Author Guest Post: “Every Child Needs Space to Play” by Mark Angelo, Author of Can We Play Baseball, Mr. DeMille?


“Every Child Needs Space to Play”

A few years ago, I was visiting my brother Chris in Los Angeles, where we spent several days recalling memorable stories from our youth. We shared lots of laughs, but one story in particular that we fondly remembered took place in 1958 and centered around our search for a nearby place to play ball. As kids, my brother and I were passionate about the game of baseball. We loved the Dodgers, who had just moved to L.A. from Brooklyn, New York.

Chris suggested I write the story down and that eventually led to the publishing of my most recent illustrated children’s book, Can We Play Baseball, Mr. DeMille?

Writing the story brought back many great memories, not the least of which was an unforgettable encounter with perhaps the greatest and most legendary person in film. But going through the process of producing the book also made me even more cognizant of how my childhood search for a field to play ball influenced my later work as an environmental advocate and a proponent of outdoor spaces for all to enjoy.

The neighborhood I lived in as a boy was beautiful, but it was also located in the hills. There were very few appropriate and accessible places to play ball. In addition, public parks were too far away for young kids like us to get to on our own.

It was those circumstances that ultimately led us to Mr. DeMille’s backyard which, rightly or wrongly, became the “the field of our dreams.”

Fast forwarding to current day, I’ve long believed that from a city planning perspective, we should do everything possible to ensure that residents— especially kids— have nearby access to sports fields and places to play ball. In addition, ensuring that more natural parks are readily accessible to all is a key issue. Many youngsters don’t get exposed to nature and the outdoors as much as we’d like, particularly in cities. The alternative often becomes screen-time for children. If not used thoughtfully and moderately, we know from research this can have detrimental effects on both mental and physical health. After all, how can a kid get excited to play outside if they don’t have the space?

For those that read Can We Play Baseball Mr. DeMille, my hope is that the story of a young boy’s love for a game and his dogged determination to find a place where he and his friends can play, will make you smile and inspire young ones. To this day, while watching my own grandchildren play ball, I still find myself thinking back on occasion to those early days and the field of my youth that had such an impression.

The book has several elements to it, including a sense of nostalgia along with a slice of classic Hollywood history. But just as importantly, it has an environmental message that highlights the fact that accessible outdoor spaces are good for all of us, both young and old. From parks to sports fields, they provide active and passive recreational opportunities, contribute to our improved health and well-being, and make our communities better places to live!

Illustrated by Patricia & Robin DeWitt
Published January 30, 2023

About the Book: Set in 1958, a young boy and his friends want to be baseball players just like their Dodger idols. There’s just one problem: they don’t have a field to play in.

Luckily, the kids know a secret. There’s a mansion around the corner with a yard big enough for an entire ball field and the hedge surrounding it has a gap just big enough to crawl through. Apparently, the owner is a big-time Hollywood mogul. He won’t mind a few ball games, right?

This sensational true story of a young boy’s encounter with a Hollywood legend is rich with youthful determination and summer fun, highlighting how every child needs space to play.

About the Author: Mark Angelo has been a baseball fan since he was a little boy! He is also a globally renowned river conservationist and the founder of World Rivers Day, now celebrated by millions of people in over one hundred countries. Among his many accolades, Mark is a recipient of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest honor. His acclaimed best-selling debut picture book, The Little Creek that Could, is the true story of a stream that came back to life. Through his work with groups such as the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC, Mark has been a long-time advocate for outdoor spaces for all to enjoy. Can We Play Baseball, Mr. DeMille?, about a young boy’s search for a place to play ball, recounts an actual experience from his childhood. Mark lives in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada with his wife, Kathie.

For more information on Mark, please visit:

Thank you, Mark, for this focus on play and its importance!

Trent’s Favorite Books He Read When He Was Eight


I read 202 books when I was 8. Here are my favorites:

I Need a New Butt! by Dawn McMillan

This picture book is funny because he’s asking for a new butt, and he is thinking of things that might make a good butt. I think it’s silly that someone got fired for reading this book to kids because it is appropriate and is just funny.

