Monday, May 22

Reviews of the Week 5/22

I've got some extra special tidbits included with today's reviews: Shannon Hale, the author of the now bestselling and highly-acclaimed Real Friends, is local and I was able to go to her book talk just this weekend. So, not only do you get to hear my thoughts on her newest book (woo! right?), but learn some extra special background info (the fascinating tidbits she shared). Plus some other awesome book highlights, in the board book and picture book categories.

Friday, May 19

Reviews of the Week 5/15

I don't really know why this didn't get posted at the beginning of the week. Do you ever have one of those weeks that are like, "*Poof* it's Friday!" and you don't remember how you got to the end so fast? Actually, you know what. The whole month is going too fast. How is it already this far gone in May. What the heck. Maybe the books are just sucking me in too much. They're like a time warp. (#bookloverproblems)

Wednesday, May 17

5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior (Review and Giveaway!)

For yet one more giveaway, I have a fantastic new graphic novel, which is a genre I don't tackle often enough. Good thing I have opportunities like these to share some graphic-novel-goodness with you. Thanks to Random House for providing me an ARC and for sponsoring this giveaway! Enter below...

5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior
Written by Mark Siegal & Alexis Siegal
Illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, & Boya Sun

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-1101935866
Publisher: Random House
Date of publication: May 2, 2017
Age: Grades 4 - 8
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: adventure, heroes, friendship, alternate universe, elemental powers

"The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves—and more to their worlds—than meets the eye...

 - The clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, Oona Lee is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine.
- A boy from the poorest slums, An Tzu has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations.
- Star athlete Jax Amboy is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends?

"When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!"

Super intensely awesome adventure! I mean, that's the basic review right there. It was easy to be sucked in and read this in one sitting. The three main kids each have their own personalities and drives that really push the story. There's enough of their histories shared to really feel invested—but some mystery, too, that makes me eager for the rest of the books in this series. Then there's the story itself! They embark on an intense, yet classic adventure: saving the world! Obviously. Okay, so while the theme is not too unique, the setting is. Maybe even too unique? There were more than a handful of times that I was left trying to remember what was where and who was what, with complicated (in the tradition of high, epic sci-fi/fantasy) place names like "Mon Domani, Moon Yatta, Salassandra, and Grimbo (E)" and all sorts of new technology, characters, culture, species, etc. etc. While it is vital to the story, I do hope that it doesn't turn away younger readers who may be lost after a few pages.

The art is, of course, amazingly action-packed and emotional. I'm always amazed by graphic novel artists, since so much of the story depends on their depictions; there's a lot to infer from the art, here. I am (maybe, slightly) surprised that with three illustrators (really, such a small complaint) that there wasn't a bit more detail? But then again, the more cartoonish feel is more appealing to younger audiences. Really, overall, just well done and so vivid, especially for a completely new world(s) and characters.

Overall, it's hard not to recommend. It's sure to be a hit with graphic novel lovers, and may even be just the ticket to get the more reluctant readers interested in the fantasy genre. Check it out!

Find it at your library or on Amazon

MARK SIEGEL has written and illustrated several award-winning picture books and graphic novels, including the New York Times bestseller Sailor Twain, or the Mermaid in the Hudson. He is also the founder and editorial director of First Second Books. He lives with his family in New York. Follow Mark on Tumblr at @marksiegel and the 5 Worlds team on Twitter at @5WorldsTeam.

ALEXIS SIEGEL is a writer and translator based in London, England. He has translated a number of bestselling graphic novels, including Joann Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat, Pénélope Bagleu’s Exquisite Corpse, and Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese (into French).

XANTHE BOUMA is an illustrator based in Southern California. When not working on picture books, fashion illustration, and comics, Xanthe enjoys soaking up the beachside sun. Follow Xanthe on Tumblr at @yumbles and on Twitter at @xoxobouma.

MATT ROCKEFELLER is an illustrator and comic book artist from Tucson, Arizona. His work has appeared in a variety of formats, including book covers, picture books, and animation. Matt lives in New York City. Follow him on Tumblr at @mrockefeller and on Twitter at @mcrockefeller.

BOYA SUN is an illustrator and co-author of the graphic novel Chasma Knights. Originally from China, Boya has traveled from Canada to the United States and now resides in the charming city of Baltimore. Follow Boya on Tumblr at @boyasun and on Twitter at @boyaboyasun.

Giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a copy of 5 WORLDS: THE SAND WARRIOR, courtesy of Random House. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Open to the US only, ends 5/25/2017. No purchase is necessary. Void where prohibited. Literary Hoots and the publisher/publicity department are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter after the contest ends. Literary Hoots reserves the right to disqualify contestants. Fraudulent activities will be monitored and will lead to exclusion. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email, otherwise, we will pick a new winner.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me emily{at}literaryhoots{dot}com

Friday, May 12

Flannel Friday: Five Hungry Ants

I really am cheating at this whole "flannel" Friday thing, since I actually like making printable versions instead (sharing, is caring, right?). So here is a "flannel" you yourself can use--just print the images included! Check it out:

This is a classic flannel that I've since learned by attending storytimes with my daughter. The toddlers just think this rhyme is absolutely hilarious and I had to share my own printable version here. It's a counting down rhyme about some cute little ants trying to get some food at a picnic. Here's the rhyme with actions:

Five hungry ants marching in a line, (hold up five fingers)
Came upon a picnic where they could dine. (eating motions with hands to mouth)
They marched into the salad, (march in place)
They marched into the cake, 
They marched into the pepper… 
Uh oh! That was a mistake! (hands to face with shocked expression)
(do your most dramatic sneeze! seriously, the more exaggerated, the more hilarious)

Four hungry ants... (and so on counting down)

These ants at a picnic could go great with a bugs storytime, summer storytime, or with whatever suits your fancy. To get the free printables, just click on the links below. You can attach a little flannel or velcro to the back to get them to stick to your flannel board.

Free vector images to print: ant, salad, cake, and pepper*

(*Pepper shaker clipart credit here under Creative Commons License)

Anne at So Tomorrow is hosting the Flannel Friday roundup today. You can also check out the FF website, Pinterest, or Facebook! Or use #flannelstorytime on Twitter!

Tuesday, May 9

Reviews of the week 5/8

Four stars all around today. So, yes, these are some pretty great books that I'd definitely recommend. I mean, don't risk a trip and a face plant in your rush to the library or book store, but they're still pretty good. Four-star good.

Friday, May 5

11+ Awesome Spanish/English Bilingual Picture Books

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I'm feeling pretty festive today (or maybe I'm just craving tacos...) so I thought I'd share some of my favorite Spanish picture books. Or really, to be more specific, the Spanish bilingual books and Mexican culture stories I enjoyed using my Head Start Preschool storytimes (you can see a couple highlighted bilingual storytimes I did here). So here are my top eleven! Plus some more, because I always seem to think of other random titles here and there in my descriptions. There are, of course, many more awesome bilingual books, so if you have a favorite, don't forget to share them in the comments below!

Wednesday, May 3

Share, Big Bear, Share! (Review and Giveaway!)

Oh yeah, did I mention my giveaway frenzy was continuing into May? Yep, so much to "share" (pun intended...). This time we're going back to the picture book audience with this new title from Maureen Wright's Big Bear series, Share, Big Bear, Share! So enjoy this blog tour stop, check out my review, and enter the giveaway below!

Share, Big Bear, Share!
Written by Maureen Wright, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-1503951006
Publisher: Two Lions
Date of publication: April 25, 2017
Age: 3 - 7 years
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: sharing, forest animals,

"Big Bear's forest friends eye his berries hungrily, but he doesn't notice as he digs into his delicious snack. When the old oak tree says, 'Share, Big Bear, share,' he thinks the tree has said, 'Hair, Big Bear, hair!' One comical scene follows another as Big Bear keeps misunderstanding the old oak tree's message until things finally get sorted out. Whimsical illustrations highlight the humor in this gentle story about the importance of sharing something special with friends."

Friday, April 28

15 Fun Extension Activities for The Adventures of Beekle

Welcome back to my series of posts highlighting some of my very favorite, favorite picture books and the supplementary games, songs, and activities you could use with them. This could be useful for library programs, the classroom, homeschooling, or (of course) to just have fun with your kids! You can see all my book activity ideas here. But today, I'll share ideas for...

Not only one of my favorites, but also a Caldecott winner! The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat is an awesome story with even awesome-er illustrations. It's colorful, it's bright, it inspires share lots of awesome activities. These are targetted at the book's target age group of about 4 to 7 years old. Check them out below!

1. Draw your own imaginary friend -- This one pretty much goes without saying, but this book does provide the most excellent of opportunities to exercise one's imagination. So draw a portrait of your buddy, whether he/she comes purely from your mind's eye or whether you draw some inspiration from Beekle's end pages. Giant sketchbook and pen are not necessary (but could be fun!)

Dan Santat at work, from The Horn Book

Wednesday, April 26

Feminist Baby (Review and Giveaway!)

You see the pattern now? Yeah. Like I said, lots of love to giveaway this month. With this fourth giveaway, we're going to deviate from all of these picture books that I've been giving away and cater to an even younger crowd. Yep, start 'em young with Feminist Baby, a board book from Loryn Brantz. Check out my review and then enter the giveaway for a copy of the book, a pin, and an adorable tote! (Thanks to Disney Books for sending me a copy and providing a prize pack!)

Feminist Baby
Written and illustrated by Loryn Brantz

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-1484778586
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Date of publication: April 11, 2017
Age: all ages
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: babies, rhyme, gender roles, humor

"Feminist Baby likes pink and blue.
Sometimes she'll throw up on you!
Feminist Baby chooses what to wear
and if you don't like it she doesn't care!

"Meet the irrepressible Feminist Baby in this refreshing, clever board book about a girl who's not afraid to do her own thing, and wants to make as much noise as possible along the way!"

Monday, April 24

Reviews of the Week 4/24

This week, I'm excited to share a new middle-grade book that's really unlike anything I've ever read. It's timely and well-written for our country today. So definitely give that a look-see. And the other two? Well, they're almost a given due to their fantastic authors/illustrators...