd Winick, Frankie Pickle series by Eric Wight, Books about space

Recommended For: 

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Supergalactic giveaway!!

One lucky winner will receive a set of ALL FOUR Beep and Bob titles–Too Much Space!, Party Crashers, Take Us To Your Sugar, and Double Trouble (U.S. addresses), courtesy of Aladdin/Simon & Schuster!

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**Thank you to Barbara from Blue Slip Media for providing copies for review!**

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Happy 2019! 

This year, I reread more books than any previous year. I am not including the billions of pictures books that I reread to my children in that statistic, either. 🙂 But for this list, I am focusing on my favorite reads of 2018. These are books that will stick to my bones for years to come!

 

Favorite Books Marketed Toward Young Adults

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale

Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi

The Astonishing Color of After by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Mary’s Monster by Lita Judge

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

 

Favorite Books Marketed Toward Upper Elementary and Middle Grade

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya

 

Favorite Picture Books

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

Drawn Together by Minh Lê

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoët

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

The Wall in the Middle of the Book by John Agee

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorrell

 

Which were your favorite reads of 2018?

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Happy 2019! 

I had one of my best reading years ever! My GoodReads goal was 300 which I exceeded!

I read 415 books this year!
(Though I will admit GoodReads adding the ability to add rereads really helped with the total; however, I was quite inconsistent with it– I marked re-reads sometimes and other times I didn’t, so I don’t know how accurate the count is, specifically picture books…)

 

It was almost exactly split between picture books and non-picture books with my novel, etc. total being a bit over 200.
My average rating for the year is 4.2 and my top shelves were: realistic fiction, nonfiction, Unleashing Readers, Trent 4-5 years, middle grade, audiobook, mg-ya picture books, picture book, and read to Trent. 

Today, I want to highlight my favorite reads from the year by sharing my 5 star reads from 2018
(the visual includes all while the list includes only newly read in 2018 books): 

Click on the photo above to see my 2018 Goodreads shelf to learn about any of these titles. If I’ve reviewed the book on Unleashing Readers, I’ve also hyperlinked it in the list. 

Picture Books & Early Readers (nonfiction & fiction)

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
Windows by Julia Denos
Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin
Grand Canyon by Jason Chin
Lights! Camera! Alice!: The Trilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker by Mara Rockliff
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes
My Kite is Stuck! And Other Stories by Salina Yoon
Duck, Duck, Porcupine! by Salina Yoon
Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience and Fortitude by Josh Funk
Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford
Square by Mac Barnett
Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers
Mission Defrostable by Josh Funk 
What Can a Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers
Masterpiece Robot and the Ferocious Valerie Knick-Knack by Frank Tra
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Drawn Together by Minh Lê
The Very Last Castle by Travis Jonker
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët
A Place for Pluto by Stef Wade
Cute as an Axolotl: Discovering the Worlds Most Adorable Animals by Jess Keating
Turning Pages: My Life Story by Sonia Sotomayor
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
One of a Kind by Chris Gorman
The Dinosaur Expert by Margaret McNamara
Memphis, Martin, and Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan
A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey
Ruby’s Sword by Jacqueline Veissid
Brave Molly by Brooke Boynton Hughes
Santa Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
We Can’t Eat our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins
Earthrise: Apollo 8 and the Photo That Changed the World by James Gladstone
Sun!: One in a Billion by Stacy McAnulty
The Sun is Kind of a Big Deal by Nick Seluk
Thank You, Earth by April Pulley Sayred
Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi

Middle Grade

False Prince trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Granted by John David Anderson
Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Bat & the Waiting Game by Elana K. Arnold
Track Series: Sunny & Lu by Jason Reynolds
Breakout by Kate Messner
Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart
Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Wonderland by Barbara O’Connor
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart
Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth
Orphaned by Eliot Schrefer
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamura by Pablo Cartaya
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher
Garbage Island by Fred Koehler
The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai
Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Redwood and Ponytail by K.A. Holt
Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez

Young Adult

American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner
Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles
Tyler Johnson was Here by Jay Coles
Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
What Girls are Made of by Elana K. Arnold
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Here to Stay by Sara Farizan
One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Internment by Samira Ahmed
Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills
Odd One Out by Nic Stone
Dry by Neal Shusterman
Another Day by David Levithan

Graphic Novels

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
The Divided Earth by Erin Faith Hicks
I Am Ghandi: A Graphic Biography of a Hero edited by Brad Meltzer
Illegal by Eoin Colfer
Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Monsters Beware by Jorge Aguirre
Kitten Construction Company: Meet the House Kittens by John Green
HiLo #4: Waking the Monsters by Judd Winick
Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable
Peter & Ernesto: The Lost Sloths by Graham Annable
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier

Nonfiction

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson
Chasing King’s Killer by James L. Swanson
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries by Ammi-Joan Paquette
Eavesdropping on Elephants: How Listening Helps Conservation by Patricia Newman
The Great Rhino Rescue by Patricia Newman
National Geographic: History’s Mysteries: Curious Clues, Cold Cases, and Puzzles from the Past by Kitson Jazynka

All of these books are highly recommended by me, so if you haven’t read them and they interest you, they won’t let you down 🙂 Happy reading!

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The Sisters 8 Series by Lauren Baratz-Logsted with Greg Logsted and Jackie Logsted

The Sisters 8 #1: Annie’s Adventures The Sisters 8 #2: Durinda’s Dangers
Published December 29th, 2008 by HMH Books for Young Readers

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The Sisters 8 #9: The Final Battle…For Now
Published August 7th, 2012 by HMH Books for Young Readers

About the Series: The story begins on New Year’s Eve, eight sisters–octuplets–wait for Mommy to come back from the kitchen with eggnog and Daddy to come back from the shed with more wood for the fire.

But they–Mommy and Daddy, that is–don’t. Come back. Ever.

It takes the sisters a few minutes to notice, but when they do it’s just as you would expect. Disbelief! Outrage! Despair! But then a note appears, telling the girls that each one of them has a talent and a gift. They all must find theirs to learn what happened to Mommy and Daddy.

Okay, so that’s how it begins. How does it end? Enter the world of the Sisters Eight to find out…

About Annie’s Adventures (Book #1): A rather large problem has befallen the Huit girls. (Sisters, actually. Octuplets to be exact.) One particular New Year’s Eve, the girls wait for their mommy to bring them hot chocolate and their daddy to return with more wood for the fire. But they don’t. Mommy and Daddy, that is. They’re gone. Poof! Maybe dead—no one knows for sure.

You must see the problem here. Eight little girls on their own, no mommy or daddy to take care of them. This is not a good thing.

So now these little girls, must take care of themselves. Get to school, cook the meals, feed the cats (eight of them, too), and pay the bills. They can’t ask for help, oh no. Any self-respecting adult would surely call in social services, and those well-meaning people would have to split them up. After losing their parents, being split up would be completely unbearable.

At the same time, the question remains:What happened to Mommy and Daddy? The Sisters Eight (as they are called, affectionately and otherwise) are determined to find out. Luckily, they do seem to have someone or something helping them. Notes keep appearing behind a loose brick in the fireplace.

It’s a good old-fashioned mystery with missing (or dead) parents, nosy neighbors, talking refrigerators, foul-smelling fruitcake (is there any other kind?), and even a little magic. Eight little girls, eight cats, and one big mystery—let the fun begin!

Annie’s Adventures, wherein the girls’ parents go missing (or die) and the girls learn each one has a power and gift. Annie, being the oldest, is the first to discover hers.

And expand the Sisters Eight adventures by entering The Sisters Eight Website!

After you enter, you can:

  • Learn about each of the books,
  • Learn about the authors,
  • Read reviews of the books,
  • Meet the Huit sisters,
  • Take a quiz to see which Sisters Eight you are,
  • Printable paper dolls,
  • Make your own beanbags,
  • Decorate a t-shirt,
  • Design flip-flops,
  • Make a friendship bracelet, or
  • Learn about starting a Sisters 8 book club!

