Currently viewing the category: "Fantasy"

Pig the Pug
Author: Aaron Blabey
Published: July 1, 2014 by Scholastic

A Guest Review by Rebecca Welch

Summary: Pig is a greedy dog and does not want to share his toys with his housemate, Trevor. Trevor thinks it would be a great idea if him and Pig shared toys because then they would be able to play together. Pig does not give in and gathers all of his toys so Trevor can’t get to them. A mishap occurs that makes pig realize the importance of sharing and friendship.

Review: This book is great for any elementary school classroom! I absolutely loved it and thought that the message at the end was applicable to any group of young children. The rhyming makes the book great for a fun read aloud and the illustrations are fantastic. There was also a bit of humor. I highly recommend this picture book.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be great to teach rhyming because each page rhymes. You could talk about the moral of a story and use it as a segway to students’ writing about a time where they learned an important lesson (moral). You could have students determine the meaning of the idiom “flip a wig” by the using context clues and then study other common idioms afterwards. In addition, you could introduce character traits and determine the traits of Pig and Trevor. You can also practice making predictions by predicting what will happen to Pig. It would also be a great classroom discussion facilitator on sharing and the importance of friendship.

Discussion Questions: How do you think Trevor may be feeling when Pig won’t share his toys?; What does it mean to be greedy or selfish?; What do you predict will happen to Pig?; Can we think of any times that we have been greedy or selfish?; What does “flip a wig mean”?; What is the moral of this story?

Flagged Passage: “I know what your game is, you want me to SHARE! But I’ll never do that! I won’t and I swear!” (p. 7).

Read This If You Loved: Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall; Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite by Stacy McAnulty

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Thank you, Rebecca!

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Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm
Author: Jonathan London; Illustrator: Andrew Joyner
Published: March 1, 2017 by Two Lions

GoodReads Summary: Get ready for a rainy-day adventure with Duck and Hippo!

Duck and Hippo may be completely different, but they are best friends. When playful Duck invites careful Hippo to go for a walk in the rain, they have trouble sharing Duck’s umbrella. But Duck and Hippo won’t let that stop them. Soon they are puddle-jumping and sailing down the river! Until…WHOOOSH! A terrible wind sends the umbrella flying up, up, up into the air, with one friend holding on. What will Duck and Hippo do now? Jonathan London’s charming text and Andrew Joyner’s delightful art bring to life two lovable friends in this fun new series.

Our Review: We are huge fans of the Elephant and Piggie series and Frog and Toad series. They are staples in our households, so when we read these books, we were truly delighted! Duck and Hippo show readers that opposites attract—and they make for a wonderfully fun adventure. Ricki read this book with her three-year-old, and he was giggling hysterically at the drawings. It’s a winner.

The charming story will capture readers from beginning to end, and the language is written in a way that will be very helpful for beginning readers. It takes a lot of skill for an author to write text that is humorous and engaging yet also helpful for beginning readers to master language. London does this perfectly.We will be hanging on to these books tightly as we wait for our sons to be a bit older to learn to read. We recommend you get your hands on this book because it will surely be a popular series in classrooms.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: We love the concept of opposites attracting. Students might begin by considering other examples of characters in literature who have been paired together. They might form small groups and design their own story of two very opposite characters who might attract. We’d love to be in a classroom on a day that students were sharing these stories!

There’s more fun with Duck and Hippo in the free downloadable activity sheets: https://www.andrewjoyner.com.au/activities/

Discussion Questions: How are Duck and Hippo different? How are they similar? How does that make for a great adventure?; Why do you think the author chose to have Duck and Hippo in a rainstorm? Why does this make for a fun read?

Flagged Passage: 

Read This If You Loved: Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems; The Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel; Pug Meets Pig by Sue Lowell Gallion

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Giveaway!
Two Lions is offering a copy of Duck and Hippo to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses).
About the Author and Illustrator:
Jonathan London is the author of more than one hundred children’s books, including the bestselling Froggy series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. Many of his books explore nature, among them Flamingo Sunset, illustrated by Kristina Rodanas, and Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica, illustrated by Julie Olson. He is currently writing a middle-grade series, which started with Desolation Canyon, illustrated by his son Sean London. Jonathan lives in Graton, California. Learn more online at www.jonathan-london.net.
 
