Log in

Or connect using:

Books by Other People slayground

fuseno8 August 28 2014, 08:52

Book Trailer Premiere – Zorgoochi Intergalactic Pizza: Delivery of Doom by Dan Yaccarino



Today I am pleased as punch to premiere the brand spankin’ new book trailer for Dan Yaccarino’s middel grade novel debut Zorgoochi Intergalactic Pizza: Delivery of Doom (say that five times fast – I dare you).  The video captures humor, pathos, and angry mushrooms.  In other words, everything that makes life worth living.


share save 171 16 Book Trailer Premiere   Zorgoochi Intergalactic Pizza: Delivery of Doom by Dan Yaccarino

yzocaet August 28 2014, 08:20

Review: Hate To Love You


Hate to Love You by Elise Alden. Carina Press. 2014. Review copy from publisher. New Adult.

The Plot: Paisley has a "slutty reputation" (her words) but is still "technically" a virgin. Technically isn't good enough: Paisley is pregnant.

Paisley meets her sister's fiance, who is as snobby as Paisley's sister. It's mutual annoyance (but also attraction) from the start.

Which is why Paisley pretends to be her sister and sleeps with the fiance, James.

Paisley doesn't have a supportive or loving family. Which may explain why she slept with James. It also explains why Paisley decides to share the truth - she slept with James - at the wedding reception. It also explains why she decides to tell a lie -- that James is her baby's father.

All hell breaks lose, helped along by the cell phone videos of her epic announcement. In the aftermath, Paisley gives her baby to James and leaves.

It's seven years later, and Paisley is back. Determined to establish a relationship with her son. But will James forgive her?

The Good: Let's start with I LOVED THIS BOOK. If the plot sounds like twelve kinds of soap opera meets a Lifetime movie meets a Syfy show, you'd be right and that's what makes it AWESOME and AMAZING.

First, yes, it's a traditional New Adult book which means plenty of sexytimes.

Now, as I get into things, you may be saying, but Liz, you're telling me too much! Spoilers, sweetie. Actually, all the information above? The reader knows that from the start! Part of why I loved this book is even thought I knew what was going to happen, I still had to turn the pages, wanting to know why and how it was going to happen. About half of the book is explaining just how James and Paisley ended up in bed together; and half is Paisley, seven years later, trying to get her life back.

The first half: I won't go into too many details about the epic night, except to say heavy drinking and black out curtains so that the bedroom is total darkness. (I KNOW.) (And if right now you're thinking about things like logic, like "wait, how can he be so drunk that he can't tell this isn't his fiance's body, that's just not making sense," part of the answer is "Caroline is such a good girl that he wasn't getting any action before this so he didn't know.") (I KNOW.)

The kind of middle, the wedding reception where she announces she slept with James and is having his baby, is noteworthy because of the videos people take of her. Not only does the video go viral, but it inspired a lot of people to use important family occasions to announce secrets to their families. Also on video. EPIC.

In a nutshell, first-half Paisley is a bit of a mess. There's a reason why she has a "slutty reputation" (I really hate the word slut, but Paisley uses it, so it's here in quotes), and that is slowly revealed. (Semi spoilery - there is a tragic backstory AND her family is just awful.) (No, seriously, so awful that by the end, any sympathy I had for Caroline was gone.) In a way, the disaster of the wedding reception and losing her son and her family wanting nothing to do with her is the best thing to happen to Paisley. She leaves England and in the seven years (which aren't shown in the book) Paisley sobers up, continues her education, and gets her act together.

Once back in England.... let's just say this is the type of book that the only job in the entire country that Paisley can get is at the place where James works. Working for him. (I KNOW).

So the second half is Paisley trying to prove to James she's changed, yet there's the attraction with James, and FEELINGS and SEXYTIMES.

But Liz, you may be saying. I get the soap opera and Lifetime references, but Syfy?

Did I mention the kind of psychic powers that Paisley has, and the sort of psychic connection she has with James?

Yes, this book had a lot going on. But you know what? I kept turning the pages. I wanted, no, needed, to find out what happened next and why and how. Paisley was working against such a stacked deck, was such an underdog, that I was understanding of her self-destructive behavior and hopeful that she'd have a happy ending. And at the same time... this was a roller coaster of "what the hell just happened" and I really enjoy that type of book!

Other reviews: Dear Author; Harlequin Junkies; Shh Moms Reading; Confessions from Romaholics.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
author2author August 28 2014, 04:35

Library Lost&Found #1 (or Cat-astrophe)


Tip of the Day: If you missed WriteOnCon this week, that's OK! Check out the archives and speaker list for current agent and editor information.

For the past six years, I have wanted to blog about this topic, and finally, after three years of collecting photos, I am taking the plunge.

What am I talking about?

Library Lost&Found, of course!

Background: I am in charge of the Circulation Department at my library, and with that I inherited "management" of the Lost & Found. This highly evolved area consists of a plastic crate (probably a lost & found item itself back in the day) sitting on a small table in the cart room.

At any one time the L&F may be full of the following items:

  • Mittens/gloves
  • Notebooks/pens
  • Umbrellas
  • Canes
  • Sunglasses/reading glasses
  • Action figures
  • Sippy cups/bottles
  • Flash drives
  • Etc.
However, there is the occasional time where something completely outlandish ends up in the L&F and I think to myself one/many of the following:
  • Who could forget that?
  • Who would bring that into the library in the first place
  • Who would own that in the first place?
  • Why did we even save that in L&F instead of throwing it out? 
While I am considering the above, I am also usually laughing hysterically and I thought I should share that hilarity with the blog-reading world.

I started collecting photos about three years ago, and it evolved from just items that were placed in the L&F to also include:
  • Notes/letters/school assignments found around the library
  • Items stuck in books
  • Items donated to the library
Now, to kick off Library Lost&Found, this is a recent item that was donated to the library. Keep in mind, we don't actually accept clothing donations...yet somehow these furry faces found their way into our building with a box of books....

