Thursday, December 29

Mock Caldecott 2017

Welcome to the ever fun (totally-a-guessing-game-for-me) mock Caldecott award on Literary Hoots!

I admit, when I picked Beekle as my favorite back in 2015, my first mock Caldecott, I totally thought I knew what I was doing. Ha! I didn't get a one last year. Who am I kidding, what with the recent YA graphic novels and co-Newbery winners getting a Caldecott-honor-nod, it's pretty tough to get into the same mindset as the official award committee. Plus there's just SO MANY GOOD BOOKS.

But still, I'd love to share my own children's-librarian-opinion on what books have caught my eye this year as a "distinguished American picture book for children" (see full criteria here).

Monday, December 26

Reviews of the Week 12/26

Sometimes, you get violently sick right before Christmas when, of course, you're trying to get everything else done and ready for the holiday and so you don't post on the blog for a week. Yep, that happened to me. Apologies! But hey, I'm sure you were all busy with your own holiday preparations to notice, right? And now on to the new year! With some books to review of course...


Friday, December 16

Another Book Return Poster

After my awesomely nerdy book return memes garnered some success (and how could Gandalf, Yoda, and Batman not be a success?), I made another one for Thanksgiving. Well, it turns out that I enjoy making them so much, it was only a matter of time that I made one for Christmas.

Yep, I have another free printable with which to encourage patrons to return/renew their books on time. I figure this Christmas one would be especially useful at a school library before they go on winter break. Or really any library that closes for a number of days.

Like I said, a totally free printable. You can either download the image above or get the pdf off of Google Drive.

Monday, December 12

Reviews of the Week 12/12: Picture Book Edition

All my library holds came in at once. Doesn't that always happen? I feel like that always happens. Anyway, I had a lot of picture books come in, so I think it's time for another triple-picture-book-review highlight post (like I did back here) because there are some pretty great new books out there. Also, don't forget there's a GIVEAWAY going on right now for an awesome book!


Thursday, December 8

Behind the Scenes of Eden's Escape by M. Tara Crowl (with Giveaway!)

Another guest post today! So excited: we get to hear from M. Tara Crowl, author of the Eden of the Lamp series. Let's kick things off with some book blurbs, and then we'll hear from Ms. Crowl herself about the inspiration for the newest in the series, Eden's Escape. Also? A giveaway!! See below to enter for a signed copy of the book!


Eden’s Wish
(Eden of the Lamp #1)
By M. Tara Crowl
From Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Ages 9-12

All twelve years of Eden's life have been spent in an antique oil lamp. She lives like a princess inside her tiny, luxurious home; but to Eden, the lamp is nothing but a prison. She hates being a genie. All she wants, more than anything, is freedom.

When Eden finds a gateway to Earth within the lamp, she takes her chance and enters the world she loves. And this time, she won't be sent back after three wishes.

Posing as the new kid at a California middle school, Eden revels in all of Earth's pleasures—but quickly learns that this world isn't as perfect as she always thought it was. Eden soon finds herself in the middle of a centuries-old conflict between powerful immortals. A ruthless organization run by a former genie will stop at nothing to acquire the lamp and its power—even hurt Tyler and Sasha, the new mortal friends who have given Eden a home. To save her friends and protect the lamp's magic, Eden must decide once and for all where she belongs.

Find at your library / Goodreads / Amazon

Eden’s Escape
(Eden of the Lamp #2)
By M. Tara Crowl
From Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Ages 9-12

Eden's new life on earth begins in New York City under the guidance of her new guardian: Pepper, a petite, bubbly genie alum who's also a Broadway actress. Before she has a chance to settle in, though, Eden is whisked away for a granting—only to find herself trapped in a laboratory. David Brightly, owner of the world's leading tech company, cares more about tapping into the lamp's power than making a wish and starts performing tests on Eden. With Brightly's plasma shield around the lamp, Eden has no way home. Left without a choice, she escapes the lab and goes on the run. After her daring exit, Eden finds herself on the streets of Paris—home to Electra's headquarters. Left in a strange city with a price on her head (courtesy of scheming Brightly), Eden has to keep her wits about her. She dons a chic disguise and flits around Paris incognito, investigating Brightly Tech. Assisted by Pepper and her old adversary Bola, as well as some new friends, Eden embarks on a quest to retrieve the lamp and protect the secrets of the genie legacy.

Find at your library / Goodreads / Amazon

Monday, December 5

Reviews of the Week 12/5

Between this week and last, I've got a good range of nonfiction books for all ages! I do think nonfiction goes unappreciated quite often, so if you've got a child on your gifting list this holiday season, perhaps give some of these a try.


Friday, December 2

Review for a Perfectly Bookish Gift Idea: Book of the Month Club

*This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksthanks for supporting the upkeep of this blog!*

Ah, the holidays...when my own book collection grows significantly. It's true: I like getting gifted with lots of books. And if there's someone on your gift list that feels the same way? Well, have you heard of the Book of the Month Club?

