Author Guest Post: “Sometimes We’re All Furious and How Books Can Help With That” by Timothy Knapman, Author of Sometimes I Am Furious

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“Sometimes We’re All Furious and How Books Can Help With That”

Most picture books are about happy things. And so they should be. As a writer for young children, you have the wonderful privilege of being able to share your readers’ delight in the discovery of the amazing world all around them. So you write about cake, birthdays, holidays, more cake, adventures, the love of parents for their kids (and kids for their parents, and kids for cake). You write about dinosaurs, pirates, cake again, fairies, unicorns. You write about the limitless possibilities of a child’s wonder and imagination.

And did I mention cake?

But that’s not the whole job. Because you’re not a child, you’re a grown-up. (So stop talking about cake!) It doesn’t matter how imaginative or empathetic you can be, or how well you remember your own childhood – you also owe your young readers a duty of care. Because the world isn’t always wonderful, and they need to know that too.

The first stories for kids – such as the ones the Brothers Grimm collected (which have been told for centuries, millennia even) – are pretty much all terrifying. Because they’re warnings. Beware of the wolf in the woods, they say, or look out for the trap lurking in the surprise gift: that seemingly kind old lady may actually wish you harm. They were scary because they needed to be, because the dangers were real, and kids couldn’t be sheltered from them.

Thankfully, for most of us, the wolf issue has now been settled once and for all, and the kind old ladies that today’s kids encounter tend to be genuinely kind old ladies, not witches in disguise. But children still have problems and the books they read need to address them. Finding solace, finding answers – finding a way of making sense of their lives – in books is a useful habit, and something we should be teaching them. Which brings me to the kind of book that I’ve just written, which is an anger book.

My favourite picture book of all time is an anger book. It’s Where the Wild Things Are by the late, great Maurice Sendak. I love everything about it, from the strange poetry of its telling to the way the forest grows in Max’s room so that it spreads to the edge of the pages (overrunning the neat white margins that had previously kept the story within bounds). It’s perfect, of course it is, but I have on occasion felt a little dissatisfied that Max’s anger is just left to run its course, until he grows bored of the Wild Things and their lawless land and wants to be home where someone loves him “best of all”.

Sendak famously said that the Wild Things, with their strange cries of “We’ll eat you up – we love you so!”, were based on his smothering relatives. But what if there was a relative who understood Max, who showed him the way out of that forest?

Because it’s hard, this stuff – and we could all do with a little help. I’ve often thought that children learning how to handle their emotions is a bit like someone learning to drive during a demolition derby. You find yourself at the wheel of a hugely powerful machine which zooms around the place, forever crashing into people and things, and it’s only after a lot of scrapes and collisions that you finally get some kind of fix on how not to destroy everything every time your little brother eats the last piece of cake.

(Do I talk about cake too much? Is that even possible?)

And that’s why I wrote my new book, Sometimes I Am Furious (illustrated by the brilliant Joe Berger). In our story, a little girl is mostly kind and good, but on occasion… well, you can guess. And we make it clear that it’s not unreasonable that she blows up from time to time. Things don’t always go right for any of us – in life, there are disappointments and frustrations and you’re going to get angry. (By the way, check out how Joe shows our girl in ever greater close-up each time she says she’s furious – maybe it’s his version of Sendak’s expanding forest, as her rage spreads out to cover her world. You will also notice that Joe likes yellow.)

What our book has that Sendak’s doesn’t is a grown-up who is patient and loving and suggests ways the little girl can cope with her emotions so that they don’t overwhelm her. I’m not suggesting the advice she gives will work for everyone (though I hope it’s useful). It’s reading the book – sharing the girl’s journey through her anger and out the other side – that might help. Losing control is scary, but in the safe world of the imagination, where you can pretend to be someone else and try on different emotions just like you try on different outfits at a costume party, children can gain a clearer understanding of these big feelings, lose some of their fear of them and maybe learn a bit more control.

