Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review: This Is a Good Story by Adam Lehrhaupt


THIS IS A GOOD STORY
by Adam Lehrhaupt
Illustrated by Magali le Huche
Paula Wiseman Books
Picture Book 
ages 4 to 8
40 pages


From E.B. White Read Aloud author Adam Lehrhaupt comes an inspiring new picture book that takes apart the pieces of a story—hero, heroine, setting, conflict—and asks the reader to put the story back together again. This is a good story…or is it?

As a child takes her pencil and begins to draw pictures for a story, the narrator takes her and the reader through a rollicking sequence of events in this classic tale of bad guys and townsfolk and dungeons. With simplicity and flair, Adam tells a story and then a meta-story of the parts of the story at once! This Is a Good Story is a wonderful primer on the parts of a story and an imaginative way to encourage creative thinking, writing, and storytelling.
 



MY TIDBITS

Setting, plot, climax and other story terms come to life when accompanied by this lively and humorous adventure.

This picture book introduces the various parts of a story--hero/heroine, setting, climax, etc--while following a girl as she writes an adventure. But sometimes, not everything runs as smoothly as it should.

To make a 'good' story, several things are necessary. By following a small adventure from start to finish, the most vital parts of a tale are not only mentioned but used in an immediate example. The tale starts with the introduction of a hero and heroine, and goes on from there, hitting each story part as it should come. All along, an adventure is growing where the hero, heroine and even the villain throw in humorous spice of their own. It's cute, it's humorous and it flows well. But this isn't a book for the youngest listeners.

The text is held to short phrases on each spread, but that doesn't mean it's simple. There's the story part terminology, which is very clearly printed and stands in center point of the tale, but may be a bit too high of a concept for kids under age 5 or 6. To help out, there's also a quick glossary at the end. Some of the other vocabulary used might also be a little high for younger readers. As a story, the text is lacking, but as a guide to help learn the parts of a tale, it offers lots of room for open discussion or sudden questions. Older listeners might find the text on the childish side, though.

The play back and forth from text to illustrations is well done. The text carries the learning, while the illustrations run alongside with their own cute story. Humor ensues, which makes the drier aspects of the book much more fun, and is sure to draw a few smiles as those silly characters tend to run out of control. It's a simpler type of drawing, but never misses on details and brings everything across crystal clear.

Summed up, this is an entertaining way to discuss and learn about forming a story as well as what parts are crucial to make it good. Despite the small amount of text, it's not a concept that younger readers will easily grasp and would be better for those who already know how to read and write (so they can make their own story). As a learning tool, it's cute and sure to bring some giggles too.


And here they are. . .

The author. . .

Adam Lehrhaupt's first picture book, Warning: Do Not Open This Book!, received the E.B. White Read Aloud Honor Award, was an ALA notable Book, and a Huffington Post Notable Book. School Library Journal called it, 'More fun than a barrel of monkeys." He is also the author of Please, Open This Book!, which was named a Wanda Gag Comstock Read aloud Honor Book and Idea Jar. Adam has traveled to six continents, performed on Broadway, and lived on a communal farm. He currently lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with his wife, sons and two bizarre dogs. Visit him online a t AdamLehrhaupt.com.


The Illustrator. . .

Magali le Huche was born in Paris. She stsudied illustration in Strasbourg then returned to Paris where she works on children's books and for the press. She regularly teaches workshops for children.

Happy Book Bday, HER by Danielle Rose!





HER
YA Horror, Short Story
Cover Art by Gwenn Danae
Cover Text by Eight Little Pages
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR









Kemper Academy is over a hundred years old, but it has only recently reopened after a series of murders and stories of hauntings shut it down. Avlynn, a new student, refuses to let the rumors scare her, chalking them up to a bit of friendly freshman hazing. But when night falls and screams draw her from her room, she finds the truth is much more horrifying than any ghost story.






Danielle Rose holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine. Currently residing in the Midwest, where she spends her days dreaming of warmer temperatures, when she’s not writing, she enjoys pretending she lives in California, spending an embarrassing amount of time at Hobby Lobby, and binge-watching Netflix. Visit Danielle on the Web: www.Danielle-Rose.com.