It's like giving the gift of books...over and over. Which is just genius, really.

Wednesday, November 30

The 12 Days of Children's Christmas Books

Who needs eight maids a-milking when you could read fantastic books instead? Okay, sorry, corny joke, but I did pick twelve Christmas books in honor of that song. You could give a kid the 12 days of Christmas books! Or read a book the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Or do a cool display. Or anything else your heart desires.

Personally, I'd read them every night before Christmas. This was always a family tradition of mine, to read holiday books together. This list, actually, is a collection of my very, very favorite reads from those many December nights. You see, I realized that there were certain books that I eagerly looked forward to every year. So yes, there are a lot of holiday books out there, but here are the ones that get me every time, with the last being my most favorite of all...

Snowmen at Christmas
Written by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner
978-0803729957 (Dial, 2005)

Ever wondered how snowmen celebrate? After everyone's asleep, they have their own big Christmas party, of course! Eating icy treats, they sing and dance, and eagerly await their snow gifts from snowman Kris Kringle. This book is written in wonderful rhyme, so it's perfect to read aloud. And then the pictures are so detailed and fun! Of course, I will also admit that it is written by a former teacher at my old elementary school, so I am especially biased...but still! So good. I sure love reading about the snowmen at Christmas.

Monday, November 28

Reviews of the Week 11/28

A solid group of 4-stars today. My holiday-break-reads were fun, inspiring, hilarious, and completely tragic. Yeah, I have quite the rollercoaster of emotions for you this week...


Wednesday, November 23

Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived Will Never Die

It's practically Friday, right? What with a wonderful holiday tomorrow. So I'm just going to do a Fun Friday post today. Mainly because I found this comic online and it made me laugh really hard so I had to share it.

Harry Potter, my friends. His awesomeness will never die. In both the sense that the excellent series will continue to garner fans in years to come and...because people will want to keep making a buck off of it by creating all sorts of spin-offs. For instance, the recent release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (yes, both the movie and screenplay book). A return to the wizarding world and the writing of J. K. Rowling for Harry Potter fans everywhere! (...and sadly, I have not yet seen the movie or read the screenplay. Soon to be remedied! Thanksgiving-tradition-of-going-to-a-movie to the rescue!)

Which brings me to the subject of this comic. Apparently, the only way to make a really excellent movie out of J. K. Rowling's to have her write the screenplay itself.

But hey, it makes for a funny comic strip...

Behold, George Rottkamp's comparisons between the Harry Potter books and movies.

Monday, November 21

Reviews of the Week 11/21

Thanksgiving this week! So yes, my mind is already on time with family eating delicious food. But there's always still time for books. The ones this week were pretty good, especially a certain picture book that's been garnering some Caldecott buzz...


Thursday, November 17

15 Extension Activities for I Want My Hat Back

Welcome back to my new series of posts highlighting some of my very favorite, favorite books and the supplementary games, songs, and activities you could use with them. This could be useful for library programs, the classroom, home schooling, or (of course) to just have fun with your kids! Previously, I've created fun activity lists for books like If You Plant a Seed and Mother Bruce. Now I'll share ideas for...

Oh, the irreverent humor of Jon Klassen in I Want My Hat Back. This is practically a classic by now, it's just so great. It's short, it's to the point, and man, does it have the best ending. So what sort of activities can go along with this book? Well, here are some ideas that will appeal to its target audience of kids aged 4 - 8 years.

1. Make your own pointy hatPlaying by the Book knows just what to do after enjoying this book: make and decorate your own beloved headwear! Her instructions (and my source for the photo) can be found here.

Monday, November 14

Reviews of the Week 11/14

What?? Two five-star ratings in one post?? I know, crazy. But there were some serious favorites that I read this week. Granted, they are biased favorites, because they appeal to my personal preferences, but I think a lot of other people will like them, too. Obviously. So see what you think!


Friday, November 11

Mock Newbery 2017

So maybe I'm calling it too early, but too bad. I want to share the books that I think should receive some Newbery attention.

Granted, with recent shake-ups in the norm (yes, I'm referring to the picture book that won last year, and the recent graphic novel honorees), it's pretty hard to get a good feel for what the committee might be eyeing. But I'm still going to take a stab at it. Or at least share some of my favorite middle-grade fiction from the last year, anyway.

And no, I know, I've never been spot on right, but I've gotten an honoree or two (see my mock 2015 and mock 2016). This year, there's a lot of good, but not one that just totally stands out to me like the last few years. It's a hard selection this year. I seriously spent a lot of time thinking about these.

But here are what I would call "the most distinguished contribution[s] to American literature for children"

Tuesday, November 8

Reviews of the Week 11/7: Sizing-Up Some Sequels

I got a bunch of new picture books from the library the other day, and they all happened to be sequels. So I'm just going to declare this another sequel list (like I've done before) and my reviews of the week all in one. Because I'm efficient like that. And! Included today? A New York Times Best Seller!