That way they’ll become better, more rounded individuals, just like all us grown-ups. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go. Hey, wait a minute – where’s my cake? I left a piece of cake right here! I’m not leaving until I find out WHO. TOOK. MY. CAKE!!!

Sometimes I Am Furious
Author: Timothy Knapman
Illustrator: Joe Berger
Published June 6th, 2023 by Penguin Workshop

About the Book: Life is all fun and games when everything’s going your way. But some days, suddenly, something becomes horribly UNFAIR. A melting ice cream cone, a too-tight T-shirt, a boy who doesn’t share… it’s enough to make you FURIOUS. But as this little girl discovers, it’s nothing that a deep breath, a happy song, and a good cuddle can’t sort out.

You won’t be furious reading this funny, friendly, and relatable book for young children (and their parents) about strong emotions and how to handle them.

Praise: 

“Humorous art supports the rhyming verse with bold, eye-catching, thick-lined graphics. Kudos to Knapman and Berger for making it clear that feeling anger—especially at perceived unfairness—is fine; what’s important is finding ways to calm down before a meltdown.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Knapman and Berger … offer standard self-regulation advice by way of their young exemplar: seek out an empathic adult… and try some grounding exercises… While 24-7 equilibrium may not be possible, the creators suggest that knowing it’s within reach can be a big comfort.”—Publishers Weekly

“In this charming UK picture book import, our narrator’s cute, unassuming attire… comically mismatches the pure childhood-tantrum wrath of exaggerated downturned eyebrows and a glare so intense it practically burns through the page… The text’s rhyming couplets are smoothly read aloud and make this an ideal choice for a storytime that will have its audience in giggles and maybe inspire some introspection about how to deal with big emotions.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

About the Author: Timothy Knapman has written over 60 books for children, as well writing as plays and (the words for) musicals and operas. He lives on cake in his own private flying castle with his pet dragon, Enid, and finds it increasingly hard to tell the truth about himself.

If you’d like to find out more about him, please visit www.timothyknapman.com

Thank you, Timothy, for this hilarious yet important post!

Peaceful Me and Angry Me by Sandra V. Feder, Illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell

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Peaceful Me       &        Angry Me
Author: Sandra V. Feder
Illustrator: Rahele Jomepour Bell
Published May 2nd, 2023 & May 1st, 2022 by Groundwood Books

Peaceful Me Summary: A young child tells us about the different times when he feels peaceful, as well as how he copes when he needs to find a peaceful state again.

Acclaimed picture-book creators Sandra V. Feder and Rahele Jomepour Bell have teamed up once again to create a thoughtful and beautifully illustrated exploration of peacefulness.

“I like feeling peaceful,” the young narrator tells us, then describes the times when he is filled with this emotion. When he is playing with a friend, he feels “free peaceful”; when he is having family dinner, “yummy peaceful”; when he is outside gazing up at the sky, “fluffy clouds peaceful”. But, of course, he doesn’t always feel peaceful, and we hear about his strategies for coping during those times, such as taking deep breaths, imagining his favorite things, and finding a quiet refuge or a hug.

Peaceful Me is the perfect companion to Angry Me — together, they encourage readers to let anger come and go, while inviting peace to come and stay.

Angry Me Summary: A young child tells us what makes her angry and how she tries to let the anger come and go. An artful starting point for conversations about strong feelings.

“I get angry,” says a little girl, looking fiercely in the mirror. Sometimes she gets angry when someone is mean and tries to take her toy away, when it feels unfair that there’s not enough time to go swimming, when she’s tired and just wants to go home, or when the kids at school leave her out, hurting her feelings.

When she’s angry, she tries to remember to use her words — even though that doesn’t always work. Sometimes she can’t find the right words, or the words don’t come out the way she intends. But sometimes words do help, and when her anger melts away a new feeling can blossom.