Author Links:
Buy Links:



Monday, September 18, 2017

Review: Talon, Come Fly With Me by Gigi Sedlmayer


TALON, COME FLY WITH ME
Book One of the Talon Series
by Gigi Sedlmayer
Middle Grade Contemporary
187 pages





Nine year old Matica lives in a remote village on a dry plateau in the Andes of Peru. She moved to Peru when she was five with Australian missionary and schoolteacher parents. Because Matica is trapped in the body of a two year old, her growth handicap has caused her to be rejected by the local people and they would not accept her into their community or allow her to play with the children.

With patience and a sense of adventure Matica befriends a pair of condors. A strong bond and love develops between them.
Matica rescues the egg the condors, Tamo and Tima, are trying to protect from poachers and nurtures it to hatching. The egg hatches on her 10th birthday and she names the new fledging Talon.

Many adventures unfold, including her finally being accepted into the local community.
This is the beginning of many incredible adventures with Talon and Matica. It is a story of hope, determination and love.
 


MY TIDBITS

This is a tale of finding acceptance, love, friendship, bravery and so much more.

Matica is a bright, young girl but, thanks to her handicap, stuck in a body which is smaller than that of her younger brother. The villagers shut her out, unable to accept her differences. But Matica doesn't let it get her too down. Her adventurous spirit enables her to befriend two condors, and helps them when a poacher tries to steal their egg. When the egg hatches, Matica has a new best friend, Talon, and this is only the beginning of their adventures.

This book is a lovely adventure with an amazing heroine. Matica is a strong, brave girl, who battles with her handicap and how others view her. But this isn't a story only about her gaining acceptance or over coming her challenges. Rather, it's a tale packed full of exciting moments and tons of emotions. Matica comes across naturally as does the village and world around her. It's beautifully set and an easy landscape to dive into. The author does a great job at bringing this foreign culture and setting across, and even the dialogue holds many wise statements packed in a way young readers will understand.

Not a boring moment settles into these pages, and it's hard to set the book down. At less than 200 pages, it won't scare away more reluctant readers either. It's easy to feel for Matica and readers will be dreaming of find condors to befriend themselves. Which is actually an interesting twist, since condors aren't usually seen as the most beautiful or love-worthy birds. After reading through this, kids will have a better understanding of these birds, of the problems of poachers, and simply gain a deeper sense of nature and protecting it.

Not only children ages eight and up will enjoy this, but even older audiences will get lost in this tale and leave feeling a little more inspired than before.


And here she is. . .

Gisela (Gigi) Sedlmayer was born on 19 May 1944 in Potsdam, a suburb of Berlin in Germany.
Her family escaped to the West just before the infamous wall went up. They moved around in Germany until finally settling in Munich where Gigi studied architectural drafting and met Albert in 1965, marrying in December 1967. She worked as a civil draftsperson in various private consultancies in Munich.
Since her uncle was a writer, she tried to write short animal stories herself. Nothing further came of it, but she developed a love for the written word and started to consume books.
In May 1975, Gigi and her husband moved to New Zealand. Because of language challenges, she started a handicraft business. As a specialty, she made colourful parrots of which she sold thousands in a few years.
In 1988, they decided to adopt and became adoptive parents of twin girls the year after. They lived in New Zealand for eighteen years and moved to Australia in September 1992.
Two years later Gigi was diagnosed with cancer. After operations and radiation, she withdrew, thinking that she would probably soon be dead, like her friend who died of cancer, but her two little girls gave her the courage to keep going. After a few years, still among the living, her brain started to work again, so she thought, ‘Get a grip on yourself and do something good with your life’.
She remembered the time she wrote short stories and got inspired again, seeing her husband Albert writing the story of their adoption. Her English became increasingly better so she pressed on to develop her creative writing.
Albert taught her how to use a computer and she wrote many short stories. She entered them in competitions and often got very good reports back, which gave her confidence to go on writing. One day the idea for the TALON series came to her and she spent the next several years bringing the story and the characters to life.
She now loves writing and spends most of her time at the computer, developing new story lines. She also loves traveling, 4x4 touring, swimming, gardening, handcrafting, reading, fossicking and enjoys good adventure DVD’s or going to the movies.