Cat Kid Comic #3 & #4 by Dav Pilkey

This series is about a comic club that all make comics and share them with the reader which is fun. Everyone should read this because it is a really good series. I like the illustrations because most of the comics they make are made from paper of photos or objects.

The Investigators series by John Patrick Green

I like this series because it full of mystery and you have to think about who could have done it or what happened. It is humorous, too. The illustrations are really good also.

Housecat Trouble series by Mason Dickerson

I like this series because it is fun and kind of suspenseful and surprising. The cat tries to save his home from monsters in book one and the cat is trying to help his cat friend who teleports in book two. It is called Housecat Trouble not because he causes trouble but because he finds himself in trouble. He is trying to prevent the monsters from destroying houses.

The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza by Mac Barnett & Shawn Harris

During COVID, I watched Mac Barnett’s Book Club Show since episode one, so I saw the first episode of The First Cat in Space during Live Cartoons with Mac and Shawn. I’ve seen every episode multiple times. I am so glad they made a book!

Katie the Cat Sitter series by Colleen A.F. Venable & Stephanie Yue

This series is so much fun. She cat sits like 247 cats, and she finds out that the person who she is cat sitting for is a super hero and that who she thought was good isn’t. And the cats aren’t normal cats! One can hack into the pentagon! They have thumbs 😆

Hooky series by Miriam Bonastre Tur

I like this series because the characters find out they’re witches and then they try to find a safe place to stay because the village they live in will not allow witches in or else they will burn them. I didn’t want to stop reading because it was so interesting. You read enough of the book, and you just get sucked in!

Penguin & House series by Akiho Ieda

I love the penguin in this book because he is so intelligent and fun! He even cooks food for his owner. He goes on walks on his own and still comes back. It is also funny because the penguin is so much smarter than his owner.

Sue & Tai-Chan series by Kanata Konami

This series is so much fun to read because the older cat just wants to sleep and the younger cat wants to play, so it annoys the older cat which really makes the older cat angry.

Chi’s Sweet Home series by Kanata Konami

I like this series because Chi is so much fun. His reactions are super exaggerative. He is also so cute! And it is sweet how he is with his friend who comes and visits him.

Cat & Gamer series by Wataru Nadatani

In this book, there is a gamer who is given a cat that was found in a parking lot even though she hasn’t ever had a cat and has no idea why she wants a cat, but she ends up loving having a cat. And the cat is so cute! I love this series because it is fun to watch the gamer grow, and it is funny when she’s trying to play her game and the cat gets in her way.

Cat Massage Therapy series by Haru Hisakawa

This book is so funny because at the beginning a man goes into a massage parlor for a massage and learns that the massages are done by cats, and he ends up bonding with the cats and helps them out, including taking them to his job to do massages. Everybody wants to get a massage by the cats because they all are so cute and so warming.

A Man and his Cat series by Umi Sakurai

At the beginning, a man finds a cat that no one else wants at a pet store, but he felt sad for him and fell in love with him, so he adopts him. But he doesn’t know what to do with him, so he talks to the lady at the store who helps him find what he needs to take care of a cat. At home, the man and his cat bond and the man begins to change—he gets happier! I like this series because it makes me feel happy for the man.

Amari and the Night Brothers by BB Alston

I really enjoyed this book because it has lots of magic, magical creatures, and drama—oh, and suspense! I like Amari because she is a good person; she tries to protect the world. I think everyone should read this book because it teaches that not everyone should be judged based on who they’re related to; if they’re related to a bad person, that doesn’t mean they’re a bad person.

Wonder Cat Kyuu Chan Vol 1 & 2 by Sasami Nitori

This book is like Penguin and House but with a cat. The cat is super intelligent. This book makes me laugh because it is funny to see a cat that is more intelligent than his owner.

Bounce Back by Misako Rocks!

This is a very unique book because her cat talks to her and helps her with school and having a new life (they moved from Japan to America). I liked it because it had sad and happy parts; there were twists and turns.

Nights with a Cat Vol. 1 by Kyuryu Z

This book was enjoyable because the cat is really hilarious. For example, he gets in his owner’s way all of the time. I also like this book because I connect with his sister since the sister wants the cat’s attention but never gets it, and I always want my cats’ attention.

