Monday, January 30, 2012

My favorite books of 2011 & the 2nd annual Summer Book Club...

I'm going to share my FAVORITE book from last years Summer Book Club. This one is still in my mind and every once in a while I think I really should read it again. To me a great book is one that you want to read again and always see something new and different about it.

Be sure to join us this summer beginning June 1st for the 2nd Annual Summer Book Club where I feature 6 amazing NEW books for the Middle Grade Crowd. I'm already on the hunt and think I've found one possibly two and I've even got a couple of publishers looking for great books to share with us.... Any books you'd like to know more about?
Between Two Ends Between Two Ends
by David Ward
Age 9-12, 304 pages,
ISBN-10: 9780810997141
ISBN-13: 978-0810997141

When Yeats and his parents visit his grandmother’s creepy old house, Yeats reunites a pair of pirate bookends and uncovers the amazing truth: Years ago, Yeats’s father traveled into The Arabian Nights with a friend, and the friend, Shari, is still stuck in the tales.

Assisted by the not-always-trustworthy pirates, Yeats must navigate the unfamiliar world of the story of Shaharazad — dodging guards and tigers and the dangerous things that lurk in the margins of the stories — in order to save Shari and bring peace to his family.
My Thoughts:

Between Two Ends is the perfect rainy day or summer time book to read!  I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Fast paced, full of adventure and lots of unexpected treats that can only take place in a good book, kids (and grown ups that never grew up) will have a hard time putting this book down.
The book opens when Yeats visits his grandmother's home where many years ago an unfortunate event took place when his father was the same age as he is now.  The house is creepy and dark, there is a very old man who waits upstairs, a grand library filled with books and a bookend... and when Yeats finds another bookend in the garden encrusted with dirt he cleans it off and takes inside. From there things start happening...
Follow Yeats, Skin & Bones and the old man when they cross a "sea" of books to rescue Shari, a girl Yeats father once knew as a dear friend and left in "The Arabian Nights" when he was the same age as Yeats is now. Now it's up to Yeats to save her before it's to late.
The writing is outstanding, the plot and pace wonderful and just so you know, I am definitely looking forward to the sequel to this book (the author has confirmed there is another one)..... 

About the author:
David Ward was born in Montreal and grew up in Vancouver. He was an elementary school teacher for eleven years before completing his master's degree. He is the author of the Grassland trilogy and is a writer and university instructor in children's literature. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and their three children.

Follow David Ward for future news on upcoming books:   Website                     

You can purchase the book on Amazon for $12.71 - click here

Questions I asked the author David Ward:
1) How many books do you think is going to be in this series? I'm really hoping it's a series and I'd love to see the series include Peter Pan along with Treasure Island that you mentioned at the end of Between Two Ends. The sequel has begun! This time as you imagined at the setting of Treasure Island. The prologue (at least in the rough draft stage) begins with Skin and Bones. Peter Pan was one of the books I considered for book one. It is still on the list. 

2) I noticed you have written quite a few books - do you have any favorites? The Grassland Trilogy is close to my heart - although, I hope that as always, my favorite book must always be the one on which I am currently working. 

3) Did you read a lot as a boy and who were your favorite authors? My father was a Reverend and we were not allowed to do much on Sundays other than read. We (siblings) read a lot! (Of course, we also played knee hockey, conducted mass battles with toy soldiers, and constructed many buildings with the equivelant of Legos). Top favorite authors whom I still cherish: #1 C.S. Lewis    #2 Tolkein    #3 Lloyd Alexander  

4) Who inspires your writing now and why? Do they push you to improve the quality of your writing or do you find reading their books gives you ideas for new stories? Readers push me the most in terms of inspiration. To receive a letter or email from someone who has sojourned in the same story world is the greatest compliment and source of shared adventure. In terms of authors...I am good friends with Arthur Slade ( who has been a tremendous support. Fellow playwright Michelle Davis reads all my work before I send it to my agent Scott Treimel who also reads all my work. Favorite authors right now who inspire me: Jeanne DuPrau (City of Ember), L.A. Meyer, Megan Whalen Turner and Ian Lawrence among the many.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sea Turtle Summer ~ Book Review

This drawing has ended & the winner has been contacted.

