Currently viewing the category: "Illustrated Novel"

Charlie & Mouse Even Better
Author: Laurel Snyder
Illustrator: Emily Hughes
Published: April 2nd, 2019 by Chronicle Books

Summary: It is Mom’s birthday, and Charlie and Mouse and their Dad want everything to be perfect–so when the cake gets burnt the boys have to come up with a new plan, pronto.

View my post about Charlie & Mouse and Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy to learn about the first two books in the series.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ guide I created for the Charlie & Mouse series:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about Charlie and Mouse on Chronicle Book’s Charlie & Mouse Even Better page.

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Barkus: Dog Dreams
Author: Patricia MacLachlan
Illustrator: Marc Boutavant
Published: August 7th, 2018 by Chronicle Books

Summary: Barkus is back! With new tricks. New friends. And lots more fun.

The lovable Barkus and his lucky young owner romp through the pages of this delightful series from Newbery Medal–winning author Patricia MacLachlan. The simple text told in short chapters is just right for children ready to take their first steps toward reading on their own.

View my post about Barkus to learn about book one.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ guide I created for the Barkus series:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about Barkus on Chronicle Book’s Barkus Book 2 page.

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Polly Diamond and the Super Stunning Spectacular School Fair
Author: Alice Kuipers
Illustrator: Diana Toledano
Published: May 7th, 2019 by Chronicle Books

Summary: Polly and her magic book, Spell, have all kinds of adventures together because whatever Polly writes in Spell comes true! But when Polly and Spell join forces to make the school fair super spectacular, they quickly discover that what you write and what you mean are not always the same. Filled with the familiar details of home and school, but with a sprinkling of magic, this book is just right for fans of Ivy + Bean, Judy Moody, and Dory Fantasmagory, as well for aspiring writers, who, just like Polly, know the magic of stories.

View my post about Polly Diamond and the Magic Book to learn about book one.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ guide I created for the Polly Diamond series:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about Polly Diamond on Chronicle Book’s Polly Diamond Book 2 page.

Recommended For: 

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Nixie Ness, Cooking Star
Author: Claudia Mills
Illustrator: Grace Zong
Publishication Date: June 4th, 2019 by Margaret Ferguson Books

Summary: Best friends Nixie and Grace spend every afternoon together . . . until Nixie’s mom gets a new job and Nixie must attend the after-school program, without Grace.

Third graders Nixie Ness and Grace Kenny have been best friends since they were two-years-old. They have always spent every afternoon after school at Nixie’s house until Nixie’s mom announces that she has a job, which means she won’t be there to watch the girls after school, which means Nixie will have to go to the after-school program and Grace will be spending her afternoons at their classmate, Elyse’s, house.

Nixie begrudgingly starts the after-school program, joining the cooking camp. And it turns out that the other children at cooking camp are nice, and the recipes they make are delicious. But Nixie can’t really enjoy being an after-school superstar until she finds a way to overcome her jealousy about Grace and Elyse’s budding friendship.

Perfect for fans of Judy Moody, Ivy and Bean, and Clementine, this new chapter book series features recurring characters, and each book will highlight one activity they do at their after-school program. The books are illustrated in black and white and include a bonus activity that corresponds to the book’s plot. Nixie Ness: Cooking Star features a recipe for morning glory muffins. The next book in the After-School Superstars series, Vera Vance: Comics Star, is scheduled for release in Spring 2020.

About the Author: Claudia Mills is the author of almost 60 books for young readers, including most recently the Franklin School Friends series from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and her new After-School Superstars series from Holiday House.  In addition to writing books, she has been a college professor in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado at Boulder and in the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins University in Roanoke. Visit Claudia at

Message from the Author: My newest book, Nixie Ness, Cooking Star, is the first in a new chapter-book series – After-School Superstars – set in an after-school program featuring a different themed camp each month. After a long career of writing school stories, I decided it was time to branch out to the fascinating world of after-school programs, which offer kids so many fun activities that don’t fit easily into the already crowded elementary-school curriculum. Other planned books in the series will take place in a comic-book camp (Vera Vance, Comics Star) and a computer-coding camp (Lucy Lopez, Coding Star). I haven’t yet decided on the topic for the fourth camp yet. Suggestions welcome!

