Sunday, August 20, 2017

Summer Reading 2017 Cast No Shadow


So, combine one boy born without a shadow, one lonely girl who happens to be a ghost, and what do you get? A love story? Yeah, that's part of it. It's not surprising that they would be attracted; they are both outsiders of a sort and they share similar stories of a mother dying young and unexpectedly, a father finding a new companion after his grief, and how difficult it can be to let someone else into a family. But Greg also has his friend Layla, her new boyfriend Jake (that Greg can't stand), and the antics of Jake's father - who became mayor of their town after Greg's mother died. There is a lot of anger and frustration building up inside this boy, and when it breaks loose, the town is in for a wild ride. Can Greg, Eleanor (the ghost), Layla, Jake (the new boyfriend), and the town's soothsayer really figure out a way to put everything right?

Tapalansky and Espinosa have created an amusing story that also manages to touch on grief, change, growing up, and letting go. Not that the story is a downer, far from it. What story containing the world's biggest hairball, the world's biggest collection of souvenir spoons, and a psychic singalong be a downer? Great for readers who like some spookiness and action mixed in with their star-crossed lovers.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes.

Summer Reading 2017 Top Dogs: Canines that Made History


Top Dogs is packed with information for dog lovers and history buffs. Want to know which dog received the most medals during WWI? It's in there. How about the story of the dog that traveled with Lewis and Clark as they searched for the Pacific? Got it covered. In fact, there are eight chapters full of historical facts, images, and sidebars of additional canine information. In the back matter there are a timeline, a list of places to visit, the author's main sources, and suggestions for further reading. Whether you want to learn more about Balto and the dogsled relay to take medicine across Alaska, or about search and rescue dogs at work on 9/11 - this is the book for you!

Chapter list:
Seaman the Newfoundland
Lion Dogs
Combat Canine
Togo and Balto
A Real Buddy
Military Guard Dogs
Sniffer Dog Saves the Day
Search and Rescue Dogs

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Summer Reading 2017 The List


I've seen several reviews saying that this is a good book to recommend to readers who enjoyed The Giver. They were right. In this vision of the world after "the Melting," only the words on the approved List are allowed to be spoken. The wordsmith and his apprentice curate the other words, carefully filing them away after his trips out into the wilderness to look for remnants of print. Just as Jonas learns from the Giver as memories are shared, Letta learns from Benjamin as he teaches her his craft. Their stories are also similar in the way the younger characters become more frustrated and disillusioned with their society as they come to see its flaws. And, of course, there is the inevitable clash with authority when their sense of what is right impels them to act.

For teachers looking for a book with themes to explore, The List has many to choose from. Ecology and man's impact on the environment, justice, the corruption of power, language and the power of words, humanity, responsibility, coming of age...There really is something for almost everyone.

If you enjoy stories full of complex relationships, characters determined to do the right thing even at personal risk, and books that make you really think about what it means to be human - then you need a copy of The List

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Giveaway: Win a Set of Anne Toole's Books



Win the set of 5 Anne Toole book shown here. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Professor Astro Cat's Solar System: Q&A with His Human Crew

A quick interview with the creators of Professor Astro Cat, I mean, er...his human crew members!


Let me just go fangirl on you for a moment and say that, as usual, the book is wonderful in both text and illustrations.

I noticed that you mention comets, but not meteors or exoplanets. What was your process in deciding what to include?

BEN: Thanks! Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System acts a stepping stone to
Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers Of Space. As it is for a younger audience, we have stripped things back to keep it simpler and cleaner which means that we could not include everything we wanted.

DOM: Yes, what to include and not include in our books is always tough to decide. We tend to arrange the information as a hierarchy, start at the bottom and go as far up as we can. In this way we try and make sure everything is as understandable as possible.

Obviously the ship with the large clear dome makes it easy for the Prof and his pals to see the wonders of the solar system. Were there any particular inspirations for the design of the ship and space suits?

BEN: I loved watching Hannah Barbara cartoons as a child so the Jetsons are certainly an influence. The space ship, although very good for touring the solar system, is certainly a nod to them.