Wings of Fire Graphic Novels series by Tui T. Sutherland & Mike Holmes

In this series, there is a prophecy, and a group of dragons are trying to do the prophecy. I like the dragons in this series because they are all trying to save their world. This leads to a lot of suspense and fighting.

Travis Daventhrope For the Win! by Wes Molebash

This book was full of suspense since he’s trying to save the multi-verse. At first when he does sword training, he is pretty terrible at it which was entertaining (though he ends up being good at it). I also liked Juniper because she is a unique character and shows that girls can be good at fighting.

Strange Planet: The Sneaking, Hiding, Vibrating Creature by Nathan W. Pyle

This book shows us aliens who are studying a cat then act like the cat. One of my favorite parts is that the aliens came up with silly words for things because they are our words but with a little twist, like a bed is a rest slab.

With a Dog & A Cat Every Day is Fun 1 & 2 by Hidekichi Matsumoto

I found this series to be humorous because the cat doesn’t like the dog and the dog is really happy. The cat is always mad about the dog playing with him, but the dog never gives up. But they do live together okay.

Leonard (My Life as a Cat) by Carlie Sorosiak

I love that Olive rescues Leonard and right away treats him like he has always her pet. Leonard is cool because he is an immortal entity from another planet. This is unlike any cat book I’ve ever read before.

Honorable Mentions
If I listed and mini-reviewed all of the books I loved, it would take forever! So here are some other favorites:

  • The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein
  • 5 Worlds series by Mark Seigel, Alexis Seigel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, & Boya Sun
  • Max Meow series by John Gallagher
  • Mayor Goodboy series by Dave Scheidt & Miranda Harmon
  • Stuntboy, In the Meantime by Jason Reynolds & Raúl the Third
  • Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
  • New Kid Class Act by Jerry Craft
  • Yuzu the Pet Vet Vol. 1 & 2 by Mingo Ito
  • The Evil Society of Cats Vol. 1 by Pandania

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 3/20/23


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?
Sharing Picture Books, Early Readers, Middle Grade Books, and Young Adult Books for All Ages!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly blog hop co-hosted by Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts which focuses on sharing books marketed for children and young adults. It offers opportunities to share and recommend books with each other.

The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Happy reading!


Tuesday: Global by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, Illustrated by Giovanni Rigano

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**



Julieta and the Diamond Enigma by Luisana Duarte Armendáriz The Midnight Children by Dan Gemeinhart Global by Eoin Colfer How to Heal a Gryphon by Meg Cannistra Cat's Cradle by Jo Rioux

  • Julieta and the Diamond Enigma by Luisana Duarte Armendáriz: What a fun early middle grade mystery book! Julieta is a character who is easy to love, it was great to explore Paris with her, I was fascinated by all of the art and mythology that were discussed, and it was fun trying to figure out the culprit!
  • The Midnight Children by Dan Gemeinhart: I have read every book by Dan Gemeinhart, and it is so fascinating how different they all are and how wonderful they all are. This one was steeped in magical realism but was all about finding your family, even if they aren’t by blood, and learning to find the confidence in yourself to stand up to bullies.
  • Global by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, & Giovanni Rigano: I reviewed this last week!
  • How to Heal a Gryphon by Meg Cannistra: In a world where magic is real and mythical creatures exist, Giada finds herself in the most important fight of her life–one against the witches underground to save her brother. Through this journey, she also hopes to show that her passion is just as important as tradition.
  • Cat’s Cradle: The Mole King’s Lair by Jo Rioux: The second book in this trilogy picks up where the first left off with Suri venturing to the Monster’s Cradle with Caglio and Byron, but they’ve run out of money and provisions and must figure out how to survive. They learn that what you see is not always what it seems in this adventurous graphic novel that puts Suri’s taming to the test.

To learn more about any of these books, check out my read bookshelf on Goodreads.


This is my week off; I’ll share what I’ve been reading next week!