Sandra Feder’s cleverly constructed text presents different situations in which a child might feel angry, creating a nuanced look at anger and its many underlying emotions. Rahele Jomepour Bell’s illustrations show a loveable, angry little girl, brimming with personality, who learns how to express herself as she moves through her feelings.

Praise for Angry Me: 

A valuable tool for teaching children the important skill of recognizing and naming feelings.” —Kirkus Reviews

A fresh addition to teeming ‘anger management’ shelves.” —Booklist

Artfully captures the nuances of anger. STARRED REVIEW” —Shelf Awareness

An effective springboard for discussing a topic that may be hard for young children to verbalize.” —School Library Connection

About the Creators: 

SANDRA V. FEDER is the author of three acclaimed picture books: Angry Me, illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell; Bitter and Sweet, illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker, a PJ Library selection; and The Moon Inside, illustrated by Aimée Sicuro, which has been translated into multiple languages. She has also written the Daisy series of early chapter books, illustrated by Susan Mitchell. Sandra lives in California.

RAHELE JOMEPOUR BELL’s charming illustrations have appeared in Angry Me by Sandra V. Feder, The Treasure Box by Dave J. Keane and Our Favorite Day of the Year by A. E. Ali (Kirkus Best Picture Books of the Year), among others. She has also published seven picture books in Iran and has received a number of awards and honors for her work.

Review: These are such important books! Children become better adults when they can learn to name and deal with the actual feelings they are feeling, and these texts start this process. These books would be perfect to use at the beginning of the year to talk about emotional regulation and how conflicts will be resolved in the classroom. I also think that parents will benefit from these texts to discussion emotions, as will therapists and counselors. They are so multifaceted!

What made these books even more special were the way that the text does one purpose and then the illustrations add a whole other element to the book. I would love to see these books used not only with a social emotional learning purpose, but also use the illustrations to tie in narrative and creative writing elements. Students can take what they learn in the illustrations and write a whole other story!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation (from the publisher): 

  • Key Text Features:
    • explanation
    • illustrations
    • vignettes
  • Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.K.7 With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.2 Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.4 Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.7 Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.

Discussion Questions: 

  • When do you feel peaceful? Angry?
  • What is your favorite time you feel peaceful?
  • How do you deal with feeling angry? What can you do to turn from angry to peaceful?
  • Is it better to talk about your feelings or hold them in?
  • How does talking about your feelings help you process?
  • How do the illustrations of Peaceful Me and Angry Me help you with understanding the book better? How do they support the message of the book(s)?
  • What is the main theme of Peaceful MeAngry Me?

Flagged Passages: 

Peaceful Me

Angry Me

Read This If You Love: Jory John’s & Pete Oswald’s Food Group Books; Sunny and Oswaldo by Nicole Melleby, Illustrated by Alexandra Colombo; Invisible Things by Andy J. Pizza, Illustrated by Sophie Miller; I Don’t Care by Julie Fogliano & Molly Idle, Illustrated by Juana Martinez Neal; In the Blue by Erin Hourigan; Harold the Iceberg Melts Down by Lisa Wyzlic, Illustrated by Rebecca Syracus

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Nicole Banholzer PR for providing copies for review!**

Educators’ Guide for Tiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

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Tiny Pretty Things (#1)
Shiny Broken Pieces (#2)
Authors: Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
Published: May 26th, 2015 & July 12th, 2016 by Harper Teen

Tiny Pretty Things Summary: Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Belles, Dhonielle Clayton, and the author of the highly anticipated Symptoms of a Heartbreak, Sona Charaipotra.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.

When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Don’t miss the gossip, lies, and scandal that continues in Tiny Pretty Things’ gripping sequel, Shiny Broken Pieces!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ guide I created for Cake Creative for Tiny Pretty Things & Shiny Broken Pieces:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about Tiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces on Cake Creative’s OUR LIBRARY page.