My new website: http://gigised.com


Happy Book Birthday, Seraphina's Vengeance by Sheena Hutchinson




Seraphina’s Vengeance
by Sheena Hutchinson
YA Paranormal Romance
Cover Designer: Cover Me, Darling
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR








 One year ago, Seraphina’s entire world seemed to have dived into a mythical land over night. She’s somehow even gotten used to the madness of it all. But what happens when the craziness stops? Things become quiet… too quiet.
Sera should have known that things weren’t as quiet as they seemed. After one of the best nights of her life, Sera is forced into this treacherous journey to save one of her loved ones.
But following the path of evil begins to take its toll on Sera. As she struggles with her own internal dilemmas, Nate starts to take matters into his own hands. When this unseen world finally begins to affect Sera’s emotions and her relationship, can she hold it together to save her loved ones? Will love conquer all? Or will it turn her evil… forever?





Sheena is a born and raised New Yorker, even her writing can’t hide her hard sarcasm. She claims destiny lead her to writing again. She constantly strives to be a positive role model and write stories that empower and inspire.  
Sheena always roots for the underdog, believes in love at first sight, and that everyone should have their happily ever after. While God is currently writing her love story she continues to put all her time into her writing as she is constantly getting new inspiration.
For more on Sheena and her books visit her website www.SheenaHutchinson.com.

Buy Links: Seraphina’s Awakening: http://amzn.to/2lzuzPo
Seraphina’s Initiation: http://amzn.to/2m17pTg
Seraphina’s Vengeance: http://amzn.to/2vs7qVg





Sunday, September 17, 2017

Review: Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather


HAUNTING THE DEEP
How to Hang a Witch, Book Two
by Adriana Mather
Knopf Books for Young Readers
YA Thriller/Paranormal
368 pages

COMING. . .
OCTOBER 3rd, 2017!!!


The Titanic meets the delicious horror of Ransom Riggs and the sass of Mean Girls in this follow-up to the #1 New York Times bestseller How to Hang a Witch, in which a contemporary teen finds herself a passenger on the famous “ship of dreams”—a story made all the more fascinating because the author’s own relatives survived the doomed voyage.

Samantha Mather knew her family’s connection to the infamous Salem Witch Trials might pose obstacles to an active social life. But having survived one curse, she never thought she’d find herself at the center of a new one.

This time, Sam is having recurring dreams about the Titanic . . . where she’s been walking the deck with first-class passengers, like her aunt and uncle. Meanwhile, in Sam’s waking life, strange missives from the Titanic have been finding their way to her, along with haunting visions of people who went down with the ship.

Ultimately, Sam and the Descendants, along with some help from heartthrob Elijah, must unravel who is behind the spell that is drawing her ever further into the dream ship . . . and closer to sharing the same grim fate as its ghostly passengers.




MY TIDBITS


Ghosts, mystery, witchcraft and even a bit of mystery weave together seamlessly to form a grabbing read.

Samantha hasn't completely gotten past the terrors she suffered only months before, but things appear to be looking up. When she discovers a letter which reveals that some of her relatives had survived the Titanic, things start running amok. Not only do ghosts appear but other, even stranger and spookier things occur. When the warning comes that death is on its way, Sam has no clue how she's going to escape.

I did not read the first book in this series (a mistake I'm definitely going to correct), but I still didn't have too much trouble getting into this story. So it can be read as a stand-alone, but some background information is missing. 

The author does a great job at mixing the easy read style of modern YA with a dark, multi-layered and thrilling mystery. Samantha and her friends come across as everyday teens even though the magic and dark past of Salem and its families hangs in the background like a constant cloud. The fact the author herself has both Salem and Titanic ties adds a nice touch, which gives this tale a bit more spice. And the author doesn't let this tie disappoint. The wonderful, dark touch of Salem's past is ever present, while the completely differing atmosphere of the Titanic filters in with its own touch. It's a well done mixture, which heaps on the possibilities.