This first book is a celebration of the joy of cooking, but it’s also a friendship story. Nixie has to face some painful changes when her mom gets a new job and Nixie now needs to attend an after-school program, while her best friend (who had previously spent every afternoon with Nixie at Nixie’s house) goes to another friend’s house after school instead. Will Nixie lose Grace to “best-friend stealer” Elyse? Or will cooking camp help Nixie find a way to save her friendship with Grace while making new friends, too?

Exclusive Excerpt:

“Oh, those are adorable, girls!” Nixie’s mother pulled out her phone to snap some pictures of the girls standing next to their cupcakes. Nixie and Grace made normal smiles for the first photo and then hung out their tongues and held up begging puppy paws for the others until they both dissolved in a fit of giggles.

As Nixie’s mom returned the phone to the pocket of her jeans, her mouth twitched the way it did when she was about to say something she wasn’t sure Nixie was going to like.

“Why don’t you take a little decorating break,” she said. “I have some news. It affects both of you, so Grace’s mother said it was all right if I told you together.”

Nixie’s chest tightened, as she and Grace plopped down into chairs at the cupcake-covered table.

“You know how I’ve been talking about finding a new job?”

Nixie relaxed. Her mother had been talking about getting a go-off-to-work job ever since Nixie started kindergarten. First she was planning to look for a job at the public library because she loved books so much. Then she was going to apply for a job at Nixie’s school because she loved kids so much. Nothing ever happened.

“Well, I got a phone call this morning that I got the job I applied for a month ago, back in August,” her mother said. “They want me to start right away, on Monday.”

Nixie and Grace exchanged stunned glances.

“What kind of job?” Grace asked.

“A wonderful job. Working in a bookstore. And not just any bookstore. The new children’s bookstore downtown.”

It did sound like the perfect job for a person who loved books and kids. Her mother looked so happy that Nixie wanted to be happy for her, too. But if this was really such a terrific thing, why had her mother’s mouth been so twitchy? And what was going to happen after school?

She could hear her voice coming out squeaky. “Will you work all day? Will Grace and I go to the after-school program?”

She’d bet anything there would be no baking of puppy or kitten cupcakes there. And the after-school teachers, like every grownup they’d ever known, would tell her and Grace that it wasn’t nice to play by themselves so much. They’d talk on and on about “including others.” Nixie didn’t want to include others, unless the other was a dog.

“The after-school program is tons of fun,” Grace offered, her face brightening. “Really, it is.”

“Says who?” Nixie asked.

“Says everybody,” Grace replied.

Nixie had heard over morning announcements that Longwood Elementary School had a new program this year called After-School Super Stars, all camps, with a different camp each month for each grade. But she had barely listened to the details, knowing that she and Grace would never have to go there.

Grace kept on talking. “I forget what the first camp was, the one we already missed, but the next camp for our grade is – ta-dah! – a cooking camp! I think we’ll like it, Nixie.”

This was vastly worse than Grace’s saying she thought kitten cupcakes were cuter than puppy cupcakes or wanting to invite Elyse over to play. Tears stung the inside of Nixie’s eyes. She scrunched them shut before one could escape and trickle down her cheeks.

“Actually . . . .” Nixie’s mom said slowly.

“Actually, what?” Nixie tried to keep her voice from wobbling.

Her mother hesitated before replying.

“Nixie, you’re going to attend the after-school program. Grace’s mother is making other plans.”

Nixie remembered that the reason Grace had started spending afternoons at Nixie’s house in the first place was because all the after-school programs cost too much.

Nixie reached over for Grace’s hand the same way she had done on the first day of preschool.

Grace squeezed her hand tight.

They decorated the last six cupcakes in silence. What did anything matter if they’d never be together at Nixie’s house after school, just the two of them, ever again?