For those of you living along the ocean you get to see all kinds of wonderful things in nature. In today's review we learn about two little girls passionate about an endangered species and helping to protect them. 

by Nancy Stewart
$10.00 w/ autograph (Order)
About the Book:

Bella and her best friend, Britt, think living by the beach is the best thing ever. When they discover an unprotected sea turtle's nest, they go into action! But what can they do, and what lesson do they learn about themselves? This book contains kid-appealing sea turtle facts, too!
My Thoughts:
This is a very cute book about a very real problem. Sea Turtles (and other animals) return to the same beach (or other location) where they were born year after year to lay eggs or have their babies. In Sea Turtle Summer, the 2nd book in a series about Britt and Bella, we learn about Sea Turtles and what happens if we don't protect them.
The story about these 2 little girls shows us how we can make a difference. There are different scenarios about what could happen to the Sea Turtles eggs - getting run over by dune buggies, people messing with the eggs and even animals bugging them. We see these little girls come up with a way to mark where the nest is and how they persevere in protecting the eggs.
I recommend this book for kids 4+. Younger kids of course are going to have lots of questions and probably won't understand it - but will love the idea of baby turtles and the little girls who helped them. Older kids can learn things they can do to help the Sea Turtles using the links below.

Please Tweet:  What can 2 kids can do 2 help endangered turtles? #read #giveaway @stewartnancy WIN it 2/5, US/CA  RT @familyliteracy

Sea Turtle Summer recently hit #1 on Amazon's "Hot New Releases" in Children's Books!
Sea Turtle Summer is now Available from Guardian Angel Publishing and
Some Links you & your kids will enjoy:
The Turtle Nest - You can actually learn about what is being done to help Sea Turtles, photos and Alerts to sea turtle nests & releases of Sea Turtles into the Sea.
Sea Turtle Conservatory - This cool site shares news about Sea Turtles and what they are doing to help them. They also have a cool kids area with artwork by kids, you can Adopt a Sea Turtle (click the banner below), kid heroes who make a difference & 1 group even made a giant paper mache Sea Turtle.
Sea Turtle Coloring Page to Print

Would you like to WIN a copy of Sea Turtle Summer for your family?
It would make a GREAT book to add to an Easter Basket!

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Taken by By Brock Eastman ~ Book Review

This drawing has ended & the winner has already replied.

Book 1 in The Quest for Truth series
By Brock Eastman
ISBN: 978-1596382459
$11.39 Paperback and $6.99 Kindle
Middle Grade Fiction ages 11+
About the Book:
Join the Wikk siblings as they race through space to save their parents who have been kidnapped by the sinister Captain Vedrik. Their only hope is their parents Archeos e-journal which contains clues that point the kids to their parents next mission - an archeological dig to find remnants of an ancient human civilization. They must rely on Oliver's academy training to fly their ship but problems arise when twins Mason & Austin unexpectedly meet a secret race of people called the Blue People.

The Quest for Truth series follows the 4 Wikk kids in their desperate race to find the mysterious planet Ursprung and stop the ubel renegades from misusing it's long-lost secrets. Ancient cities, treacherous villains, high-tech gadgets, the Phoenix-encounter all these and more on this futuristic, interplanetary adventure.

My Thoughts:
Taken is a fast moving, action packed adventure for Oliver (age 17), Tiffany (age 15) and twins Mason and Austin (age 11). Their mission? To solve the mystery of WHY their parents were captured and to save them from Aliens from Ubel.

This book opens up with Oliver overhearing and almost walking in on the bad guys (the Aliens from Uber) confronting his parents after they were grabbed. He escapes and runs back to the Phoenix (their family’s spaceship) which has already been packed for a year long expedition and where his brothers and sister who are waiting to leave with their parents. From here the story takes off – there is a wild chase through canyons and out a waterfall, a inter-galactic jump into space and when they arrive at their first stop (mentioned in their mothers journal) the kids split up. Oliver & Tiffany head off to find parts for the ship after leaving Mason and Austin strict instructions that they were NOT to leave the ship. Guess what? They leave the ship and head off on an adventure of their own (I would of LOVED to go on this adventure – it’s complete with a awesome water park, castles, blue people and more).

I’m not going to tell you any more. This book was wonderful I am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I liked all of the kids in the book – they aren’t bratty, very whiny or potty mouthed. It was so nice to read a book that is very well written and thoroughly planned with all of the I’s dotted and T’s crossed. I didn’t realize when I started reading it that it was going to be part of a series and it wasn’t until I had about 50 pages to go that I figured out they weren’t going to solve the mystery and find their parents by the last page. However I left feeling like the story in this book was completely finished.

