Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins - 4/30/2010

It's hard to believe that it's the end of April already!  My goal was to blog everyday in April, so I could get back into my blogging habit, which I love, but life happened along the way.  This week especially!  We had state standardized testing and it's been a crazy week filled with long days, late nights, and lack of sleep for me.  But, the good news is, it's over!  Now we just sit on pins and needles waiting for the results.

Enjoy these fill-ins today and I'll be back in the blogging game with some reviews for you this weekend.

1. I was just thinking about you.

2. I hate it when I have to wait for someone or something and I left my book at home.

3. Why do we have to put so much pressure on our kids with standardized tests?

4. Sleeping in was in my thoughts today.

5. One of my father's favorite sayings was and still is: If it rains on the first it'll rain 15 or more days this month.

6. Exhaustion--I know that feeling!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to dinner with my husband, tomorrow my plans include reading and resting and Sunday, I want to plant a flower bed if the rain stops!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Magic Tree House Essay Contest

I thought those of you with children might enjoy this contest.  It starts today, so get your kids writing!!


Random House: 
Elizabeth Zajac 212.782.8530;
Kids Crooked House:
Kerri Moran 404.664.2090

Random House Children’s Books and Kids Crooked House Team Up to Host Magic Tree House Essay Contest

Grand-Prize Winner Receives Custom Designed Kids Crooked House Playhouse
Inspired by Mary Pope Osborne’s bestselling Magic Tree House Book Series

NEW YORK, NY – April 26, 2010 - Random House Children’s Books and Kids Crooked House are kicking off an essay contest for kids to promote adventure, imagination, and creativity: themes that are all reflected in Mary Pope Osborne’s bestselling Magic Tree House series. The grand-prize winner will be awarded their own Magic Tree House: a custom designed playhouse by Kids Crooked House, creators of the most whimsical playhouses for children. Ten runner-up winners will receive a Magic Tree House book autographed by Mary Pope Osborne, beloved author of the wildly popular New York Times bestselling series that has now sold nearly 70 million copies.

The Magic Tree House series, first published in 1992, follows brother and sister duo Jack and Annie as they journey back in time via a magic tree house, traveling to exotic places and meeting famous historical figures. Children interested in entering the essay contest must submit a response to this question: Write about an adventure you would like to have in the Magic Tree House. Where would you go and what would you do? Mary Pope Osborne will review the submissions and choose the winner.

Essay entry forms are available for download at and must be mailed to Random House offices at 1745 Broadway New York, NY 10019. Entries will be accepted from April 27 through October 31, 2010. The winners will be announced in mid December 2010.

“There is nothing more exciting than a child using their imagination and this essay contest is a great outlet. No one knows boundless imagination better than Mary Pope Osborne, a truly creative and artistic author. Kids Crooked House is honored to work with Ms. Osborne and a partner like Random House to help make this an exciting endeavor for many children,” said Glen Halliday, creative director and CEO for Kids Crooked House.

Kids Crooked House is inspired by, and infused with, Maine and its natural wonders. Glen and his cousin, Jeff Leighton, built their first crooked house because they loved being outside and wanted their kids to love it, too. Glen and Jeff’s goal is to encourage children to use their imaginations as wildly as possible, and with the diverse range of playhouses Kids Crooked House offers, it isn’t very hard to do.

“I’m so excited about this contest, knowing it will inspire an adventure and allow children to be as creative as they dare. I can’t wait to read their ideas, and learn about where they would like to go! This essay contest touches on my main goal in writing the Magic Tree House books: to encourage children to go on adventures using their own imaginations,” said Mary Pope Osborne.

About Random House Children’s Books and the MAGIC TREE HOUSE Series

Random House Children’s Books is the world’s largest English-language children's trade book publisher. Creating books for preschool children through young adult readers, in all formats from board books to activity books to picture books and novels, Random House Children’s Books brings together award-winning authors and illustrators, world-famous franchise characters, and multimillion-copy series.

It is the proud and longtime publisher of Mary Pope Osborne’s celebrated Magic Tree House series, which has now sold nearly 70 million copies and has been translated into 28 different languages in 31 countries since it was first published in 1992. The series is widely regarded among children, teachers, and parents alike for its power to instill a passion for reading. Teachers and kids can experience even more Magic Tree House fun on the interactive Web site, which features games and activities for children and teaching tools and materials for educators.