Andrew Joyner is an illustrator, author, and cartoonist based in South Australia. He has illustrated a number of picture books, and he wrote and illustrated a chapter book series about a warthog named Boris. He has also illustrated for newspapers and magazines, including the Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, and Rolling Stone magazine, among others. Learn more online at www.andrewjoyner.com.au.

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

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Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite
Author: Stacy McAnulty; Illustrator: Edward Hemingway
Published: February 7, 2017 by Two Lions

GoodReads Summary: Mr. Fuzzbuster knew he was Lily’s favorite. They did everything together. Naps. Story time. Walks. And more naps. But now four more animals lived in the house.…

To prove he’s still Lily’s favorite, Mr. Fuzzbuster will have to ask her, but will her answer surprise him? This funny, heartwarming story is for every child who has ever wondered if there’s a favorite in the house.

Ricki’s Review: This was a very fun book to read aloud to my son. It reminded me of my childhood—my siblings and I often fought over who was the favorite child. The dramatic hooks at the end of each page make for a silly, giggly read aloud. Mr. Fuzzbuster has a hysterical personality that kids will surely adore. I have a feeling that this book will get funnier and funnier after each read aloud! The illustrations and humor will have readers begging for more Mr. Fuzzbuster.

Kellee’s Review: Unlike Ricki, my siblings and I didn’t have to fight about who was the favorite–I knew I was! 😉 [We’ll see if they read this review!] So I may be a bit like Mr. Fuzzbuster who is just loves his owner, Lily, so much that he cannot imagine his life without her. Kids will definitely relate to Mr. Fuzzbuster, and the book will also be a great chance to talk about how sometimes there are no favorites–a lesson that is taught in such a fun way that the reader won’t even realize they are being taught something! And the cartoonish, humorous illustrations just add to the fun of this book. Hemingway has such a distinct style of illustrations that are just so eye-catching and exciting to read. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask students to make predictions at the end of each page. Because of the dramatic hooks, it would make predictions very enjoyable. I tried doing this with my three-year-old and while he is a bit young, we think we might be able to use this book for predictions in the near future! He slowly caught on!

Did you know Mr. Fuzzbuster loves writing notes? He wants to send cards to young readers across the country.  Maybe he will be your favorite. More information can be found at http://www.stacymcanulty.com/fuzzbuster-email.

Discussion Questions: Who is Lily’s favorite?; Why does the book end the way that it does?; Why do we feel a strong desire to be the favorite? How may this be harmful?

Flagged Passage: “Mr. Fuzzbuster knew he was Lily’s favorite. They’d been together since he fit in a teacup and she fit in diapers.”

Read This If You Loved: Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall, Barkus by Patricia MacLachlanMemoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian,  One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel, Ballet Cat by Bob Shea, Cat the Cat by Mo Willems

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Giveaway!
Two Lions is offering a copy of MR. FUZZBUSTER KNOWS HE’S THE FAVORITE to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses).
About the Author and Illustrator:
STACY MCANULTY is certain she’s her mom’s favorite. Her younger brother disagrees. She’s the author of Beautiful, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach; and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. Originally from upstate New York, she now lives in Kernersville, North Carolina, with her three children, two dogs, and one husband. She doesn’t have a favorite. You can find her online at www.stacymcanulty.com.
 
EDWARD HEMINGWAY is certain he’s Stacy McAnulty’s favorite illustrator, although the illustrators of Stacy’s other books may disagree. Edward himself is the author and illustrator of the children’s books Bump in the Night, Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship, Bad Apple’s Perfect Day, and Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus. Originally from Bozeman, Montana, he now lives in Brooklyn where he teaches creative writing at the master’s level at SVA in Manhattan. If he has any favorite students, he’ll never tell. Learn more about him online at www.edwardhemingway.com.