Nixie Recipes:

Two recipes Nixie makes at camp:

Morning Glory Muffins (Nixie’s favorite!)


2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
2 cups grated carrot
2 cup grated apple
½ cup coconut flakes
½ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup sunflower seeds
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup orange juice
1/3 cup honey
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup seedless raisins


Preheat oven to 375.

Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl (flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt).

Stir in carrots, apples, coconut, walnuts and seeds so they are coated with the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, orange juicy, honey, and oil.

Fold in the raisins.

Spoon into lightly greased muffin pan (the recipe makes 18 muffins).

Bake for around 18 minutes (a bit less for darker pans).

Home-made dog biscuits (Alas, Nixie doesn’t have a dog!)


2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cube beef or chicken bouillon
¾ cups boiling water
Additional treats to your dog’s taste: bacon bits, oats, shredded cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Dissolve bouillon in boiling water; stir.

Add remaining ingredients.

Knead dough until it forms a ball.

Roll dough until ¼ inch thick.

Cut into bone shapes (or any shape of your choosing) with a cookie cutter.

Place shapes on lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Happy baking!!

Thank you, Claudia, for helping us celebrate your newest title!


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“The Writing Process” 

Over the course of a career in children’s book publishing, I’ve had the opportunity to hear many wonderful authors speak about their “process” – how they approach that intimidating blank page – whether a notebook, a sheet of paper in a typewriter, or the screen on a computer.  Where do you begin? And then what?

The clearest answer for me was a comment Walter Dean Myers made in a speech. “Writers write,” he said.  That is the literary version of “just do it!”  When you have an idea that’s taken hold of you, start writing.  What you write probably won’t make it into the final version of your project, but it will help you exercise your writing muscles and fire up the connection between your thoughts and your fingers. While doing that, some good sentences will emerge; characters will introduce themselves to you; plots will begin to take shape.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t be thinking about all these elements, too – not just waiting for them to tap you on the shoulder.  Make notes.  Do research.  Ask questions of yourself and search for answers.  All of this becomes the soil your story needs to grow.  But keep writing through it all.  That’s the only way I know of to discover the voice that is right for this particular story – and voice is the hardest part to explain, or force, or fake.

For the three novels in my Raccoon River Kids series of chapter books, I started with a place – a small town where kids have lots more freedom than they do in cities – a place where they can hop on their bikes and go by themselves – even when they are as young as seven or eight — to a friend’s house or venture into the center of town with a park as its centerpiece, a community center, and an old town hall where the doors are always open.

That was the beginning. My early writing was about the town itself, but as I described its geography and places, I began to envision the children who would be at the center of the novels: a third-grade boy and his best friend, a third-grade girl. There was a third boy. too. He stood outside of things and had only contrary remarks about the other children’s plans.  I didn’t know why at first, and I knew I would have to explain it – first to myself, then to my characters, and finally to my readers, of course.

As I developed Raccoon River and the characters in my early unstructured doodling, I also found the voice for these books.  At first I thought I would have the older sibling of one of the characters be the narrator, but it became complicated.  She couldn’t be everywhere the kids were. And, if she had to be involved in everything that they did, the children could never keep a secret from her. And secrets are important to children of this age – I didn’t want to take that option away from “my kids.”

I decided on an omniscient narrator who could get into everyone’s head; a teller who could be behind the scenes and in front of them simultaneously; a non-judgmental, trustworthy observer with a sympathetic view and faith in the characters.

With all these puzzle pieces to manipulate, I started to write. I always begin at the beginning. Opening chapters are important to me.  Wiser authors have told me that I should never get attached to the opening I write.  They universally agree that as the story progresses, beginnings often need to be changed, or moved elsewhere, or simply dropped.  I’m sure that’s true, but I can’t get going until I have at least my opening scene written.

Writers have also advised me not to polish any writing until the entire first draft is written. Again, I’m sure this is good advice.  But I find it impossible not to fix something that isn’t working – whether it’s an ugly phrase, a bad choice of a word, or an entire episode that is … well … wrong.  The first thing I do when I return to a work-in-progress is read what I wrote the last writing session.  And make changes, sometimes big ones, sometimes little tweaks.  That gets me back into the voice of the story.