  • Reading: Nothing Interesting Ever Happens to Ethan Fairmont by Nick Brooks
  • Listening: We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammons
  • Listening with Trent: Amari and the Great Game by BB Alston
  • Reading because Trent recommended it: Wings of Fire The Graphic Novel #3: The Hidden Kingdom by Tui T. Sutherland


Tuesday: Trent’s Favorite Books He Read When He Was Eight

Sunday: Author Guest Post: “Every Child Needs Space to Play” by Mark Angelo, Author of Can We Play Baseball, Mr. DeMille?


Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!

 Signature andRickiSig

Global by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, Illustrated by Giovanni Rigano


Authors: Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin
Illustrator: Giovanni Rigano
Publishing April 11, 2023 by Sourcebooks Young Readers

Summary: Time is running out for Sami and Yuki. Sami and his grandfather live in a village along the Indian Ocean. They earn their living by fishing. But the ocean is rising and each day they bring back fewer and fewer fish. Yuki lives in the far north of Canada where warming temperature are melting the ice. Polar bears have less food to hunt and are wandering into town looking for something to eat. Yuki is determined to do something to help the bears.


    • Four pages, written in graphic novel format, that summarize the history of global warming and the climate change movement
    • An author letter
    • Character sketches

Plot Synopsis as put by the authors: 

Book Trailer:

About the Creators:

Eoin Colfer is the author of Illegal as well as the internationally bestselling Artemis Fowl series. Eoin lives in Ireland with his family. Learn more at

Andrew Donkin is the author of more than sixty books and graphic novels for children and adults. He lives in London. Learn more at

Giovanni Rigano is an artist and illustrator who has illustrated many graphic novels, including the Artemis Fowl series, The Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Illegal. He lives in Como, Italy.

Review: Just like in Illegal, Colfer, Donkin, and Rigano do a beautiful job putting a narrative to a crisis to make it more accessible to children who may not understand how something so big is affecting their life and their world.

In Global, the two stories that are told are half a world apart but are tied in the young people who are willing to fight to make the world a better place amidst what many would find truly unlivable and treacherous times.

These three creators obviously have a mission that they have taken on in spreading information to young minds about about “man-made disaster(s) that most impact vulnerable children who had no hand in causing it,” and they do it so well. I look forward to their next collaboration.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be a great text to read in conjunction with the teaching of climate change because it gives a face and story outside of science to the problems our world is facing. Students could also write their own story in the vein of Global (see below in discussion questions) to connect the science to their life.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do the two stories told in Global relate to each other? Why would the authors choose to tell these two specific stories?
  • How do the authors tell the story of climate change without writing a informational nonfiction book?
  • What did you learn about the two settings that you didn’t know before?
  • How is climate change affecting your home? If there was a story like Global about you and your home, what would it be about?

Read This If You Love: Illegal by the same trio of creators, learning about plights faced in our world, graphic novels about serious topics

Recommended For: 



**Thank you to Sourcebooks for providing a copy of the book to review!**

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Author Guest Post!: Let Nonfiction Sing by Margarita Engle, Author of Destiny Finds Her Way: How a Rescued Baby Sloth Learned to be Wild


Welcome to the

Destiny Finds Her Way

Blog Tour & Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of Destiny Finds Her Way by Newbery Honor winner Margarita Engle, blogs across the web are hosting guest posts from Margarita as well as the book’s photographer, Sam Trull, who is also the co-founder and Executive Director of the Sloth Institute — a sloth rescue organization based in Costa Rica. Join us for a journey behind the scenes of how these two amazingly talented women teamed up to bring this inspiring, true story to readers everywhere and learn more about sloths and the work being done to protect them.

Let Nonfiction Sing!

by Margarita Engle

Destiny Finds Her Way is a book I feel honored to have written. When I saw Sam Trull’s beautiful photos of Destiny the sloth, I decided to visit the Sloth Institute in Costa Rica. There, I had the chance to witness Sam in action, rescuing baby sloths and teaching them how to live in the wild. The experience was inspiring.

I wanted to write Destiny’s story in a way that might inspire young readers to learn more about wildlife conservation. The tropical rain forest has its own rhythm, and poetry is musical language. However, nonfiction is usually presented in a more detailed prose style. I decided to combine poetic devices with facts. The first device I used is onomatopoeia, where words resemble their real-life sources. Examples are the eee, eee, eee of darting squirrel monkeys, and ah, ah of a frightened baby sloth. Instead of rhymes at the ends of lines, I included words with vowels that rhyme. In ‘macaws squawking,’ all the “a “sounds rhyme. I’m sure readers will be able to find many other parts of the story that sound musical.