Random House Books for Young Readers is an imprint of the Random House Children’s Books division of Random House, Inc., whose parent company is Bertelsmann AG. Visit us on the Web at

About Kids Crooked House

Based in Windham, Maine, Kids Crooked House was founded by fun-loving dads Glen Halliday and Jeff Leighton, who couldn’t find a unique, affordable, and imaginative playhouse for their young kids. They looked in all the big home centers and scoured dozens of Web sites. The products either looked like a tool shed for lawnmowers or like a small city with a price to match. For the graphic designer and carpenter-electrician, the answer was simple: Build one of their own. The entire neighborhood was soon hanging out in Glen’s backyard. So FUNky was his kid’s new crooked house, the rest is (becoming) history. For more information about Kids Crooked House, visit

Monday, April 26, 2010

In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday - 4/26/2010

Welcome to this week's edition of In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday!  You can find these hosted by some wonderful ladies: Kristi at The Story Siren and Marcia at The Printed Page, respectively. They host these memes so that book bloggers can share the books that come into their houses. I appreciate them both and hope that you will visit their blogs.

I had an amazingly good week last week!  Sorry to be late in posting my mailbox, but we are beginning our week of state testing tomorrow, so I have been otherwise preoccupied trying to get everything prepared.  Friday will be a blessing to see!

Here's what came into my house, via the mailbox...
Farm by Elisha Cooper, from  Scholastic
There is so much to look at and learn about on a farm - animals, tractors, crops, and barns. And children feeding animals for morning chores! With lyrical writing and beautiful illustrations that capture the rhythms of the changing seasons, Elisha Cooper brings the farm to life.

Horse Diaries: Maestoso Petra by Jane Kendall, from Random House
Vienna, Austria, 1938

Maestoso Petra is a world-famous Lipizzaner stallion. He has spent years in the Spanish Riding School, training to perform the complex airs above the ground that only Lipizzaner can accomplish. But when World War II breaks out in Europe, he learns to think less about performing and more about survival. Here is Maestoso Petra’s story . . . in his own words.

Nature Girl by Jane Kelley, from Random House
Eleven-year-old Megan is stuck in the wilds of Vermont for the summer with no TV, no Internet, no cell phone, and worst of all, no best friend. So when Megan gets lost on the Appalachian Trail with only her little dog, Arp, for company, she decides she might as well hike all the way to Massachusetts where her best friend, Lucy, is spending her summer. Life on the trail isn’t easy, and Megan faces everything from wild animals and raging rivers to tofu jerky and life without bathrooms. Most of all, though, Megan gets to know herself—both who she’s been in the past and who she wants to be in the future—and the journey goes from a spur-of-the-moment lark to a quest to prove herself to Lucy, her family, and the world!

The Turning Book 1: What Curiosity Kills (ARC) by Helen Ellis, from Sourcebooks
Nobody can know your secret.
Nobody can know your power.
But if nobody knows who you are to begin with...what's stopping you?

I whisper, "What's so special about me all of a sudden?"
Nick says, "The Turning."

Mary feels different, but can't explain why. The fainting, the strange cravings...and worse, the things she's noticed about her body.

Mary doesn't know where to turn. If she tells her parents or her sister, she'll risk losing everything. She has no other family, no way of knowing if what she's going through is normal. Everyone she's ever known and loved could reject her...

Cecil Learns to Smile by Charlotte Bucher, from the author
This endearing story is about a small frog who is being teased and taunted for being different, in Cecil's case, for being so small. His mother attempts to hide him away to end the teasing. At the top of his tall tree in the middle of the rain forest, Cecil grows very lonesome. There is no one to play with or to visit.

One day a TV cameraman strolls into the forest and starts talking with Cecil. Cecil tells him that he is very lonesome. He even sheds a small tear.

The cameraman says "Let me take your picture with my camera. I can show it all over the world, for I am a TV cameraman. Perhaps some of your brothers, sisters. and cousins will come to visit you." The little frog croaked "okey dokey."

Then the cameraman begins the process of teaching Cecil how to smile and telling him why SMILING IS IMPORTANT.

Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: Family , Friendships, and Faith in Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende, from Algonquin Books
The Alaskan landscape — so vast, dramatic, and unbelievable — may make it easier to believe that something or someone greater is in charge. Haines resident Heather Lende wonders whether that’s why people in her town (population 2,400) so often discuss the meaning of life. She thinks it helps make life mean more.