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip for providing a copy for review!**

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“Imagination”

Perhaps the greatest tangible gift that we can give to a child comes in the form of a book.  Let us consider, for a moment, the wonderful mind of a child, bearing in mind also that the attention span for many youngsters is short-lived.  How do we keep their young minds involved right from the get-go? How do we keep them from staring out of the window momentarily distracted by a cute puppy, an ice-cream vendor’s ringing bell or a friend they have seen passing by?

How do we do this?  We fire up the magical imagination, for imagination by its very nature is a sort of magic.  Someone once said, and I’ll paraphrase here, that imagination is more important than knowledge… it may have been Einstein — rest assured it was a very smart cookie!  My personal belief is that many good things stem from, what Henry the Fifth referred to as ‘imaginary forces.’

I wrote the first Jorie story, Jorie and the Magic Stones because it had frolicked and played around in my head for a long time, and I just had to put it down into the pages of a book.  Being an ‘only child’ or ‘fille unique’, as the French would say, I think I understood Jorie feeling so alone, and her subsequent reaching out to her best friend Rufus, a young boy, also very much alone.  Further,  the appeal of enchanted cities below a deep body of water, had always intrigued me since I was a young child.

I believe this story, the first in the trilogy, teaches children about those noble attributes of friendship, courage, loyalty, and standing up for what you believe in, in a unique and exciting way.  In spite of all their hair-raising adventures, and somewhat scary exploits, Jorie and Rufus come to realize that good will always vanquish evil… it is the stronger of the two in the final analysis, and these two extraordinary children still manage to separate their ‘magical world’ beneath the Tarn, from the world of reality, with their grandfather and great aunt in the world above the Tarn.  Perhaps this book will fire up our children, and create more desire to read… creating more understanding, and more learning. This is the author’s profound wish… and hope.

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About the Book: Jorie and the Magic Stones is the first book in a new chapter book series by A. H. Richardson. Children everywhere will love this adventurous fantasy of Jorie and Rufus, two orphans from very different walks of life, who meet by chance, find a mystic book with four magical Druidic words that provide the key to an astonishing adventure that will plunge them, quite (literally) into another world beneath the dark waters of the Tarn.

When Marjorie went to live with her frosty maiden aunt, she couldn’t imagine the adventures she would have with dragons — good and bad — and all the strange creatures that live in a mysterious land beneath the Tarn. The spunky 9-year-old redhead forges an unlikely friendship with an insecure young boy named Rufus who lives with his crusty grandfather next door. When Jorie — for that is what she prefers to be called — finds a dusty ancient book about dragons, she learns four strange words that will send the two of them into a mysterious land beneath the Tarn, riddled with enchantment and danger. Hungry for adventure, the children take the plunge, quite literally, and find themselves in the magic land of Cabrynthius.

Upon meeting the good dragon, the Great Grootmonya, Jorie and Rufus are given a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog — stones of enormous power — and return them to their rightful place in Cabrynthius. Their mission is neither easy nor safe, and is peppered with perils in the form of the evil black half-dragon who rules the shadowy side of the land. They have to deal with a wicked and greedy professor, the tragic daughter of the bad dragon, caves of fire, rocky mountainous climbs, and a deadly poisonous butterfly.

Jorie must rely on her wits and courage to win the day? Can she do this? Can she find all three Stones? Can she save Rufus when disaster befalls him? Can she emerge victorious? She and Rufus have some hair-raising challenges, in which they learn valuable lessons about loyalty, bravery, and friendship.

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About the Author: A.H. Richardson was born in London England and is the daughter of famous pianist and composer Clive Richardson. She studied drama and acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was an actress, a musician, a painter and sculptor, and now an author.

She published her first book, Jorie and the Magic Stones, in December 2014, and has written a sequel to it titled Jorie and the Gold Key at the request of those who loved the first ‘Jorie’ story. She is currently working on the third book in the series.

She is also the author of Murder in Little Shendon, a thriller murder mystery which takes place in a quaint little village in England after World War Two, and introduces two sleuths, Sir Victor Hazlitt and his sidekick,  Beresford Brandon, a noted Shakespearian actor. She has more ‘who-dun-its’ planned for this clever and interesting duo… watch for them!