Readers will also discover the other senses—sight, smell, touch, taste, as well as sound. In addition, movement is an important aspect of the story’s musical nature. I hope words like scratched, swayed, and climbed will help make Destiny’s journey come to life in a joyful, dancelike way. There is nothing more celebratory than knowing she is now healthy and free in the wild!

Buy | Buy on | Add to GoodReads

About Destiny Finds Her Way

(ages 4-8, Hardcover Picture Book, National Geographic Kids Books)

Newbery Honor winner Margarita Engle and photographer and Sloth Institute Executive Director Sam Trull team up to bring the inspiring and true story to life of how Destiny, a motherless baby sloth, sightless in one eye and rescued by Sam in the Costa Rican rain forest, defies the odds, overcomes her obstacles of limited sight and learns the skills she will need to return to her wild, forest home.

Without her mother to protect her or teach her, Destiny is found and taken to a rescue center in Costa Rica. The little sloth soon befriends other orphaned sloths. Her poor eyesight, however, makes it hard for her to keep her balance. Eventually Destiny begins to use all of her senses to explore the world around her. But can she learn to climb? Can she master the other skills she needs to survive on her own? And will Destiny be brave enough to return to her wild, forest home?

In addition to learning about Destiny and her journey, readers are immersed in the world of sloths and sloth rescue in this uplifting story about overcoming obstacles and believing in yourself.

About the Author:

Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of many verse novels, memoirs, and picture books, including The Surrender Tree, Enchanted Air, Drum Dream Girl, and Dancing Hands. Awards include a Newbery Honor, Pura Belpré, Golden Kite, Walter, Jane Addams, PEN U.S.A., and NSK Neustadt, among others. Margarita served as the national 2017-2019 Young People’s Poet Laureate. She is a three-time U.S. nominee for the Astrid Lindgren Book Award. Her most recent books are Rima’s Rebellion, Singing With Elephants, and Destiny Finds Her Way. Her next young adult verse novel is Wings in the Wild, and her next picture book is Water Day.
Margarita was born in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during childhood summers with relatives on the island. She studied agronomy and botany along with creative writing, and now lives in central California with her husband.

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

About the Photographer:

Sam Trull has been a photographer and a wildlife biologist for decades. After many expeditions to Madagascar, West Africa, and Central America, in January 2013, she settled in Costa Rica, where she co-founded and is the executive director of the Sloth Institute. Her first photo book, Slothlove, was published in April 2016.

Website | Instagram

About the Sloth Institute:

The Sloth Institute (TSI) is a nonprofit organization located in Costa Rica with the mission to enhance and expand the welfare and conservation of sloths through rescue, rehabilitation, release, research, and education. In addition, TSI works on targeted conservation projects to improve the safety and quality of sloth habitats and teaches other rescue centers how to better care for and release their sloths. TSI believes that all sloths were born to be wild and deserve that second chance at freedom.

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter


  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of Destiny Finds Her Way
  • US/Can only
  • Ends 3/18 at 11:59 pm ET
  • Enter via the Rafflecopter below
  • Visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

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Blog Tour Schedule:

March 6th Pragmatic Mom

March 7th Heise Reads and Recommends

March 8th Mom Read It

March 9th Unleashing Readers

March 10th Imagination Soup

Ring of Solomon by Aden Polydoros


Ring of Solomon
Author: Aden Polydoros
Published February 21, 2023 by Inkyard Press

Summary: This exciting and adventurous start to a middle-grade trilogy follows a queer boy and his family as they try to halt the chaotic effects of a mysterious ring, drawing upon Jewish mythology to navigate magic, mayhem and the search for pride in one’s identity.

The little beachside town of San Pancras is not known for anything exciting, but when Zach Darlington buys a mysterious ring at the local flea market, his quiet little hometown is turned topsy-turvy by monsters straight from Jewish folklore and a nefarious secret society focused on upholding an apocalyptic prophecy.

