BLUE SPOT, by Griselda Sastrawinata

"Well, Mama, then it started raining blueberries! Luckily, I had an umbrella. The blueberry rain created lots of puddles that turned into blueberry jam.  I had to walk ove it on stilts."

In BLUE SPOT, sparkling illustrations combine with imaginative text to create a fantastical journey totally relatable to any child.  I love how Daisy tells a story that is creative and fun, but in the end tells the true story so her Mama understands why she has a blue spot on her dress.  This is the kind of book that will delight young readers!

Three NEW Read Alouds

I just read three hilarious and heartwarming newly released picture books.  


"The letter B stuck out his tongue and bragged, 'Our group is #1'!"

Offended, A said, 'You'll regret when all the vowels are done, I bet."

CAN U SAVE THE DAY? by Shannon Stocker and Tom Disbury, is a clever alphabet book where the vowels get disgruntled and leave, causing chaos with all of the animal sounds.

"So E took off. Things went awry, and all the horse could say was 'Nigh!" the birs sang 'twt' instead of tweet, and the sheep just 'blt' instead of bleat."

Super fun read aloud and great teaching tool for consonants and vowels and letters in general!


"Bruce was a bear who did not neighbors.  Neighbors were loud.  They were always interrupting... and pestering.  Worse still, neighbors lived all over Bruce's neighborhood."

BRUCE'S BIG STORM, by Ryan T. Higgins is another hilarious and heartwarming installment of the Mother Bruce series.  I love curmudgeonly Bruce! And I love how he hates things but always helps the other animals in the end.  Filled with comical and expressive illustrations, this book is the kind of read aloud that kids will want to read over and over again.


"But what is it that really makes a Glam-MA so glamorous? 
Because you're the one who made her a Glam-MA in the first place...and nothing is more glamorous than that."

I LOVE GLAM- MA!, by Samantha Berger and Sujean Rim is a lovely celebration of energetic and fun Grandmas.  I LOVE the title, the clever text and stunning and creative and the illustrations.   The pages of this book show all types of activities a grandma can do from building forts or making capes.  Super fun text for a grandmother to read with their grandchildren!

What new picture books have you smiling?

Happy Book Birthday to Three Compelling Middle Grade Novels!

"I think about my baby sister, how I want to bring her to Harlem one day, how I won't be impatient with her as she takes it all in. How I want to show her where we come from, how I'll whisper in her ear, "You come from greatness, you come from strength."

Just. Wow.  SOME PLACES MORE THAN OTHERS, by Renee Watson,  is powerfully moving, well written, and compelling.  It's a coming of age story about a girl who wants to understand her Dad's background, and help him reconcile with her grandfather.  Themes of family, forgiveness, culture, history will evoke thought and discussion.  The story is so beautifully written that I didn't want it to end.  I laughed and teared up--this MG is the perfect blend of heart and hope.  Beautiful, beautiful story!

"I think about my baby sister, how I want to bring her to Harlem one day, how I won't be impatient with her as she takes it all in. How I want to show her where we come from, how I'll whisper in her ear, "You come from greatness, you come from strength."

Just. Wow.  SOME PLACES MORE THAN OTHERS, by Renee Watson,  is powerfully moving, well written, and compelling.  It's a coming of age story about a girl who wants to understand her Dad's background, and help him reconcile with her grandfather.  Themes of family, forgiveness, culture, history will evoke thought and discussion.  The story is so beautifully written that I didn't want it to end.  I laughed and teared up--this MG is the perfect blend of heart and hope.  Beautiful, beautiful story!

"Suddenly, with a wave of nerves, Evangeline realized that the way the spider-girl looked right now was the way Evangeline herself must look every time there was an empty seat next to her.  Every time she sat there with her puffy coat pulled tight around her, waiting, hoping, that just one person would sit down and ask her name.

Evangeline knew what she had to do."

This Frozen-like fantasy, HEARTS OF ICE, by Adi Rule drew me in and had me hooked from page one. Evangeline is a lonely 12 year old who lives with her mother and moves before she ever has a chance to connect with her peers.  Her character is relatable and authentic, making the story so much fun to read!  Filled with adventure, surprises, and magic, HEARTS OF ICE is the kind of book I could read again.  Just because.