About the Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of more than a dozen books for adults and young readers, including The Twin’s Daughter, Crazy Beautiful, and the Sisters 8 series, which she cowrites with her husband and daughter.

A personal note from the author on this special anniversary: 

Who could ever have predicted that getting snowbound in Crested Butte, Colorado, back in 2006 would lead 12 years later to a nine-book series that has sold over a quarter of a million copies? But that’s what happened to my family. When a visit with friends that was supposed to last five days turned into 10 following a blizzard that closed Denver Airport, my husband Greg and me and our then-6yo daughter Jackie had to find new ways to entertain ourselves, which in our case meant brainstorming what would become known as The Sisters 8 series, about octuplets whose parents go missing on New Year’s Eve, leaving the girls to solve the mystery of where their parents went while keeping other adults from realizing there are no longer any adults in the house. The first two books were published in December 2008, with seven more books since.

Over the course of my career, I’ve been extraordinarily lucky. While I have neither the money of Rowling nor the critical acclaim of Franzen, I’ve been able to write the books I wanted to write – for adults, teens and children – in a variety of genres, and seen nearly 40 of those books published. If that’s not lucky, I don’t know what is. But nothing in all of it has given me more pleasure than The Sisters 8. I got to create it with my husband and daughter, who is now 18 and off at college. I got to share the early books with Jackie’s classmates as we were writing them. I got to receive thousands of emails from kids – and their parents, grandparents, librarians and teachers – telling me how much the series has meant to them. Most writers I know long for more money or greater fame. Now, I’m not saying I’d say no to either, but when you’ve receive a letter from a ten-year-old saying “After my brother died, The Sisters 8 was the first thing that made me feel cheered again” or from a special needs teacher saying “It was the first book that ___ asked if she could take home to continue reading on her own” or whole families of Canadians saying they bring the books to read aloud to each other on camping trips (Bless you, Canada!) – well, after all of that, you realize that while fame and fortune would be nice, you did your job as a writer.

This marks the 10th anniversary of The Sisters 8. I hope you’ll join me in wishing them many more years to come – cheers! ~Lauren

Celebrate the Sisters 8 ten-year anniversary by picking up a Sisters 8 book and enter into their adventures!

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“Trick or Read”

When I was in fifth grade I made an awesome Halloween costume:  I was a jar of Skippy Peanut Butter.  No one could tell who I really was since my head was covered, but I got lots of compliments on my cool creativity.

However, that was the high point:  after that I was never able to figure out another Halloween costume I was comfortable wearing.

So, decades later, still blocked on finding a suitable costume, I decided to approach Halloween from another angle: I started giving out books, instead of candy, to trick or treaters.

Moaning like zombies, my family and friends told me this was not a good idea: “no one,” they said, “wants to trick or treat for books.”  “Halloween,” they howled like werewolves, “is for handing out candy.”  “No kids,” “they screeched like a scary witch, “will come to our house for books.”

But… they were all wrong.

Twenty-five years later I am still handing out books to hundreds and hundreds of kids on Halloween. And even though I still haven’t figured out a good costume for myself, I do have another persona: I am known in town as “The Book Lady.”

I have to leave work and my job as President of Scholastic Book Clubs early on Halloween, because kids and their families who come from all over town as well as from neighboring communities (and even in groups from community centers), start lining up early—around 3:30 in the afternoon—to make sure they don’t miss out on the reading FUN! The police come to help direct traffic and the whole community gets into the act.

It makes me so happy to see all these kids and their families—who come from miles around—line up just to make sure they get books! I live on a long, flat street, with wonderful neighbors, who are, for the most part, happy to answer the door with all kind of creative treats (including toothbrushes!) for the swarms of kids who make their way down the block after they leave the “Book House.”

It was all this Halloween excitement that inspired me to write Trick or Tweet, the third book in the Bobs and Tweets series, illustrated by Kristy Caldwell.