Zach discovers that the ring grants him strange powers, and he’s intrigued; maybe he can use the ring’s strengths to halt the slew of anti-Semitic and homophobic bullying he’s experiencing at school. But soon the ring brings unexpected visitors—Ashmedai, King of Demons, in the guise of a preteen boy named Ash, and the local chapter of the Knights of the Apocalypse, a secret society intent on completing a creepy prophecy that will bring three monsters to Earth to start the events of the end of times.

Now responsible for the ring and its consequences, will Zach and his friends, with the help of Ash, be able to stop the Apocalypse and save the world?


“Jam-packed with action and humor, Ring of Solomon is a rip-roaring good read. Buoyed by the fast pace and excitement of this Jewish mythology-inspired adventure, I plowed right through until there was no more left. I already miss Zach and the endearing cast of characters. Please, I need more!” —Graci Kim, author of The Last Fallen Star

“This exploration of a boy’s self is full of fun, humor, and Jewish mythology that I never knew could be so cool.” —Rex Ogle, author of Free Lunch and The Supernatural Society

“A fun, wildly imaginative, and wholly original tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat and grinning until the last page!” – Greg Howard, author of The Whispers and The Visitors

About the Author: Aden Polydoros grew up in Illinois and Arizona, and has a bachelor’s degree in English from Northern Arizona University. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys going to antique fairs and flea markets. He can be found on Twitter at @AdenPolydoros.

Review: Zach’s discovery of the Ring of Solomon turns his boring town into one of life-or-death situations as the King of Demons is summoned by the ring. But his appearance is just the beginning of what seems to Zach as an end of the world apocalypse! The book is filled with action, almost from day one, quiet moments where you get to know the characters, flashbacks to get background on the mythology, and humor which makes the book so much fun to read.

Fans of Percy Jackson and other mythology-focused action/adventure books are going to want to grab this one!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Like Rick Riordan’s books, Ring of Solomon could definitely be used to introduce Jewish mythology. It also will be a great addition to any school, classroom, or public library for independent reading.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why do you think Zach was chosen? Do you think it was purposeful or on accident?
  • How does Zach surprise Ash?
  • Were you surprised at the identity of Jeffrey’s father?
  • Why would anyone want the apocalypse?
  • What is the best way to deal with bullies like Jeffrey?
  • What animal would you talk to if you had the power to talk to animals?

Flagged Passages: 

“I’m guessing there isn’t a genie in there?” I asked the ring, shaking it gently. “Someone who can teach Jeffrey and his friends a real lesson? If there is, it’d be really nice if you could show up.

The ring grew hot against my skin, warming my palm like the time I sat too close to the campfire. I held my breath. Slowly, the heat faded.

I waited a minute. Then another.

Sighing in defeat, I collapsed onto my back and closed my eyes. Maybe I could convince a pack of coyotes to chase Jeffrey or bribe some seagulls to pelt him with poop. That would show him.

“You called for me?” a smooth voice said.

My eyes flew open. I lurched into a sitting position with a cry, searching the darkened room. Overhead, the models swung in slow lazy circles, casting their shadows across the walls. Movement shifted in the corner of my vision. I swiveled around.

A figure sat atop the windowsill, backlist by the red streetlight. His form was immersed in darkness. As he jumped onto the bedroom floor, I caught a glimpse of spread wings, feathers as black ad glossy as spilled ink.

“Wh-what…” My lips trembled so hard I couldn’t even get the words out. I thought I might scream the way people did in horror movies, but it was like my voice had thickened to maple syrup in my throat. “Are you the guardian of the ring?”

Slowly, he eased to his full height. His wings ruffled and furled against his body, so long they nearly dragged across the floor. He wore a black tunic trimmed with gold thread around the hem and clasped with a jeweled metal sash.

A boy. It was a boy who didn’t look much older than me, his hair framing his face in a dark tangle. His gold eyes glowed in the moonlight. He wore a crown whose sharp tines curled like flames, and upon his wrist, a wide golden bracelet studded with garnets.

He wouldn’t been pretty, if he weren’t so terrifying.