"Heat travels from my feet and into my hands, forms in my mind as a ball of red haze. I send it to the lock and untwist it. As soon as it's done my skin cools down and I lean against the door, waiting, half holding my breath. The pain comes in a wave, hammers on the bones of my arms and legs, and I wait it out, gritting my teeth."

CASTER, by Elsie Chapman is compelling, fast paced and well written. I found myself immersed in the dystopian magical world.  Aza is a complex character with flaws that make her an authentic and relatable character.  Aza has impossible choices to make and since the stakes are so high, the reader cares about the outcome. Chapman artfully interweaves themes of loss, grief, family, loyalty, revenge, love, work, identity, and being true to yourself throughout the story.  I hope there's another installment in this story--the world building is all immersive and I can't wait to find out what happens to Aza as she navigates the challenges of her life as a caster.

The Very Very Far North Blog Tour Plus GIVEAWAY!

"Sometimes a day has a change of heart and decides to take you where you want to go."

The Very Very FAR North, written by Dan Bar-El,  illustrated by Kelly Pousette is a charming and witty story reminiscent of Winnie The Pooh. Duane is a curious bear who loves eating, napping, friends and adventures.  Compelling writing draws us in and introduces us to unique and relatable characters whose personality quirks remind us of  home. The illustrations only add to the allure of this fun middle grade read.
Book Synopsis
An inquisitive polar bear named Duane befriends an array of animals as he discovers where he belongs in this charming classic-in-the making that’s reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh.

In the Very, Very Far North, past the Cold, Cold Ocean and just below the hill that looks like a baby whale, you’ll find Duane and his friends.

Duane is a sweet and curious young bear who makes friends with everyone he meets—whether they’re bossy, like Major Puff the puffin, or a bit vain, like Handsome the musk ox, or very, very shy, like Boo the caribou. For these arctic friends, every day is a new adventure!

To win a copy of this book, comment on this post. If you share on facebook or 
twitter, you get another entry. Giveaway closes in one week.

Tour Schedule
September 2 – The Story Sanctuary
September 3 – Kirsti Call
September 4 – Randomly Reading
September 5 – Alexa Loves Books
September 6 – Jean Little Library
September 7 – Tale Out Loud
September 9 – Insane About Books

Author Bio
Dan Bar-el is an award-winning children’s author, educator, and storyteller whose books include Audrey (cow), Not Your Typical Dragon, and The Very, Very Far North. Dan has worked with children ages three to thirteen as a school-age childcare provider, a preschool teacher, a creative drama teacher, and a creative writing teacher. He also teaches with the Creative Writing for Children Society. Dan lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with artist and goldsmith Dominique Bréchault, and Sasha, the most adorable cat in the known universe. Visit him at
Illustrator Bio
Kelly Pousette is an illustrator and storyteller, originally from the west coast of British Columbia. She loves to create things, especially pictures. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post ParisThe Brown Paper Bag blog, and Brightness Magazine. She currently resides in northern British Columbia with her husband and very large dog Clovis. The Very, Very Far North is her first book.

Four Perfect Picture books to read on the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing!

It's been fifty years since we landed on the moon!  To celebrate this day, we read KITE FOR MOON, PENGUINAUT, TINY LITTLE ROCKET, and SUN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL.  

"Down below, a very small boy flying his kite on a beach near his house, looked up at the moon. 'Moon!" He called up to her. 'Don't be sad!'"

KITE FOR MOON iKITE FOR MOON, by Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, and Matt Phelan is a lovely, lyrical story of a boy and his friendship with the moon. The story evokes discussion about space exploration, astronauts and the beauty of relationships and adventure. The gorgeous illustrations enhance the text and make this an excellent read aloud.

"And with a shake, shake, shake of a half-filled soda bottle, the ship was ready for liftoff. 
 It was perfect. And perfectly penguin-sized."

PENGUINAUT by, Marcie Colleen and Emma Yarlett is an imaginative journey of friendship and adventure.  When Penguin feels small, his creativity leads him on a journey that teaches him that he's not alone, and there will always be friends who want to join him on his adventures.  A clever and gentle read aloud with perfect word choice and pacing, and delightful illustrations!