A.H. Richardson lives happily in East Tennessee, her adopted state, and has three sons, three grandchildren, and two pugs. She speaks four languages and loves to do voiceovers. She plans on writing many more books and hopes to delight her readers further with her British twist, which all her books have.

To learn more, go to https://ahrichardson.com/

Thank you for reminding us about the importance of imagination!

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Wishapick: Tickety Book and the Black Trunk
Author: M.M. Allen
Published June 16th, 2015 by CreateSpace

Summary: Darkness. Utter blackness. Was this why his mother had refused to let Jack unlock his father’s old trunk? It had been two years since his dad had died, and all Jack could think about was examining whatever treasures were stored inside the beloved trunk. But when he finally lifted the lid, he didn’t just fall in—he fell through it into a pit of rattlesnakes!

Trying to recall his mother’s stories about “the Breath of All Good Things”—anything to shed light on his current situation—Jack wishes he’d paid better attention rather than mock the tales as childish myths…and that he’d waited to enter the trunk with his sister, Lilly, so they could at least face this together.

Like L. Frank Baum’s Oz and C. S. Lewis’s Narnia, M. M. Allen brings to life the fantastical world of Wishapick—a land of courageous animals ruled by a cruel rattlesnake king who has condemned the villagers to live without light. Chosen as the reluctant hero to save the villagers, Jack must face terrifying creatures and overwhelming odds if he wants to help his new friends—and return home himself.

Be sure to check out the companion music CD, Wishapick, for purchase or download from http://deborahwynne.com/

Review: Wishapick is a fun introduction to the world of fantasy reading, and I think a lot of young readers will enjoy Jack’s story and will find themselves wanting to read more fantastical stories. The summary compares the story to Oz and Narnia, but I actually compare it more to Wind in the Willows and other anthropomorphic stories like Redwall. I also think fans of Spiderwick Chronicles will like the adventure. I am also a big fan of a multi-point of view story when done well, and I liked how the author used Jack and Lilly to tell the story because it allowed us to see all sides of the adventure. 

In addition to Jack’s story, the book has a companion CD which brings out some of the mood and tones that the story carries.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Wishapick will be a wonderful addition to any classroom, school, or home library–anywhere the right readers will find it.

Discussion Questions: What character trait did Jack have at the beginning of the book that made him not able to save Wishapick right away?; How did Lilly’s inclusion of the story affect the adventure?; Why did the author choose to switch between points of view?; How does the music help with your interpretation of the story?

Flagged Passages: “He expected his feet to land on the floor of the trunk, but he found himself in a free fall. The lid of the trunk slammed shut above him. The blackness closed in, and the tiny lights he had seen when he first peered into the trunk were gone. He frantically kicked his legs and clutched desperately at the air with his hands. His chest felt tight as a drum, so tight he could barely catch his breath. A groan of despair erupted inside of him. He waved his arms about, trying to slow his fall. As he thundered downward, he felt something with his fingertips, like dirt–no, it was slimy, maybe mud?” (p. 6)

Read This If You Loved: The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black, Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

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How can fiction help us cope with our world?”

It hurts to read the news these days.

It hurts my brain, it hurts my heart. I can only read so much before I have to tune out, move on with my day. It’s not that I don’t want to know and understand what’s going on in our country and in our world—I do, of course I do. Awareness is the first step at enabling any kind of change. But still, I have a mental and emotional limit. There is only so much suffering my brain can absorb.

The speed of the news is part of it—every day a revolving flow of red letter, all cap headlines. We expect that in 2016; the Internet and social media have buoyed our expectations for fresh, compelling content. We mindlessly pick up our phones all day, refreshing our feeds: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, repeat. Our phones are with us as soon as we wake up in the morning, right before we close our eyes at night. Even without directly checking news sites, the news reaches us, always. Our friends are talking about the latest shooting, the latest bombing, gun laws and foreign policies. Everyone has an opinion—and that’s great. It’s how it should be. Conversations are necessary, and the best way for each and every one of us to keep on learning, to keep on pushing and evolving our perspectives.