A number of questions arise:
  1. Why did someone think printing cat faces all over the front of a giant t-shirt would be attractive?
  2. When they realized it wasn't attractive, why did they think the library would want it?
Oh, wait, I guess the library did want it since I'm wearing it. But only because it was too amazing to pass up adding the tongues and tail and then gifting it to my director. 

But the kitty print itself is all natural, baby! MEOW!

Until next time...

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
guyslitwire August 27 2014, 21:28

Seven Wonders Book 1: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis


From the moment Jack McKinley was smacked awake by his dinosaur and volcano via a coffee pot alarm clock, Jack knew that his day had not started well. If he only knew how much worse things were going to get before they even came close to getting better! As his day progresses, he ends up in the ER and then is whisked off to places unknown to be attended to by specialists. And that is the part of the story that is the fluffy stuff!
Jack meets up with Marco, Cass and Ally - the other kids in attendance at this weird "hospital." Together, they must figure out how to save themselves and thwart the plans of those working against them - or at least they think they are working against them... Along the way, they need to figure out who is actually telling them the truth.
This book is chock full of enough fantastical creatures and adventures to satisfy any fantasy fan.
Fans of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter will love this series. A Fast and fun first installment to a terrific journey.
jkrbooks August 27 2014, 19:33

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: August 27


JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currenty send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (picture book to middle school), two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently, and a post about with tips from Scholastic about getting kids preschool ready. I have two posts about my daughter's journey to literacy, one in which we celebrate the arrival of a box of Fancy Nancy Books, and the other in which she eagerly awaits the arrival of a particular book. Not included in the newsletter, I posted an update about the Cybils and KidLitCon, and how bloggers can participate in both. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read five middle grade books, one young adult book, and one adult nonfiction title. I read:

  • Holly Webb (ill. Marion Lindsay): The Case of the Stolen Sixpence: Book 1. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Early Middle Grade. Completed August 15, 2014. Review to come.
  • George Hagen (ill. Scott Bakal): Gabriel Finley & the Raven's Riddle. Schwartz & Wade. Middle Grade. Completed August 18, 2014. Review to come.
  • Annie Barrows: The Magic Half. Bloomsbury USA. Early Middle Grade. Completed August 21, 2014, on Kindle. No review, but I plan to read the second book, and may review both after that. 
  • J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Scholastic. Middle Grade/Middle School. Completed August 21, 2014, on MP3. This was the toughest of the Harry Potter books to get through on audio - it is quite long, and Harry is angry all the time. But now I'm on to Book 6!
  • Elizabeth Enright: Return to Gone-Away. HMH Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade. Completed August 25, 2014, on MP3. This was a re-read of one of my all-time favorite titles, a perfect book for summer. Here is a review from 2009
  • A. J. Betts: Zac & Mia. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Young Adult. Completed August 15, 2014. Review to come.  
  • William Deresiewicz: Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. Free Press. Adult Nonfiction. Completed August 24, 2014, on Kindle. This book posed some interesting ideas about America's higher education system. There were things that I agreed with, and things that I did not. But it did make me think!

I'm currently reading Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix (ARC). I'm listening to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceAs always, you can see the list of books that we've been reading to Baby Bookworm here. I've continued stocking our breakfast table book rack (new titles at least once a week). This has definitely led to more requests for us to read to Baby Bookworm during or immediately following meals. Not that I should really be calling her Baby Bookworm at all. She started Pre-K this week!

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

shakennstirred August 27 2014, 18:28

DragonCon Schedule + Media Round-Up + Lois Teaser


I'll be at DragonCon this weekend participating in the YA track -- I'll happily sign books for anyone after the panels or my reading. I'll be reading from Girl on a Wire (out so soon!), but I also just might give a little sneak preview of Lois too. *whistles innocently* Come so I'm not reading to an empty room + my mom (who's tagging along to Atlanta for some R&R).

My schedule:

Title: Urban Fantasy in YA
Description: We love a little magic, monsters, super powers—but rooted in the real world. What makes a compelling urban fantasy, and what are your faves?
Time: Fri 02:30 pm Location: A707 - Marriott
Panelists: Delilah S. Dawson, Gwenda Bond, Cinda Williams Chima, Bonnie Kunzel, Mari Mancusi

Title: Reading: Gwenda Bond
Time: Sat 1:00 pm Location: University - Hyatt

Title: Beyond Genre: Behind the Boom of Realistic YA Fiction
Description: The Fault is Our Stars is just the tip of the iceberg—realistic YA fiction is booming, and there’s a lot to love beyond genre.
Time: Sun 11:30 am Location: A707 - Marriott
Panelists: Stephanie Perkins, Gwenda Bond, Debbie Viguié, Michelle Hodkin

And now the news...

I continue to be overwhelmed by everyone's enthusiasm and congratulations about Fallout -- and it is that much more fun to now be sharing it with you. It brings a tear to my cold dark-hearted eyeballs (um, might need more sleep, or more coffee) to be proven right about how much love exists for Lois. To those of you who've gone out of your way to tell me you trust me with this, I'm so very grateful. And, of course, I hope you still feel that way once you've read the book. *insert winking emoji here* Yesterday's post with more details, in case you missed it.

So, what are people saying? A little media round-up:

I'm sure I missed a couple. It's refreshing that there hasn't been much smack-talking about YA. This week is restoring my faith in humanity.

Now also feels like a good time to remind everyone that you should sign up for my newsletter if you want to make sure you don't miss any news. I try to keep them to quarterly, and I'll be sending out an issue next week.

Without further ado, today's teaser. This one might be my favorite. Chills.

fuseno8 August 27 2014, 09:17

Fusenews: Avada ke-dairy



  • I have never, in all my livelong days, been so proud of an illustrator.  And Mary Engelbreit at that.  For someone as well-established as she is the decision to create and sell a print with all proceeds going to the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Fund, which supports the family of Michael Brown, the Missouri teenager who was gunned down by police two weeks ago.  Here’s what it looks like:

mary engelbreit ferguson Fusenews: Avada ke dairy

Next thing you know Ms. Engelbreit is being blasted by haters and trolls for this work.  You can read about the controversy and her measured, intelligent response here.