"There's a tiny little rocket
that will take you to the stars. 

It only flied there once a year, 
but zips you out past Mars."

TINY LITTLE ROCKET by Richard Collingridge takes the reader for an out of this world ride through space.  Written in rhyme and beautifully illustrated, this book will take you on an adventure you'll never forget. 

"Once in a while, it gets dark in the daytime because the moon gets in the Sun's way.  That's called a solar eclipse, and it only lasts for a little while.
Moon covering the sun: Look what I can do!
Sun: Yes, yes. We are very impressed.  Now keep moving."

Filled with humor and engaging information, THE SUN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL by Nick Seluk is the kind of book that kids will read over and over again. Although the sun is the main character in this book, the moon is also featured and discussed. The illustrations are fun and the informational text is written in a way that kids will understand and seek out. 

What books are you reading as you celebrate the 50th anniversary of our moon landing? 

The Broken Bees' Nest, by Lydia Ludikis and André Ceolin

“'BEES!' Keya cried. 'Run for your life!'
Arun grabbed her hand. “They won’t hurt you
if you don’t bother them. Bees are totally amazing."

THE BROKEN BEE'S NEST, by Lydia Lukidis, is a great way to introduce bee facts to any child. The engaging fictional story is interspersed with fun facts about bees, and there's additional backmatter too that helps kids understand how to be friends to bees. Whimsical illustrations by Andre Ceolin pair with well chosen words that encourage kids to respect living things, make things with their hands, and create. This story is part of the MAKERS MAKE IT WORK STEAM series, one of many books that empowers young readers to explore ideas and use their creativity.

The Candle and the Flame, by Nafiza Azad

"They are like puzzle pieces, straining toward each other, trying to form a whole, but being kept from unification by viscous matter than to Fatima Ghazala's eyes looks very much like grief made tangible."

Nafazia Azad's debut novel is lovely, lyrical and filled with diverse characters.  The book is about belonging and family and powerful women.  The world building is extensive and immersive and I found the premise intriguing and the plot fast paced.  This story will evoke discussion of grief, loss, discrimination, war, differences, friendship, loyalty, family and love.

The cover and entire book are dazzling, yet I found it hard to connect with at first.  There were so many words that I didn't understand that it pulled me out of the story as I tried to use context clues to discern the meaning. I didn't realize until the end of the book, that there was a thesaurus which I definitely needed!  Overall, well-worth the read!

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Two Terrific New Picture Books!


"Dinosaurs love company. Why not encourage you pet to meet new people and make friends? This can also be a good opportunity to teach your dinosaur about...sharing"

How to Take Care of Your Dinosaur, by  Jason Cockcroft, is delightfully fun to read. The illustrations enhance the already entertaining story with comical and expressive characters. The story follows a routine that will mirror most kids daily routines in a way that is both predictable and surprising. This is a great bedtime book for any dinosaur or pet lover.

"I'm waiting for Chicken Smith.  He won't be long now."

Waiting for Chicken Smith, by David Mackintosh, is a quirky, child-like story about a kid who is waiting for his summer friend to show up.  As his younger sister repeatedly tries to get his attention, he ignores her and explains that he can't attend to her because he is waiting for Chicken Smith.  Finally the main character listens to his sister and is rewarded with a delightful surprise.  Perhaps sisters can be just as much fun as friends?  The whimsical illustrations add to the well chosen text and help young readers understand loss and appreciate the relationships that they have.

Finding Orion plus GIVEAWAY!!!!

"It's hard, sometimes, reconciling the difference between what you really feel about something and what you know you're supposed to feel."

John David Anderson's books never fail to engage and amaze.  FINDING ORION is a story of grief, belonging, and finding your place in the world.  Orion Kwerk is the only ordinary person in his family of brilliant and quirky characters. A life full of strangely flavored jelly beans, constellations, dictionaries and show tunes is interrupted  when Orion's grandfather's death is announced by a singing clown.  Papa Kwirk's death leads Orion and his family to a journey full of mayhem, mystery, ice cream, understanding, and forgiveness.  

