Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins - 5/28/2010

1. Cold watermelon -- the best food to take on a picnic.

2. Summer is my favorite season.

3. You will find me in flip flops.

4. To love someone is to accept them completely.

5. Not sure if I'd like to go on a long hike.

6. When I crave food, it's usually salty and crunchy.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to fried catfish in Goodrich, tomorrow my plans include my 3 year old nephew's birthday party and working in the yard and Sunday, I want to go fishing!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blog Tour - The Sons of Liberty

Today, I am pleased to be one of the stops on the blog tour for a new graphic novel from Random House, The Sons of Liberty!  I am a huge fan of historical fiction and love to learn about our country's history, so when I heard about this book for kids, I had to jump on board the tour.  History is fascinating to me, but it seems that more and more, the kids today, don't share that same fascination, and many of them don't know the history of our country.  What better way to teach them, than through a graphic novel, which we all know is the rage with kids right now.

The Sons of Liberty is written by The Lagos Brothers, who have graciously stopped by today, to share their thoughts with you.  Let's hear what they have to say, and then I'll share the book with you.

New Jersey in the 70’s was a unique place and time. We were the first to get the spill over and hype on all the big new comic books coming out of New York. Marvel was riding high and the creators made public appearances to which our parents happily delivered us.
I remember when they took us to St. Petersburg Park in Elizabeth. I was about five; Joseph was about nine. Stan Lee was there giving away free “Power Records”. These were comic books that you read along with a 45 rpm record. Joseph, being the older brother, had the luck of weaving his way through the throng of excited kids to engage this amazing creator. Mr. Lee shook his hand and yelled out “Excelsior!” I, unfortunately, was held back by our mother’s hand and had to watch the whole thing from the sidelines with big jealous eyes. Joseph came back from the crowd beaming and carrying about a dozen comics.
Back home we played the records and I sat next to my brother as he turned the page when the record would ding at the end of every scene. We were on cloud nine. The stories of good versus evil, masked vigilantes, secret identities and super powers swept us away. When we finished, I ran over and smashed my superhero action figures together. Joseph, on the other hand, was off on a flight of imagination, writing in his notebooks. Exhausted from beating the hell out of my toys, I jumped onto my bed and under my Spider-Man blankets and listened to my brother read his stories. And I was right back on cloud nine.
Joseph stuck with it and blossomed as a writer always sharing his incredible stories with me. Idolizing him, I tried to keep up; stapling notebook paper together and writing and drawing my own comic book adventures. Little did we know that all those years of sharing our imagination with each other would culminate into our writing of The Sons of Liberty. Funny thing is, I am still trying to keep up with him. I should have spent less time smashing my toys.

About the Book:  Forget everything you thought you knew about America's early days-history packs a punch in this full-color, two-fisted, edge-of-your-seat adventure!

Graphic novels are a revolution in literature, and The Sons of Liberty is a graphic novel like no other. Visual and visceral, fusing historical fiction and superhero action, this is a tale with broad appeal-for younger readers who enjoy an exciting war story, for teenagers asking hard questions about American history, for adult fans of comic books, for anyone seeking stories of African American interest, and for reluctant readers young and old.

In Colonial America, Graham and Brody are slaves on the run-until they gain extraordinary powers. At first they keep a low profile. But their mentor has another idea-one that involves the African martial art dambe . . . and masks.

With its vile villains, electrifying action, and riveting suspense, The Sons of Liberty casts new light on the faces and events of pre-Revolution America, including Ben Franklin and the French and Indian War. American history has rarely been this compelling-and it's never looked this good.

You can follow the Lagos Brothers as they tour the blogosphere.  Yesterday they stopped at Trouble with Comics, and tomorrow they will be at Largehearted Boy.  You can also find them and everything you wanted to know about the book at their website, The Sons of Liberty.

Look for a review of this book later this week, but I do have an extra copy for giveaway.  Please comment on this post about why you think you would like this book, and you'll be entered to win.  If you tweet about it, post it on Facebook, or let me know you are a follower of this blog, you will gain an extra entry for each.  You have until Thursday, June 3 at midnight, to enter.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's a Cupcakeathon!!!

Today is the big day!  Perchance to Dream, the second book in Lisa Mantchev's Theatre Illuminata series, is released into the book world.  So, to celebrate, Lisa Mantchev is hosting a cupcakeathon!  What could be more fun?  If you've read Eyes Like Stars, you know that the fairies are very fond of sweets, cupcakes to be exact.  In Perchance to Dream, they tend toward pies, but I don't want to spoil it for you until you get your hands on this masterpiece.  You can read my review of this fabulous novel, that I posted last month.

What is this cupcakeathon all about?  Well, no one can explain it better than Lisa herself, which she does in this blog post.  She bakes cupcakes with her little fairy!

So, what was I going to do?  I wanted to give the fairies something they would enjoy, as well as make something new to me.  Well, I dug around in my recipes and decided on not cupcakes, but a whole cake, bundt cake to be exact.  Now, I know that Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed, and Peaseblossom love anything sweet, and celebrations.  What's needed more than sweets at a celebration?  Beverages.  So, I've combined the two for them in my Margarita Cake.  Now, don't worry, no inebriation will be happening to these dear sweet fairies, so no alcohol was involved in the baking of this cake.  But, the lemon, lime, orange combination give your mouth the illusion of the margarita. 

Do you think that the fairies will enjoy it?  I know that the fairies, umm teachers, that I work with, will definitely enjoy it at our faculty end of year party tomorrow afternoon. I'm anxious to see what they think, but I hope it isn't eaten before then.  One big fairy in my house could get into it tonight, should he long for a midnight snack.  That is if the sneaky little fairies don't get it first.

I'll share the recipe with you, in case you want to try it for yourself!


1 Lemon Supreme Cake Mix
1 cup Cooking Oil
5 Eggs
3/4 cup Orange Juice


5 tablespoons Lime Juice
1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar

Mix all ingredients for cake.  Beat for 2 minutes until well blended.  Pour into greased and floured bundt pan.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Right after taking cake out of oven, poke holes in bottom of cake with a skewer.  Mix lime juice and powdered sugar, pouring half on the bottom of the cake.  Let cake cool, then turn out and after completely cool, ice with remaining icing.

Because of A Book with Barbara Barth

I am so happy to be back to blogging today.  If you follow me on Facebook, you may know that I have some friends who have had tragedy in their lives over the last week and a half.  If you are so inclined, I ask that you pray for healing for this family as they were involved in a car accident that caused them to lose their 8 year old daughter and put my girlfriend in the hospital in ICU.  She is making progress everyday, but it is going to be a long, slow haul for her.  Needless to say, I am behind on posting the winners from Children's Book Week, but I will get those out later today or first thing tomorrow.  It will be a post filled with winners!

