Monday, December 5, 2011

Since the holidays are upon us, I wanted to find a holiday themed children's book that I could recommend this month. I found Miss Holly Is Too Jolly, by Dan Gutman. It is a beginner chapter book about a boy named Arlo. The book is in the My Weird School series. It's a light-hearted and fun holiday story that will get any reader laughing.

Arlo is in elementary school and his teacher, Miss Holly, is putting on a holiday show. Arlo and his buddies have to participate even though they don't want to. Of course, everything that can go wrong does. Emily kisses Arlo under the mistletoe (YUK!), Arlo gets a dumb hat from his Secret Santa, Arlo makes Emily fall off the stage, and the principal is dangling from the ceiling at the end of the show. It's a hilarious mess!

Dan Gutman tells his holiday story with great voice, lots of action, and many clever puns that adults and children will love.

I recommend this book to second grade boys.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Midwife's Apprentice

I decided to continue reading quality, older books this month. The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman was published in 1995. It won the Newberry Medal in 1996. This book is fantastic! It's a feel-good, root-for-the-under-dog, historically unique tale.

The story is about a homeless girl with no name in medieval times. She is found in a dung heap by a midwife. The girl becomes the midwife's apprentice and is called Beetle, as in dung beetle. The midwife is greedy and unkind, but Beetle appreciates having a roof over her head and food in her belly. As Beetle gains confidence, she begins to watch the midwife in order to learn the trade. Beetle adopts a real name for herself, Alyce. When Alyce's midwife skills are put to the test, she fails and runs away. After many months, Alyce decides to go back to the midwife to become her apprentice again. In the process, she learns about courage and determination.

This book is interesting and a quick read. I highly recommend it to 5th or 6th graders.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Whipping Boy

Most children gravitate to recently published books. I have to admit, I do too. Books published in the last decade are great, but there are a few oldies that should not be overlooked due to age. Just because a book was published over 20 years ago, doesn't mean that it's outdated.

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman was published in 1986. It won the Newbery Medal in 1987. And it deserved it! This book is funny, unique, and timeless.

The story is about a naughty prince. He is known in his kingdom as Prince Brat. However, this bratty prince cannot be spanked when he misbehaves. So, the prince has a whipping boy, named Jemmy. This is literally a poor orphan who gets whipped when the prince is naughty. Both boys want out of the castle as soon as possible and run away together . . . sort-of. Jemmy tries to ditch the prince the entire time, but is unable to lose him. They meet crazy characters along the way and each develop respect and admiration for one another.

This book is quick witted and an easy read. I recommend this book to second or third graders. It's a fun book with a unique plot and a timeless theme.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Publishing News

I am excited to share that I have two picture books being published soon by Gold Quill, a publishing company in England. Both books are adapted fables. The first book is called A Man, A Boy, and A Donkey. The second book is called The Boy Who Cried Wolf. My books will be added to a series of adapted fables. Click this link to view the series.
The series has excellent illustrations and I'm excited to be a part of what they're doing.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd, is a mid-grade novel about a girl named Lily, growing up in the south in the 1960s. It is an exceptional story about dealing with tragedy, guilt, and forgiveness.

Lily Owens is a fourteen-year-old girl, living with her abusive father on a peach farm in South Carolina. Lily's mother died when Lily was four years old in a tragic accident that Lily caused. One day, Lily's "stand-in-mother," Rosaleen, gets wrongfully arrested and beaten in jail by racists. Lily fears for Rosaleen's life and busts her out of prison. Lily and Rosaleen flee to Tiburon, South Carolina to a bee keeper's home. A place that Lily is sure her mother once visited. Through the wisdom and patience of the beekeeper, named August, Lily deals with her tragic past and blossoms like a beautiful flower.

Sue Monk Kidd skillfully paints a picture of life in the south in the 1960s. She also captures the voice of a budding teenager very well. I enjoyed reading this story and had trouble putting it down.

I recommend this book to teenage girls and women of all ages.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Dewey, by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter, is an adorable nonfiction book about a small-town public library in Spencer, Iowa. This book is written for adults, but is appropriate for any age reader.

The story begins with a kitten being abandoned in a public library drop box. The staff and town adopt the kitten as their library cat. They name him Dewey Readmore Books.

Dewey is a perfect library cat. He loves people and has instincts that guide him to the library patrons that need him the most. The town and its people suffer many loses and tragedies, but Dewey remains a bright spot in their lives throughout it all.

I recommend this book to cat-lovers of any age!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Summer Tree

The Summer Tree, by Guy Gavriel Kay, is the first book in The Fionavar Tapestry series. This is a YA/Adult book. This book is not for children. That being said, if you are old enough to read this book, I found it to be complex and interesting.

The story begins in our world, in Toronto, Canada. Five college students are lured into traveling to another world, Fionavar, by a man, Silvercloak, from that world. He is a mage and can do magic through his source, Matt, a dwarf. Mages in Fionavar have no power to do magic without their source.

Once in Fionavar, the five college students each learn about Fionavar through separate experiences. Fionavar has a long history of good and evil, gods, goddesses, and kings. The evilest of all the evil in all of the universe was bound beneath a mountain ages ago in Fionavar. This story is about the events leading up to the release of this evil being and how the five college students from Toronto got involved in the saga.