But what is our emotional limit? Week after week, day after day, it’s something new, something equally or more shocking than we’ve seen before, more graphic and uncensored. More real.

I worry that I’m becoming numb.

The names and faces fade so quickly. Too quickly. When the violence in Orlando happened, I felt sick, heartbroken that my own book, TRANSCENDENT, targets that same city. In my book, Disney World is the target—fiction that blurs scarily close to reality.

But already, just a few months later, Orlando and Pulse feel so long ago. We’ve had so much tragedy to face since then. We read the names, we stare at the faces. We try to imagine their families. We wonder about the life they’ll now never get to live. And then the next day, or the next week, there are new faces. The old faces, unintentionally, unconsciously, are hazier. Less vivid.

No place is immune. Orlando could be any city, every city. This is our reality now. We need some outlet for our fear—we need to find a way to still have hope.

So what can we do when we see too much, feel too much? How can teens in particular cope, begin to process and understand what is happening in their world—their present and their future?

For me at least, I turn to books. Fiction, stories, people and places who are only real in my imagination. Because sometimes it takes stepping out of reality, the day to day, to understand what is actually happening around me, and my place in it.

Books… they slow us down. They show us new perspectives, challenge our beliefs. In reading we can intimately identify with characters, individuals—like people we know, and more importantly, like people we don’t yet know. People we’ve never met in our small towns, or even in our big cities. But even in the differences, we (at least in a good book) can see things in them that speak to our own lives, our own fears and dreams.

Through books we question, we learn, we grow.

And, hopefully, we leave each story with a new understanding of our real world—a new appreciation of all the beautiful people in it—and a renewed sense of hope. Because more hate will not solve our problems. More hate will never solve anything. There is common ground that connects all of us, the deepest core of what makes us human. Books can help us—enable us to appreciate our similarities, and to celebrate what makes us all unique.

We can all be pieces of the solution. We can take the negative and react in positive ways—turn the bad news to good. We don’t have to give up, give in. It’s a message that’s important for our young people especially: Reach out to others. Help your community. Talk to someone new. Start small.

Because small things become big things, and big things can change our world.

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Transcendent
Author: Katelyn Detweiler
Published October 4th, 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers

About the Book:  A beautiful work of magical realism, a story about a girl in the real world who is called upon to be a hero.

When terrorists bomb Disney World, seventeen-year-old Iris Spero is as horrified as anyone else. Then a stranger shows up on her stoop in Brooklyn, revealing a secret about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Iris’s birth, and throwing her entire identity into question. Everything she thought she knew about her parents, and about herself, is a lie.

Suddenly, the press is confronting Iris with the wild notion that she might be “special.” More than just special: she could be the miracle the world now so desperately needs. Families all across the grieving nation are pinning their hopes on Iris like she is some kind of saint or savior. She’s no longer sure whom she can trust—except for Zane, a homeless boy who long ago abandoned any kind of hope. She knows she can’t possibly be the glorified person everyone wants her to be… but she also can’t go back to being safe and anonymous. When nobody knows her but they all want a piece of her, who is Iris Spero now? And how can she—one teenage girl—possibly heal a broken world?

About the Author: Katelyn Detweiler was born and raised in a small town in eastern Pennsylvania, living in a centuries-old farmhouse surrounded by fields and woods. She spent the vast majority of childhood with her nose in a book or creating make-believe worlds with friends, daydreaming about how she could turn those interests into an actual paying career. After graduating from Penn State University with a B.A. in English Literature, emphasis in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies, she packed her bags and made the move to New York City, determined to break into the world of publishing. She worked for two years in the marketing department of Macmillan Children’s Group before moving in 2010 to the agency side of the business at Jill Grinberg Literary, where she is currently a literary agent representing books for all ages and across all genres.

Katelyn lives, works, and writes in Brooklyn, playing with words all day, every day, her dream come true. When she’s not reading or writing, Katelyn enjoys yoga, fancy cocktails, and road trips. She frequently treks back to her hometown in Pennsylvania, a lovely green escape from life in the city, and her favorite place to write.

Q&A WITH KATELYN DETWEILER

How did you come to write TRANSCENDENT?