Lende, who writes the local obituary column and has been called "part Annie Dillard, part Anne Lamott" by the Los Angeles Times, revealed in her first book a deep awareness of what links all humanity. Since then, she was run over by a truck in an almost fatal accident and has had a few more reasons to consider matters both spiritual and earthly. In Where God Resides we meet the community that helped her get back on her feet: the eccentric, fiercely independent, always fascinating residents of Haines—Buddhists, bear hunters, Tinglit Indians, and her large, lively family. We follow Lende as she attends her small Episcopal church, cares for her mother, wonders how to forgive the driver who hit her and how not to faint with joy as she finally walks down to the beach for her daughter’s wedding. By the time we reach a certain age, most of us have been hit by trucks, in one way or another, and Lende shows us that our responses to those setbacks have everything to do with faith.

Roseflower Creek (ARC) by Jackie Lee Miles, from Sourcebooks
"The morning I died it rained. Poured down so hard it washed the blood off my face."

It seems everyone in young Lori Jean's life has a secret, but only one secret will cost her everything.

Mothers & Other Liars (ARC) by Amy Bourret, from St. Martin's Press
How far will a mother go to save her child? 

Ten years ago, Ruby Leander was a drifting nineteen-year-old who made a split-second decision at an Oklahoma rest stop. Fast forward nine years: Ruby and her daughter Lark live in New Mexico. Lark is a precocious, animal loving imp, and Ruby has built a family for them with a wonderful community of friends and her boyfriend of three years. Life is good. Until the day Ruby reads a magazine article about parents searching for an infant kidnapped by car-jackers. Then Ruby faces a choice no mother should have to make. A choice that will change both her and Lark's lives forever.

The Art of Losing:  Poems of Grief & Healing by Kevin Young, from Bloomsbury
Poetry serves a unique role in our lives, distilling human experience and emotion down to truths as potent as they are brief. There are two times most people turn to it: for love and loss. Although collections of love poetry abound, there are very few anthologies for the grieving. In The Art of Losing, editor Kevin Young Kevin Young has introduced and selected 150 devastatingly beautiful poems that embrace the pain and heartbreak of mourning. Divided into five sections (Reckoning, Remembrance, Rituals, Recovery, and Redemption), with poems by some of our most beloved poets as well as the best of the current generation of poets, The Art of Losing is the ideal a gift for a loved one in a time of need and for use by ministers, rabbis, and palliative care workers who tend to those who are experiencing loss.

Kiss in the Dark by Lauren Henderson, from Delacorte Press
With Dan McAndrews's murder finally behind her, Scarlett has high hopes for a fresh start at Wakefield Hall Collegiate, the elite English boarding school her grandmother runs. Unfortunately, those hopes are dashed when her nemesis, the infamous Plum Saybourne, is transferred to the school. Plum wastes no time turning Scarlett’s impressionable classmates against her.

Scarlett has dealt with Plum’s nasty schemes before, and she can handle her archenemy very nicely, thank you—until Plum sets her sights on Scarlett’s best friend, Taylor, and new boyfriend, Jase. Then Scarlett is more than willing to fight for what’s rightfully hers.

Things only get worse after Scarlett becomes entangled in a mysterious death on campus. Scarlett is compelled to investigate because she wants to protect someone close to her. She never imagines that she’ll uncover secrets related to her parents’ fatal accident so many years ago. . . .

Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner, from Random House

After her mother mysteriously disappears, sixteen-year-old Haley convinces her father to take her to Iceland, where her mother was last seen. There, amidst the ancient fissures and crevices of that volcanic island, Haley meets gorgeous Ari, a boy with a dangerous side who appoints himself her protector.

When Haley picks up a silver coin that entangles her in a spell cast by her ancestor Hallgerd, she discovers that Hallgerd's spell and her mother's disappearance are connected to a chain of events that could unleash terrifying powers and consume the world. Haley must find a way to contain the growing fires of the spell—and her growing attraction to Ari.

Unfamiliar Magic by R.C. Alexander, from Random House
Desi is a witch. And she knows she could be a great witch—if only her mom would teach her any spells. Unfortunately, Desi’s mom is more concerned with keeping them safe and their abilities hidden.