Taken is Book 1 in The Quest for Truth series (a 5 book series) to be released in the following order: Risk (2012), Unlease (2012), Tangle (2013) and Hope (2013). Written by Brock Eastman who has also written for the Adventures in Odyssey series for kids 7-10 years old.

Written by Brock Eastman who is part of the Adventures in Odyssey team and published by Focus on the Family. Book 2 (Risk) in The Quest for Truth series coming in MAY! Just in time for the Summer Book Club right HERE on Classic Children's Books!

Learn more about:
Read an Excerpt
Brock Eastman

Please Tweet: 
Blue Men, Aliens, Space ships - a wild, fast moving series for Kids 11+ @bdeastman @familyliteracy
Taken ~ 4 kids in a desperate race: long-lost Secrets, Ancient Cities, Villains & a Spaceship!  @familyliteracy

This giveaway has already ended the winner has received their copy. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Cheshire Cheese Cat ~ by Carmen Agra Deedy

Cover Photo

A Dickens of a Tale
by Carmen Agra Deedy & Randall Wright
ISBN: 978-1561455959
$11.17 (Amazon hardcover)

About the book:

Skilley, an alley cat with an embarrassing secret, longs to escape his street-cat life. Tired of dodging fishwives' brooms and carriage wheels, he hopes to trade London's damp alleyways for the warmth of ye olde Cheshire Cheese Inn. He strikes a bargain with Pip, an erudite mouse: Skilley will protect the mice who live at the inn, and in turn, the mice will provide Skilley with the thing he desires most.
But when Skilley and Pip are drawn into a crisis of monumental proportions involving a tyrannical cook, an unethical barmaid, and a malevolent tomcat, their new friendship is pushed to its limits. The escalating crisis threatens the peace not only of the Cheshire Cheese Inn but also the British Monarchy!
Unbeknownst to Skilley and Pip, however, they have a secret ally: a famous author who scribbles away many an afternoon in ye olde Cheshire Cheese Inn...
Click here to learn more about The Cheshire Cheese Cat.

The Cheshire Cheese Cat
Parents’ Choice Gold Award / Parents’ Choice Foundation / 2011

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I had a hard time NOT sharing this book until summer when the Summer Book Club for Middle Grade fiction kicks off. Obviously I didn't win! LOL

The Cheshire Cheese Cat is a very unique and creative book with many endearing characters and much action. Skilley the cat finds himself a "job" at the Old Cheshire Cheese Inn and manages to avoid spilling his secret (he doesn't EAT mice) and (loves cheese) by pretending to catch the same mouse over and over again and only old Mr Dickens figures him out. When Skilley's nemesis is brought in the action takes off and secrets start spilling throughout the entire place!

Carmen & Randall make a great team - the writing is smooth and several of the pages have the words typed in a pattern - they might be swirling, going up 'stairs' and dead ending, going down 'stairs' and sometimes tumbling into dining rooms! The pages are illustrated in pencil drawings and are very detailed and interesting and the characters of the book are vividly brought to life.

Be sure to check out The Cheshire Cheese Cat website for teaching activities, examples of the illustrations in the book, information about Victorian England, the Tower of England & the Ravens and Charles Dickens - a regular customer at The Cheshire Cheese Inn. Click on this picture to go to the website:

I strongly encourage you to add this book to your home library! It's great for reading aloud, at bedtime, curled up under the covers or in front of the fireplace. Kids 8+ will love it and possibly even the younger kids will too. The chapters are short (some only a 1/2 page long) and the pictures are a lot of fun to look at.

Click to enter giveaway
Learn more about:
Carmen Agra Deedy
Carmen Spins a Tale on TED (Video)
Visit Peachtree's Blog
Visit Peachtree on FB
Follow Peachtree on Twitter @PeachtreePub

Peachtree Publishers very generously offered a review 3 of Carmen Agra Deedy's books. You can read the review of The Last Dance and the review of Agatha's Feather Bed. No $ exchanged hands and I wasn't required to write a positive review.

The giveaway will be started on Jan 18 and will end the following Friday. 
Click here to enter the giveaway.


Carmen Agra Deedy Week - Giveaway

This giveaway has ended and I have heard back from 2 of the 3 winners. They are:

Melissa Alvarado - Cheshire Cheese Cat
Yvonne Jefferson - Agatha's Featherbed
- The Last Dance

It's Carmen Agra Deedy week on Classic Children's Books. Peachtree Publishing has very generously offered a copy of each of the 3 books I've reviewed (3 winners - 1 book each). So, wondering what you might win? How about:


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