I write mostly chronologically.  But not always.  If some later adventure has been working itself out as I take walks or make dinner or watch the news, I write it out of order. I figure it will fit in somewhere.  Mostly it does.

When I have a good portion of the whole written, I step away for several weeks.  I might jot down notes if any random ideas come to me, but I don’t put them into the manuscript.  I try to remove myself from the story for a while.  When I return to it, there’s a strange sense that it was written by someone else, which allows me to see things more clearly.

The result of this round is a new manuscript.  I can move chapters around, clarify motivations, polish language, deepen my characters, and strengthen the logic in the plot that will lead readers through the novel.

At the round three stage, I work on chapter endings and beginnings to be sure the story flows through smoothly.  I look for secondary themes to amplify. I examine the actions of the characters and how they speak for consistency. Similarly, I check for character traits or habits that help identify one from the next for readers. Because these are chapter books for relatively new readers, I make sure there’s not too much description but that there is enough so young readers can find themselves in Raccoon River and put themselves into the story.

And again, I step away from what I am now thinking of as “a book” for a while.  If it holds together when I return some weeks later, then it’s ready for some feedback.  And that’s when the process starts all over again.

About the Author: Lauren L. Wohl has had a long career in children’s book publishing. She has a degree in Library Science and has been an elementary school librarian. She served as Director of James Patterson’s ReadKiddoRead program, taught writing at the college level, and now consults with several publishers and literary agencies. Stories she’s been reading in newspapers and seeing on television news programs about children stepping up to make kind, generous, and important contributions to their communities inspired her chapter books about the Raccoon River Kids: Blueberry Bonanza and now Extravaganza at the Plaza. She is also the author of a picture book, A Teeny Tiny Halloween, illustrated by Henry Cole and Zooapalooza, coming August 2019. A native New Yorker, Lauren enjoys life in her new hometowns of Lenox, Massachusetts and Miami Beach, Florida.

About Extravaganza at the Plaza (Raccoon River Kids #2): “It isn’t fair that our town doesn’t have its own theater,” eight-year-old Hannah complains. 

A lot of thinking, planning, dreaming, and list-making, and Hannah–along with the kids of Raccoon River–are up to their ears in a brand new project: saving the town’s old abandoned Plaza Theater. But first, they have to get a look inside. And it’s spooky in there-spider webs and creaky floors, and one slowly-swaying curtain. Can Hannah and her friends save the plaza? 

Lauren L. Wohl tells a story of determination and hard work, cooperation and more than little bit of luck where the kids of a small town make a real difference in their community, the first sequel to BLUEBERRY BONANZA in the RACCOON RIVER KIDS ADVENTURES series. Mark Tuchman illustrates the action with characterful drawings that enrich the tale.

Thank you, Lauren, for your post–it was fascinating to learn about your process!

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The Lost Girl
Author: Anne Ursu
Published February 12th, 2019 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: When you’re an identical twin, your story always starts with someone else. For Iris, that means her story starts with Lark. Iris has always been the grounded, capable, and rational one; Lark has been inventive, dreamy, and brilliant—and from their first moments in the world together, they’ve never left each other’s side. Everyone around them realized early on what the two sisters already knew: they had better outcomes when they were together.

When fifth grade arrives, however, it is decided that Iris and Lark should be split into different classrooms, and something breaks in them both. Iris is no longer so confident; Lark retreats into herself as she deals with challenges at school. And at the same time, something strange is happening in the city around them, things both great and small going missing without a trace. As Iris begins to understand that anything can be lost in the blink of an eye, she decides it’s up to her to find a way to keep her sister safe.