I got so much inspiration from all kids who have come to “The Book House” on Halloween: kids stuffed into vegetable costumes, like Lou Tweet.  Vampires and zombies, like the Bobs. Ninjas, and superheroes, and mermaids, and unicorns, (along with people handing out toothbrushes, and awesome decorations and…well you name it!)  Last year, a child came dressed as a jar of Skippy Peanut Butter, which as you can imagine made me smile.

The trick or treaters all want to tell me what books they want to read and how they enjoyed—or did not like — the books they got from the Book House last year.  There is nothing quite so thrilling for me as talking to hundreds of children dressed up in costumes, expressing their creativity and their ideas– and talking about books.

Most of us who work in children’s book publishing strive to help children discover books in which they can see themselves.  We know that when kids choose and own their own books they read more and start to see themselves as readers. In my day job, as President of Scholastic Book Clubs I am privileged to work with 800,000 classroom teachers and their students—from pre-K through high school–all across the country, creating book orders filled with affordable books for all children to choose and own.

In my Halloween role as “The Book Lady, “ it is so fun and inspiring to hand out books to super eager trick or treaters who all love lining up for books on Halloween.  And as, Pepper Springfield, the author of the Bobs and Tweets books, I am truly honored to engage with readers through my characters on Bonefish Street.

So… I guess I don’t need another Halloween costume for myself after all.

Happy Reading! Happy Halloween!

About the Author: Pepper (aka Judy Newman to PW readers, close friends, and family) was born and raised in Massachusetts. She LOVES rock ‘n’ roll and chocolate, just like Lou Tweet. And, like Dean Bob, Pepper loves to read and do crossword puzzles. Over the years, Pepper has loved all kinds of pets: dogs, cats, hamsters, turtles, fish, a bunny, and an imaginary monkey.

Bobs and Tweets: Trick or Tweet
Author: Pepper Springfield
Illustrator: Kristy Caldwell
Published August 28th, 2018 by Scholastic

About the Book: Lou Tweet and Dean Bob can’t wait to go trick-or-treating on Bonefish Street on Halloween. This year, they’re entering the Best Halloween Block contest, which means they need to visit every house and mark down each delicious treat that they receive.

But with spooky houses, a power outtage, and another big Tweets and Bobs family feud, will Lou and Dean be able to accomplish their task and win the contest? Find out in another spooky installment of Bobs and Tweets, this time with funhouses, new friends, and lots and lots of candy!

This third book in the Bobs and Tweets series is filled with full-color illustrations and high-interest rhymes that’s just right for reluctant readers. It’s Dr. Seuss meets Captain Underpants wrapped into one zany Halloween adventure! So go ahead, read and laugh and trick-or-treat with the Bobs and Tweets!

Thank you, Pepper, for showing how book lovers can spread the reading love on Halloween!

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Garbage Island
Author and Illustrator: Fred Koehler
Published October 9th, 2018 by Boyds Mills Press

Summary: Mr. Popli, the mouse mayor of Garbage Island, is always at odds with Archibald Shrew, a brilliant but reckless inventor. When Garbage Island, their home in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, splits apart, they are trapped together in Mr. Popli’s houseboat, desperate to find their way back home. At first, they only argue, but when they face a perilous thunderstorm and a series of predators, they begin to work together and recognize – in themselves and in each other – strengths they didn’t know they had.

About the Author: Fred Koehler won a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Award for his illustrations for One Day, The End. He is the author-illustrator of How To Cheer Up Dad, which received three starred reviews, and he is the illustrator of This Book Is Not About Dragons and Puppy, Puppy, Puppy and Flashlight Night.  He lives with his children in Lakeland, Florida.

Visit the Garbage Island Boyds Mills Press page to view an interview about his inspirations and what’s coming next!