Today's guest is WOW!, Women on Writing, author, Barbara Barth.  She is doing cause marketing with Animal Action Rescue in Atlanta since adopting rescue dogs is part of the healing process in her book The Unfaithful Widow. She has a book launch in Atlanta that includes a silent auction with Animal Action Rescue on June 26th, so if you're in the area, stop by. This is a cause that is near and dear to her heart since she has six dogs now, five adopted from local shelters in the last year. Then she has her old dog Foxy. When the book ended she got her fourth dog. Then New Year's Eve she couldn't get a date so she got a dog. Then two.

Barbara Barth likes a lot of things: turquoise jewelry, surfing the 'net, margaritas. Then there are the dogs. Six at last count. But who can keep it straight with all those tails wagging? This Georgia antique dealer and jewelry maker published a hobby newsletter for 13 years. After her husband died she recorded the year that followed in a series of essays. When she isn't writing you can find her at the local thrift shops or pounding another nail into the wall to hang the paintings she can't resist.  You can find Barbara online at her website or blog.

About A Book

I know I loved books as a teen and was always reading. My memories of reading are sweet ones more of time and place rather than a book title. I don’t remember loving any special book back then, just that I loved to read.

In my late teens my pet capuchin monkey kept me company when I’d curl up with my book. Yes, I had one of those little monkeys that are referred to as organ grinder monkeys. You’ve seen pictures of them in little caps with a tin cup. Mine did not dress up, but was every bit as entertaining. Baby would jump up on my shoulder and we’d pass a peppermint lifesaver back and forth as I read. He’d sit there with his little fingers picking at my neck. I kept reading. You can understand that looking back it is hard to remember what book was in my hand. After all, I had a little monkey on my back.

As an adult I love short, snappy essays. Comments on life with humor are my favorite. I also love to read journals. Not the Hollywood tell-all story, but heartfelt thoughts on life. I have no patience for a long epic novel. I gravitate towards books I can enjoy a chapter at a time then put it down for another day. I do sneak in the occasional mystery if it catches my attention and is more of a light read. I wish I was a heavy hitter, but I am a simple reader.

When I started writing my memoir The Unfaithful Widow my style was definitely defined by the type of books I read. My book is broken down by seasons and each season is full of essays. I call them my fragmented thoughts on my first year alone.

I had a critique of the first twenty pages of my book with a NY Times best selling author through the Atlanta Writer’s Club. “Barbara, you are not a novelist, you are an essayist.” Those were her words to me as she scribbled on my work. I thought on that for a minute and then felt relieved. I had a title. I could give up the notion I would write a great American novel. It was a pivotal moment for me.

The book that inspired me the most when I decided to write my own was Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck. I loved this book. It is full of sparkling essays on women over age sixty. It is an easy read at 160 pages. She does not analyze the subject of aging, but writes from a perspective that does not take itself too seriously about getting older.

I could identify with her essays on age, because my husband died three months before I turned sixty. Age suddenly became an issue for me. I was going into a new decade, my sixties, doing all those things I never thought I’d do again. I also liked the fact her book was short. It made me comfortable with the length of mine.

Another favorite author of mine helped to kick off the dating section of my book. I wrote on my dating profile on Match that I loved May Sarton and her Journal of Solitude. I think I wanted to sound intellectual. Surprisingly enough a man wrote me that he had all her books. We might have something in common he e-mailed me. So we met for dinner. It turned out our love of May Sarton was all we had in common. Our meeting that night starts off my book’s fall season of dating disasters.

I’d like to say that you might find me one day in a plump wing chair reading a thick historical novel. Truth is I doubt you will. While my life now if full of change, some things do stay the same. Journals and essays are my favorite reads. I find inspiration in reading how others think and feel and love to laugh when the writer pokes fun at the everyday things we all have to deal with.

Essayist? Thank you NY Times best selling author for giving me a label. It is a title I will wear with pride. It may be the only thing I feel certain about in a life that is ever changing and reinventing itself.

About The Unfaithful Widow - The Unfaithful Widow is a collection of candid essays on finding joy again after the loss of a mate. With warmth and laughter no subject is taboo. From dealing with the funeral home (Can I show you our upgraded cremation package? I looked at Miss Death, was I booking a vacation?) to dating again (He ran in the door, looked at me and said "I've left something in my car". He never returned). Sprinkle in a bevy of rescue dogs (Finally a good nights sleep with someone new in my bed.) and those questions you hate to ask (Condoms anyone?). The Unfaithful Widow will steal a piece of your heart, tickle your ribs and make you feel good to be alive.

Buy it from Amazon

Barbara has offered a copy of her book for giveaway today.  Just comment on this post to be entered to win.  Extra entries can be earned by Tweeting, posting on Facebook, or being a follower on this blog.  Make sure you let me know what you've done in the comments and be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.  Entries will be accepted until Tuesday, June 1 at midnight.  Spread the word!! 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins - 5/21/2010

1. My husband never fails to make me smile.

2. I'm looking forward to the last day of school.

3. The counselor talking to kids in the hallway is what I'm listening to right now.

4. Potato salad must have mustard in it!

5. I haven't eaten yet, so I can't say that anything was the best thing I ate today.

6. Today was a hard day to get up for.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to dinner with my husband, tomorrow my plans include seeing a young girl off to her first dance and Sunday, I want to rest!
If you want to join in the fun, you can leave your answers in the comments or on your blog.  You can see others' fill-ins at Friday Fill-Ins.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Catching Up with Pamela Ehrenberg

Yesterday was officially the end of Children's Book Week, but I didn't get a post up due to life happening.  It's sad when tragedy affects people you love.  2 friends had tragic deaths in their families this weekend, and my heart is extremely saddened for them.  So, I apologize to you all for not getting this up yesterday, and not posting the winners to some of the giveaways.  I will be getting those up tomorrow.  For now, I hope you enjoy Pam's post.  She is giving away autographed bookmarks to the first 10 commenters!

Pamela Ehrenberg is the author of Ethan, Suspended (2007) and Tillmon County Fire (2009). She lives in Washington, DC, with her four-and-a-half-year-old daughter, who just applied for her first library card, and her toddler son.
(photo credit: Erin Silber)

Catching Up

One summer during college, I had the ideal job for an aspiring children's author: I worked the cash register at a lovely children's book store with, sadly, very few customers.

During the long hours between customers, I caught up on the decade or so of children's books that had come about since I had declared myself too old for such things. This was 1993, and I particularly remember catching up on the Babysitter's Club, which the bookstore owner stocked reluctantly, under pressure to keep a series on her shelves. ("At least those girls have jobs," she said.) I actually didn't think the books were all bad--and apparently neither did a lot of other people, as the 213-book series is being updated and reissued this year.

I also "caught up" on books I thought I remembered. It turned out that many of the Judy Blame titles I had read as a precocious third- or fourth-grader had gone right over my head. Then Again, Maybe I Won't was rather instructive for a 19-year-old girl with no brothers.