To win a copy of this book, comment on this post. If you share on facebook or twitter, you get another entry. Giveaway closes in one week.

Sometimes you need to lose something in order to find yourself.
Beloved author John David Anderson returns with a heartwarming, heartbreaking and unforgettable story of the true power and limits of family.
    Ron Kwirk comes from a rather odd family. His mother named him and his sisters after her favorite constellations, and his father makes funky-flavored jelly beans for a living. One sister acts as if she’s always onstage, and the other is a walking dictionary. But no one in the family is more odd than Rion’s grandfather, Papa Kwirk.
    He’s the kind of guy who shows up on his motorcycle only on holidays, handing out crossbows and stuffed squirrels as presents. Rion has always been fascinated by Papa Kwirk, especially since his son—Rion’s father—is the complete opposite. Where Dad is predictable, nerdy, and reassuringly boring, Papa Kwirk is mysterious, dangerous, and cool.
    Which is why, when Rion and his family learn of Papa Kwirk’s death and pile into the car to attend his funeral and pay their respects, Rion can’t help but fell that that’s not the end of the story. That there’s so much more to Papa Kwirk to discover.
    He doesn’t know how right he is.

John David Anderson is the author of some of the most beloved and highly acclaimed books for kids in recent memory, including the New York Times Notable Book Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Posted, Granted, Sidekicked, and The Dungeoneers. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wonderful wife and two frawsome kids in Indianapolis, Indiana. He’s never eaten seven scoops of ice cream in a single sitting, but he thinks it sounds like a terrific idea. You can visit him online at

Blog Tour May 6-14 2019
May 14 Kirsti Call

4 Attachments


"'I'm falling in love with you, too.'

I hear nothing else.  the sound those words carry is far greater, so much more exceptional, than any piece of music I could ever make."

ALL OUR BROKEN PIECES by L. D. Crichton took my breath away. The story is compelling and the characters realistic and complex. I found the book so engaging and thought provoking that I read past midnight, and then couldn't stop myself from percolating on what would happen next in this story of star-crossed teens. 

This stunning debut YA mirrors the teens' English project on Romeo and Juliet, but they are determined for a happy ending. Pairing a girl with OCD and a boy with serious external scars was brilliant and I love that two broken people come together to help each other heal.  As a marriage and family therapist, appreciate how Kyler accepts Lennon as she is, expressing curiosity about her quirks and how this helps Lennon accept her own quirks, leading to fewer compulsions.  And Lennon accepts Kyler for he is, helping him to understand that he doesn't need to hide his scars in order to live the life he wants to live.  The song lyrics in this book powerfully express Kyler's angst, the texts and letters between the MC's also made for an interesting, and well written book.  Still in a residual book haze after reading this one!

Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers by Shauna M. Holyoak

"I held the tissue to my eyes because, for the first time in my life, I was getting a lecture I didn't deserve. The skin on my cheeks prickled and it felt like goose bumps blossomed on my scalp."

Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers is filled with interesting characters whose curiosity and sleuthing create delightful mayhem and a compelling read. Kazu is a strong, independant, clever 11 year old who is determined to find and return all the dogs that have gone missing in the town. Her rag tag group of friends are realistic and interesting, the plot is fast paced, and the mystery is fun to decipher as a reader.

Happy Book Birthday, Kazu!  I can't wait to read more of your adventures!

Happy Book Birthday to TWINCHANTMENT, by Elise Allen!

'"Let's not wait until a better way comes along--let's make a better way come along. Our Ascension Ceremony's next week, right?  Once it's over, and we're officially in line for the throne, let's just tell the truth!" 

"The truth?"  Flissa echoed.  "About us?"'

This magical adventure features princess twins who must pretend that they are one person.  What an incredible hook!  I found this story engaging, fast-paced, intriguing and filled with mystery.  The sisters perfectly balance each other out in a way that's heartwarming and hilarious.  Themes of loss, loyalty, friendship, teamwork, trust, illness, death, and grief will get readers thinking and talking.  I can't wait to find out what happens as the story continues in book two! 

Three Perfect Picture Books

"Nothing like a frosty cold drink," said the bear. '"So much better than 
the forest-temperature drinks at home."