Guy Gavriel Kay's writing style is detailed and rich. His story is epic. I recommend this book to young adults or adults that enjoy detailed fantasy fiction.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Author Visit and Publication

This May I visited a third grade classroom. I talked about the publication process from idea to publication. The kids were very attentive and asked me a lot of great questions about being an author. I enjoyed the visit.

This month, my most recent publication hit the magazine racks. My headband craft is published on page 126 of the June 2011 issue of Crafts n' Things magazine. Check it out!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Among the Impostors

Among the Impostors, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, is a sequel to Among the Hidden. This book picks up right where the first book left off. Luke gets dropped off at a boys' boarding school as Lee Grant. It's a rough start for Luke. He's confused and very scared. None of the boys are nice and the teachers don't seem to care about any of the students.

Luke finds a bit of happiness when he sneaks out of the school and plants a garden. Not long after that, Luke's garden is destroyed. Luke finds out that it was destroyed by accident, but in the process, he meets other shadow children also using fake identities.

Luke adjusts to being at the school and even starts enjoying his classes. But then, one of his good friends turns out to be an impostor, working for the Population Police. Luke's quick thinking saves him and his new friends. The story ends with Luke helping shadow children to adjust to being out of hiding.

I liked this story just as much as the first one. I recommend this book to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers as a read-aloud. The chapters are very short and exciting. This hooks the students and also allows for nice stopping points.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Among the Hidden

Among the Hidden, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, is the first book in the Shadow Children series. The series is about a time in the future when families are not allowed to have more than two children. The main character, Luke, is the third child in his family. This means that he is hidden from the public and kept secret from the government. He never leaves his family's farm and is careful about being seen outside by anyone. Luke is twelve in the book and has managed to stay hidden all of his life. But he doens't like hiding and wants to live free like his two older brothers. His situations worsens when the government forces his family to sell their back woods. A new neighborhood springs up right behind Luke's house and he can no longer go outside! One day he sees a face in the window of one of the new houses and suspects that the family living there has a hidden child as well. He ventures to the house and discovers a girl named Jen living hidden there. Jen is an activist trying hard to free all of the shadow children. Through a sad turn of events, the Jen is killed by the government, leaving Luke in great danger. In the end, Luke decides to start a new life with a fake I.D. as a different person in order to carry on with Jen's quest to free the shadow children. I loved this book and can't wait to read the second book, Among the Impostors. I recommend this series to third - fifth grade children. They will love it!

Monday, February 7, 2011

When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead is a "Wrinkle in Time" type middle grade novel. It's set in New York City in the 1970s. A girl named Miranda finds herself in the middle of a mystery after her friend gets punch, her apartment key gets stolen, and strange notes, written to her, start arriving. The author of the notes knows specific things about Miranda that no stranger should know. Miranda is scared, but she tries to get to the bottom of the mystery on her own.

This book is great! It won the Newberry Award in 2009. I read the first chapter over again after I finished the last chapter because all the answers were planted there for the reader at the very start. I love books like that. A Wrinkle in Time, one of my all-time-favorite books, is cleverly sewn throughout the plot. I loved it.

I recommend this book and A Wrinkle in Time for fourth -sixth grade students.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Seventeen Second Miracle

The Seventeen Second Miracle, by Jason F. Wright, is about a tragedy that turns into a beautiful lifetime of service to others. The story is told by Cole Conner. He is the son of Rex Conner, who felt responsible for the accidental drowning of his girlfriend's younger sister. Rex's escape window out of the dark year that followed the drowning was to do at least one small act of kindness for someone each day or perform a "seventeen second miracle." The impact on Rex, his girlfriend and future wife, his son, his son's wife, and countless friends and strangers is profound. Rex and his family proved to themselves and those around them that a miracle can be performed in as little time as seventeen seconds.

The book had me crying out of sympathy and sometimes joy. Serving others is a beautiful thing. This book was an inspiration.

This book is categorized as an adult book, but many of the characters are teenagers. I recommend this book to YA readers. Two great and lasting life lessons can be taught through this book, forgiveness and love.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Newest Publication

My next publication will be in Crafts N' Things magazine Pack-O-Fun kid crafts section in June 2011. It's called "Paper Link Headband." And that's what it is, a headband made from paper links. This is my first magazine publication. I'm really excited.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Wanderer

The Wanderer, by Sharon Creech is a story about a 13-year-old-girl remembering her difficult past as she travels across the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat with her three uncles and two cousins. The story is told alternately from the point of view of Sophie, the girl, and Cody, her 13-year-old cousin though their journals. They each shed new light on the scenes by giving their version of things. Cody sees that Sophie is remembering her difficult past before Sophie realizes what is happening. The book is written like a puzzle and each of these characters take turns placing a piece until in the end, the reader sees the full picture.

I found the story and it's delivery intriguing. Sharon Creech is a gifted and creative writer. Creech gives a lot of interesting detail about sailing in the story.

I recommend this book for 5th and 6th grade students and any boating enthusiasts, young or old.