Recommended For: 

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Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet by Barbara Dee

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Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet
Author: Barbara Dee
Published September 27th, 2022 by Aladdin

Summary: Twelve-year-old Haven Jacobs can’t stop thinking about the climate crisis. In fact, her anxiety about the state of the planet is starting to interfere with her schoolwork, her friendships, even her sleep. She can’t stop wondering why grownups aren’t even trying to solve the earth’s problem—and if there’s anything meaningful that she, as a seventh grader, can contribute.

When Haven’s social studies teacher urges her to find a specific, manageable way to make a difference to the planet, Haven focuses on the annual science class project at the local Belmont River, where her class will take samples of the water to analyze. Students have been doing the project for years, and her older brother tells her that his favorite part was studying and catching frogs.

But when Haven and her classmates get to the river, there’s no sign of frogs or other wildlife—but there is ample evidence of pollution. The only thing that’s changed by the river is the opening of Gemba, the new factory where Haven’s dad works. It doesn’t take much investigation before Haven is convinced Gemba is behind the slow pollution of the river.

She’s determined to expose Gemba and force them to clean up their act. But when it becomes clear taking action might put her dad’s job—and some friendships—in jeopardy, Haven must decide how far she’s willing to go.

About the Author: Barbara Dee is the author of twelve middle grade novels including Violets Are Blue, Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet, My Life in the Fish Tank, Maybe He Just Likes You, Everything I Know About You, Halfway Normal, and Star-Crossed. Her books have earned several starred reviews and have been named to many best-of lists, including The Washington Post’s Best Children’s Books, the ALA Notable Children’s Books, the ALA Rise: A Feminist Book Project List, the NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, and the ALA Rainbow List Top Ten. Barbara lives with her family, including a naughty cat named Luna and a sweet rescue hound named Ripley, in Westchester County, New York.

Review: I’ve never read a book about eco-anxiety before, but I could definitely empathize with Haven Jacobs and her true anxiety over the state of our planet. I loved that the book gave tangible things that could be done in a community and also looks at global issues. Additionally, like all of Barbara Dee’s books, she does a great job balancing teaching (about science and climate change) and storytelling.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The publisher-provided reading group guide also includes extension activities:

1. Choose one of the following and write an essay:

– How does Haven’s name reflect the major theme of the book?

– Revisit the chapter titled “The Scratch,” and the scene in which the author describes Haven’s room and talks about how her room shows readers who she is and what’s important to her. Then write a description of your own room, and ask a partner if they can identify what is most important to you.

– Using the quote attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way”), write an essay about what that means, giving specific examples from the book.

2. Haven’s heroine is a fictional Inuit teen climate activist named Kirima Ansong. Choose a real-life teen activist and write a report about them, the issue they support, and the actions they’ve taken.

3. The headline of the RiverFest story is “SEVENTH GRADER GRIPPED BY ECO-ANXIETY,” which nicely sums up the major theme of this book. How prevalent is eco-anxiety among the kids at your school? Create a survey and share it to discover the answer. Write a report sharing your findings.

4. Choose one of the following topics from the book to research and write a report about, using the facts shared in the book as a jumping-off point to learn more.

Discussion Questions:
(Chosen questions from the publisher-provided reading group guide; there are 16 questions on the guide)

1. Talk about how the two events that Haven relates in the book’s opening chapter illustrate two of the book’s major themes. What does the bouncy house incident show readers about Haven’s personality? Do you agree with Grandpa Aaron that “‘Haven’s a true problem solver’”? (Chapter: Sensitive) Do you consider yourself to be a problem solver?

2. Why does Haven decide to become a vegetarian? Do you understand and sympathize with her reaction when she goes fishing with Carter and her dad? Are you a vegetarian, or do you have friends who are? What are some other reasons that people make this choice? Talk about how vegetarianism connects with the issue of climate change.

3. Do you understand why Haven is so upset about climate change? How do you feel about her statement that “’no one cares about anything except what’s going on in their own lives’”? (Chapter: Dinner) Why do some of her friends think climate change is too depressing to talk about? Haven tells Lauren, the reporter, that all kids are worried about the issue. How do you and your friends feel?

