Monday, February 27

Reviews of the Week 2/27

Ah, Monday again. How was your weekend? I'm gonna brag about mine for a bit because, first of all, I got a new t-shirt (courtesy of GiftedShirts--thanks!) that is not only so incredibly comfy that I literally wore it all weekend...but it's book-themed, too. The "My Weekend is All Booked" is basically my new favorite, I'm not even kidding. And it just makes so much sense because I did, in fact, spend all weekend reading the most amazing book. Like, I'm still reeling from it. Yep, I've got a new 5-star review today. So. Good.

Friday, February 24

15 Fun Activities for Kids when reading Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe

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, homeschooling, or (of course) to just have fun with your kids! Previously, I've created fun activity lists for books like I Want My Hat Back and Mother Bruce. Now I'll share ideas for...

Yep, this year's Caldecott Medal winner, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, which truly deserves the honor. Now, with this being a book about an artist written by an artist who won the Caldecott (oh, and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award!), a lot of these activities are art based. Woo! But there's still some science, games, music, and food thrown in, too. Whichever of the activities you choose, they'll be perfect for the book's target age of school-age kids, or roughly 6 - 10 years old.

1. DIY spray painting—Jean-Michel Basquiat started out his career with a lot of graffiti. Have kids try it out (in a safer, more washable way) with washable paint put in spray bottles (see this instructable for more info and photo cred). Make a game of it by trying to shoot different targets with your paint.

Wednesday, February 22

The Blood Guard Trilogy Review (with Giveaway!)

Instead of the "Reviews of the Week" post I normally do, we're having an extra special series review of The Blood Guard with a giveaway! See below for full details!

978-1477847251 / March 4, 2014 978-1477826263 / August 18, 2015 978-1477827178 / February 21, 2017

The Blood Guard
Carter Roy

My rating: ★★★★

Publisher: Two Lions
Age: Grades 4 - 7         
Genre: FantasyFormat: ARC from publisher

Themes: secret societies, good vs. evil, action, adventure, magical abilities, family relationships

"When thirteen-year-old Ronan Truelove's seemingly ordinary mom snatches him from school, then sets off on a high-speed car chase, Ronan is shocked. His quiet, nerdy dad has been kidnapped? And the kidnappers are after him, too? His mom, he quickly learns, is anything but ordinary. In fact, she's a member of an ancient order of knights, the Blood Guard, a sword-wielding secret society sworn to protect the Pure—thirty-six noble souls whose safety is crucial if the world as we know it is to survive.

"Now all those after-school activities—gymnastics, judo, survival training—she made him take, make sense. For suddenly Ronan is swept up in a sometimes funny, sometimes scary, but always thrilling adventure—dashing from one danger to the next, using his wits to escape the Bend Sinister, a posse of evil doers with strange powers. Falling in with two unlikely companions, Greta, a scrappy, strong-willed girl he's never much liked and Jack, a devil-may-care teenage pickpocket, Ronan is left with only his wits and his mom's last words of advice: Trust no one."

Oh man. High-flying, non-stop, crazy-magic-infused action, muchachos. If you need a book series that will grab on to its reader firmly and not let go until its thrilling conclusion, look no further. Pretty sure I read these in less than a week. Let's break them down a bit, shall we?

Friday, February 17

The 2016 Cybils Winners! (And My Personal Runner-Ups)

Guess what?? Cybils, that's what. I had the awesome, amazing opportunity to be a Round 2 judge for the Cybils Awards again! Last year, I did the Easy Reader and Early Chapter Book category. But for 2016, I shook things up a bit and helped nominate the winner of the Board Book and Fiction Picture Book category. And on Tuesday, our decisions were finally announced!

Check out all the winners here!

Like last year, I thought I'd take the time to highlight a couple (personal, individual, outside-of-the-contest) runner-ups in my judging category.

Being a Round 2 judge means that you get to select the winning title from a group of finalists picked in Round 1. Well, let me tell you, all of the books are finalists for a reason! They were all so good. (You can see all the finalists on the home page). So really, pick them all up if you can. But here are my personal favorites:

Wednesday, February 15

Author AND Illustrator Interview: Stacy McAnulty & Edward Hemingway (with a GIVEAWAY!)

Dude today is so packety packed. I got to interview the amazing author/illustrator team behind Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He's the Favorite. Remember when I raved about it a couple weeks back? Yeah. Now I love it even more because of these people: Stacy McAnulty and Edward Hemingway. Not only are they super talented, but also hilarious. Also! It's my first time interviewing an illustrator, which just makes me so excited. And after their interviews, be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for a copy of the book! Wow, it is such a win-win-win day...