  • While we are on the subject of Ferguson, Phil Nel created a list of links and resources for teachers who are teaching their students about the events.  I was happy to see he included the impressive Storify #KidLitForJustice, that was assembled by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas.
  • iNK (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) that group of thirty authors of nonfiction books for children recently came up with an interesting notion.  Thinking about how to best reach out to teachers and homeschooling parents they’ve come up with  The Nonfiction Minute—a daily posting of  intriguing tidbits of nonfiction designed to stimulate curiosity, with a new one published online every weekday. Say they, “Each Nonfiction Minute website entry will include an audio file of the author reading his or her text, so students can actually hear the author’s voice, making the content accessible to less fluent readers.  The  audio frees us from the constraints of children’s reading vocabulary, which is what makes textbooks and many children’s books designed for the classroom so bland.  We can concentrate on creating a sense of excitement about our subject matter for our young listeners, readers, and future readers.”  Right now they’re in the the early stages of crowdfunding via IndieGoGo so head on over and give them your support if you can.  It’s a neat notion.
  • Did you see this, by the way?

Snicket Fusenews: Avada ke dairy

  • I’m not a Dr. Who fan myself but that’s more because I simply haven’t watched the show rather than any particular dislike or anything.  So I was very amused by the theory posed recently that Willie Wonka is the final regeneration of The Doctor.  And they make a mighty strong case.
  • And speaking of cool, I almost missed it but it looks as though 3-D printers are creating three dimensional books for blind children these days.  The classics are getting an all new look.  Fascinating, yes?  Thanks to Stephanie Whelan for the link.
  • This is a bit of a downer.  I was always very impressed that Britain had taken the time to establish a funny prize for kids.  Now we learn that the Roald Dahl Funny Prize has been put on hold.  It’ll be back in 2016 but still.  Bummer.
  • Daily Image:

You know, I love The Minnesotan State Fair.  I think it’s one of the best State Fairs in the nation.  But even I have to admit that when it comes to butter sculptures, Iowa has Minnesota beat.  The evidence?

butterpotter 500x375 Fusenews: Avada ke dairy

Hard to compete with that. Thanks to Lisa S. Funkenspruherin for the link.



share save 171 16 Fusenews: Avada ke dairy

yzocaet August 26 2014, 22:45

Micol Ostow Blog Tour for Amity -- Interview


As you know, I really liked Amity by Micol Ostow. And by "liked" I mean "had the heck scared out of me."

So when I found out about the Blog Tour for Amity, of course I said I wanted in!

You know what I like about doing author interviews, like this? I get to ask questions! Which means that the things I wonder about, I can get the answers to.

I hope they are things that you also find interesting!

First, here's a short bio of Micol Ostow (from her publisher):

Micol Ostow has written dozens of books for children, tweens, and teens, but Amity is her first foray into horror. I turns out, writing a ghost story is almost more terrifying than reading one. (In a good way.) Her novel family was called a “Favorite Book of 2011” by Liz Burns at School Library Journal, and her illustrated novel, So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother), was a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens.

In her spare time, Ostow blogs with the National Book Award-winning literacy initiative readergirlz.com. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, her (utterly fearless) daughter, and a finicky French bulldog named Bridget Jones. Visit her online at www.micolostow.com or follow her on Twitter @micolz.

Liz: I vividly remember the first time I read THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, and the first time I saw the original movie. When were you introduced to the story? The book or one of the movies?

Micol Ostow: Actually, my first introduction to the Amityville legend came via my favorite master of horror, Stephen King. In his early nonfiction treatise on horror, Danse Macabre, he dissected what he felt worked and what didn’t work in the movie, specifically. Ironically, if I recall much of his criticism of the original movie had to do with its focus on the physical manifestations of the house’s evil spirit rather than a build of psychological terror or dread. I didn’t end up seeing the movie until the 2005 remake, which I found really effective. Afterward, when I was kicking around ideas for my follow-up to the novel family, that remake was on tv and sparked something in me. That was when I went back and finally watched the original movie and read the book. So it was a surprisingly long time coming for a horror buff, in addition to my coming at it with a weird amount of preconception and bias given my total ignorance of the original subject matter!

Liz: While AMITY is a scary haunted house story about the supernatural, it's also a scary haunted house story about a very real haunting: the very real family dynamics that trap people, as well as the evil that people can do even without ghosts or hauntings. What type of research did you outside of the AMITY references and homages?

Micol Ostow: The “research” question is always hard to answer because the answer is slightly embarrassing: I’m very drawn to dark stories and I’m fascinated by the question of evil from within versus evil from without, so much of the research I did both for family and Amity was actually just background reading I’d done before I even had the slightest notion to write either book. Putting aside the obvious Amityville source material, though, I’d say the book’s most clear-cut influences to me are The Shining and The Haunting of Hill House.

To me, Connor is basically Jack Torrance – a flawed character who is driven to evil deed via the energy of the house, the way Torrance is driven mad by the Overlook Hotel. And Gwen is a successor to Hill House’s Eleanor, the fragile, overlooked (no pun intended) woman whose history of madness renders her fear unreliable. Both are to some extent tropes of the genre and there are plenty of examples of each throughout pop culture, but those two are my very favorite iconoclasts. I probably reread The Shining in particular at least twice a year. Does that count as research?

Liz: What was the scariest book you read as a teen?

Micol Ostow: The Shining! (That was a gimme.) I wasn’t quite a teen though, and definitely wasn’t supposed to read it. My mother was a Stephen King fanatic and kept those terrifying 1970’s library hardcovers on her nightstand, perhaps unaware of how they were imprinting on me (or maybe that was her plan all along?...) Pet Sematary made an impression, but The Shining was the one I actually snuck out of the children’s room to read in furtive fifteen-minute increments. I think I was maybe twelve? At most.