4. Have you ever heard of eco-anxiety? What are some of the signs of eco-anxiety that Haven is experiencing? How might eco-anxiety feel different from other things kids are anxious about, like taking tests or giving oral reports? What are some actions Haven takes, or could take, to relieve this anxiety?

5. Ms. Packer says to Haven: “‘There’s a positive way to be upset, and another way that just makes you feel hopeless and depressed.’” (Chapter: The Blanks) Do you understand both options? Do you identify with one more than the other? What do you think when Haven says she feels that going to school is pointless, that there are more important things going on?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Learning or reading about climate change, science, and/or mental health

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Casey at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review!**

Trex by Christyne Morrell

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Trex
Author: Christyne Morrell
Published August 30th, 2022 by Delacorte

Summary: This middle grade mystery follows the adventures of a boy with an experimental brain implant, and a reclusive girl training to be a spy, as they’re pitted against school bullies, their own parents, and an evil, brain-hacking corporation. Perfect for fans of Stranger Things.

Trex’s experimental brain implant saved his life–but it also made his life a lot harder. Now he shocks everything he touches. When his overprotective mother finally agrees to send him to a real school for sixth grade, Trex is determined to fit in.

He wasn’t counting on Mellie the Mouse. She lives in the creepiest house in Hopewell Hill, where she spends her time scowling, lurking, ignoring bullies, and training to be a spy. Mellie is convinced she saw lightning shoot from Trex’s fingertips, and she is Very Suspicious.

And she should be . . . but not of Trex. Someone mysterious is lurking in the shadows . . . someone who knows a dangerous secret.

About the Author: Christyne’s earliest completed work, written at age 7, told the story of Kermit the Frog meeting Miss Piggy’s parents for the first time. Kermit the Hog was a cautionary tale about pretending to be something you’re not. She still thinks it has potential.

Today, Christyne writes middle-grade novels across a number of genres. Whether they take place in quirky seaside towns or fantastical, faraway kingdoms, her stories all have one thing in common: clever kids accomplishing extraordinary things, like conquering a curse, overthrowing a king, or taking down an evil, brain-hacking corporation. Christyne believes that middle-grade books should challenge, intrigue, and inspire young readers – but above all, never underestimate them.

Christyne’s debut middle-grade novel, Kingdom of Secrets, came out in August 2021 from Delacorte Press. Her next novel, TREX, releases in August 2022. She is also the author of the poetry book, The Fool Catcher (2021), and the picture book, Abra, Cadabra & Bob (2019), and her poems and stories have appeared in HighlightsSpider, and The School Magazine.

When Christyne isn’t writing for kids, she’s busy raising one. She’s an attorney by day, who enjoys reading, baking, and watching House Hunters marathons. She lives with her husband, daughter, and hyperactive beagle in Decatur, Georgia.

Review: I LOVED Morrell’s first middle grade novel, Kingdom of Secrets, so when she reached out for me to read her newest, I jumped at the chance! What is so interesting is how one author can come up with two completely different types of stories–two sides of the speculative coin, if you will. But man, does she knock this one out of the park, too. It is a mind bender of a story that, through red herrings, multiple points of view, and limited narrators, keeps you on your toes all the way until the end! There is so much to delve into with this book, and it is super engaging on top of it all. Another stellar middle grade novel!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: There is so much in this book to use in classrooms: STEM, journaling/spying, and mental health representation! And Christyne Morrell has so many resources on her website to utilize with Trex:

  • STEM
    • Static Electricity: Trex’s brain implant gives him a persistent static electric charge, which has a significant impact on his daily life. Teachers and students can explore the causes of static electricity and consider the steps someone with Trex’s condition would have to take to avoid hurting themselves and others. There are tons of activities available online that demonstrate static electricity at work. Here are some of the best: 16 Fun Electricity Experiments and Activities For Kids.
    • Trex in Real Life: Could Trex’s static electricity problem exist in real life? In Australia, a man reportedly built up a charge of 30,000 volts and set fire to a carpet! (Report: Man Burns Carpet with Static Shock | AP News)
    • Dry Lightning: Dry Lightning is any lightning that occurs without rain nearby. It’s especially dangerous for Trex, but it poses a real risk to everyone. Dry Lightning is more likely than typical lightning to cause forest fires, especially in the western portion of the United States, where it occurs most frequently. (What is a Dry Thunderstorm? | Live Science)
  • Spies
    • Spy Museum: Did you know there’s an entire museum dedicated to spycraft? Future sleuths will have a blast at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. Upon arrival, visitors receive a cover identity, an RFID-enabled badge, and a secret mission to complete. And for those who can’t make it to D.C., the Spy Museum offers a number of resources on their website, including podcasts, puzzles, and more. (Spy Resources | International Spy Museum)
    • Famous Female Spies: Mellie follows in the footsteps of a long line of female spies. From the Civil War to World War II, women have been covertly risking their lives on top secret missions in service to their country. Learn about some of history’s most famous and successful spies: 6 of History’s Most Notable Female Spies | HistoryHit.
    • Easter Egg Hunt: To kickstart your career as a future spy, I’ve included a major Easter egg (a hidden reference) within the text of Trex. If you’ve read my first book, Kingdom of Secrets, and have a keen eye, perhaps you spot the reference!
  • Mental Health
    • The Power of Introverts: Full of insightful research and powerful examples, Susan Cain’s Quiet makes the case that introverts as a group are undervalued in our society and that we should accept – even embrace – our introverted natures. The “Quiet Manifesto” on Susan’s website states, “The next generation of quiet kids can and must be raised to know their own strengths.” And I wrote Trex for precisely that reason. There’s a version of Quiet for kids and a podcast for parents on Susan Cain’s website. (Home – Susan Cain)
    • Anxiety: One of the characters in Trex deals with anxiety – a sense of distress or fear when faced with uncomfortable, unfamiliar, or stressful situations. All of us experience some level of anxiety (on the first day of school, for example), but when it becomes debilitating or disruptive, it may require attention. Treatment for anxiety can range from simple tactics like breathing exercises to therapy and medication. If you’re experiencing anxiety, talk to a trusted adult or doctor, and check resources like Anxiety.org, Child Mind Institute, and CDC: Anxiety and depression in children.
    • Alphabetter: In the book, the characters play a game called “Alphabetter,” in which they take turns naming things that make them happy in alphabetical order. This is a simple and fun way for anyone to calm their stress and boost their mood!

Discussion Questions: 

Book Trailer:

Read This If You Love: Mysteries, Tesla’s Attic by Neal Shusterman & Eric Elfman, Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson, Masterminds by Gordon Korman

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to the author for providing an e-galley for review!**

Guest Review: The Worrysaurus by Rachel Bright, Illustrated by Chris Chatterton

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Guest Reviewer: Darlene, UCF Elementary Education Student

The Worrysaurus
Author: Rachel Bright
Illustrator: Chris Chatterton
Published October 6th, 2020 by Orchard Books

Summary: A modern Wemberly Worried-featuring dinosaurs!-for today’s young readers, with reassuring, lighthearted text and charming illustrations sure to calm the anxious butterflies in any child’s tummy.

It’s a beautiful day and Worrysaurus has planned a special picnic. But it isn’t long before a small butterfly of worry starts fluttering in his tummy…

What if he hasn’t brought enough to eat?

What if he gets lost in the jungle?

What if it rains?!

With a little help from his mom, Worrysaurus finds a way to soothe the anxious butterflies, chase his fears away, and find peace and happiness in the moment at hand.

Discover the perfect book to help every little anxious Worrysaurus let go of their fears, and feel happy in the moment at hand! The Worrysaurus strikes just the right balance of positive, lighthearted, and kid-friendly, with reassuring, rhyming text from Rachel Bright, the bestselling author of The Lion Inside and Love Monster, and charming illustrations from Chris Chatterton. Perfect for any reader who might feel the flutter of an anxious butterfly in their tummy, The Worrysaurus is sure to become a storytime favorite.