When her mom leaves town under mysterious circumstances, it should be Desi’s perfect opportunity to explore magic on her own. But Desi has been left in the care of the most unusual babysitter of all time: her pet cat—also her mom’s familiar—now transformed into a teenage girl named Cat. And Cat has only three goals: Learn how to eat sushi with her new hairless monkey paws, get the awkward boy next door to pay for her sushi, and keep Desi out of trouble. And that means no magic.

Yeah, right!

One Too Many: A Seek & Find Counting Book by Gianna Marino, from Chronicle Books
In this boisterous barnyard, the fun grows with each turn of the page. One bouncing flea is joined by two cows, then three horses, and so on, all the way up to twelve swooping bats. Children will delight in following the shimmering path of the flea, counting each bounce along the way to find the new arrival. Older readers can take the challenge further, counting all the animals on the page, or hunting for their favorite. And a surprise ending reveals which animal is just one too many! This frisky hodgepodge is sure to have the whole herd roaring with laughter and pouring over the pages for hours.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today is Earth Day!!


Contact: Caroline Harris, Public Relations


Lose that Remote and Seize the Day!

TV Turnoff Week Overlaps with Earth Day this Year

Mount Pleasant, SC (April 13, 2010) – Join Sylvan Dell in celebrating national TV Turnoff Week April 19-25 and Earth Day, April 22. Every year this week challenges families to turn off their television sets and find an alternate form of entertainment. Earth Day, celebrating its 40th year, happens to fall right in the middle of TV Turnoff Week this year and provides a perfect excuse to turn off the television and learn about the earth.

So, instead of channel surfing, do something good for the Earth. Here are some suggestions:

  •  Visit an animal rehabilitation center near you. Ask what types of animals do they help? Are any of these animals endangered or threatened? What can you do to help?
  • Take a trip to the zoo or your local aquarium. Turn it into a learning activity. Draw or make a list of the ways the animals are alike or different.
  •  Go hiking in a nature reserve. Collect leaves, shells and flower petals. Draw a tree or make a nature journal.
  •  Visit a nature museum. Quiz yourself after, what do you remember? Write down what you learned.
  •  Read a book like “Where Should Turtle Be?” or “What’s New At the Zoo?” Sylvan Dell books are great educational resources that promote awareness and appreciation for animals and the environment.
 Sylvan Dell is participating by giving schools, libraries and families free access to their 50 eBooks for the week of April 19-25. More than 40 of these eBooks explore Earth Day related themes including marine animals, habitats, wildlife, zoo animals, earth and physical science, birds, and astronomy. So, before deciding to turn on the TV, read an eBook and learn about the wonders of the Earth!

For more information about Earth Day, visit

For more information about “TV Turnoff Week,” visit:

For more information about Sylvan Dell Publishing, visit:

eBook access instructions are located on the Sylvan Dell website at:

About Sylvan Dell Publishing

Sylvan Dell Publishing’s mission is to excite children’s imaginations with artistically spectacular science, math and nature themed stories. Founded in November of 2004, Sylvan Dell has grown to include more than 75 authors and illustrators, in the U.S. and Canada, and 50 titles – honored as finalists or winners of more than 70 book awards. Our Science and Math Through Literature Program integrates reading, science, math, geography, character skills, and language learning through fun, cross-curricular activities. Sylvan Dell provides more online educator resources than any other publisher in the U.S. We offer schools, homeschooling families and public libraries a free one-year access to our ebook site license featuring the most technologically advanced eBooks each with Auto-Flip, Auto-Read, 3D page curling, and selectable English and Spanish text and audio through our School Resource Grant program. For more information, visit

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday - Claire de Lune

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Claire de Lune
by: Christine Johnson
Publication Date: May 18th 2010 by Simon Pulse

Torn between two destinies?

Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. Her pool party is a big success, and gorgeous Matthew keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she's the only girl there. But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: she's a werewolf.

As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she must deal not only with her changing identity, but also with a rogue werewolf who is putting everyone she knows in danger. Claire's new life threatens her blossoming romance with Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. Now burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, Claire is struggling to feel comfortable in either skin. With her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, she will make a choice that will change her forever?