Praise: 

“In this series opener, a mouse and a shrew find themselves unlikely allies as they unite to save Garbage Island. The clever pairing of opposites adds humor, making the gradual emergence of friendship…all the sweeter. Dramatic black-and-white illustrations highlight key action. Exciting, fast-paced adventure and unexpected friendship in a “trashy” venue.” –Kirkus Reviews

“This adventurous tale is packed with action, examples of creative thinking, and ingenuity. Use this as an introduction to STEM thinking, a science fair project, a lesson on ecology, or simply read it for the enjoyment the story provides. This book will appeal to the adventure seeker, animal lover, explorer, and just about everyone else. A must-read for readers ready to strap in for a great ride!” – School Library Connection, starred review

“(With) fast-paced action and danger… this entertaining animal adventure stands out… because of its strong characters and an underlying message of environmental awareness.”–School Library Journal

Review: I love Archibald Shrew. He actually reminds me of Tinkerbell, specifically from the movie Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure. Archie is a genius; he just is a genius that sometimes makes a mess when he is creating or may forget something essential if he’s brainstorming or might put him or someone else in danger if trying something new. But he is just so gosh darn lovable! From the very first page when we meet him, and he’s trying out his bicycle invention. Archie is obviously just ahead of his time. And while Mr. Popli starts off as a bit of a stern, uptight character, he is forced to see what is most important through this journey. Lastly, Merri. She is a special character who I connect with so much. She tries so hard to take care of everyone. She is never not helping or doing something; everyone can rely on her. But she also feels a lot of pressure to be a caregiver in so many different ways; so much that she pushes herself way too hard sometimes. It is because of these three characters plus the plot arc of Mr. Popli and Archie’s nearly always perilous adventure that this book is hard to put down. I know this is going to be one that Trent and I will read when he is a bit older: so much to unpack and just so entertaining!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: There is an Educator Guide available:

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did Mr. Popli change over the course of the book?
  • What did the egg teach Archie and Mr. Popli?
  • What are the differing character traits between Archie, Mr. Popli, Merri, and Edward? Similarities?
  • How does Archie effect the other characters at the beginning of the book? The end?
  • What part of the book surprised you?
  • How does the book promote environmental awareness?
  • Which of the opponents was the biggest foe for Archie and Mr. Popli? Explain why you think that foe was the toughest?

Flagged Passages: Chapter 3

“A week into his punishment for the sea-cycle incident, Archie had taken to his new routine with all the enthusiasm of a one-armed starfish. During the day, he did everything that was asked of him, but the work made him hungry, and the hunger made him grumpy. And still, his yearning for his workshop rose in his throat each evening like the moon in the sky.

Merrie had come to visit Archie each night at the Watchtower. She was the only bird left on Garage Island. He was the only shrew. In many ways, they were kindred. But Merri was an outsider because of her species. And she was sure that Archie was treated as an outsider because of his actions. If she could get him to see that, perhaps his life could improve. Her attempts to convince him turned into another argument.” (p. 30)

Read This If You Love: Anthropomorphic stories like Redwall by Brian Jacques, Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel, Seekers series by Erin Hunter, Mez’s Magic by Eliot Schrefer, Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart, An Army of Frogs by Trevor Pryce;Fiction that promotes environmental awareness; Plastics Ahoy! by Patricia Newman

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Mon 10/1           Always in the Middle
Tue 10/2             Miss Marple’s Musings
Wed 10/3           Inkygirl
Thu 10/4             Storymamas
Fri 10/5               Teen Librarian Toolbox
Mon 10/8           Librarian in Cute Shoes
Tue 10/9             KidLit Frenzy
Wed 10/10         Middle Grade Book Village
Thu 10/11          Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook
Fri 10/12             Middle Grade Minded
Fri 10/12            Unleashing Readers

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**Thank you to Boyds Mills for providing copies for review and giveaway and for hosting the blog tour!**

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Daring Dreamers Club #1: Milla Takes Charge
Author: Erin Soderberg
Illustrator: Anoosha Syed
Published June 5th, 2018 by Random House

Summary: When you follow your dreams, the possibilities are endless!

Milla loves nothing more than imagining grand adventures in the great wide somewhere, just like Belle. She dreams of traveling the world and writing about her incredible discoveries. Unfortunately, there is nothing pretend about the fifth-grade overnight and Milla’s fear that her moms won’t let her go.