Having caught up, I managed not to fall too far behind during the next dozen or so years; stints as a teacher and a volunteer carried me through until my hard-won status as parent (2005) and author (2007) granted me lifetime license to spend as much time as I like in the children's area of our library. It wasn't easy, though, in those intervening years; I often imagined the librarians were eyeing me, and I sometimes pretended to myself that I was there to get books for a niece or a friend.

So, this Children's Book Week, I'd like to offer carte-blanche permission to anyone who feels they need it to spend an hour in the children's department of your library, and to leave with a tall stack of books. Walk in there with the confidence of someone who has every right to be there, a reader on assignment. What will you discover--or rediscover--in the books? What will you discover about the reader you once were, or the reader you might become? What will you read between now and next Children's Book Week?

Do let us know. We look forward to catching up.

Comment on this post to win an autographed bookmark from Pamela. First 10 commenters will win. Enter by Friday, May 21st at midnight.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: Hailey Twitch is Not a Snitch

Illustrator:  Suzanne Beaky
Review Copy Provided by:  Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

About the Book:
Meet Hailey Twitch...

She's just like you. Well, sort of.

She loves pink sparkly pencils and ice cream. But Hailey also has a secret: she's friends with Maybelle, a sprite that only she can see.

Hailey and Maybelle are having fun, fun, fun. But they're also getting into lots of trouble!

Can Hailey keep her friend a secret or will she have to tell?

My Review:   I had such fun reading this book!  When I taught kindergarten, I always read Junie B. Jones to them.  If I was still in the classroom, with Kinder or 1st or 2nd grade students, this would be my new chapter book series of choice, to introduce them to.  It is funny, realistic, and teaches a lesson.

Lauren Barnholdt does a great job of depicting Hailey as your typical 2nd grader.  I love that the story is told from Hailey's point of view, talking the way kids talk, thinking what kids think, and doing things that kids do.  I'm sure that young girls will fall in love with Hailey, her fairy friend, and this new series.  Yes, this is the first in a series and I'm anxiously awaiting the 2nd installment so I can see what happens to this precocious young girl.  Her actions are instigated by her new found fairy friend Maybelle, who has been trapped in Hailey's dollhouse for years.  Maybelle gets Hailey to do some things that are not always the best choice, because Maybelle wants to be known as "fun."  Doing what's fun, Hailey learns, is not always right.

The illustrations add to the fun of this book.  Suzanne Beaky does a great job of providing pictures to illustrate what is happening in the story.  Children need to learn to create pictures in their minds, but chapter books like this that put pictures in just the right places, ease children into that.   I enjoyed the short break in reading and the addition to the story that Suzanne's illustrations provided.

I actually read this book during the Read-A-Thon, but I saved the review for this week because I felt it was a perfect book to share during Children's Book Week.  Hailey Twitch is Not a Snitch was just released on May 1st.  I hope that you will check it out for yourself and/or someone you love!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Author Interview and Contest - Barbara Dee

Please join me in welcoming author Barbara Dee to the blog today.  Barbara is the author of the newly released tween novel, This is Me From Now On from Simon and Schuster.  She has also written 2 other books:  Solving Zoe and Just Another Day in My Insanely Real Life.   You can find her online at her website, Barbara Dee or her blog, Barbara Dee Books.

WFAR (Write For A Reader): When did you know that you wanted to be an author?

BD (Barbara Dee): Actually, I’ve always known that! When I was a little kid, I used to say I wanted to be an “authoress.” (I also said I wanted to be a ballerina, but as it turns out, you don’t see too many five-foot-eleven women in tutus!)

WFAR: What else have you written besides this book?

BD: I’ve written the tween novels JUST ANOTHER DAY IN MY INSANELY REAL LIFE, and SOLVING ZOE, which was just named one of the 2010 Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year. It’s also a finalist in the 2010 New York State Library Association Three Apples Book Award. What’s so wonderful about that award is that it comes directly from kids!

WFAR: What was the inspiration or back story for This is Me From Now On?

BD: When I was in seventh grade, I was a lot like Evie—a good girl who was getting a bit restless. So I became friendly with a much wilder girl who got me into some mischief—nothing like what happens in THIS IS ME FROM NOW ON. But this girl jolted me out of my comfort zone and kept me laughing. She also helped me figure out a few things about myself. I think every girl in middle school needs a friend like that—as long as she’s careful!

WFAR: Why did you choose to write for tweens as opposed to other audiences?

BD: When my own kids were tweens, they’d outgrown the Children’s Section in our library, but they weren’t ready for some of the darker, edgier books in the YA Section. It occurred to me that kids in those “in between years” needed more choices—and they especially needed fun, funny books that took them seriously. As it happens, I’m in close touch with my own tween years, and can channel those emotions very easily. So I decided to try writing for tweens. And I’m having a blast!

WFAR: Do you have writing mentors or influences?

BD: No one in particular. But I sometimes read Lynda Barry’s WHAT IT IS for inspiration. I also love her strips about Marlys—she gets so deep into a kid’s head.

WFAR: What is your favorite piece or book that you have written?

BD: That’s like asking a mom who’s her favorite kid! My favorite is whatever I’m writing at the moment.

WFAR: What do you like to do when you are not writing?

BD: I like to read (of course!), watch movies and baseball, swim, do crossword puzzles, and eat naughty sugary things.

WFAR: What are some of your favorite things: book, genre, author, color, music, etc? 

BD:  I honestly don’t have a favorite book or author, because I love so many! And it drives me crazy when people are snobby about genres. I love HAMLET and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and THE GREAT GATSBY—and I also love WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and GOING BOVINE and CALVIN & HOBBES. I’m also just as open about music—when I drive I like to listen to Dave Matthews, Chopin, Taylor Swift, Duke Ellington, Pink, Bob Dylan, show tunes, and the GLEE soundtrack. But I’ve always loved purple. That’s one definite all-time fave.

WFAR: Can you describe your writing space for us? Where is it, what’s around you?

BD: I have a ridiculously cluttered writing desk in my bedroom (kind of like Cassie’s in JUST ANOTHER DAY). Sometimes my work spreads out on the floor. When this happens my cats nest on top of it, which makes for furry manuscripts.

WFAR: What do you think about having your book reviewed by book bloggers?

BD: I think it’s terrific! The more voices readers get to hear, the better!

WFAR: What’s in the works for you now?

BD: I’m in the process of revising my next book, TRAUMA QUEEN, which will be out next spring. It’s about a tween girl with the most embarrassing mom ever.

WFAR: Anything else you would like readers to know?

BD: My favorite sugary thing is chocolate. I’m mentioning this in hopes someone will bake me something with frosting.

WFAR: Thank you for allowing me to interview you! By the way, I am a purple lover too and my favorite sugary thing is chocolate!

About This is Me From Now On:  Sometimes your life just needs a little jolt. 