A female werewolf?  You had me there!  Just the description makes me want to know more.  Can't wait!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday - 4/19/2010

Welcome to this week's edition of In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday!  You can find these hosted by some wonderful ladies: Kristi at The Story Siren and Marcia at The Printed Page, respectively. They host these memes so that book bloggers can share the books that come into their houses. I appreciate them both and hope that you will visit their blogs.

Here's what came into my house, via the mailbox...

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin, from Sourcebooks
A ghost will find his way home.

Jennie Lovell's life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. Then her fiancé falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone.

Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past.

When Jennie forms an unlikely alliance with a spirit photographer, she begins to uncover secrets about the man she thought she loved. With her sanity on edge and her life in the balance, can Jennie expose the chilling truth before someone-or something-stops her?

Against the brutal, vivid backdrop of the American Civil War, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown have created a spellbinding mystery where the living cannot always be trusted and death is not always the end.

College in a Nutskull: A Crash Ed Course in Higher Education by  Anders Henriksson, from Workman
He's back. Anders Henriksson, author of The New York Times bestseller Non Campus Mentis (retitled Ignorance Is Blitz), returns with even funnier, nuttier, more outrageous material culled from the actual exam books of real college students. And it's a hoot that covers all subjects of the core curriculum, including: American History: "The Underground Railroad was built as the nation's first public transit system." Art: "Cubism is art from Cuba." Religion: "Moses led his Islams out of Egypt. Bananas from heaven arrived to feed the hungry people. These events are described in the Book of Zeus." Philosophy: "Plato did his thinking in the Cave of Al Gore." Economics: "The theory of surplus value is Marx’s idea that you always shop with coupons." Music: "Bach's sacred choral music includes the B Minor Mess. . . . All one million of his famed works can be found in his BMW. He had over one hundred children and was, of course, very famous for his work with his organ. Two of his successful sons were Jesus Christ Bach and Bacherini." Literature: "Jay Gatsby moved to East Egg because it would be a good place to raise his chickens." And Psychology—or is it Theater Arts: "Most people are either straight, gay, or thespian."

Getting In by Karen Stabiner, from Authors on the Web
Getting In is the roller-coaster story of five very different Los Angeles families united by a single obsession: acceptance at a top college, preferably one that makes their friends and neighbors green with envy. At an elite private school and a nearby public school, families devote themselves to getting their seniors into the perfect school--even if the odds are stacked against them, even if they can't afford the $50,000 annual price tag, even if the effort requires a level of deceit, and even if the object of all this attention wants to go somewhere else.

Anna Maria's Gift by Janice Shefelman, from Random House/Golden Books
When Anna Maria's father, a famous violin maker, dies, she is sent to live in the Pieta, an orphanage in Venice. Though she misses her father, she knows he will always be with her, as long as she has the beautiful violin he crafted for her.

Luckily, the Pieta is not just an orphanage—it’s also a renowned music school whose teacher is none other than composer Antonio Vivaldi. When Anna Maria becomes his star pupil, another orphan’s jealousy leads her to throw Anna Maria’s precious violin into the canals. With help from her beloved teacher and new friends, Anna Maria searches Venice’s bridges, streets, and canals, but it seems hopeless. Will Anna Maria ever find her father’s violin?

Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski, from Knopf Delacorte Dell
A new life is just a phone call away!

Devi's life isn't turning out at all like she wanted. She wasted the past three years going out with Bryan—cute, adorable, break-your-heart Bryan. Devi let her friendships fade, blew off studying, didn't join any clubs . . . and now that Bryan has broken up with her, she has nothing left.

Not even her stupid cell phone—she dropped it in the mall fountain. Now it only calls one number . . . hers. At age fourteen, three years ago!

Once Devi gets over the shock—and convinces her younger self that she isn't some wacko—she realizes that she's been given an awesome gift. She can tell herself all the right things to do . . . because she's already done all the wrong ones! Who better to take advice from than your future self?

Except . . .what if getting what you think you want changes everything?