The scenes and characters of the Titanic come across beautifully. Sam's version of the ship and life there draw in with the lovely descriptions. There's all sorts of delicious tidbits of historical information peppered in, which make real Titanic fans and history buffs' hearts beat faster. Still, this world is very easy to picture and get lost in. The flip-flops between the realities slide together nicely and create a thrilling atmosphere. Add this with the twisty plot and mysterious pieces, which are difficult to shove together, and the tension is complete. It's hard to put this one down, since every scene brings something new and it's hard to guess where the entire thing will end. 

Summed up, this is an engaging read for YA mystery/magic/paranormal friends. It has the dramatic feel of a YA read but layers the mystery and intrigue masterfully to create an engaging plot. I hope to see more of Sam and her friends in the future.


All About the Author!

Adriana Mather is the 12th generation of Mathers in America, and as such her family has their fingers in many of its historical pies – the Mayflower, the Salem Witch Trials, the Titanic, the Revolutionary War, and the wearing of curly white wigs. Also, Adriana co-owns a production company, Zombot Pictures, in LA that has made three feature films in three years. Her first acting scene in a film ever was with Danny Glover, and she was terrified she would mess it up. In addition, her favorite food is pizza and she has too many cats. (from Goodreads)






Saturday, September 16, 2017

Review: The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater


THE ANTLERED SHIP
by Dashka Slater
Illustrated by Eric&Terry Fan
Beach Lane Books
Picture Book
ages 4 to 8
48 pages


An inquisitive fox sets off on a seafaring voyage with a crew of deer and pigeons in this enchanting tale of friendship and adventure.

Marco the fox has a lot of questions, like: how deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea? And why do birds have such lizardy feet? But none of the other foxes share his curiosity. So when a magnificent ship adorned with antlers and with a deer for a captain arrives at the dock looking for a crew, Marco volunteers, hoping to find foxes who are as inquisitive as he is that can answer his questions. The crew finds adventure and intrigue on their journey. And, at last, Marco finds the answer to his most important question of all: What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?



MY TIDBITS

By opening the first page, the reader enters the salty world of high-sea adventure, where winds blow through the hair, waves rock every step and the answers to every question lay on the horizon.

Fox has many questions about the world, ones that the other foxes don't understand. When an antlered ship appears on the horizon, and the captain searches for a crew to sail to a faraway island, fox decides to join in on the adventure. And perhaps, he'll find the answer to his questions along the way.

Just picking this book up is already an invitation to enter something special. The book jacket doesn't only portray the perfect atmosphere of misty, ocean adventures, but the jacket itself is made with a slightly tougher and rougher paper. The inside of the book displays sea maps with foreign islands and sailing routes--perfect to set off young navigators' dreams. And that's exactly what the illustrations in this book are--a dream. Each one is an artwork in itself and lets the atmosphere come across. It's worth grabbing up this tale just to gaze through the pictures and be lost in world of water, ships and waves.

The tale itself hits the basic question of finding friends. Although fox has many existential questions, which hit upon the meaning of life and beyond, this book focuses on seeking out others who have the same interests as you, or at least, finding friends who are ready to stand at your side. Fox finds the answer to his basic questions, although these answers might be a bit above some younger listeners' heads, since it's never directly stated but rather implied like a passing fog.

As to the adventure, it will spark the interest of pirating and high-sea adventure fans. The crew isn't what one would expect, which is sure to catch young listeners' attention. There is a bit of tension when pirates appear, and the solution is quite clever. Unfortunately, this 'action' scene is done almost as fast as it starts. . .like the rest of the tale. The plot passes by a bit quick and would have benefited from a little more time and several more pages.

Still, peering through this book is like gazing into a fantastical dream. The illustrations are what makes this a tale to pick up and gaze at time and again.



And here they are. . .

The author. . .