This is what Evie's new friend Francesca tells her, and soon enough, Evie's life has had something more like an earthquake. Francesca thinks life is dull unless you go after everything you want and say everything on your mind all the time--and sometimes that includes giving other people a little behind the scenes help to give them what she thinks they want.

Evie can't always tell if she's horrified or fascinated by everything Francesca convinces her to do, but ultimately, she comes to see friendship--and life--in a whole new light.
Barbara has sent me 2 swag bags to giveaway this week. Wouldn't you like to win one? Inside you will find some of Evie's favorite things:  Lip Smackers lip balm, bubble gum and a re-creation of Evie's amber necklace.  Winners will also receive one of Barbara's bookmarks.  Comment on this post for an entry.  Spread the word about this contest on your blog, Twitter or Facebook and earn extra entries.  Just leave what you did in the comments.  Contest runs through midnight Tuesday May 18th.  Winners will be chosen at random and posted on Wednesday, May 19th.  Good luck!

Clara Gillow Clark Drops By

Clara Gillow Clark has stopped by this afternoon to talk about writing historical fiction for young children.  As a lover of historical fiction myself, I am fascinated by what she has to say and anxious to read some of her works.  I hope you enjoy her as well.  She introduces herself:

I’m the youngest child in a family who came from a long line of farmers and readers. I began school in a one-room schoolhouse and wanted to be an inventor, archaeologist, geologist, missionary, solo violinist until I realized that writers were real people who really existed and weren’t like Santa Claus. After marrying and having a son, I read a magazine article on children's author Judy Blume, who, like me, was a stay-at-home wife who sold my own crafts before starting my writing career. Inspired, I began commuting to writing classes in New York City, while juggling jobs ranging from teacher's aide to store manager.

Now I work at home. When I’m not writing--or reading, or teaching writing, or talking shop with other writers in person or on-line—I enjoy baking, gardening, sewing, and walking the dirt roads that border our country cottage surrounded by meadows and woods. Walking is a love I learned from my father, who took his sprawling brood on nature walks and taught us to stop long enough to really see things. I live in Pennsylvania with my husband, Stephen Jennings.

Clara Gillow Clark ~ The Country of My Heart

The beauty of historical fiction is that the more you research, the more the story develops. It's sort of like decorating, picking the things that work well together, throwing in something a little offbeat or wild for contrast, something unexpected. My novel, Hill Hawk Hattie, set in the late nineteenth century rides the rapids of a tumultuous father-daughter relationship that takes readers on a river-rafting adventure.

Researching Hill Hawk Hattie was a labor of love. The setting of the book takes place in the country of my heart, the Upper Delaware, where for many years I gathered materials to write a book about the old-time rafting era. Serendipitously, mysteriously, the story came flooding together one day when I was out walking on the dirt roads that border my property, and Hattie's voice rushed like a torrent into my head. Discovering the character of Hattie felt like a gift, this little girl with the powerful voice. Some days I had to pinch myself, so happy that she kept showing up to work with me.

Writing Hill Hawk Hattie was a slight change for me. My earlier historical novels were based on real people--my mother in Annie’s Choice, my great-grandmother in Nellie Bishop, and my great-great uncle in Willie and the Rattlesnake King. I loved discovering my family stories, researching the time period, and then writing about it, but letting go of family stories was a liberating experience for me. It was important for me to write those stories, but it was more fun writing about Hattie who sprang from my imagination.

Hattie is a feisty, 11-year-old girl whose mother has died and her father dresses her as a boy so she can join him on a perilous rafting journey. It’s a story of tough love and healing. I hope kids take away comfort and strength from Hattie's story, an understanding that sometimes the people closest to us have a hard time saying in words, 'I love you'. I want kids to know that everybody has tough times, but the only way to get through them is to keep on going.

Hattie’s story continues in Hattie on Her Way, a story that moves her from the dangerous river to her prim grandmother's house. Like Hattie, I lived in a very rural area. Shortly after my father died, we moved to a town that seemed cold and frightening at first. I faced the challenge of being a tall misfit alongside petite girls who wore nice dresses and shiny shoes and knew the proper etiquette of birthday treats and valentines. Hattie's story is much tougher than my own, but we share many of the same emotional struggles, experiencing both loss and healing, and searching for sense and meaning in a topsy-turvy world.

In the final book of the series, Secrets of Greymoor, Hattie longs for a friend, but goes about it all wrong. She makes a lot of mistakes, including hiding a letter from her grandmother that has TAX COLLECTION—PAYMENT OVERDUE stamped on it. Like Hattie, I did change schools (several times) and often felt bewildered about how to make friends. I didn’t make up stories, and I didn’t have Hattie’s fiery tongue even though I often wished to be feisty and tell elaborately embellished stories like a girl did in my second grade class. I’m afraid I was much more like the character of Effie in the book Secrets of Greymoor who wants to be friends with Hattie, but simply isn’t brave enough.

Clara has offered a set of her Hattie books to one of my readers.  All you have to do is comment on this post.  Which Hattie book are you most looking forward to?  Enter by midnight Monday, May 17th.  The winner will be drawn at random and posted on Tuesday, May 18th.  Spread the word for extra entries.

About Secrets of Greymoor:  In this nineteenth-century mystery, a spunky girl strives to decipher a code in order to recover her family’s lost fortune.

No one ever talks about Hattie’s grandfather, who’s been hidden in the Utica Insane Asylum ever since he squandered Grandmother’s fortune and started hearing voices in the walls. When a telegram arrives with news of Grandfather’s death, old wounds are reopened and financial ruin looms once again. But it’s not until Hattie intercepts a threatening notice from the tax collector that she realizes they’re in danger of losing everything — including the family estate. A mysterious book containing a code written by Grandfather leads Hattie to believe that Grandmother’s fortune may not be lost after all, however, and though she works feverishly to crack the code, every step forward leads to another riddle. Are the contents of the book simply the ravings of a madman, or is it possible that there was more to Grandfather than met the eye?

Thoughts From a 12 Year Old and a Giveaway

I apologize that this didn't go live yesterday.  Blogger doesn't always post as I schedule and I didn't even think to check because everything else I've scheduled this week has posted just fine.  No worries though.  There is plenty more fun to be had with guests and giveaways, possibly through the weekend.  What have you done to celebrate Children's Book Week?

Today I am pleased to introduce to you Kathy Fuller!

Kathleen Fuller is the author of The Mysteries of Middlefield Series, from Thomas Nelson. Book One, A Summer Secret, is available now. Book Two, The Secrets Beneath, will release in the fall of 2010. For more information visit her website:

My twelve-year-old daughter, Zoie, helped me as I wrote A Summer Secret, Book One in the Mysteries of Middlefield series. She’s an avid reader, and recently we talked about her favorite books and whether she likes to write her own stories.

Why do you like to read?

Zoie: I like to read because it’s really fun. You get to learn what happens in the book and about the characters and what they’re like.

What are your favorite types of books to read?