About the Creators: 

Rachel Bright is rained in Graphics at Kingston University, followed by a Masters Degree in Printmaking at UWE. Her striking illustrative and typographic style, coupled with her witty storytelling have resulted in an award winning and ever-growing collection of acclaimed picture books.

Here is her website: The Brightside » Welcome to the Wonderful World of The Brightside (lookonthebrightside.co.uk)

Chris Chatterton began his career in graphic design and animation, working on a variety of projects including Dr Who and CBBC’s The Dumping Ground. Chris’ passion for illustration then led him to pursue a career as a freelance artist working on a number of children’s books.

Now writing the stories as well, Chris considers his debut author/illustrator Gus picture book story to be semi-autobiographical as he claims his loveable grumpy dog character is based on his own grumpy moods!

Originally from County Durham in the UK, Chris now lives and works in Barcelona, Spain.

Chris Chatterton – Illustrator & Author

Review: This book has received nothing but positive reviews from me. Anxiety and worry is real. We have all experienced it at some point in our lives and so have children. It is a struggle that if not targeted quickly can affect everyone negatively. I love how this book targets anxiety and worry in a delicate yet powerful way to teach young readers to manage worries and anxiety and to know that they are stronger than their worries and smarter than their doubts.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to reading this picture book, I would create a short writing prompt activity for students to write about their anxiety, fear and worries. After this, I  would place students in small groups to engage in conversations in which they can talk it over instead of being silent about it.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why was Worrysaurus worried during his picnic?
  • Do you think Worrysaurus worried unnecessarily?
  • What do you think Worrysaurus’s mom meant when she said the phrase; “ Oh, my little Worrysaurus, Chase that butterfly away?”
  • Based on  this sentence from the book, “This Worrysaurus often was a one to overthink.” What do you think the author meant by “overthink” and in what ways have you overthought?
  • What did Worrysaurus do to chase away his worries?
  • List 2 things not listed in the story that can help Worrysaurus chase those worries away.

Flagged Passages: 

“Oh, my little Worrysaurus, Chase that butterfly away.”

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Encouragement and Hope

Recommended For: 

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Thank you, Darlene, for your review!

Blog Tour: Drifters by Kevin Emerson

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Drifters
Author: Kevin Emerson
Published May 10th, 2022 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: A mystery about a girl who sets out to find her missing best friend–and discovers her small town is hiding a dark, centuries-old secret.

Jovie is adrift. She’d been feeling alone ever since her best friend, Micah, left her behind for a new group of friends–but when Micah went missing last fall, Jovie felt truly lost.

Now, months later, the search parties have been called off, and the news alerts have dried up. There’s only Jovie, biking around Far Haven, Washington, putting up posters with Micah’s face on them, feeling like she’s the only one who remembers her friend at all.

This feeling may be far closer to the truth than Jovie knows. As strange storms beset Far Haven, she is shocked to discover that Micah isn’t just missing–she’s been forgotten completely by everyone in town. And Micah isn’t the only one: there are others, roaming the beaches, camped in the old bunkers, who have somehow been lost from the world.

When Jovie and her new friend Sylvan dig deeper, they learn that the town’s history is far stranger and more deadly than anyone knows. Something disastrous is heading for Far Haven, and Jovie and Sylvan soon realize that it is up to them to save not only Micah, but everyone else who has been lost to the world and set adrift–now, in the past, and in the future.

Praise: 

“An intricate sci-fi mystery for voracious readers who love an extraordinary adventure.” –Booklist

“A satisfying action plot, complete with a shady government agency and villainous beings, is effectively grounded in the emotional realism of the girls’ shifting friendships.” –Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books

About the Author: Kevin Emerson is the author of Last Day on Mars and The Oceans Between Stars, as well as The Fellowship for Alien Detection, the Exile series, the Atlanteans series, the Oliver Nocturne series, and Carlos Is Gonna Get It. Kevin lives with his family in Seattle. You can visit him online at www.kevinemerson.net.