My earliest, vague conception of the book was that it would start with an unprecedented tragedy, a state of international heartbreak and desperation so raw that the world would be at a total loss for what next—looking to anything, anyone, to bring stability or clarity or hope. I knew, too, that whatever the tragedy would be, it had to center on children. We can all recall how we felt when we heard about Sandy Hook. A mass shooting is horrifying no matter who the victims are—but targeting children? I couldn’t stop watching the news updates, staring at the faces of the students who’d been killed, thinking about the futures they would never have, the families left behind.  It was this memory that guided me here—the question of what could be so completely awful that people might actually stand still. Might remember, might keep remembering. For TRANSCENDENT, I chose a bombing. Disney World. I knew that my mind would have to go to dark places, that things had to get worse before they could get better. But it felt necessary to me, starting these conversations—and it feels more necessary, more relevant today than ever.

Did you write it with the 15th anniversary of 9/11 in mind?

It was completely unintentional, though the timing seems hugely important to me now. I was in high school when the towers were hit. It felt like such a terrible, extraordinary, surreal event at the time. It was the beginning—to my mind, at least—of a new era of terrorism, of that terrible state of wondering what awful tragedy would hit next. Teens today don’t know another reality outside of our current world; they’ve grown up in a place where acts of terrorism and mass shootings have become the norm. I was especially horrified when the Pulse shooting happened, to think that I’d targeted Orlando, too, in this book. But really, by the time it publishes, who knows how many other cities could be on the list of victims? No place is immune. Orlando could be any city, every city. This is our reality now. We need some outlet for our fear—we need to find a way to still have hope.

One of the big themes in the book is hope and forgiveness overcoming hate and despair. Can you talk more about that and why it’s so relevant for young people today?

It’s hard sometimes to not react to hate with more hate. To blindly lash out, hurt whoever hurt you, ensure justice is served. We see this in our personal lives. And we see it so often on an international scale—the fear that terrorism causes, the desperation. The feeling of weakness that can morph into something quite ugly, spawn intolerance for people who look a certain way, talk a certain way, pray a certain way. People desperately seek a target, someone to point a finger at—even if that blame is unjust, irrational. But we cannot sink to that level. More hate will not solve the problem. More hate won’t make terrorism go away. Young people are still just formulating their opinions about the world, about others—struggling with who they are, who they want to be. They are still figuring out the role they’ll play in the world, their responsibilities—“Can I make a difference?” How they learn to find answers to these questions helps to shape and strengthen their identity, their (our) future.

Is it important for people to believe in miracles and to have faith in difficult times?

I believe that in difficult times more than ever, people look for something bigger—they want to believe that the world is not as black and white as it seems, that there is hope to be found beyond our everyday existence. Faith isn’t necessarily about believing in God, or any god, some supreme being up in the clouds. It can be, sure, for some. But it can also be about trusting in yourself, in your family and/or your friends, in the love you choose to surround yourself with, the connections you make with the world around you. There’s a quote that opens IMMACULATE, attributed to Albert Einstein:  “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.” I love this idea—this thought that we’re just too jaded to realize how many tiny miracles are around us every day, even in the ugliest, darkest times. Life is a miracle. We’re miracles. We’re more than just our cells and our DNA.

This story, like your previous book IMMACULATE, is centered on a virgin birth. Why did you choose to explore that topic? Is TRANSCENDENT a religious book?

I’ve been fascinated by the idea of a pregnant virgin in contemporary times for years now, ever since I was a teenager and asked my own mom: would you believe me if I said I was a pregnant virgin? She said yes. She would believe me. It stuck with me, the idea that faith—whether it be in a supreme being, or in a person you love and trust dearly—can be so all encompassing. That we can still believe in something that defies all science and reason. I would say that, at this point in life, I am spiritual more so than religious, and I think the book reflects this perspective. Spirituality—to me—is believing in more than the orderly scientific rules of our world, even if we can’t explain it, even if there’s no doctrine to help us better understand. My goal for both books was to explore and question with respect for all sides; I wanted there to be something for everyone, to find the commonalities that unite people of different faiths (or no faiths) rather than the differences.