Zoie: My favorite types of books to read are mysteries and adventures. I like mysteries because it’s all this suspense. I like adventures because it’s like “what’s gonna happen next.” I like that because it’s really exciting to learn about adventures. Maybe someday I might get to go on one when I’m older. Like one of my adventures might be walking across the Great Wall of China. I think it would be difficult and very exhausting because it’s very long. It would be really awesome to walk it.

What book are you reading now?

Zoie: I’m reading a lot of books, but the one I’m reading right now is called Pokemon: The Rise of Darkrai.

What is your favorite book?

Zoie: My favorite book would have to be the Land of Elyon series. It’s my favorite because there’s a girl who has to face a bunch of mysterious creatures like ogres, giants, and a bunch of bats called the black swarm. There’s a guy named Victor Grindall; he’s a bad guy who’s being controlled by someone who wants to be greater than Elyon. I’m on the third book and I can’t wait to find out what happens.

If you could jump into any story, what story would it be and why?

Zoie: Any Pokemon book, because of all the characters in there. There are legendary creatures. There’s a lot of action and it would be really cool to actually imagine being in the book you’re actually reading.

Do you ever want to write your own stories?

Zoie: I have written my own stories. Some of them are for school, and some of them I write at home. I like to write because it helps me improve my handwriting and because it’s fun to imagine your own story in your head. My daydreams are like stories in my head, and my dreams at night are the same thing. What you’re dreaming in your head is like a book with no pages or words, just images.

Who is your favorite character of all time?

My favorite character of all time in any book would have to be Ash because he’s a Pokemon trainer who gets to go on amazing adventures and he gets to meet legendary Pokemon, and he travels with a bunch of friends.

How many books do you have?

Zoie: Fifty-two, and I love every single one of them!

Thank you Kathy, and Zoie, for being a part of my Children's Book Week celebration!

Kathy has offered copies of Book One of The Mysteries of Middlefield Series: A Summer Secret as a giveaway this week.  Two copies are up for grabs to two lucky commenters.  Please comment by Sunday, May 16th.  Winners will be randomly selected and posted on Monday, May 17th.

In the Mysteries of Middlefield series, readers will be immersed into exciting mysteries and authentic Amish culture.

With a twin brother and five younger brothers, Mary Beth Mullet's house is in constant chaos. Her parents don't seem to mind the noise, but she needs a break from all the pestering and babysitting.

It's the summer before eighth grade, and Mary Beth plans to escape to her secret place as much as possible. The old barn in the neighboring field is dangerous, and her parents have forbidden her to go there, but she escapes to it as often as she can.

Mary Beth soon discovers she is not alone in the barn. Someone is living there; someone who needs help. Can Mary Beth help the stranger without losing her secret place? And what if the barn is as dangerous as her parents say it is?

Readers will identify with Mary Beth's struggles for peace and independence and be engrossed in the excitement and danger of A Summer Secret.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Boys vs. Girls: What's Easier to Write

I hope that you are enjoying this week's celebration posts for Children's Book Week.  I am having a blast reading all of the guests' thoughts on writing, children's books, etc; as well as your wonderful comments and questions.  This is such fun for me and I'm glad to see so many of you participating.  I hope that you will continue to spread the word about the posts and giveaways.  Currently, there is 1 copy of The Monster Who Ate My Peas, courtesy of Peachtree Publishers, and 5 copies of A Life Revealed, courtesy of Suzi Katz's publicist.  Please enter to win and tell your friends. 

Please help me welcome YA Science Fiction author, LM Preston to the blog this afternoon.  You can find LM online at her website, Phenomenal One Press, or her blog, LM Preston.

 Well, if you didn’t know it, I’m a female writer of young adult novels. My debut novel, Explorer X – Alpha’s main character was a male. A boy named Aadi that was fourteen years old is a stretch from a grown female writer that created him. For me though, writing a male was much more exciting than writing a female. My up coming book The Pack has a female, blind vigilante as the main character. Shamira was a lot harder for me to write than Aadi, simply because I take being female for granted.

Many authors I’ve met write female main characters, because they feel as though their understanding of the male psyche is vague. Also, they think that girls are the larger reading audience and that it’s a lot easier to sale a book written with females in mind than males. I personally disagree. As a girl, I liked reading books from a boy’s point of view. I felt that it allowed me to delve further into boy’s thoughts, and enjoyed reading about both sexes.

As a writer, writing something totally different than I am everyday is like living out an adventure of my own making. Picture a writer as an actor, playing a part out in their head as they write. In order to feel comfortable writing a character – you have to study people that fit that character’s profile.


Although my initial inclination is to write as a male, I still have tons of challenges trying to portray male characters correctly. Since my career as an engineer is a male dominated profession, it’s been a great source of subject matter to use when writing.

Male character’s experience emotion, they just show it in different ways than females. Not to mention their dialogue is different from most females. Those subtle differences a writer has to take the time to notice. Society has certain expectations and rules for males and writing as a male should fit those boundaries – otherwise, the reader will notice.

Aadi was easy for me to write, because I have a son that’s the same age as my main character. My kid somewhat fits Aadi’s character profile because he’s a jock and a good student. Most writers pull their character profiles from someone they know, researched, or imagined.

When I write in boy, it’s like I’m acting out that character’s adventure and it becomes my own. Writing Aadi was exciting to for so many reasons. I was able to shed my daily makeup as a girl, and for the months it took me to write him – I was able to be young again, strong, and powerful. Not just young, but be a boy.


Writing a female main character allows me to express deeper emotions, to be what I am everyday – a girl. You know what? For me, it’s difficult, because writing as a boy I get to imagine a totally different persona. I’m a girl, and being a girl in my writing isn’t quite so exciting. So I cheat, I make her into a tough girl.

My main character in The Pack, Shamira, was especially challenging to write. I had to make it fun, because if my characters aren’t interesting, it’s hard for me to write them. So, I gave her it all - cool girly clothes, a motorcycle named Pearl, and a too die for hottie on her tracks. She’s a girl – but she kicks major booty and is somewhat cocky. I gave her outer appearance a feminine softness. However, she’s a trained fighter that carries herself with the sureness of a male that can protect himself.


All of my books are composed of a strong array of male and female characters. I love to write with multiple lead characters. Why? Because when I was a kid, I loved to have friends around. Also, it allows me to write characters that are both male and female yet bonded together in friendship.

By: LM Preston, author of Explorer X – Alpha and The Pack,

Thanks to LM's publisher, I have the opportunity to give away one copy of each of her books.  Let me tell you about them, and then I'll give you the entry details.

Explorer X - Alpha - For most kids, a trip to space camp is a trip of a lifetime, for Aadi it was life altering. After receiving a camp immunization needed for travel to Mars, Aadi finds that the immunization is the catalyst of an insidious experiment. Lucky for him, he was engineered to survive, thrive, and dominate. Without realizing he is being trained to conquer worlds, and manipulated under the guise of a camp, he unfolds the plot too late for a change of fate.