Enter Piper, Mariana, Zahra, and Ruby. Together with Milla, they form the Daring Dreamers Club and become best friends. But can they help Milla believe she’s ready for this real grand adventure?

Diverse, talented, and smart–these five girls found each other because they all had one thing in common: big dreams. Touching on everyday dramas and the ups and downs of friendship, this series will enchant all readers who are princesses at heart.

About the Creators: 

ERIN SODERBERG lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, three adventure-loving kids, and a mischievous Goldendoodle named Wally. Before becoming an author, she was a children’s book editor and a cookie inventor and worked for Nickelodeon. She has written many books for young readers, including the Quirks and Puppy Pirates series. Visit her online at erinsoderberg.com.

ANOOSHA SYED is a Pakistani illustrator & character designer for animation. She received her BFA in illustration at Ceruleum: Ecole d’arts Visuels in Switzerland, and now lives in Canada. Visit her online at anooshasyed.com.

Praise: 

“Though core issues of identity, independence, and teamwork ground the novel, Disney Princess devotees will likely be the most charmed. —Publishers Weekly

“I cannot wait to “hear” the stories of all the other girls! Brava Erin SD for kicking off a new series for the younger MG set! Positive messages for kids! —Goodreads Praise

“Young readers will be able to relate to the story, there is a positive message, and the characters provide a model of friendship, showing how friends work together and support on another. Loved meeting these girls!” —Goodreads Praise

ReviewI know that at first this book may seem like a book that only Disney or Princess lovers would like, but it is so much more than that! So please do not judge this book by that idea! Instead you will find a story about girls who find a deep friendship within each other after being placed in a group at school together. With the guidance of an amazing educator, they look deep within themselves and join as a group while still celebrating their individuality.

Now, as someone who DOES love Disney and Disney princesses, I loved the angle that this book took! After the first assignment by their group teacher, the girls are asked to write about a princess who they connect with. Milla and her friends are using the strengths of the princesses as inspiration to build their own strengths. For example, Milla feels like her life is very sheltered, and she loves to write, so she finds inspiration in Belle. Ruby, who is athletic and prides herself in her strength, first struggles to connect with a princess but then she realizes that Mulan is a person that is very much who she would like to be. And each girl does her own reflection (written in her own words in a journal format).

This first book focuses on Milla, but we get to know all the girls through the inclusion of the journals and from Milla’s point of view. I assume that future books will also be in different points of view to allow readers to get to know more in depth each of the characters. I look forward to future books to see where Piper, Milla, Mariana, Ruby, Zahra and Ms. Bancroft go next!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I love Ms. Bancroft! And I think that how she had the girls introduce themselves and her first assignment that she gave the Daring Dreamers Club would be wonderful activities in a classroom:

  • “I’d love for each of you to introduce yourself and share one of your big dreams.”
  • “I want each of you to think of a princess you connect with or feel inspired by and explain why. Dig deep and really think about your answer.”

Since each of the girls’ answers are shared in the book, they would be a great thing to share as well.

In addition, this book is going to be LOVED by realistic fiction fans! I cannot wait to share it with my students.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Which of the five main characters do you connect with the most?
  • If you had to choose a princess you connect with, who would you choose?
  • Do you think Milla went about getting her moms to trust her correctly?
  • How does Ms. Bancroft inspire the girls? How is she different than the last music teacher?
  • What is one of your big dreams?

Flagged Passages: “Milla loved reading and writing just about anything, but there was nothing she enjoyed more than creating adventures for herself. In Milla’s stories, she was always a brave hero without fears or worries of any kind. One of the things Milla most loved about writing was that she was totally in charge and got to make all the decisions about what would happen on her adventures. The only limitation was her imagination, and her imagination was vast.” (p. 6)

Read This If You Love: Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin, Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson, Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol, Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski

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**Thank you to Sydney at Penguin Random House for providing a copy for review!**

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