Liz: What was the scariest movie you watched as a teen?

Micol Ostow: Again, I wasn’t quite a teen – maybe eleven-ish? – but my younger brother had been home sick with something icky and lingering, and as some kind of pity-bribe thing my mother, I guess, allowed him to rent A Nightmare on Elm St. #s 1-5. I stumbled in as they were queuing up the first movie and got sucked in. TERRIFYING. That one and #4 are the two that still get me, every time.

Liz: Thank you so much!

Check out all the stops on the Amity Blog Tour.

Two stops for tomorrow: readergirlz and Little Willow.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
jkrbooks August 26 2014, 22:22

KidLitCon and Cybils: Two Chances to Participate in the Larger Community


Hey there, Kidlitosphere fans. There is news to share this week about the 2014 Cybils Awards and KidLitCon. Here is the scoop:


  • The new Cybils website is now live. The new site was designed by Sheila Ruth, Sarah Stevenson, and Anne Levy (with a tiny bit of input from me). I think that it's beautiful. It's also quite user-friendly, with a pop-up for viewing finalists by category, and a responsive design that re-sizes automatically depending on your browser size (especially helpful on mobile). 
  • New Cybils logos are also available, as you can see to the right. You can find logos in different sizes and formats on the Cybils website. Bloggers involved with the Cybils are encouraged to display the Cybils logo on your sites. The Cybils logo was designed by Sarah Stevenson.
  • Updated Cybils bling is now available in the Cybils Cafe Press store. I have already ordered my 2014 Cybils coffee mug. 
  • MOST IMPORTANT: The call for judges for the 2014 Cybils is now live. If you blog about children’s and/or young adult books, either on your own or as part of a group blog, you are eligible to apply to be a Cybils judge. Judges are needed for Round 1 (sifting through perhaps hundreds of nominated titles to produce a shortlist of 5-7 well-written, kid-friendly titles) and for Round 2 (selecting a winner from the shortlist), in 11 categories (some with sub-categories), ranging from Book Apps to Poetry to Young Adult Fiction.You can apply now through September 5th. My application is in already.


  • The program for this year's KidLitCon was just posted, with thanks to Program Chair Charlotte Taylor. There are sessions on diversity, of course, including what promises to be a fabulous keynote by Mitali Perkins. But not to worry. KidLitCon remains true to our roots, with sessions on blogging in general, and an exciting author meet and greet event (more details to come). 
  • There is now a Twitter list of registered KidLitCon attendees (those who have given permission to be listed, and are on Twitter). A blog-linked list of attendees will be posted on our website later this week. The deadline for registration is September 17th, so if you have not yet registered, please do! The room block at the KidLitCon hotel is also filling up fast. See the registration form for details. 

If you blog about children's and/or young adult books, the Cybils Awards and KidLitCon both offer a marvelous opportunity to reach out from the comfort of your own blog and participate in the larger community. Being a Cybils judge is a way to expose yourself to great books within a sub-category of children's and YA literature, and to work with a team of other bloggers who also love that category (aka kindred spirits). Attending KidLitCon is a way to meet long-time blogging friends in person, and make new one. You can also renew your commitment to your blog, and to sharing your passion for children's literature with others.

Have I convinced you? Then apply now to be a Cybils judge. Register now for KidLitCon 2014. Opportunity awaits!

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

jkrbooks August 26 2014, 22:22

Tips from Scholastic for Getting Kids Preschool-Ready


ScholasticParentsScholastic sent me some tips for parents to help get kids ready for preschool. As my own daughter went back to preschool (for PreK) just yesterday, I thought that this would be a timely thing to share. You can find more tips from Scholastic parenting expert Maggie McGuire here

5 Tips (from Scholastic) to Get Every Child Ready for Preschool

1.      USE YOUR WORDS. Talk, sing and use rhymes with your child. Children 0 – 5 years of age develop literacy skills through conversations.   Talk about what you’re making for dinner or buying at the grocery store; talk about the people you see in your town – the firemen, policemen and the pediatrician and what they do to help people.  Research shows 3 year-olds who live in language-rich environments have a vocabulary of nearly 1,110 words, but children without this experience only know 500 words? (Source: The Preschool Experiences We Deserve: A Guide for Families, FIS, 2014).

2.      BOND WITH BOOKS. Use books to show that words and pictures go together and to create special bonding moments with your child. Ask your child questions about the pictures and letters. Even parents who are not confident readers can use picture books and create stories to go with the images. 

3.      PLAY IS LEARNING. LEARNING IS PLAY.  Preschoolers learn through fun and games. Role-play activities like serving pretend meals or dress-up, as well as doing puzzles and playing with blocks and other manipulatives all contribute to school readiness.  When adults talk about and participate in the activities, children learn new vocabulary and develop more sophisticated social skills that will serve them well in a preschool or school setting – sharing, taking turns, etc. 

4.      SHOW CHILDREN THAT MATH IS EVERYWHERE. Children ages 0 – 5 are hardwired for math - whether that’s counting their fingers and toes, learning shapes, manipulating objects like building blocks or dividing up cookies so everyone gets an equal share. Play with and talk about numbers, shapes and patterns everywhere you find them.

5.      GET CRAFTY AND BUILD MOTOR SKILLS. Arts and crafts activities help develop a child’s early writing skills. Have preschoolers paint, draw, cut and glue to develop fine motor skills. Connect literacy with these activities by asking a child “What’s the story?” in his/her picture.

(Back to Jen) These are all things that we do in my house. Some, admittedly, we do more than others. I am not personally very crafty, for example, though I'll share books with my daughter at pretty much any time of the day. But I do agree that it's important to pursue a variety of activites.

I especially agree with the notion that kids are hardwired for math. My daughter has recently starting throwing random math problems at me throughout the day, like "Mom, what's eight plus twenty million plus seventeen?" She thinks that the fact that I can usually answer these questions means that I am very good at math. I tell her that I have had a lot of practice, and that she'll be good at math, too, when she practices more. Last night (after her first day of PreK) we couldn't get her to go to bed, because she was sitting at the kitchen table doing pretend math problems (basically scribbling, but calling them math problems). 