The Pack - Shamira is considered an outcast by most, but little do they know that Shamira is on a mission. Kids on Mars are disappearing, but Shamira decides to use the criminals most unlikely weapons against them, the very kids of which they have captured. In order to succeed, she is forced to trust another, something she is afraid to do. However, Valens her connection to the underworld of her enemy, proves to be a useful ally. Time is slipping, and so is her control on the power that resides within her. Yet, in order to save her brother's life she is willing to risk it all.

To win a copy of one of these books, please leave me a comment as to which one you would like to have.  It's that easy.  If you don't have a preference, then let me know that as well.  One person will win a copy of Explorer X-Alpha and one person will win a copy of The Pack.  The choice is yours.  Please enter by Saturday, May 15th at midnight.  Winners will be chosen randomly and posted on Sunday, May 16th.  As always, extra entries are earned by spreading the word on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook; you just have to let me know what you did, in the comments.

Because of A Book with Cindy Hudson

This week's Because of A Book post is so timely for Children's Book Week. Today, I am joined by yet another WOW! author.

Cindy Hudson is the author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press, October 2009). She is the founder of two long-running mother-daughter book clubs, and she lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two daughters. Visit her online at www.MotherDaughterBookClub.comor you can follow her on Twitter:

For the Love of Books

As far back as I can remember I’ve loved books. I used to sit on my mom’s lap while she read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss and Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman for the hundredth time.

My local library was housed in an old Victorian mansion, and summers I used to wander the tiny rooms and find armloads of new and old books to check out. Lying face down on my bed, slowly turning the pages, it was easy for me to get lost in the fictional worlds I read about.

So it’s probably no surprise that I began reading to my daughters as soon as they were born. And as soon as they were both old enough, we started a mother-daughter book club with other friends who loved to read. Suddenly I saw reading through a whole new light.

Reading books became more than a solitary endeavor. I read with my daughter, and we talked about the stories. We laughed, talked about people we knew who the characters reminded us of, guessed how the book would unfold, and learned a lot about each other.

We read classics like Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink, and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. We read books that creeped us out, like Coraline by Neil Gaiman, and The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.

It was while reading Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath I first discovered my daughter Madeleine loved experimenting with food. Chicken pot pie on a waffle? She was all over it. If not for Red Scarf Girl by Ji Li Jiang, I wouldn’t have known that Catherine, who is normally quiet, had strong opinions about the Chinese Cultural Revolution and how it affected children and families.

Our mother-daughter book club discussions have broached every subject that you could imagine being awkward talking about with your daughter—teen sex, under-age drinking, adult sex, rape, suicide, eating disorders, and more. Reading books together gave us an entrée to bring those topics up while talking about characters and their actions.

Because of books, I know more about what makes my girls laugh; I know what is likely to make them cry. Because of books I have spent a lot of time snuggled up next to them on the couch, even when they outgrew more public displays of motherly affection.

Because we’ve always read together, I’m hoping that we always will, even if they live far away from me. And I can’t wait to discover new things to know about them the next time we fold back the cover and begin to read our next book.

About Green Eggs and Ham -  Sam-I-Am mounts a determined campaign to convince another Seuss character to eat a plate of green eggs and ham.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells

About Book by Book - Mothers and daughters share a special bond. . . why not further this bond through reading together? Book clubs have been growing in popularity over the past ten years, started by a variety of people with various interests and goals. Mother-daughter book clubs offer a great way for families to grow and share — with each other and with other mother-daughter pairs. In Book by Book Cindy Hudson offers all the how-to tips mothers need to start their own successful book clubs. Hudson offers her own firsthand experience as the founder of two long-running successful mother-daughter book clubs.

Buy it at Amazon

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Never Too Late + a Giveaway!!

This evening I am pleased to bring you Suzi Katz, YA author.  Before she tells you why it's never too late, let me introduce her to you:

As a working mother, volunteer and passionate youth advocate, Suzi Katz focuses her energy on teens and helping them build positive futures. Her commitment to young people drives her personal and professional lives, and her latest venture as an author is no exception.
With the release of her debut novel A Life Revealed, Suzi Katz launches Suzi Katz Books, a publishing house dedicated to exploring the lives of young adults and the complicated choices they face each day. Following her support of children’s causes, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of A Life Revealed will be donated to the International Child Art Foundation (, a non-profit organization that integrates arts with science, sport and technology for the development of children’s creativity and empathy.
More than just a literary passion, Katz’s focus on students, peers and the power of authority has occupied her career efforts for more than a decade. As Director of the Southeast Region for the National Consortium for Academics and Sports at the University of Central Florida, Katz created life skills programs for eight years for student athletes to help them become well-rounded individuals and achieve success later in life.
Katz has worked with and created programs for the Salvation Army Women and Children’s Living Center, Special Spectators, and The Miracle League. She has visited patients at Florida Children’s Hospitals, participated in Red Ribbon Week, supported Orange County Public Schools, volunteered for Second Harvest Food Pantry and Habitat for Humanity, and following Hurricane Katrina, began working with Hope for Stanley to rebuild New Orleans.  Since 1997, her community outreach and programs have reached over 40,000 individuals in communities across the nation.

Katz’s tireless efforts have been recognized with awards and accolades from organizations  including the University of Central Florida’s Student Development and Enrollment Services, the Institute for International Sport, Fitchburg State College, Orlando Magazine and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Katz earned a Masters of Science in Sports Management from Northeastern University
in 1995 and a Bachelor of Science in Communications/Media from Fitchburg State College in 1992. Originally from Boston, Katz resides in Orlando, Florida with her husband Jay Slowinski and their daughter Maia.
You can find Suzi online at her website, A Life Revealed, or her blog, Suzi Katz.  Stop by and say hi!

When I was around 10 years old, My uncle sent me a birthday gift I’ve never forgotten. It was a gift box of books written by Judy Blume. At the time, I’d never heard of her. But now, there is no way I’ll ever forget her. She opened the door of reading and writing for me.

The first book I read was, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? This book was amazing, and it was at that particular time in my life that I realized, I would always read and write as much as possible. I started out by writing short stories, but the first ‘official’ book I did was put in my school’s library. It was my autobiography. I remember being so proud.

I watched my mother read all the time as a kid. She used to sit on her bed with her pillow propped up and always looked so involved in whatever book she was reading. I loved that and I do that now. I read a lot in front of my daughter who is 7. Now that she is learning to read, she is enjoying it more and more. She also enjoys when my husband and I read to her. She is really into the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. We started to read these to her every night. In the beginning she wasn’t as open to reading on her own as she is now.

I struggled inside with how I would get her to love books. I tried to explain books in simple terms and relay it to real life things we did. She always asks me to tell her stories of how my husband and I met and funny things she did when she was a baby. I told her that was a book. A story from beginning to end and that it is so exciting to see what happens along the way and especially at the end. Now she has a new attitude and loves to hear us read as well as read on her own. When she got in the car the other day with one of her books, I was so proud of her.