STACY MCANULTY is certain she's her mom's favorite. Her younger brother disagrees. She's the author of Beautiful, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach; and 101 Reasons Why I'm Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. Originally from upstate New York, she now lives in Kernersville, North Carolina, with her three children, two dogs, and one husband. She doesn't have a favorite. You can find her online at

EA: Hi, Ms. McAnulty! Thanks for doing this interview. So, based on your bio, it looks like you first studied Mechanical the heck did you make the jump from that to writing children's books??

SM: Ha! My past career always surprises people. But engineering and writing are not that different. They both require creativity, problem-solving, and stick-to-it-ness. Sure, engineering requires calculus and physics, and writers need a comprehension of language, grammar, and spelling (none of which I’m great at). Engineers and authors are both trying to improve the world. Engineers design better cars, turbines, computers, airline seats (I designed first-class airline seats). These items mostly make our lives better. Authors create books that also make our lives better by making us laugh, think, question, dream, or escape.

Monday, February 13

Reviews of the Week 2/13

Happy Valentine's Day! But do you know what else tomorrow is? The CYBILS award announcement day! I was lucky enough to be a judge in the Board Books and Picture Books category, and I have to say, there were some good ones this year. So be sure to check out that page tomorrow. In the meantime, here's some more book love...

Friday, February 10

Flannel Friday Roundup for 2/10

*Poof* From placeholder to roundup, here's the Flannel Friday for your week.

We've got a few flannels that were shared, all of which are fantastic, of course! So let's get started...

1. Kathryn from Fun with Friends at Storytime shared an appropriately snowy flannel: her collection of snowmen and snowmen rhymes. She's got a handsome set over there, so take your pick!

2. Maria from Storytime Universe has her five little footballs all ready to go in her flannel this week. Go team go!

3. Keith from Felt-tastic Flannelboard Funtime has a flannel to go with his Jill Be Nimble rhyme because, (and I quote) "Jill can jump just as well as Jack, yo." Love it!

4. Kate from Felt Board Magic has her flannel for five little raindrops, with both counting up and counting down rhymes, complete with free pattern!

5. As for me, I pulled out my old-but-still-successful Presidents' Day flannel featuring counterfeit money, a song, and game that gets kids recognizing presidents and cash quickly.

Thanks, everyone, for posting your fantastic ideas! Don't forget to check out the FF website to learn more, or see their Pinterest page for even more ideas, or follow them on Facebook!

Flannel Friday: Presidents' Day

So I'm going to share an oldie but goodie that I would use for that other February holiday, Presidents' Day! Basically, this is a great game to help kids recognize some U.S. Presidents and the money their portraits are on.

Monday, February 6

Reviews of the Week 2/6

Bears, oxen, and horses, oh my! It's an animal-book-heavy week, people! There's some interesting reads, yes, but I'm not gonna lie, I had some issues. Not every book is perfect after all...

Friday, February 3

10+ Swoon-Worthy Reads—Clean Teen Romances

Clean teen romances. Some people don't care, but the ones that do, care a lot. When I first started as a children's librarian, I had a mom come up and ask me for contemporary, fun romance recommendations. But, since they were for her freshly-turn-teen-aged daughter, she wanted them clean—as in no sexuality or crass content. I admit, I was stumped. I offered a few ideas then and have since had many more mothers ask the same question.

So here is my list of ten—plus a lot more because these authors do a lot of good stuff—clean and funny contemporary romances just in time for Valentine's Day. I'm sure there's more for me to discover, so by all means, share your recommendations in the comments below! And, just for fun, I added like 15 more fantasy and dystopian ones into the mix at the bottom, too.

Romeo and What's Her Name
Shani Petroff
Swoon Reads (February 7, 2017)

"Understudies never get to perform...which is why being Juliet's understudy in the school's yearly Shakespeare production is the perfect role for Emily. She can earn some much-needed extra credit while pursuing her main goal of spending time with Wes, aka Romeo, aka the hottest, nicest guy in school (in her completely unbiased opinion). But then Amanda (the real Juliet) ends up in the hospital and Emily, as the (completely unprepared!) understudy, has to star in the most famous scene from Romeo and Juliet opposite the guy of her dreams. Oops?"

This is the one the really kicked off the idea for this list. I just read it this week. In one sitting. So corny, yet so cute; drama-heavy, yet sweet moments of true friendship. It's the ultra-high-school-romance book. It's being released next week, just in time for Valentines, so check it out!