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#CelebrateLU- September 1, 2017

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

This week I’m celebrating the people- especially the kidlit community- who are finding ways to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

I was at work when the first reports of the flooding in Houston started coming in. While unfortunately not the first of its kind, the images were shocking, disturbing, and deeply affected lots of people.

Soon enough, though, people started sharing ways to help– and people responded. What I did was text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation to American Red Cross for flood relief. (It gets added to your phone bill for those who haven’t done it before. I think it was my first time donating that way.) Some people are/were even matching donations on social media.

There are many ways to help whenever something bad happens. I know I’ve been guilty of overthinking things before trying to figure out what the best course of action is that I sometimes end up doing nothing or missing out on an opportunity to do any good at all. The important thing is to do something, to act.

I wanted to spotlight Kate Messner’s efforts.

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On her blog, she reinstated KidLit Cares, “an online talent auction to benefit the Red Cross relief effort to help communities recover from Hurricane Harvey and related flooding. Agents, editors, authors, and illustrators have donated various services to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, with donations being made directly to the Red Cross disaster relief fund.”

It seemed her call was overwhelmingly answered. Do take a look to see if any of the auction items seem interesting to you.

Another innovative way that book lovers have been helping is the creation of the Facebook group Hurricane Harvey Book Club. The brainchild (or maybe heartchild is a better term?) of Texas elementary school teacher Kathryn Butler Mills, she has collected a virtual library of people reading books to the kids who are currently displaced from their homes. The amazing thing is that everyone seems to be participating. And it’s a great way for kids to play a part in helping others.

I hope this post can serve as a reminder that simple acts of kindness can magnify into something greater.

Find something good you can do today in whatever issue speaks to you.

What are you celebrating this week?

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Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2017- August 30, 2017

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Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist ExtraordinairePocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire by Amy Guglielmo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think I first came across the name Mary Blair watching DVD special features on older Disney films. I would be astounded by her art usually used during concept and storyboarding stages rather than in the final products which was a shame because they were beautiful. And I’ve seen some of the stories being rereleased using her illustrations. This wonderful picture book will be great for artists because of all the colors involved. And it’s so fascinating how talent that was originally and generally overlooked was then allowed to flourish in such a creative landscape.

What Is Hip-Hop?What Is Hip-Hop? by Eric Morse
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun introduction to hip-hop and its legacy with its icons told in verse and depicted with claymation!

 

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- August 27, 2017

I changed the name for my “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” posts to “My Reading Week.”

This week, I posted:
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge Wednesday

You Hold Me UpYou Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another Canadian import that I was super impressed with. The story is great for “how full is your bucket?” fans. It’s also great to teach acts of kindness to readers who may be overwhelmed by all the bad news out in the world or are inspired by Wonder’s message to choose kind!

The author’s note discusses a deeper intention of why this book was written- the mistreatment of Canada’s indigenous people through its implantation of residential schools.

Mary McScaryMary McScary by R.L. Stine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A silly story about a girl who wants to scare her cousin. Readers will be surprised in the way she finally does so!

Mr. Tweed And The Band In NeedMr. Tweed And The Band In Need by Jim Stoten
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun seek and find book but I wish there was more to this story the way the first one had!

Creepy Pair of Underwear!Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This has become one of those books I love eavesdropping on people who read it at the store and listening to what makes them laugh. And, believe me, there are plenty! A go to book if you want guaranteed goofiness during story time.

The Amazing Crafty Cat (Crafty Cat, #1)The Amazing Crafty Cat by Charise Mericle Harper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was surprised to like this more than I thought I would. It gave me a bit of Babymouse vibe. The way I’d been selling it to customers is that it’s about a girl who’s philosophy in life is that glitter can solve all her problems. I like that there are 6 crafts you can do. My biggest dislike was that not all the storylines seemed to have been resolved- or at least in a satisfactory manner.

Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis (Crafty Cat, #2)Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis by Charise Mericle Harper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A delightful sequel to this new series about a creative girl who gets courage to solve her problems by taking on the persona of Crafty Cat. It had the same problems (the mean girl and how she doesn’t really get punished) than the first one but I liked her relationship with her best friend! Includes 6 more crafts to do.

Patina (Track, #2)Patina by Jason Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So good! If you loved Ghost as much as I did, you’ll love this follow up to the series as much- if not more! A great story of how life can run us off course but how family (the ones we’re born with and the ones we choose) can lead us back on the right track if we just believe in them and in ourselves.

Patina by Jason Reynolds comes out August 29th.