It took a long time for me to sit down and write a book, but I did it. It’s never too late to do something you love and have fun with. It is also never too late to pick up a book and learn to love reading. Find the genre you love and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world when you open the pages.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Suzi.  I can't wait to get my hands on A Life Revealed as well as the sequel, Hiding in the Open, which will be released this summer!

I am so excited to let my readers know that Suzi's publicist has graciously offered up 5 copies of Suzi's debut YA novel, A Life Revealed, to giveaway this week.  How awesome is that?  All you have to do, is comment on this post with your thoughts or a question for Suzi.   Extra entries will be given for sharing this giveaway on Twitter and/or Facebook.  How many entries can we get?  You have until Saturday, May 15th, at midnight to enter.  Winners will be posted on Sunday, May 16th.

Five Ways to Celebrate Children's Book Week as a Family

I thought this was an appropriate first post for my Children's Book Week celebration.  Thank you to Suzanne Lieurance for stopping by today with her thoughts.

Suzanne Lieurance is a children's author, writing coach, and founder and director of the National Writing for Children Center. She also hosts Book Bites for Kids, a talk show about children's books, every weekday afternoon on blogtalkradio. Her latest children's book is The Lucky Baseball, a middle grade historical novel.

If you live in the continental United States, enter the daily book giveway this week to celebrate Children's Book Week at the National Writing for Children Center by commenting on each day's blog post.

Five Ways to Celebrate Children's Book Week as a Family
Suzanne Lieurance

Every year since 1919, educators, librarians, parents, and children have set aside one week in May to celebrate children's books and the love of reading. This special week is known as Children's Book Week. This year, Children's Book Week is May 10th-16th. Many organized events will be taking place across the country this week, but here are 5 ways to celebrate Children's Book Week as a family:

1. Take your children to the public library and ask them to each choose a book to share with the family this week. Each evening, each child in the family gets to read one chapter (or one short book) out loud to everyone after dinner--or they can simply present an oral summary of a chapter. After each child reads a chapter, take a few minutes to discuss what was read. You might also want to share these family reading sessions--with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who live far away--online, via Skype.

2. You and your children can each design and create your own bookmarks to use with your favorite books. Have plenty of construction paper, poster board, colored markers, rulers, magazines (for cutting out pictures), glue, and other crafts materials on hand. Protect the bookmarks by covering them with clear plastic contact paper or laminating plastic that doesn't require a laminating machine.

3. Take your children to a local bookstore. Let them choose one or more books to purchase for donation to a local children's hospital or family shelter.

4. Start a book blog with your children--where you can all write reviews of books you read and enjoy throughout the year. If you've never written a book review before, read a few reviews online to get the hang of it, then be the first to post a review to the blog to show your children what information should be included in a helpful book review. If you have a video camera, your children can create video reviews of their favorite books and post them to the blog, too.

5. Hold a family Read-a-Thon. Pledge money to your children for each book they read during Children's Book Week. At the end of the week, total up the money you owe each of your children. Let them use the money to purchase new books for themselves or for books to donate to the local library, children's hospital, or family shelter.

These are just a few ways you and your children can celebrate Children's Book Week together as a family. You'll probably come up with all sorts of other ways to celebrate your love of books and reading together.

Don't forget to enter yesterday's Children's Book Week Kick Off giveaway.  One copy of The Monster Who Ate My Peas is up for grabs.  

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Children's Book Week Kick Off

Tomorrow is the official start of Children's Book Week, but I wanted to kick off my blog festivities today, since I have so many participants.  You will be seeing two posts a day so that I don't leave anyone out.  I am so excited about the authors and publishers who will be stopping by with guest posts and giveaways this week.  My hope is that you will spread the word about this celebration, not for exposure to my blog, but for the exposure of the authors and publishers that are generously giving of their time and books this week.

Children's Book Week is near and dear to my heart as an educator.  My first love is with children's books and was the reason I started this blog 2 1/2 years ago.  I had hundreds of books in my classroom that the children and I used, read, and loved on a daily basis.  Every book fair and Scholastic book order, I was buying more.  What book could I use to teach this, what book didn't I have by that author, which book would my students just love, and on and on?  I didn't have to have a reason to buy books.  I know how important it is to put good literature in the hands of children, especially at an early age.  I even read picture books to my 3rd graders, to introduce concepts; they loved it!

I hope that you will take time this week to do something to celebrate National Children's Book Week.  Some activities can be found at Education WorldRead Write Think has some background as well as other ideas for you to choose from. The winners of the Children's Choice book awards will be announced during National Book Week. Before the winners are announced, children across the nation will be able to vote for their favorites.  Have children read the finalists in their age range a then see who wins on May 12th. Whether it's in a classroom or with your own children at home, instill a love a reading starting with children's books. 

To help kick off Children's Book Week, I asked a publishing friend if they would host a kick off giveaway.  Peachtree Publishers was gracious enough to offer up a copy of The Monster Who Ate my Peas to one of my readers.
What do you dread eating the most? For the hero of this story, it's peas. A young boy thinks he's discovered a way to avoid eating his peas--he makes a bargain with a fiendishly funny monster. First the deal is simple: the monster will eat the boy's peas in exchange for his soccer ball. But with each new encounter, the monster's demands escalate. Eventually, our hero faces a daunting decision--can he conquer his loathing for peas or will he lose his most prized possession?
Make sure you stop by Peachtree's blog post, Children's Book Week is Upon Us and say thank you!  You have from now until Thursday, May 13th, at midnight to enter.  The winner will be announced on Friday, May 14th.   You may simply enter by leaving a comment here on this post.  To earn extra entries, you can tweet about this giveaway, post it on facebook, and/or let me know you visited Peachtree and left a comment.

I hope you will visit daily and see what I have in store!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Children's Book Week Celebration

Next week is Children's Book Week.  If you've been following me for any length of time, you know that my first love is children's books.  So
When and What is Children's Book Week?

Children’s Book Week has traditionally been celebrated the week before Thanksgiving. However, after the 2007 celebration, Children's Book Week will be held in May (May 10-16, 2010; May 2-8, 2011; May 7-13, 2012). It is an annual event that began in 1919. In 1944, the Children's Book Council was established, and it has administered the celebration ever since. During Children’s Book Week, public libraries, school libraries, and bookstores generally have special activities for children that are designed to encourage a love of books.

According to the Children’s Book Council,A celebration of the written word, Children's Book Week introduces young people to new authors and ideas in schools, libraries, homes and bookstores. Through Children's Book Week, the Children's Book Council encourages young people and their caregivers to discover the complexity of the world beyond their own experience through books.(taken from

There is more information available here.