Review: This book is definitely an epic sci fi novel! I am so impressed with how Kevin Emerson weaved the plot together to take us, with Jovie and Sylvan, on a mysterious adventure which had twists and turns throughout leading me to never know what is going to happen. Usually with books with flashbacks or flash forwards, it is easy to make predictions, but with this books, it is more complicated and thus took longer for me to determine what was going on. Because of this, I just had to keep reading, so although the book is long, it keeps you turning pages to piece everything together and then find out what Jovie is going to do with the information. (And just wait for the conclusion!)

I also loved the deeper message within the story that one can never know what is going on with someone else and that we must do whatever we can to make sure one another does not feel like they do not matter or we may lose them.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What were signs that Jovie missed about Micah that may have saved her from drifting?
  • Why did Max feel like he needed to lie? How about Dr. Wells?
  • Why do you think the author chose to start the book with the letter from 1898?
  • How did the jumping around in time affect the reading of the book?
  • Why do you think the author chose to make the light look like a butterfly?
  • How had all the breaches over time affected Far Haven?
  • Why do you think Sylvan listened and believed Jovie when no one else would?
  • What does Micah and Jovie’s friendship teach us about being good friends?

And there are so many more questions I would ask readers, but they have spoilers, so I cannot share!

Flagged Passages: 

Part I: A Hole in the World

Chapter 1 – The Interview, Part 1
January 18, 2022

Picture a spark of light, like a firework shooting skyward in the moment before it explodes. This spark is traveling through the pure darkness of starless space. The only other lights are a few other distant sparks, headed in roughly the same direction.

As we move closer, we see that this single spark is actually a cluster of lights. And each of these lights is, in fact, an entire galaxy, a hundred billion fire diamonds of dazzling colors, from red to blue to white, spinning around a bright center.

Now picture a single blue dot orbiting a single white star. The dot is moving at sixty-seven thousand miles per hour in its orbit, and the star is moving at nearly five hundred thousand miles per hour around its galactic center. This galaxy is racing at one point three million miles per hour toward a mysterious presence—we call it the great attractor—that draws us, for reasons we cannot know, across the dark sea of space.

And yet.

Despite all that, it is possible, on this little blue dot, inside its blanket of atmosphere, in a tiny town huddled at the edge of a great ocean, in a small, crowded living room—

To feel like you are not moving at all. As if the universe itself has ground to a halt.

This was how fourteen-year-old Sylvan Reynolds felt on a winter night in 2022, in the town of Far Haven, on the coast of Washington State, as Dr. Wells began to speak.

“Thank you for agreeing to meet with us again.”

Sylvan sat on one of the couches. Dr. Wells sat directly across from him, in a chair from the dining table, her tablet balanced on her knees. Her assistant stood behind her, tapping his phone.

“Sure.” Sylvan glanced at his parents over on the other couch. His mother, Beverly, smiled supportively, but her eyes darted with worry. His father, Greg, sat with his arms crossed, glowering at the visitors.

“I’d like to revisit the events surrounding the disappearance of Jovie Williams,” Dr. Wells said. “Now, as I’m sure you know, what we’re discussing here is very sensitive. We do need to have your word that—”

Read This If You Love: Sci-fi, Time travel, X-Files, Stranger Things

Recommended For: 

Stop by the other blog tour stops!

5/9/22 Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub
5/10/22 Bluestocking Thinking @bluesockgirl
5/11/22 Charlotte’s Library @charlotteslibrary
5/13/22 Maria’s Mélange @mariaselke
5/16/22 Teachers Who Read @teachers_read
5/23/22 Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers @grgenius
5/27/22 A Library Mama @alibrarymama
5/31/22 Unleashing Readers @unleashreaders

Signature

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