Spaceheadz by Jon Sciesza and Francesco Sedita, from Simon &  Schuster
Michael K. just started fifth grade at a new school. As if that wasn't hard enough, the kids he seems to have made friends with apparently aren't kids at all. They are aliens. Real aliens who have invaded our planet in the form of school children and a hamster. They have a mission to complete: to convince 3,400,001 kids to BE SPHDZ. But with a hamster as their leader, "kids" who talk like walking advertisements, and Michael K as their first convert, will the SPHDZ be able to keep their cover and pull off their assignment?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday - Whisper

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

by: Phoebe Kitanidis
Publication Date: April 27th 2010 by Balzer + Bray

I’d love a cup of coffee. I wish she knew how pretty she was. I wish I could drop this kid in the dryer sometimes. I just want her to be happy. I hope she didn’t find out what Ben said about her. I wish I knew how many calories were in a bite of muffin…

Joy is used to hearing Whispers. She’s used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people’s deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good, to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people’s lives—especially Joy’s—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears a frightening whisper from Jessica's own mind, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own.
How intriguing does that sound?  And the fact that it comes out in less than 2 weeks is even better!  I've always thought that the ability to hear others' thoughts could be a blessing and a curse.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We Interrupt Your Reading... bring you the newest addition to our family! 

Welcome little girl...not sure what your name will be, but you sure are pretty!

This is our new filly born this afternoon (4/13/2010).  I came home to find her standing in the pasture.  She's had her first shots and is resting under her momma's watch as I type.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Review: Artsy-Fartsy

Title:  Artsy-Fartsy
Author/Illustrator:  Karla Oceanak/Kendra Spanjer
Review Copy Provided by:  Bailiwick Press

About the Book:  Aldo Zelnick is the star of a new comic novel series for children. Ten-year-old Aldo lives with his family in Colorado. He's not athletic like his older brother, he's not a rock hound like his best friend, but he does like bacon. And when his artist grandmother, Goosy, gives him a sketchbook to "record all his artsy-fartsy ideas" during summer vacation, it turns out Aldo is a pretty good cartoonist. In addition to an engaging cartoon story, Artsy-Fartsy includes an illustrated glossary of fun A words used throughout the book, such as absurd, abominable, and audacious. 

My Review:  This was my first comic novel, and I really enjoyed it.  The interspersing of pictures throughout the story, in paragraphs, on the edges, on pages of their own, etc., helped to make this one a fun, quick read.

Artsy-Fartsy was released in December 2009 as a book for kids aged 8-13.  It has a male main character, which I think is great!  The reason I think so many of my male students picked up Diary of  A Wimpy Kid was because it was about a boy.  I think they will pick this one up for the same reason. 

This book is centered around a red letter sketchbook that Aldo received from "Goosy," his grandmother.  In fact, the sketchbook is the book you are reading.  I had my students create Writing Notebooks in my class and this reminded me so much of what some of them did and what was my ultimate goal for their notebooks.  It is a place to write, draw, add your secrets, treasures, etc.  If I were back in the classroom, I would definitely use this book to inspire my students, especially the boys because they usually think the notebooks are more like diaries, which are for girls!

Aldo's not real sure what to put in his sketchbook, but as he adds thoughts, stories, drawings, he realizes that his sketchbook is whatever he wants it to be: a place to be himself.   And, he didn't even want the sketchbook at first, but by the end he may be ready for another one.  Interesting turn of events, right?

I love the added bonuses with this book.  Aldo uses and asterisks many "A" words in his sketchbook.  The definitions to all of these words is included in the back of the book.  You and/or your child can learn more about Aldo, hear how the words are pronounced, get recipes, coloring pages, see the author/illustrator's appearance schedule and sign up for the email list by visiting Aldo's Website.  Aldo is also on Twitter: @AldoZelnick

By the way, Artsy-Fartsy is the first book in the Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel Series.  I bet you're thinking, "since this book focused on 'A' words, then the next book must focus on 'B' words."  Well, you're absolutely right!  The next book in the series, coming Spring 2010, is Bogus

This just in from Bailiwick Press:

We're a Book of the Year Award Finalist!

Foreword Reviews just named Artsy-Fartsy a Book of the Year Award finalist in not one but TWO categories:

juvenile fiction

graphic novels!

The contest honors the best books published by independent publishers from across the country. The top three winners in each category will be announced at Book Expo America on May 25th.
Yay Aldo!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday - 4/11/2010

Welcome to this week's edition of In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday!  You can find these hosted by some wonderful ladies: Kristi at The Story Siren and Marcia at The Printed Page, respectively. They host these memes so that book bloggers can share the books that come into their houses. I appreciate them both and hope that you will visit their blogs.

Here's what came into my house, via the mailbox...