Dashka Slater's four picture books have won widespread praise for their inventive language and vivid imagery. Baby Shoes was named one of the best children's books of 2006 by both Booklist and Nick Jr. magazines and was chosen for the Texas 2x2 list of best books for children age two to grade two. The Sea Serpent and Me was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a finalist for the Cybil and Chickadee Awards, as well as being named to the 2008 Librarians' Choice List of the best books for children and young adults Dangerously Ever After was named the 2013-14 Surrey Picture Book of the Year based on the votes of over 12,700 elementary school students. A recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship for the National endowment for the Arts, slater is also an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in such publications as Newsweek, Salon, The New York Times Magazine, and Mother Jones. She is also the author of a novel for adults, The Wishing Box, which the Los Angeles Times named to its list of the year's best fiction in 2000.


The Illustrators. . .

Eric Fan is an artist and writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. Born in Hawaii and raised in Toronto, he attended the Ontario College of Art and design, where he studied illustration, sculpture, and film. He has a passion for vintage bikes, clockwork contraptions, and impossible dreams. The Night Gardener is his first children's book. See more of his work at Society6.com/opifan64 and on Facebook (Eric Fan Illustrations).

Terry Fan  received his formal art training at Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, Canada. His work is a blend of traditional and contemporary techniques, using ink or graphite mixed with digital. He spends his days (and nights) creating magical paintings, portraits, and prints. The Night Gardener is his first book. Born in Illinois, he now lives in Toronto. Visit him online at Krop.com/Terryffan and Society6.com/igo2cairo and on Facebook (Terry Fan Illustration).






Friday, September 15, 2017

Review: This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson


THIS BEAUTIFUL DAY
by Richard Jackson 
Illustrated by Suzy Lee
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Picture Book
ages 4 to 8
40 pages




In the tradition of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, acclaimed author Richard Jackson and award-winning illustrator Suzy Lee prove you can chase away any grey and gloomy day with just the right attitude, and a little bit of color.

Why spend a rainy day inside? As three children embrace a grey day, they seems to beckon the bright as they jump, splash, and dance outside, chasing the rain away. The day’s palette shifts from greys to a hint of blue, then more blue. Then green! Then yellow! Until the day is a technicolor extravaganza that would make Mary Poppins proud. A joyous homage to the power of a positive attitude.



 MY TIDBITS


This book takes a grey day and brings out the sunshine with whimsical fun.

It's raining outside, something that would keep many kids gloom and bored. But these kids refuse to let the weather get them down. It's a beautiful day, and it's all in the attitude to make warmth shine through until everyone is caught up in the joyful mood.

One read through this book and smiles are guaranteed. With determination and simply a great attitude, grey turns into a rainbow of colors. It's a lovely message that hits home through the simple text and engaging illustrations. There aren't many words, just a short phrase or two on each two-page spread. The wording offers exactly enough to set the base, while the illustrations take on the rest. The combination is extremely well-balanced and allows young readers to flip through the pages and enjoy the story even on their own.

The illustrations bring this book to life. Starting with monotone grays and whites, the gloominess clings to the pages. Little by little, as the characters dive into cheerful thoughts and let their positive attitude overflow, colors dance in between the dark lines. By the end, a rainbow of brightness beams from every picture making the memory of anything mundane disappear. A gentle dose of fantasy glides in the last half of the story, adding a lovely sense of adventure, freedom and imagination. As the characters take off in the last scenes, it's hard not to want to join in and chase the beautiful day along with them. And maybe that's exactly what young readers should do.



And here they are. . .

The author. . .

Richard Jackson is a long-time editor at Atheneum Books for Young Readers and the critically acclaimed author of Have A Look, Says Book, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. In starred reviews, School Library Journal touts it as a  ". . .celebration of sharing a book together" and the Publishers Weekly proclaimed it "a shoe-in for the bedtime rotation." He is also the author of All Ears, All Eyes, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson. Recognized for his distinctive taste in children's literature, in 2005 he was named as the ALSC May Hill Arbuthnot HOnor Lecturer. He lives with his wife and near his grandchildren in Towson, Maryland.

The Illustrator. . .

Suzy Lee  is the critically acclaimed illustrator and author of many books for children including Wave, which was awarded the Gold Medal for Original Art by the Society of Illustrators and was a New York Times Best Illustrated Book; Shadow, which was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book; and Open this Little Book, which was awarded the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children's Literature (Picture Book Honor Winner). She lives and works in Seoul, South Korea.