Bottom line, there are many factors to school readiness. But Scholastic's tips are all solid places to start.

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. (Except for the tips, which are from Scholastic.) You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

writingya August 26 2014, 18:22



I'll admit that I'm not familiar with this author's more popular work in the historical romance genre. I ran across this book on NetGalley and didn't realize it was a prequel, either. This is another example of an author independently publishing a work. In this case, the novel is the backstory for a previously published mass marked produced novel.

Reader, this is very definitely not a romance, nor is it speculative fiction, and while it was listed as YA in the catalog, likely because the main characters were nine and eleven when the story opens, it's not for kids that age, definitely, and it's not really marketed to young adults. I'd say it's something of a crossover novel, appropriate for older teens who enjoy historical fiction, and adults. It's a two-hanky read, too, by the by.

Summary: Two stories, two lives unspooling on either side of the world. In 1873 Peking, the nine-year-old daughter of a favored concubine finds a photograph of a foreigner in her mother's things -- which means that the foreigner is maybe someone important... especially since the Chinese woman in Western clothes in the picture is her mother. Though her Amah reminds her to mind her own business, Ying-ying knows better than to ask her beautiful and busy mother about something she's snooped to discover...so she's left with terrible questions about who she is, and her precarious place in the world. Meanwhile, in England, eleven-year-old Leighton discovers there's more than he ever understood, to his father's relationship with his old friend, Herb. Observation lends a rapidly maturing Leighton insight into his mother's frequent visits to an elderly relative, visits on which she takes his dark-haired baby brother, but never blond-haired Leighton. Understanding the truth behind the secrets in his world reveals both more joy and more pain. Outside pressures eventually cause the family to implode and with a single gunshot, Leighton's world blows apart. Now that his father is gone and he's driven his mother away, Leighton is left with an uncle whose goal is to crush Leighton's will... what is he supposed to do now?

Adrift without the protection of her beautiful mother, in Peking, Ying-ying loses her importance -- and her identity. All that is left is survival and her own two hands, and a mysterious secret society. In England, Leighton, isolated and locked away, plots to disappear. Two survivors, bruised from the beating of the world. Two lushly detailed lives, set against the backdrop of history, strive and struggle and fail and finally succeed -- and just barely miss intersecting. This was both a beautiful and a frustrating book for those reasons.

Peaks & Valleys: This is a novel which is difficult to characterize. I don't love how it ended, but knowing that it's a prequel to an already written novel helps to make more sense of it. While the ending is not a cliffhanger in the traditional sense of the word, you will NOT be left with a satisfying feeling of "yep, that story's done," when you're finished reading. You'll be left with the unflinching faces of two young, bruised people, picking themselves up once again, and going on their way. Be WARNED. Yet, the writing is compelling. The pacing is slow and expository, and gives a lot of history and motivation for the way the characters engage.

This book was described as "Crouching Tiger meets Downton Abbey." Well...not so much. If you're expecting dowagers and dandies, you won't find them in this novel, and there's less of the Crouching Tiger stuff than many might want, except near the very end. More on that in a moment.

This is a very intensely detailed, lyrically written book, and gives a wonderful account of the lives of the characters. (Here's a sample of the first two chapters from the author's website.) It is, however, stark and dark about the tragedies that took place behind the scenes of this time of opportunity and exploration in Britain, and this precursor to the end of the Chinese dynasties. A real positive is Leighton's accepting attitude towards his father, and his unchanged love for he and his "uncle" Herb. Ying-ying's place as an ornament in society - to simply accompany a man - is also correctly specific to the time. Societal mores constrict everyone - and the appearance of evil can get you into trouble even if you've done nothing wrong. These are simply the sad realities with which the characters live

While care is taken to raise neither country or culture above the other, I can't help but feel there's a tiny bit of exoticizing going on. Western society tends to be a little hyperfixated on the idea of concubines and harems and geishas - and I kind of wished that Ying-ying had been a little awkward or anything but blazingly beautiful, even as a child, but if her appearance received undue emphasis, it was because she is biracial. The other less believable cultural clue was the martial arts and fighting; I rolled my eyes at the "Crouching Tiger" bits; I don't know much about how many martial arts aficionados there would have been just hanging out at the end of the Quing Dynasty, but the fight scenes felt a tiny bit over the top for me. Of course, I really do know nothing about the average person's level of training at that point, and understand that the author was writing from her research and interests. I think it's just that fight scenes of any sort tend to lose me.

A final quibble is, of course, the cover of the novel. The woman in the Western strapless formal gown seemed a little odd; who is she? Ying-ying would never have worn a dress like that, and seemed to feel that Western women's dress and Western society as a whole was debauched and disturbing. These are just tiny quibbles against the overall scope of the novel, which is stark and unforgiving - painful, but striking.

You can find THE HIDDEN BLADE by SHERRY THOMAS at online retailers or at the author's website.

This work is copyrighted material. All opinions are those of the writer, unless otherwise indicated. All book reviews are UNSOLICITED, and no money has exchanged hands, unless otherwise indicated. Please contact the weblog owner for further details.

shakennstirred August 26 2014, 18:08

The Secret Is Out... (!!!)


...thanks to some breaking reporting from DC Women Kicking Ass last night.  

I have two words for you:


Oh, wait, and another one: FALLOUT.

But there is still more fun news to come. And more of the great teasers Switch/Capstone have designed. Here's today's -- voila!

I am completely overwhelmed -- in the best possible way -- by the reaction to the news. Because Lois deserves that reaction!