As he stepped forward, the robe parted around his angles, exposing the taloned feet of a bird of prey. Oh gracp, was this my punishment for lying to the seagulls that I’d give them chips? Being cursed by some bird prince?

“Wh-what are you?” I whispered.

“Ashmedai.” He smiled, revealing teeth far sharper than those of any human. “King of demons.” (pg. 29-31)

Read This If You Love: Mythology, Rick Riordan books & Rick Riordan Presents books, Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw by Todd Calgi Gallicano

Recommended For: 



**Thank you to Nicole Banholzer PR for providing a copy for review!**

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 3/6/23


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?
Sharing Picture Books, Early Readers, Middle Grade Books, and Young Adult Books for All Ages!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly blog hop co-hosted by Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts which focuses on sharing books marketed for children and young adults. It offers opportunities to share and recommend books with each other.

The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Happy reading!


Tuesday: Educators’ Guide for The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**



Graphic Novels/Mangas

School Trip by Jerry Craft Clock Striker, Volume 1 by Issaka Galadima Tegan and Sara by Tegan Quin
Demon Slayer by Koyoharu Gotouge 鬼滅の刃 4 [Kimetsu no Yaiba 4] by Koyoharu Gotouge Demon Slayer by Koyoharu Gotouge
Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes Saving Sunshine by Saadia Faruqi The Lost Heir by Tui T. Sutherland In Limbo by Deb JJ Lee

  • School Trip by Jerry Craft: The third book in the New Kid series does not disappoint, as the group goes to Paris! Although everyone is excited to go to Paris, it ends up being trickier and with bumps that were unexpected. It also looks at how identity changed depending on your setting.
  • Clock Striker Vol. 1 by Issaka Galadima, Frederick L. Jones, and Saturday AM: The first book in a sci-fi manga series where a young girl finds herself as a sidekick to a legendary warrior, called a SMITH, which leads to one adventure after another.
  • Junior High by Tegan and Sara Quin, Illustrated by Tillie Walden: Two sisters navigate everything about junior high together in this graphic novel, from crushes to friendship.
  • Demon Slayer Vol. 3, 4, 5 by Koyoharu Gotouge: I can definitely see why student love this series. It is hard to predict, full of nonstop action, and lead by unexpected heroes.
  • Garvey’s Choice: The Graphic Novel by Nikki Grimes, Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III: Grimes’s beautiful verse about Garvey’s life as he combats expectations versus passions combined with Taylor’s illustrations brings this story to a whole new level. I loved how it was done.
  • Saving Sunshine by Saadia Faruqi, Illustrated Shazleen Khan: Such a sweet story about bickering siblings that have to find common ground while on vacation, mostly once they have the same mission.
  • Wings of Fire Graphic Novel #2: The Lost Heir by Tui T. Sutherland, Illustrated by Mike Holmes: The more I read this series, the more I don’t know what is truthful and what is a lie. So much is going on! I hope book 3 clears it up.
  • In Limbo by Deb JJ Lee: This was tough to read because of the struggles Deborah has with her mental health in middle school, but I am so glad that Deb is telling her story to normalize the emotions that she had. Additionally, the illustrations are wonderful and there is more to the story than meets the eye.

Middle Grade/Middle School

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf New School Skirmish by Zoe Tokushige Across the Desert by Dusti Bowling Ring of Solomon by Aden Polydoros 
The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm

  • The Boy in the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf: This early middle grade novel is a great introduction to the refugee crisis and how kindness can change the world.
  • Airi Sano, Prankmaster General: New School Skirmish by Zoe Tokushige, Illustrated by Jennifer Naalchigar: A new illustrated novel with humor and lessons that will be great for early middle grade readers who gravitate towards books like Dork Diaries. Underneath the humor, silliness, and hijinks, is a great lesson about figuring out who you are in a new place.
  • Across the Desert by Dusti Bowling: Dusti Bowling never disappoints me. Jolene knows that her friend is in trouble but no one believes her, so she goes on a journey, as you guessed it–across a desert, to save her. The suspense is real!
  • Ring of Solomon by Aden Polydoros: I will be reviewing this tomorrow!
  • Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips, Illustrated by Isabelle Follath: This is one of Trent’s books for Battle of the Books and we listened to it together. It is full of dark humor and a young girl that changes a small part of the world; it is great for fans of Lemony Snicket or Roald Dahl.
  • The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera: What happens if Halley’s Comet took a turn and was coming for Earth? Petra is told that she’ll be put in cryosleep until they reach their new settlement, but when she wakes up, she learns that the truth is MUCH more complicated than the escaped Earthlings were told.
  • The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm: Trent is a member of his Battle of the Books team, and this is his favorite book that he’s read so far, so I knew I had to pick it up; I can definitely see why he loves it! Holm’s book shows what it would be like to live on Mars in a settlement while life and tensions continue on Earth.
  • More Awesome Asian Americans: 20 Citizens Energize America by Phil Amara and Oliver Chin, Illustrated by Juan Calle: Although I haven’t read the first in this series yet, I now want to–it was wonderful to learn about all of these innovators. And I am a fan of the mix of who is represented: from actors, athletes, singers, and authors to inventors, chefs, botanists, lawyers, and more! Even those who were not new to me, much of what I learned was new to me.

Young Adult

Three Drops of Blood by Gretchen McNeil The Black Queen by Jumata Emill The Murder Game by Carrie Doyle We Were Kings by Courtney C. Stevens

  • Three Drops of Blood by Gretchen McNeil: This book is different than the McNeil #murdertrending series, but it definitely has as much suspense! The first half of the book sets the stage and it takes a little bit to get to the action (and blood!), but stick with it, and you will not be disappointed.
  • The Black Queen by Jumata Emill: Nova is the first Black homecoming queen at her high school and on the night she is crowned, she is murdered. In this book, told in dual points of view (Nova’s best friend and the girl accused of murdering her) takes you through the investigation into the racially charged town that led to the tragic death.
  • The Murder Game by Carrie Doyle: While there is no game in this book and I’m baffled by the title, everything else about it kept me reading. It keeps you guessing and trying to find clues all the way to the end when everything comes together.
  • We Were Kings by Court Stevens: With only days to save her mom’s best friend from the death penalty, Nyla decides to investigate the murder she was convicted for herself. The clues just keep coming and when it all is revealed… whoa!

Picture Books/Early Readers

Invisible Things by Andy J Pizza Henry, Like Always by Jenn Bailey Sunny and Oswaldo by Nicole Melleby The Sky Is Not the Limit by Jérémie Decalf Bitsy Bat, School Star by Kaz Windness

  • Invisible Things by Andy J. Pizza and Sophie Miller: This is such a cool book! It is a fun and fascinating way of looking at the world around us that will lead to many discussion and revisits! It truly shows what is magical about our world!
  • Henry, Like Always by Jenn Baily, Illustrated by Mika Song: I loved revisiting Henry in this chapter book! Henry (the picture book) was honored by the Schneider Award Committee while I was on it, so I am already a big fan of this sweet boy.
  • Sunny and Oswaldo by Nicole Melleby, Illustrated by Alexandra Colombo: I loved the message of this book! Oswaldo shows us that everyone deserves love, especially when recovering from trauma, even if they don’t act the exact way you think they should. This story of a cat shared this message in such a lovely way!
  • The Sky is Not the Limit by Jérémie Decalf: I love the combination of beautiful verse, amazing illustrations, and space information. Decalf’s book will lead to any reader to want reread it and then learn more about Voyager 2.
  • Bitsy Bat, School Star by Kaz Windness: Bitsy has trouble fitting in but she reminds herself and her classmates that she is a star just the way she is while also highlighting what makes each of the characters special. It was a nice way to share a neurodivergent character with readers.

To learn more about any of these books, check out my read bookshelf on Goodreads.


See you next week!



Reading: Wings of Fire The Graphic Novel #3: The Hidden Kingdom by Tui T. Sutherland, Illustrated by Mike Holmes; Global by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin, Illustrated by Giovanni Rigano; and The Midnight Children by Dan Gemeinhart

Listening: We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds


Tuesday: Ring of Solomon by Aden Polydoros

Thursday: Author Guest Post by Margarita Engle, Author of Destiny Finds Her Way: How a Rescued Baby Sloth Learned to be Wild


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