THE GREAT INDOORS, by Julie Falatko and Ruth Chan is a clever and witty, as usual. Julie Falatko creates a whimsical world where animals take their vacation in someone's house. Filled with the hulla-baloo of animals in a house, the adventures don't stop until the very last page when you discover....well, I won't ruin the surprise. Such a fun read aloud, and good book for laughs.

Bare bear... "Stop right there!  You should be wearing underwear!!!"

Happy Book Birthday to UNDEREWEAR! Jenn Harney's rhyming text and expressive illustrations make this the kind of story that readers will want to read aloud over and over again. It starts with a bang and continues to make readers laugh with hilarious illustrations and clever text. 

Once again, the tree branches 
gracefully swayed back and forth
and leaves floated down.

Lawrence studied the leaves as he gathered them--the 
yellow one with rounded edges.

LAWRENCE IN THE FALL, by  Matthew Farin and Doug Salati is a beautiful story about a little fox who needs to show his collection at school. But, he doesn't have a collection! Little Fox forages the forest with Papa, eventually finding a beautiful collection of his own. Expressive illustrations combine with lyrical text to create the kind of story that will evoke discussion about nature, trees, collections, getting lost, and show and tell. 

Why you should read BAT and the End of Everything, by Elana K. Arnold

"I thought she was getting a ride home with Ezra," Bat said. He knew his voice sounded whiny, but he couldn't make it sound different.

A BOY CALLED BAT and BAT AND THE WAITING GAME, are two of my favorite recent chapter books. BAT AND THE END OF EVERYTHING is the perfect end to the trilogy. It masterfully shows the inner life of an autistic boy. Well written and beautifully illustrated, this book is fun to read and will resonate with kids and adults alike. The friend and family relationships and portrayal of autism and it's challenges are authentic and compelling.

BAT is quirky, likable and genuine. His reactions to the world and to other people show how he misunderstands people's cues, yet it is obvious that his intentions are always good. Throughout the book, people misunderstand BAT'S good intentions, particularly when he speaks very literally without realizing how it will make others feel. 

In this third book, BAT has a better understanding of how other people might misunderstand him and keeps some of his thoughts to himself in a way he wouldn't have earlier. His sibling relationship has changed also. Janie, his older sister seems to understand BAT better and voluntarily spends time with him. She also has hard days in this book which helps BAT realize that he's not the only one who struggles. 

I love how well BAT cares for Thor, his skunk, how much he worries about releasing Thor into the wild, and how both Thor and BAT calm down when they are together. The book covers themes of loss, autism, divorce, diversity, pet care, parents dating new people, friendship, siblings, and connection.

I highly recommend all three books! Both my 8 year old son and I found each one compelling and thought provoking.

By Elana K. Arnold
Published by Walden Pond Press, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780062798442

About the Book
Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat) ahs been the caretaker for Thor, the best skunk kit in the world…but the last day of third grade is quickly approaching, and Thor is almost ready to be released into the wild. The end of school also means that Bat has to say good-bye to his favorite teacher, and he worries about the summer care of Babycakes, their adorable class pet. Not only that, but his best friend is leaving for a long vacation in Canada.
Summer promises good things, too, like working with his mom at the vet clinic and hanging out with his sister, Janie, but Bat can’t help but feel that everything is coming to an end.
National Book Award finalist Elana K. Arnold returns with the third story starring an unforgettable boy on the autism spectrum.

Elana K. Arnold grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own perfect pet—a gorgeous mare named Rainbow—and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She is the author of picture books, middle grade novels, and books for teens, including Damsel a Michael Prinz Honor Book, and What Girls are Made of, a finalist for the National Book Award. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. You can find her online at

March 26             Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub
March 27             Kirsti Call @kirsticall
March 30             Read Now Sleep Later @frootjoos
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April 2                  The BoookMonsters @thebookmonster
April 3                  Educate*Empower*Inspire…Teach @melissaguerrette
April 4                  Librarian’s Quest @loveofxena
April 5                  Novel Novice  @novelnovice
April 6                  Unleashing Readers @unleashreaders
April 7                   Lit Coach Lou @litcoachlou