Friday, November 4

Turkey Book Displays and Book Return Poster

By far my most popular display I've made is my No-Shave November. Which I do love. It's pretty hilarious. So I don't really have a lot to add to the November library display collection...

Except for turkeys. I think they're so funny. So I couldn't resist adding to my book return meme collection (see the Batman, Yoda, and Gandalf ones here) with a new printable perfect for Thanksgiving:

And yes! You are free to print it and use it. If you want the pdf, here's the Google drive link.

Anyways, now I'm craving some turkey. Here are some other turkey library displays that I just want to gobble up!

Wednesday, November 2

15 Extension Activities for If You Plant a Seed

Welcome back to my new series of posts highlighting some of my very favorite, favorite books and the supplementary games, songs, and activities you could use with them. This could be useful for library programs, home schooling, or (of course) to just have fun with your kids! The first book I did was What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig, and then Mother Bruce. Now I'll share ideas for...

First and foremost, Kadir Nelson's If You Plant a Seed is a shining example of gorgeous, realistic illustrations. The art in this book is my favorite favorite. And then on top of all that, it has a really important message about selflessness and working together. The harvest and gratitude themes make it a really great read for November. Really, it's a genius book and definitely one of my favorites (see my original review back here). Here are some activities that will appeal to its target audience of about 4 - 7 years. 

1. Plant a seed—I know. Big surprise here. It really almost goes without saying. Here's a great resource to get you started: planting a bean in a cup (from Peep and the Big Wide World). (photo from marajane)

Monday, October 31

Reviews of the Week 10/31

Happy Halloween! Hope your holiday is going well. I'm keeping up with my totally unintentional "ghost" theme in my reviews this month with my final October review including the new middle-grade novel, Ghost by Jason Reynolds. Yeah, you're right, it's not actually that spooky or ghost-related at all...but hey, the title worked for my needs. Also, apparently I was in a "yellow cover" sort of mood:


Thursday, October 27

22 Awesome Children's Book Character Costumes

You've probably already figured out what costume you'll wear for Halloween this year, but I still want to highlight some of the most awesome literary costumes I've seen. Heck, wear these anytime! Dr. Seuss Day, World Book Day, book reports...any book-themed event, really.

1. The Man in the Yellow Hat from Curious George (Haute Apple Pie)

Monday, October 24

Reviews of the Week 10/24

Sometimes I feel like a bit of an idiot. Like when I ask for comments on a blog post as a way to enter a certain giveaway and then forget that I had turned off the comments option. And then no one told me until like a week later. Ha! Well, live and learn, right? Perhaps I was distracted by the awesome reads this week. I finally have a five-star again! And technically, one is written for adults, but it's got such a great story (that is also cleaner than most YAs) that I'm sharing it here. Plus, it carries the ghost theme that I've had the past few weeks (i.e. Raina's Telgemeier's newest and Jonathan Stroud's newest). Enjoy!


Friday, October 21

15 Extension Activities for Mother Bruce

Welcome back to my new series of posts highlighting some of my very favorite, favorite books and the supplementary games, songs, and activities you could use with them. This could be useful for library programs, home schooling, or (of course) to just have fun with your kids! The first book I did was What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig, and now I'll share ideas for...

I adore Ryan T. Higgins' book, Mother Bruce. You can see my original review back here. Basically, I love it because of the humor. So. Funny. But really, it's also the illustrations, the great story, and the ever lovable grumpy bear named Bruce. Also of note, the sequel, Hotel Bruce just came out this week! And I'm doing a giveaway for the book, so head on over to this post if you want a chance to win. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here are some activities that will appeal to the books target audience, kids aged 3 - 7 or there's about.

1.  Hibernation craft—What does "hibernate" mean? Bruce would much prefer to sleep. Do some research as to why, and try out this adorable hibernation craft (from Courtney Ward's Lesson Plans).

Tuesday, October 18

Hotel Bruce Book Birthday and Prize Pack GIVEAWAY!

Minor update: For anyone that is checking back because they wondered "what the heck" when entering the giveaway. Initially I had the option for commenting on the blog post as another entry into the giveaway and only now just realized that I had turned off the commenting option on my blog posts... Everyone has their dumb moments, right? So now that option is completely off the books; sincerest apologies for the confusion. The giveaway will keep going as planned!

My favorite lovably grumpy bear is here! Yep, Hotel Bruce is on sale today and I hope you are all excited about it. If you haven't already got yourself a copy, I guess I can forgive you, because you are in the right place. Thanks to Disney-Hyperion, I have a prize pack to share with you that includes a copy of the book AND a pretty dang cute "Wipe Your Paws" welcome mat. Oh, yeah! Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. If you still have no idea what I'm talking about, check out my review of the book back here, and then read on, MacDuff!

Monday, October 17

Reviews of the Week 10/17

Yeah, I had Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier last week, and now I'm back with even more terrifying ghosts: the newest Lockwood & Co. book! Oh man, so good, so worth the wait...