So, how am I going to celebrate? Funny you should ask! It's going to be a week full of children's book reviews, guest posts, and great giveaways. I have some wonderful things in store for you!

I have some wonderful people who have already committed to helping me celebrate:
  • Clara Gillow Clark
  • Cindy Hudson
  • Lm Preston
  • Suzi Katz
  • Martha Ciske
  • Suzanne Lieurance
  • Pamela Ehrenberg
  • Jenni Bowring
  • and others!
If you are an author or publisher who would like to help me celebrate, please contact me via email and we can set something up.

The celebration begins on Monday; see you then!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

3,2,1 Blastoff!

Contact: Caroline Harris, Public Relations


3, 2, 1…Blastoff!
Celebrate International Space Day on May 7

Mount Pleasant, SC (May 5, 2010) – Did you know that if you put Saturn in a giant glass of water it would float? Or how about that it takes eight and a half minutes for the light from the Sun to get to the Earth? Join Sylvan Dell in celebrating Space Day on May 7 by exploring the mysterious wonders of the universe.

Launched by Lockheed Martin in 1997, the Space Day educational initiative is a grassroots effort dedicated to extraordinary achievements, benefits and opportunities in the explorations and use of space. This annual event focuses on promoting math, science, technology and engineering education to children all over the world.

The topic of space is as vast as the universe, but Sylvan Dell has the answers for fun ways to learn about the final frontier. Below are a few suggestions of ways to celebrate Space Day:
  •  Visit a planetarium or observatory. Learn about our solar system and other galaxies by looking through telescopes or watching a simulated motion of the sky.
  • Make planets out of clay or paper plates. Create your own solar system by forming the size and shapes of each planet.
  • Read a Sylvan Dell book about space. Check out Sylvan Dell’s three titles with entertaining and vividly illustrated stories about space: How the Moon Regained Her Shape, Pieces of Another World and Saturn for my Birthday.
 The Sylvan Dell titles, offered in hardback, paperback and eBook format, include a “For Creative Minds” section at the end of each story, which provides fun, educational activities and information on the book. Additionally, the Sylvan Dell Web site offers an abundant amount of supporting material including a 30-40 page “Teaching Activities” packet, interactive reading and math quizzes, and much more.

While astronauts have made great advancements in space exploration, there is still much we don’t know about our universe. So, celebrate Space Day with Sylvan Dell by learning all you can about the marvels of the universe. You never know, you just might make a new discovery!

To learn more about Space Day and find special events in your area visit

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

Sunday, May 2, 2010

In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday - 5/2/2010

Welcome to my weekly post about the books I receive in the mail.  This is my favorite meme of the week, as I get to share what came into my house as well as learn about new books by checking out what others got.   I do both memes in one because I love them!  In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.  If you'd like to join in, head over to their blogs and link your mailbox.  Make sure you visit some of the other linked bloggers as that's what makes these memes so much fun!

Here's what came in the mailbox this past week:

This Gorgeous Game by Donna Greitas, from Farrar Straus Giroux
Olivia Peters is over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and muchadored local priest Mark D. Brendan, offers to become her personal writing mentor. But when Father Mark’s enthusiasm for Olivia’s prose develops into something more, Olivia’s emotions quickly shift from wonder to confusion to despair. Exactly what game is Father Mark playing, and how on earth can she get out of it?

Winging It by Jenny Gardiner, autographed copy won on Twitter
A hilarious and poignant cautionary tale about two very different types of creatures, thrown together by fate, who learn to make the best of a challenging situation -- feather by feather.
Like many new bird owners, Jenny and Scott Gardiner hoped for a smart, talkative, friendly companion. Instead, as they took on the unexpected task of raising a curmudgeonly wild African gray parrot and a newborn, they learned an important lesson: parrothood is way harder than parenthood.

A gift from Scott's brother who was living in Zaire, Graycie arrived scrawny, pissed-off, and missing a lot of her feathers -- definitely not the Polly-wants-a-cracker type the Gardiners anticipated. Every day became a constant game of chicken with a bird that would do anything to ruffle their feathers. The old adage about not biting the hand that feeds you -- literally -- never applied to Graycie.

But Jenny and Scott learned to adapt as the family grew to three children, a menagerie of dogs and cats, and, of course, Graycie. In this laugh-out-loud funny and touching memoir, Jenny vividly shares the many hazards of parrot ownership, from the endless avian latrine duty and the joyful day the bird learned to mimic the sound of the smoke detector, to the multiple ways a beak can pierce human flesh. Graycie is a court jester, a karaoke partner, an unusual audio record of their family history, and, at times, a nemesis. But most of all, she has taught the family volumes about tolerance, going with the flow, and realizing that you can no sooner make your child fit into a mold than you can turn a wild parrot into a docile house pet. Winging It is an utterly engrossing reminder of the importance of patience, loyalty, and humor when it comes to dealing with even the most unpleasant members of the family.

Sound Bingo by Kindermusik, from Chronicle Books
This sound-inspired game features 6 double-sided bingo cards, 100 vinyl game pieces, and a variety of sounds, from animals to musical instruments. Pop in the CD, identify the sounds, and find the corresponding picture on a card. The first to fill the card declares 'bingo!' and wins the game. Play at home, in the car, or anywhere a CD player is available. Guaranteed to keep ears and eyes amused!

Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood by Jame Richards, from Knopf Delacorte Dell
Sixteen-Year-Old Celstia spends every summer with her family at the elite resort at Lake Conemaugh, a shimmering Allegheny Mountain reservoir held in place by an earthen dam. Tired of the society crowd, Celestia prefers to swim and fish with Peter, the hotel’s hired boy. It’s a friendship she must keep secret, and when companionship turns to romance, it’s a love that could get Celestia disowned. These affairs of the heart become all the more wrenching on a single, tragic day in May, 1889. After days of heavy rain, the dam fails, unleashing 20 million tons of water onto Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the valley below. The town where Peter lives with his father. The town where Celestia has just arrived to join him. This searing novel in poems explores a cross-class romance—and a tragic event in U. S. history.

Good-Bye Bully Machine by Debbi Fox and Allan L. Beane, from Free Spirit Publishing for review and giveaway during Children's Book Week
Kids learn what bullying is, why it hurts, and what they can do to end it with this fresh, compelling book. With its contemporary collage art, lively layout, and straightforward text, Good-Bye Bully Machine engages kids and keeps them turning pages.

The unique format of Good-Bye Bully Machine helps kids understand the definition and impact of bullying by comparing it to a mean machine—the Bully Machine. Kids can see how bullying makes the machine grow more imposing, while kind behaviors dismantle it.

Through the machine, kids gain awareness of their role in bullying, whether they are targets, bullies, bystanders—or all three. The role of the bystander is especially important. Good-Bye Bully Machine helps kids see the power of the bystander to become an ally, which means learning to show empathy, engage in kind acts, and take a stand against bullying. It's a perfect way to engage reluctant readers and hard-to-reach kids.

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