The Dark Divine (ARC) by Bree Despain, from Egmont - Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared--the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood--but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.

The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.

The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it--her soul.

Scones and Sensibility (ARC) by Lindsey Eland, from Egmont - Polly Madassa is convinced she was born for a more romantic time. A time when Elizabeth Bennet and Anne of Green Gables walked along the moors and beaches of the beautiful land, a time where a distinguished gentleman called upon a lady of quality and true love was born in the locked eyes of two young lovers.

But alas, she was not.

This, however, does not stop our young heroine from finding romance wherever she can conjure it up. So while Polly is burdened with a summer job of delivering baked goods from her parents bakery (how quaint!) to the people in her small beach town, she finds a way to force…um…encourage romance to blossom. She is determined to bring lovers, young and old, together…whether they want to be or not.

Still Missing (ARC) by Chevy Stevens, from St. Martin's Press via Shelf Awareness - On the day she was abducted, Annie O'Sullivan, a thirty-two year old realtor, had three goals--sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever- patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape--her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

The truth doesn't always set you free.

Numbers by Rachel Ward, from Scholastic (a win) - Ever since she was child, Jem has kept a secret: Whenever she meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die. Burdened with such awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. The two plan a trip to the city. But while waiting to ride the Eye ferris wheel, Jem is terrified to see that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today's number. Today's date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem's world is about to explode!

We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow, from Random House to review for Poetry Month - We planted a tree and it grew up,

While it reached for the sky and the sun. . . .

In this simple poem illustrated by award winner Bob Staake, two young families in two very different parts of the world plant a tree. As the trees flourish, so do the families . . . while trees all over the world help clean the air, enrich the soil, and give fruit and shade.

Our Farm by Maya Gottfired, from Random House to review for Poetry Month - Maya the cow, J.D. the piglet, Hilda the sheep, and a dozen more animals all speak directly to the reader, showing off their unique personalities in this wonderful collection of poems. Master watercolorist Robert Rahway Zakanitch provides a portrait that perfectly captures the essence of each creature. Together the poems and paintings add up to a picture of life on the friendliest farm around.

Maya Gottfried based her poems on real animals from Farm Sanctuary, a safe haven for injured or abused farm animals with locations in New York and California.

Once Upon a Twice by Denise Doyen, from Random House to review for Poetry Month -A cautionary tale for mice reminiscent of Carroll's Jabberwocky

Out in the open, in the clear,

Where any wisenmouse would fear,

Jam licks his paw, he grooms an ear,

And never hears approaching hisssss . . .

What will happen to the brave mouse Jam when he breaks the rules and goes for a moonlit adventure against the advice of the elder mice?

Read-A-Thon End of Event Meme

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?  2-3 AM; hour 20

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?  White Cat, Making Toast
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?  no

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?  that the mini-challenges lasted longer; helped to be able to get more done and still read a lot

5. How many books did you read?  10 and 1/4

6. What were the names of the books you read?  Making Toast, White Cat, Raindrops, The Birds and the Frogs, The Thingamabob, Pantaloon, March Mischief, Noonie's Masterpiece, Artsy-Fartsy, Hailey Twitch is not a Snitch

7. Which book did you enjoy most?  Making Toast

8. Which did you enjoy least?  The Birds and the Frogs

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? n/a

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?  very likely; I will be a reader

So, I only made it to hour 20.  At 2:15 AM, I just couldn't keep my eyes open and I had a headache.  I thought I'd just take a 30 minute nap, which turned into 45 and resulted in my just going to bed.  My goal was to get up at 6 and at least get another hour in, but I didn't, so here I am.  All in all, I am pleased with my progress.  I read a total of 1166 pages over 15 hours and 15 minutes.  That's the longest I've been able to stay up during a Read-A-Thon so far, so I'm getting better.  I had hoped to make it all the way, but not this time.  There's always October!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Title Teasers" Mini Challenge

By now, most of you have been reading all day and into the night.  How are you holding up?  I thought I'd offer up a fun, fairly easy mini-challenge for you.  This challenge will last 3 hours, so you can do it all now, or break it up over time.  It's up to you.  I enjoy the mini-challenges and choose to do them when I need a reading break.  I know sometimes the "brain work" for these is hard, but hopefully this one won't tax you too much.