Absolutely Alfie and the First Week FriendsAbsolutely Alfie and the First Week Friends by Sally Warner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting topic. What if two of your friends aren’t exactly friendly with one another? Wouldn’t you think that the three of you will be all BFFs? Alfie absolutely thinks so and tries to devise a plan to make it happen. But when it backfires, what will she do next?

I just realized while writing this review and thinking about the first book in this series that the main character is an extremely worried person. That may be very helpful to kids who are like that in real life.

Review Notes
***= Recommended
****= Highly Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Have a great reading week!

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2017- August 23, 2017

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Danza!: Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de MéxicoDanza!: Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México by Duncan Tonatiuh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Duncan Tonatiuh delivers another stunning performance with his picture book about Amalia Hernandez, a Mexican dancer and choreographer who founded a dance company that would win hearts all over the world. I loved how Amalia was influenced by many forms of dance and inspired by her country’s rich history to tell stories through movement and music. Includes an author’s note and a glossary.

The Big EclipseThe Big Eclipse by Nancy Coffelt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was for the longest time not getting into the eclipse excitement but when the day finally came, I decided to look up and experience it for myself. This fun picture book was full of eclipse facts to get readers about this rare occurrence including activities and silly trivia of states on its path. There’s also a list of future eclipse dates as well as glasses to safely view it.

 

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- August 21, 2017

I changed the name for my “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” posts to “My Reading Week.”

This week, I posted:
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge
Celebrating Kwame Alexander’s Books

A Squiggly StoryA Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Absolutely adorable. A boy decides to write a story but is worried because he doesn’t know how to spell yet. With the help of his older sister, he deals with it letter by letter, which are practically squiggles and pictures to him. And surprisingly it works! A nice look into the creative process and a great lesson to not get bogged down by minor details as long as the idea gets across!

Mama's Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and SeparationMama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The power of stories to get us through tough times can be seen in this picture book about a family separated due to some complications with the mother’s immigration papers. A delicate issue managed gently for young readers.

Gorilla Gardener: How To Help Nature Take Over the WorldGorilla Gardener: How To Help Nature Take Over the World by John Seven

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even as a person like me who tends to enjoy the beauty and wonder of nature from the inside looking out, I loved the idea of this book! The world could be a little bit more green and everyone can do their part to make it so. Includes instructions on how to make your own seed bombs as well a mini history of guerilla gardening!

Tell Me About Sex, GrandmaTell Me About Sex, Grandma by Anastasia Higginbotham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A kid-friendly approach to what may be a difficult topic for adults to tackle. What should they tell them? How much information is enough or too much? This book provides an approach that I think is more important than going into anatomical detail and talking about bodily functions. Instead, sex is treated as a shame-free, individual, positive, and consensual act a person does with oneself and/or others.

Sarabella's Thinking CapSarabella’s Thinking Cap by Judy Schachner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A cute book about learning to express oneself through art.

 

A Small Thing . . . but BigA Small Thing . . . but Big by Tony Johnston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A sweet book about trying out new things little by little. Has a nice surprise at the end.

 

This Beautiful DayThis Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What I loved most about this picture book is Suzy Lee’s illustrations. A simple story about seeing the silver lining in things.

 

Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down ThinkerBeatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A new early chapter book series full of wordplay and crazy antics. Things I loved about it:

1. It features a Filipino character.
2. The plan that doesn’t end up happening becomes something else which becomes the driving plot for the entire series. I won’t spoil it for you but it’s about kindness.

 
Absolutely Alfie & the Furry, Purry SecretAbsolutely Alfie & the Furry, Purry Secret by Sally Warner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In a new series featuring EllRay Jakes’s sister, Absolutely Alfie will surely entertain readers who are ready for early chapter books. In this first installment, she sneaks a cat into the house and tries to keep it a secret from her family until she can prove to them she’s not allergic to pets as they claim she is and that she can be a good pet owner. Also throws in some pre-school jitters.

I wasn’t a fan of the art. They switched illustrators.

Spirit Week Showdown (The Magnificent Mya Tibbs, #1)Spirit Week Showdown by Crystal Allen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun new series featuring a spunky character that readers will want to get to know! Aspiring cowgirl Mya Tibbs is gung ho for spirit week but when she’s paired with the school bully, it causes friction between her and her best friend.

This book features a great family dynamic and a coming of age realization about what makes a friend a real one. It also delves into how we may be as bad as a bully and not even know it. Hopefully, it will spark some classroom discussions! (Although, there are real bullies who are rotten to the core and should not be given the benefit of the doubt!)

There was one instant involving a lasso I wasn’t particularly thrilled about.

I can’t wait to read the sequel.