Professor Astro Cat and Astro Mouse’s space suits are very much inspired by space suits in the 50s and 60s that were too impractical for use. I found them very funny so used them as a starting point when creating them. As I designed Felicity’s space suit much later, her design is more slim line and much easier to manoeuvre in.

Many schools have been focusing on the solar eclipse (August 21, 2017), and discussing eye safety during viewing. Did you have that in mind when you were working on the pages about the sun, or was it a precaution you would have included anyway?

DOM: I’m really excited about the eclipse, I’m going down to Oregon state to see it and have got my eclipse glasses all ready! I think we would have included this anyway as it is important to make sure we don’t damage our eyes.

Including details about space probes like Messenger and Mariner, or the Hubble Telescope give readers ideas for further investigation. Where do you go to research topics like that?

DOM: The NASA website is a really great source of information so I go there to make sure I’m getting my facts right.

You use labels, bold print, and a glossary to help readers process the information. Teachers love nonfiction text features like those, but have you considered making a teaching guide to go with the Astro Cat titles?

BEN: Not yet but hopefully as we make more books this could become a possibility. We want Professor Astro Cat to be as useful to children, teachers, librarians and parents as possible.

Professor Astro Cat says that finding ice on Mercury is “Pretty cool, huh?” And while standing on Venus, the explorers have an umbrella that is being dissolved by the acid rain. Do you feel that humor helps make a topic interesting and easier to learn? (I do; I’m just blatantly fishing for agreement here.)

BEN: Haha, yes, definitely. That is the fun part of illustrating the book with imaginary characters because we can stretch and play with what is and isn't possible as long as it doesn't interfere with the message or information we are trying to convey.

Did either of you dream of being an astronaut when you were a child? If so, where would you have wanted to explore?

BEN: I don't think I did. I always wanted to draw for a living but I’m sure Dominic would go in a heartbeat.

DOM: Going up into space would be absolutely amazing. Especially when you hear the astronauts from the Apollo missions talk about walking around on the surface of the Moon. Imagine that. Standing on a completely different body in space!! I think I would want to go to whatever planet out there harbours abundant life. That would be mind blowing.

Thank you so much for your time! I love your books and they are incredibly popular with my students. We will be eagerly awaiting whatever topic you decide to tackle next.

BEN: Thank you!
DOM: Thanks!

For readers who haven't discovered Professor Astro Cat yet - he appears in other titles, including Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space and Professor Astro Cat's Atomic Adventure. Stay tuned for more educational adventures from the smartest cat in the universe!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Dewey Fairchild, Parent Problem Solver Awareness Tour 2017


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enter to win a Dewey Fairchild, Parent Problem Solver themed prize pack!
One (1) winner receives:
  • A copy of Dewey Fairchild, Parent Problem Solver, by Lorri Horn
  • A Dewey Fairchild themed gift pack. Includes items such as cookies, gum, notebooks, pens/pencils, Tootsie Rolls, Monopoly game etc.
Giveaway rules:
  • Enter between 12:00 AM Mountain Time on August 1, 2017 and 11:59 PM on August 31, 2017.
  • Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.
  • Winners will be selected at random on or about September 3, 2017.
  • Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Prizes provided by Amberjack Publishing.

Dewey Fairchild, Parent Problem Solver

Written by Lorri Horn
Illustrated by Agnieszka Grochalska

Publisher’s Synopsis: Dewey Fairchild isn’t just good with parents, he’s great with them. He’s so good at handling parents that he’s built a thriving business out of it. He even has a secretary, Clara―a great alibi and an even better baker. Dewey settles the most troublesome of cases, from an overprotective mom who won’t let her child go to class on her own, to a dad who can’t stop picking his nose any chance he gets!
Dewey has no problem handling other people’s parents, but when he overhears his parents talking one day, he faces a challenge he never expected. Dewey can solve any problem parents may cause, but what will he do when the parents who are causing problems are his own?