The goal of this challenge is to complete some book titles.  I am going to give you a list of 20 titles, leaving out some of the words.  Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to complete the title.  You can do this challenge as a post on your blog and leave a link in the comments, or simply copy and paste the titles into your comment and answer there.  The choice is yours.

There will be 2 winners.  1st place will go to the person who gets all the titles right.  If  that happens to be more than one person, then will choose a winner out of those people.  The next winner will be again chosen by, out of all the other participants.  So, even if you don't get them all right, you still have a chance to win.

Here are your titles:
  1. The Dark _____
  2. An _____  _____ Girl
  3. The Lost _____ of _____ May _____
  4. Necessary _____
  5. She's So _____ to _____
  6. _____ Over Toccoa
  7. _____ Dead
  8. Scones & _____
  9. All _____ Things
  10. Beautiful _____
  11. _____ to Dream
  12. The _____-_____ Waves
  13. I Kissed a _____ and I _____ It
  14. Prophecy of the _____
  15. Very _____
  16. The Girl Who _____ from the _____
  17. Marriage and Other _____ of _____
  18. Making _____
  19. _____ Cat
  20. Letters to My _____
These are all titles that I've read or have in my TBR pile.  So, if you follow my blog, you may be able to figure them out.  If not, I don't think they're that tricky; at least that's not my intention.  Have fun!!

Winners get their pick of some of my ARCs...1st place gets their choice of 2, and then the next person gets to choose 1.  Here are your choices:

You can put your book choices in your comment as well, in case you are a winner.  Don't forget to leave your email address so that I can contact you should you win.

Read-A-Thon Update: Mid Event Meme

It's hard to believe that I've been reading for almost 12 hours now.  I haven't read the whole time because I've been blogging updates, visiting blogs and participating in mini challenges.  I've also done some things around the house so that I am not sitting the whole time; I'm up and moving.  I've almost finished this week's laundry and I've made a pan of brownies.  In just a few minutes, I will be going outside to feed and water horses.  Not exactly work I can do as I read, but I need a break so I don't get sleepy.  Besides, hubby has gone to help a friend, so someone has to feed.

Anyway, as is tradition with the Read-A-Thon, there is a Mid Event Meme.  Here is mine:

1. What are you reading right now?  Noonie's Masterpiece by Lisa Railsback (MG book)
2. How many books have you read so far?  currently on my 4th
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?  She's So Dead to Us
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?  Just had to remind hubby that it was an "all reading" day
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?  Not many, just hubby needing me to help him out once or twice outside.  Never took more than 5 minutes, and I happily obliged as he is giving me this time.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?  That I've not gotten real sleepy or had many extended interruptions.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?  No, I love it.  It just seems to get better every time.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?  nothing that I can think of right now
9. Are you getting tired yet?  not really, but I'm sure it's coming
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?  lots of little breaks to blog, visit, or just get up and move

April Read-A-Thon - Hour 1 Update

Well, we're off!  Dewey's Read-a-Thon has officially started here in CST.  I am so excited about this day b/c I just get to read, and my husband lets me b/c he knows this is important to me.  I will be posting my progress periodically throughout the day.  My goal is to stay OFF the computer and IN the books.

I have 2 stacks of books, 1 children's and 1 YA.  I find it's easier to switch back and forth so that I don't get tired.  The book I'm starting with is Hailey Twitch is Not a Snitch by Lauren Barnholdt.  It is a children's chapter book.

I'd like to wish all the other Read-a-Thon participants "good luck; may you read lots and lots of books!"

Here is the First Hour Mini-Challenge
Where are you reading from today?  My chair in the living room

3 facts about me …  I am an asst. principal in an elementary school, I raise horses, 1 of my horses is ready to foal any day

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?  24...Ooh, 1 an hour, not sure that will happen though.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?  I'd like to get through my stack  I can't do the whole 24 hours b/c we have a party tonight to attend, but I'm doing as much as I can.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?  Read smaller books in between the longer ones.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins

1. In 1992, I was graduating high school.
2. Hoping today is filled with laughter and smiles.
3. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
4. The Bahamas is where I'd like to be.
5. The trees and flowers are telling me that allergy season is in full swing.
6. This is an episode that just keeps going on.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to listening to 2 of my students sing in the district honor choir, tomorrow my plans include the read-a-thon and Sunday, I want to recover from the read-a-thon!
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