Lois is an icon, of course, a superhero without any superpowers . . . except her unmatched bravery and smarts. Not to mention her sense of humor and her commitment to truth and justice. She's also one of my all-time favorite characters -- which is why I jumped at the chance to write a novel featuring a teen Lois, moving to Metropolis and becoming a reporter for the first time. As I said yesterday, it's been an incredible honor to do this project and work with the fantastic teams at Capstone/Switch Press and DC. And, most of all, to get to put Lois front and center in the starring role, obviously. (Plus fun to write lots of banter with her maybe-more-than-a-friend from Kansas, screen name SmallvilleGuy.)

Also from last night:

Now for a geeky photo...

Me and a compendium of some of Lois's greatest moments + a T-shirt Christopher got me for x-mas + in the background a Daily Planet toy with lego Lois and a monkey finger puppet perched on top:

*dances a little*

Super-excited to have this secret out in the world so I can share it with all of you fellow Lois fans.

Now back to trying to finish a different book entirely and prepare for Dragon Con. Another teaser tomorrow!

jkrbooks August 26 2014, 16:41

Mix it Up! by Herve Tullet


Book: Mix it Up!
Author: Herve Tullet
Pages: 56
Age Range: 3-5

Mix it Up! is a companion book to Herve Tullet's Press Here. As with Press Here, the author encourages young readers to physically interact with the book to make things happen. With Press Here, readers pressed dots to apparently make them group, change color, or move about on the page (as shown on the subsequent page). In Mix it Up! the focus is on mixing colors. 

First, young readers are asked to tap a grey dot to encourage various colored splotches to appear. Then the primary color blends are explored, like this:

"With one finger take a little bit of the blue...
And just touch the yellow. Rub it...gently..."

On the next page, the reader sees a blotch of green paint, with yellow and blue just visible around the edges. Tullet keeps things varied by sometimes having readers mix the colors by rubbing the pages together, and sometimes tilting the book to dribble colors down into each other. The resulting paint blobs or splotches vary depending on the mixing method used (more splatter when you "Close the book and push down really hard", etc.). Later in the book, he introduces the effects of mixing white or black in with a color. 

While Mix it Up! does not feel as groundbreaking as Press Here did on a first reading, it is a fun and creative introduction to color mixing. I look forward to introducing it to my four-year-old (though I am expecting that she'll want to get real paint out as soon as we're done reading it). Fans of Press Here will not want to miss Mix it Up!, and readers new to Tullet's concept are bound to be charmed. Highly recommended for preschoolers (though better for individual than for group reading). 

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

alphasoup2 August 26 2014, 10:50

lick, slurp, sip, munch: what can you do with a paleta?



If you want a paleta, raise your hand!

Mango? Lime? Coconut? Strawberry? Pineapple? What do you fancy? We need one last tasty lick before summer ends.

Carmen Tafolla’s story makes me want to visit the girl narrator’s barrio — where “the smell of crispy tacos or buttery tortillas or juicy fruta floats out of every window, and where the paleta wagon rings its tinkly bell and carries a treasure of icy paletas in every color of the sarape.”

What Can You Do With a Paleta? is pitch perfect storytelling. Dr. Tafolla captures the fun, anticipation and utter deliciousness of this favorite Mexican ice pop treat, the very essence of summer and childhood.

And I LOVE the way she reads her story aloud. You’ll see what I mean:

*   *   *

Wasn’t that great? My favorite part is the blue mustache. :)

Okay, I can see your mouth watering. Not to worry. Mr. Cornelius and I made some paletas just for you with our handy dandy Zoku ice pop mold.

He rolled a fragrant juicy ripe cantaloupe all the way home from the market, and the rest was as easy as 1,2,3, with Fany Gerson’s simple recipe.

In Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice and Aguas Frescas (Ten Speed Press, 2011), Gerson serves up recipes for paletas with or without dairy, and does not shy away from such tantalizing flavors as Hibiscus-Raspberry, Mexican Egg Nog and Spiced Tomato-Tequila. It’s a book worth owning if you already have or want to acquire an ice pop mold, since you can stay with the straightforward fruit recipes, or go as exotic as you like. There are lots of color photos and David Lebovitz finds the book “lickably luscious.” Good enough for me. :)

I must admit to finding myself strangely compelled to dance around the kitchen saying, “MeLON, MeLON, MeLON” over and over again. And from now on, I will call them “paletas,” not “ice pops” or “popsicles.” “Paleta” just sounds tastier, doesn’t it?

Muy delicioso!

*   *   *


Yield: 8 to 10 pops

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups chopped fresh cantaloupe (about 1 small cantaloupe)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

1. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Pour the sugar syrup into a food processor or blender. Add the melon, lemon juice, and salt and blend until smooth.

3. If using conventional molds, divide the mixture among the molds, snap on the lid, and freeze until solid, about 5 hours. If using glasses or other unconventional molds, freeze until the pops are beginning to set (1/2 to 2 hours), then insert the sticks and freeze until solid, 4 to 5 hours.

Jama’s Tips:

* You can cut back on the sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit.

* If using Zoku molds, all you have to do is freeze the empty mold for 24 hours. When you are ready to make paletas, just pour in the juice mixture and it will freeze in about 7 to 9 minutes. Very fast! Chilling the juice in the fridge ahead of time makes it even faster.

* Beware of ursine kitchen helpers scarfing these up when your back is turned.

~ adapted from Paletas by Fany Gerson (Ten Speed Press, 2011)

*   *   *

written by Carmen Tafolla
illustrated by Magaly Morales
published by Tricycle Press, 2009
Picture Book for ages 3-7, 32 pp.
*Available in both English and bilingual editions
**Winner of the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award


Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

fuseno8 August 26 2014, 09:02

Press Release Fun: Tour the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre From the Comfort of Your Own Home



Believe it or not, this year marks the 50th Anniversary of Roald Dahl’s beloved CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. This September, Penguin is celebrating with a week long Skype Tour of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre!