The MetropolitansThe Metropolitans by Carol Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

World War II and Camelot. Nazis and wizards. Ciphers and curses. It’s been weeks since I listened to this on audio book. I wouldn’t think I would like it as much as I did because it seemed too much and yet I enjoyed it and wanted to see how it would play itself out. Good for fans of a diverse cast of characters, readers who like puzzles, historical fiction, and Arthurian legend.

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King (Mighty Jack, #2)Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Ben Hatke’s latest graphic novel Mighty Jack and the Goblin King, the young heroes find themselves trapped in a world full of giants, rats, and other creatures hungry for power and hungry for human flesh! The ending will thrill fans and have them screaming for what’s next!

Review Notes
***= Recommended
****= Highly Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Have a great reading week!

 

#CelebrateLU- August 18, 2017/ Kwame Alexander Reading Challenge

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

This week I’m celebrating Kwame AlexanderKwame Alexander.

mustreadin2017

One of my #MustReadin2017 reading challenges was to read all of Kwame Alexander’s books released this year- and he’s been quite prolific!

I’ll be sharing my reviews of those books plus a few others I’ve read.

I wouldn’t have thought I’d be wanting to read all of his books because I wasn’t a fan of The Crossover at all!

The CrossoverThe Crossover by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I can’t
For the life of me
See what
The buzz is all about
For this book

I’ve been known
To like
Other books
Involving sports
And I’ve been more
Tolerant
Of books
Told in verse

It just seemed
Corny
Like a haunted maze
And I couldn’t wait
For it to end

But, as you can see, I changed my tune!

BookedBooked by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This year has completely surprised me in terms of what books I’ve ended up liking. You may or may not know how I absolutely didn’t like The Crossover but I was hooked on Booked! I kept wanting to talk about it with someone.

Maybe I knew what to expect with a novel told in verse. But I think the characters were definitely more likable and relatable. And the “corny like Fritos” factor was still there but it worked with Booked.

I would have enjoyed a list of all the books mentioned in this book. And props to Kwame Alexander for being such a literacy advocate!

Surf's UpSurf’s Up by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This would make for a great summer read. Two friends have two very different ideas of how to spend a day. One wants to surf while the other wants to keep reading his book. Great for parents, educators and librarians to showcase how amazing of an adventure reading can be!

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and PicturesAnimal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Haikus are paired with amazing animal photographs by Joel Sartore who’s been spotlighting disappearing, threatened or endangered species as part of Photo Ark project for National Geographic.

This stunning book includes multiple fold-out spreads, author and photographer notes as well as information about the project.

The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called LifeThe Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part biography not only of Kwame Alexander’s childhood involving sports but also of other athletes, part poetry and advice, and part inspirational quotes, this is a great guidebook for teens and pre-teens. It’ll be nice to pair with 365 Days of Wonder.

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating PoetsOut of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A celebration of poets who have affected the lives of these three contributing writers. Mini biographies are included at the end. What I liked about this- besides the gorgeous illustrations which are stunning- is that each of the poems are in the style of the poets and has references to their more famous works if you’re familiar with them.

SoloSolo by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kwame Alexander works his magic for a young adult crowd, partnering once again with Mary Rand Hess. Being part of a rock and roll family might seem like the good life but Blade knows too well not all that glitters is gold. With a father who crashes and burns more often than not and a girlfriend who may not be quite into him as he is with her, he relies on music to get him through the tough times. But after a family secret comes out, he finds himself halfway around the world to discover what’s real and what isn’t in his life. A beautiful lyrical book. I particularly loved the poem “Konko.” And I need to check if the publisher or the authors have compiled the songs mentioned in the book into a playlist.

He’s also included in this anthology:

Flying Lessons and Other StoriesFlying Lessons and Other Stories by Ellen Oh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great anthology that not only showcases diversity but will give readers an introduction to some of the finest YA writers around right now. I hope people will enjoy the stories and that they will reflect on their own stories- the ones that they alone can tell shaped by their unique background and culture and experiences.

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2017- August 16, 2017

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The future is female with these upcoming nonfiction picture book releases of wonderful women.

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No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader GinsburgNo Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Kathleen Krull

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After having already read a couple Ruth Bader Ginsburg picture book biographies before, I still managed to learn some new things with this one. I’ve enjoyed seeing which parts of her life have become mainstays and which ones are elaborated upon. This includes a timeline and 10 stand out cases she’s been a part of!

I’m definitely interested in reading more book about her!

Expected publication: February 27th

To read more piture book reviews of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, click here.

Free as a Bird: The Story of MalalaFree as a Bird: The Story of Malala by Lina Maslo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s always a good thing when more people get to know about Malala and this one is another picture book biography about the young activist. I appreciated the slight focus on her father and going a little into her legendary namesake.

Expected publication: January 23rd 2018