About the Author: Anne Ursu is the author of Breadcrumbs, named one of the best books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly and the Chicago Public Library, and The Real Boy, which was longlisted for the National Book Award. She is also a member of the faculty at Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Anne lives in Minneapolis with her family and an ever-growing number of cats. You can visit her online at


The Lost Girl is a jewel of a book—hard, bright, sharp, and precious. It reminds us of the boundless and subversive power of sisterhood and the inherent magic of girls.”—Kelly Barnhill, Newbery-Medal winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon

“I raced through The Lost Girl, breathless. And when I was finished, I found myself full of hope. It’s a beautiful, riveting, important book.”—Laurel Snyder, award-winning author of Orphan Island

“When the world makes no sense, I read books by Anne Ursu. When the world makes all the wrong kinds of sense, I read books by Anne Ursu. If you crave a story with the wit, wisdom, and magic to unriddle the world, then you need to read The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu.”—William Alexander, award-winning author of A Festival of Ghosts

“A beautiful, timeless tale of love conquering darkness in the midst of mystery and the angst of change. A must-have for any middle grade collection.” School Library Journal (starred review)

“This suspenseful mystery offers a story of empowerment, showing how one girl with the help of others can triumph.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“National Book Award nominee Ursu laces her story with fairy-tale elements and real-life monsters, while taking great care to cast girls in an empowering light and as authors (and heroes) of their own stories.” Booklist (starred review)

Review: Anne Ursu has a way of telling what seems like an ordinary tale and adding twists and turns that the reader does not expect but once you are on the narrative ride she has created, you never want to get off! And although I am always skeptical of magical realism, she does it in a way that just makes her books seem like realistic fiction that just happens to be bit magical, so it is hard not to buy in. In The Lost Girl, the story also is fascinating in the way that the author plays with the narrator/point of view as well as how she shapes both girls equally as the story moves between their narratives and shows the strengths and weaknesses in both. It is impossible to tell who the lost girl is and who is the ones saving because both sisters feel like they play a part in saving the other. I’m still thinking about responsibilities, love, and protection long after the book ended. You are going to love Lark and Iris and will root for both of them until you turn that final page.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: There are readers who need this book. There are kids that don’t feel like they belong in this world or kids who feel like they don’t mesh with others their own age or kids dealing with a huge change in their life. These are the kid who will need this book. They need the lost girl to guide them.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Which of the twins is the lost girl?
  • How did the crows play a part in the story?
  • Without the magic in the story, how would everything have been different?
  • What mistakes does Iris make in her decision making once the girls enter 5th grade?
  • What lesson are the adults trying to teach the girls?
  • How did the Club Awesome girls turn out differently than Iris assumed? What does this tell you about them? Iris?
  • How are the sisters alike? Different?

Flagged Passages: “Once upon a time, there were two sisters, alike in every way, except for all the ways that they were different. Iris and Lark Maguire were identical twins, and people who only looked at the surface of things could not tell them apart. Same long busy black hair, same pale skin, same smattering of freckles around the cheeks, same bright hazel eyes and open face.

But Iris and Lark had no patience with people who only looked at the surface of things, when what lay beneath was the stuff that truly mattered.

Because the girls were identical, but not the same.

Iris was the one who always knew where she’d left her shoes. Iris was the one who could tell what the collective nouns were for different animals and that Minnesota was home to the world’s largest ball of twine. Iris always knew when her library books were due.

Lark always knew when their parents had been arguing. Lark could tell you what the consequences for stealing were in different fairy tales, and that the best bad guys had interesting back stories. Lark always knew which books she wanted to check out from the library next.

No they were not the same.” (p. 1-2)

Read This If You Love: The Real Boy by Anne Ursu, Watch Hollow by Greg Funaro, The Explorers by Adrienne KressWishtree by Katherine Applegate, The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

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Don’t miss out on the other stops in the blog tour!

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1: Teach Mentor Texts
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3: Novel Novice
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4: Maria’s Melange
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5: A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6: Bluestocking Thinking
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8: Unleashing Readers
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10: Fat Girl Reading
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11: Word Spelunker
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12: Nerdy Book Club


**Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing a copy for review!**

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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:

  • 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.


“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: 



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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

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