On the Skype tour:
•       The Roald Dahl Museum’s Education Manager will lead your group around
the Museum virtually
•       Kids will get a look inside Roald Dahl’s real Writing Hut, featuring
his famous chair and the unusual objects he kept on his desk
•       Experience the world of Dahl and the inspiration behind his wonderful
•       Participate in a Q&A with the Education Manager

Skype opportunities are available the week of Monday, September 29 – Friday, October 3, 2014 between 9:30am EST and 3:00pm EST/8:30am CST and 2:00pm CST/7:30am MST and 1:00pm MST/6:30am PST and 12:00pm PST.

If you are interested in scheduling a FREE virtual visit, please email penguinauthorvisits@gmail.com with your preferred date and time. You can also find more information at

share save 171 16 Press Release Fun: Tour the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre From the Comfort of Your Own Home

colleenmondor August 26 2014, 05:50

Finding Evelyn



Five (!!) years ago, I posted about my grandmother's cousin, Evelyn. She died relatively young of a disease (I thought typhus) that was caught from a used mattress. Her toddler son died as well. At the time, I did not know Evelyn's married name nor her husband's name nor her year of death. All I knew was that she and my grandmother were quite close as evident from the many photos of them together.

Soooo...a couple of months ago I decided to get serious about Evelyn. Her mother was one of my great grandmother's younger half sisters and I hope to track down this missing branch of the family and learn more about my great grandmother's childhood from them. Also, I just wanted to find out what happened.

I searched through census records and found her with her married name. I found two marriages for her, both to Joseph Baranello. One was in 1933 which makes sense as her first child was born in 1934. The second was in 1937. They are the exact same names so I think it's unlikely that one of these marriages was a different couple. I have no idea why they got married twice but I'll run this down eventually, if only because the weirdness can't be ignored.

With her married name I easily found her death record and also that of her baby boy, Richard, who died two weeks before.

As it turns out, Evelyn died on my birthday in 1940. That kind of freaks me out a bit because I come from people for whom signs are everything. (Blame Catholicism and all those saints.) Evelyn and I had more in common than I thought.

She did die from a communicable disease. It looks like diphtheria from the certificate although I will have to follow up for another report apparently to know for sure. Her coffin however was ordered hermetically sealed (written in hand down the side of the certificate). This was established practice for communicable diseases at the time. And now I have the cemetery where she was buried although I won't be following up on that. (Because really - $105 to find out who she is buried with is just a bit high to me.)

Evelyn was 23 years and 10 months old when she died. She had two older daughters, Joan & Barbara Baranello. According to my grandmother, their father took them away and they were never seen again. I was told he was from South America or "someplace like that," except from census records he seems to be have been born in NYC in 1916. Finding Joan and Barbara (and their descendants) will require some more work, I know but finding them might mean more answers about my great grandmother's mother who is the real mystery in all this. So I'll keep looking but at least now I have Eveyln, and that is something good.

Just look at how happy she is in that picture. She smiles in every photo I have of her.

[Post pic from l-r, my grandmother Catherine, Marie Gonzales, Evelyn Baranello. Marie was Evelyn's mother and my grandmother's aunt. Taken 1935 - my grandmother was 16, Evelyn was 19, Marie was 38.]

larbalestier August 26 2014, 02:10

No Bestselling Women’s Fiction Book Club This Month



Due to a terrible combination of deadlines, travelling, illness and other assorted calamaties Kate Elliott and myself will not be doing the book club this month. We’re bummed about it too. But life she threw too much at us this month.

We will be back in September to discuss Han Suyin’s A Many-Splendored Thing (1952). This is the first out of print book that we’ll be reading. I haven’t been able to find an ebook edition either. It’s truly out of print. Start putting it on hold at your library now.

You can see the schedule for the rest of the year here.

That discussion will be held: 30 September Tues in Australia and 29 September Monday in the USA.

shakennstirred August 25 2014, 17:45

Secret Project, Clue The First (!)


This week the fabulous team at Switch Press/Capstone will be posting some visual teasers for what I have been obnoxiously referring to as Secret Project for months, leading up to the cover reveal. I can tell you this is an iconic character--definitely someone you know. Here's the first hint!


I think it's probably clear why it was secret (psst, look around the edges) -- and why I'm so excited about it that I couldn't help but be obnoxious. I'll bet some of you -- especially comics fans -- can figure it out just from this.

Also: yes, it's a young adult novel(!). And the entire project has been so much fun, particularly working with my editor, the divine Beth Brezenoff, and DC.

Follow the Switch Press accounts to be sure and get the rest of the skinny and I'll be updating here as well. Extra points for sharing:

Yay! Because keeping secrets is hard.

ETA: I love you guys. Truly. How quickly you sleuthed the facts.

squeetus August 25 2014, 15:22

Are the Books of Bayern appropriate for elementary-aged kids?


Dear librarians, teachers, parents, and readers,

I received this email from a school librarian. If you've had any experience with The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets, and/or Forest Born with elementary kids, could you leave a comment for him?

"The powers that be in my school district are not allowing your Books of Bayern series of books in our elementary school libraries, based largely on the fact the reviews in professional journals tend to view them as appropriate for grades 6 and up. I feel, however, that we are doing a disservice to those elementary school kids that are ready for your books. It would be extremely helpful if you could write a few words justifying keeping your books on the shelves in elementary school libraries."

EDIT: Thanks for your ongoing comments! The librarian told me, "Our school district serves 40,000 students, and this decision to ban your books from elementary schools will affect nearly 50 schools." As far as I know, no one who read the books complained about them. This was simply a matter of a school district believing that when a professional review says "for grades six and up" that means "inappropriate for grades five and down" and so banned them from elementary schools. I believe the "grade 6 and up" was referring to average reading ability not necessarily content. I also think the district's reaction wasn't malicious but well-intentioned ignorance. Still, I hope this gets resolved! I think advanced readers of elementary age need access to complex stories that don't have mature content.

fuseno8 August 25 2014, 13:35

Historical Kids: What the HECK is Going On With Nonfiction Bios These Days?