Why was it important for this story to take place in Brooklyn?

I knew from the outset that I wanted the backdrop of Brooklyn—that a more sheltered, traditional small town wouldn’t do. Iris didn’t just grow up reading about the wider world in books or hearing about it on TV. She’s experienced it firsthand. She’s been exposed to all different kinds of people, seen lives and cultures that are so different than hers. This felt necessary to me in building a protagonist who was comfortable enough—empathetic enough, compassionate enough, bold enough—to step up to the plate, to be a voice of change. I grew up in a small town (surrounded by fields and woods rather than people and skyscrapers) and moved to NYC eight years ago, Brooklyn specifically for the last few. Living here has heightened my awareness of the world. A lot of things were so much more theoretical to me before—poverty and homelessness, for example. Different religions, different races, different cultures. I wanted a true microcosm for this story, a more accurate, complex representation of our world.

What role do race and privilege play in the book?

Privilege is key in all threads of the novel. To start: Disney is attacked because of the vast privilege it represents. This is not a park, a destination, for everyone. This is for a select, elite group. A fairytale that is unobtainable to so many—a tangible way of separating out the haves and the have-nots.

Iris herself is an upper middle class white teenager in Brooklyn. Though she’s open minded and aware of the disparity around her—volunteering at a soup kitchen, engaging with the homeless—she’s still very much in her own bubble. Iris’s Brooklyn is the version we see across the media: farmers markets and organic everything, beautiful old brownstones, hip, industrial-looking bars and restaurants, pretty white people with beards and buns and bicycles. Iris has accepted this privilege as normal, more or less, until for the first time the guarantees of her life come into question. Iris ends up at a homeless shelter; she’s confronted by a side of Brooklyn that she’d only glimpsed at surface-level before. Iris must question basic assumptions about herself—and others—as she struggles with how to reorient her life.

Do you think there’s value in exploring these ideas fictionally, vs. conversations that start from live news, internet articles, social media, etc. around current events?

Our perception of current events today is so heavily influenced by the speed of news, the internet and social media generally, the constant demand for fresh, compelling content; we’re blasted with horrific tragedies every week—becoming increasingly graphic and uncensored, as evidenced by the streaming video we saw of Philando Castile, dying after being shot by a cop. Week after week, day after day, it’s something new, something equally or more shocking than we’ve seen before. We’re becoming so numb—the names and faces fade so quickly. Already, Orlando and Pulse feel so long ago. We’ve had so much tragedy to face since then. Our brains can only absorb so much pain and suffering. I think it sometimes takes stepping *out* of our reality—our day to day—into literature (or movies, TV, etc.) to fully process our thoughts, to make sense of how we feel, what role we could possibly have in change. Books slow us down, show us new perspectives, challenge our beliefs. In reading we can intimately identify with characters, individuals—see something in them that speaks to our own lives, our own fears and dreams. And, hopefully, we leave books with a new understanding of our real world—and a new resilience.

Thank you Katelyn for this hope-filled and truthful post!

Kellee Signature andRickiSig

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sophie quire

Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard
A Peter Nimble Adventure
Author: Jonathan Auxier
Published April 5th, 2016 by Abrams Books

Summary: It’s been two years since Peter Nimble and Sir Tode rescued the kingdom of HazelPort. In that time, they have traveled far and wide in search of adventure. Now Peter and Sir Tode have been summoned by Professor Cake for a new mission: find a 12-year-old girl named Sophie Quire.

Sophie knows little beyond the four walls of her father’s bookshop, where she works as a bookmender and dreams of leaving the confines of her city walls. But when a strange boy and his talking cat/horse companion show up searching for a rare and mysterious book, she finds herself pulled into an adventure beyond anything she has ever read.

Teaching Guide: 

Sophie Quire is a special young lady, and you and your students are going to adore her adventure! Here is a teaching guide to help guide you or your students through your reading. This guide can be used as a tool for classrooms or book clubs.

You can also access the guide here.

You can learn more about Sophie at ABRAMS’ website.

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall readaloudbuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall litcirclesbuttonsmall

Kellee Signature

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