Maybe it’s Common Core.  Maybe not.  I’m not always quite certain how far to place the blame in these cases.  However you look at it, children’s nonfiction bios are getting weird these days.  In some ways it’s quite remarkable.  I’m the first one to say that nonfiction for kids is better now than it has ever been.  I mean, when I was a young ‘un the only nonfiction I ever enjoyed was the Childhood of Famous Americans series.  Not that it was actually nonfiction.  I mean, it made these interesting suppositions about the youth of various famous people, complete with fake dialogue (I am the strictest anti-fake dialogue person you’ll ever meet).  I enjoyed them the way I enjoyed fiction because, for the most part, they were fiction.  Boy, you just couldn’t get away with that kind of thing today, right?


Meet three new “nonfiction” series of varying degrees of fictionalization and authenticity that caught my eye recently.  I can’t exactly call them a trend.  Rather, they’re simply interesting examples of how publishers are struggling to figure out how to tackle the notion of “nonfiction” and “high-interest” for kids.  And it’s now our job to determine how successful they’ve become.

First up, let’s go back old Childhood of Famous Americans.  They remain beloved, but they’re problematic.  So what do you do when you have a product that slots into that category?  You rebrand, baby!

Introducing History’s All-Stars from Aladdin (an imprint of Simon & Schuster).  Observe the following covers:

Sacagawea Historical Kids: What the HECK is Going On With Nonfiction Bios These Days?

JackieRobinson Historical Kids: What the HECK is Going On With Nonfiction Bios These Days?

Look vaguely familiar?  Pick up the book and you may find the words “Childhood of Famous American” in there individually, but never strung together in that particular order. The publication page only mentions that the books were previously published as far back as the 1950s (little wonder I’m worried about that Sacagawea title, yes).  Yet the design, as you can see, isn’t far off so we had to wonder.  Is it just the same series?  A side-by-side comparison:

BetsyRoss2 Historical Kids: What the HECK is Going On With Nonfiction Bios These Days?BetsyRoss Historical Kids: What the HECK is Going On With Nonfiction Bios These Days?

The publisher description calls this “a narrative biography” which is technically the accepted term for this kind of book.  But there is no way you could use this for a report.  They’re fiction, baby.  A kind of fiction that doesn’t really have a designated place in a library collection at this time, though that could change.  Which brings us to . . .

Ordinary People Change the World – A series by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

AmeliaEarhart Historical Kids: What the HECK is Going On With Nonfiction Bios These Days?

AbrahamLincoln Historical Kids: What the HECK is Going On With Nonfiction Bios These Days?

It’s the series bound to wreck havoc with catalogers everywhere!  They look like Charles Schulz characters.  They read like nonfiction . . . sorta?  Kinda?  Kirkus said of I Am Rosa Parks that it was, “A barely serviceable introduction with far more child appeal than substance.”  Yet they’re bestsellers and visually incredibly appealing.  Published by Dial (a Penguin imprint), the books were a risk that appears to have paid off in terms of dollars.  In terms of sparking interest in these historical figures it’s also a success.  But is it factual?  Is it accurate?  Does it stand up to scrutiny?  Does it matter?  Why shouldn’t it matter?  You see the conundrum.

Finally, there’s a series coming out from Scholastic that looks like it might be along similar lines to these, but that I haven’t seen firsthand quite yet:

BenjaminFranklin Historical Kids: What the HECK is Going On With Nonfiction Bios These Days?

SallyRide Historical Kids: What the HECK is Going On With Nonfiction Bios These Days?

Called the When I Grow Up series, again we’re seeing historical figures as children.  But maybe these are entirely accurate in their retellings?  They’re Scholastic Readers, made to meet the needs of early readers.  It’s the title “When I Grow Up” that raises the red flag for me.  Because, you see, they’re written in the first person.  And as a librarian who has had to field reference questions from first graders asking for “autobiographies”, this is problematic.  If a book is entirely accurate but seems to come from the lips of its biographical subject, what is it worth in the pantheon of nonfiction?

People will always say that worrying along these lines is ridiculous.  If the books are good and spark an interest, isn’t that enough?  Why do you have to require strict accuracy at all times?  My argument would be that when biographies are written for adults, people are meticulous (hopefully) about maintaining authenticity.  Why should we hold our kids to different standards?

It’s a debate.  These books just crack it open wide.

Along the same lines (WARNING: Shameless plug looming on the horizon!) I’ve gotten out the jumper cables and restarted the old Children’s Literary Salon at NYPL.  Babies have been born and it is time to get back in the swing of things.  On that note, on Saturday, September 6th I’ll be hosting one of children’s nonfiction all-stars in a conversation that might very well touch on this topic.  Behold!

Personal Passions and Changes in Nonfiction for Children and Teens: A Conversation with Marc Aronson

Author, professor, speaker, editor and publisher by turns, Marc Aronson’s love of nonfiction and his conviction that young people can read carefully, examine evidence, and engage with new and challenging ideas informs everything he does.  Join us for a conversation about the changing role of nonfiction for youth, and the special challenges and advantages of this one-of-a-kind genre.

See you there, yes?

share save 171 16 Historical Kids: What the HECK is Going On With Nonfiction Bios These Days?

Welcome to the new LiveJournal

Some changes have been made to LiveJournal, and we hope you enjoy them! As we continue to improve the site on a daily basis to make your experience here better and faster, we would greatly appreciate your feedback about these changes. Please let us know what we can do for you!

Send feedback

Switch back to old version

LiveJournal Feedback

See a bug? Let us know! Here you can also share your thoughts and ideas about updates to LiveJournal

Your request has been filed. You can track the progress of your request at:
If you have any other questions or comments, you can add them to that request at any time.

Send another report Close feedback form

If you're a LiveJournal user, you will be logged in after submitting your request.

(optional, if you're a LiveJournal user only)

(optional, if you're a LiveJournal user only)

(not shown to the public)

If you have a billing inquiry, please go here to submit your question.

Provide a link to the page where you are experiencing the error

Do not include any sensitive information, such as your password or phone number. No HTML allowed.

If you can't pass the human test, email your inquiry to: support@livejournal.com