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Amberjack Publishing | August 8, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1944995164

Available Here:

About the Author: Lorri Horn is an educator and an author. She has a degree in English, a teaching credential, has been Nationally Board Certified, and has taught pubic school for over 14 years. She loves cheese (and wants it to be its own food group, which made working on a vegan book a challenge), humor, baking, books, and spending time with her family. Lorri’s background as a career schoolteacher and instructional leader make her especially sympathetic to the needs and perspectives of children, and this sensitivity features in her work as an author. Lorri blogs on her website, Her work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Phi Delta Kappan, The College Board and Mayim’s Vegan Table. Lorri lives in California with her husband, son, and their dog, Wolfie. 
About the Illustrator: Agnieszka Grochalska is an illustrator living and working in Warsaw, Poland. As a child she wanted to be an astronaut or a jet pilot. Eventually she changed her mind and dedicated her keen eye and steady hand to drawing precise and detailed compositions reminiscent of classical storybook illustrations.
She received a MFA in Graphic Arts in 2014, exploring traditional painting, printmaking, and sculpting along the way. Currently she works predominantly in digital medium, striving to make it look as natural as her works drawn traditionally. Her illustrative works were featured in group exhibitions both in Poland and abroad.
Agnieszka enjoys travel and cultural exchange with people from around the world, referencing those experiences in her works alongside the Slavic folklore of her homeland. When she isn’t drawing or traveling, you can find her exploring the worlds of fiction in books and story-driven games.
Agnieszka’s works can be viewed in her online portfolio at



The Children's Book Review
Teacher Dance
Word Spelunking
To Read, or Not To Read
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
icefairy's Treasure Chest
Tales of A Wanna-Be SuperHero Mom
LitPick Student Book Reviews
The Fairview Review

Imagine a cross between Encyclopedia Brown and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. That's right, a young boy with detective abilities who also happens to be good at "curing" problem parents. Dewey handles issues ranging from germaphobic mothers to fathers that belch (and worse) in public. With the help of his secretary Clara and her dog Wolfgang von Fluff Bucket, young Mr. Fairchild finds cures for overprotective mothers, fathers who won't stop playing pranks, and other dilemmas brought to him by kids from all over town. Sometimes he even enlists the assistance of his friends in gathering information or find the right approach for clients to break their parents of all these bad habits. As he puts it, "Desperate mothers called for desperate measures."

Each situation is handled successfully and readers will be amused by the solutions to the problems. Scenes like the joker dad sucking his thumb in shock over being pranked himself will have readers laughing out loud. But what will really win everyone over is the fact that Dewey has a parent problem of his own and doesn't know how to solve it. It proves that no one is perfect and that we can all use some help from our friends. Seraphina and Colin's attempts at undercover work in the dental office of Dewey's father are hilarious and show how far true friends will go to help each other.

This book is appealing on many levels. There are the funny parent problems and the even funnier things Dewey has the kids do to break those parental habits. Readers who like secret hideouts or clubhouses will love Dewey's office and the way clients enter and exit. For those who enjoy spies and detectives, there are the stakeouts, message drops, and using Wolfie to smuggle tape recorders. And there is plenty of word play and puns. Looking over the file of the burping father, Dewey finds that he also picks his nose in public, and "had to admit, having a public nose picker for a father pretty much nosed ahead of other people's problems." He tells his secretary, "Get it, Clara!? I'm picking her case first!" Go ahead and groan, but it is funny.

Perfect for middle grade readers who enjoy humorous stories involving parents, friends, and lots of cookies.

I am participating in this blog tour in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Amberjack Publishing.

Summer Reading 2017 Gorillas in Our Midst


No, not "Gorillas in the Mist," there are actually Gorillas in Our Midst! Well, that's what the narrator of this book tells us. This small, bespectacled boy reminds us that "You should always carry a banana with you." Actually, I've never heard that piece of advice before, but he explains why it is so important - "Because you never know when there might be a gorilla around." Not that you will see them, because they are "masters of disguise." They also work as ninjas, astronauts, or other jobs where they can wear a mask. Famous gorillas you have probably heard of include Gorilliam Shakespeare and Apebraham Lincoln. 

If you were not aware that gorillas are roaming freely through neighborhoods, you should probably read this book and get some pointers on what to look for. There are signs that can help you out, if you pay attention. And...try not to confuse gorillas and orangutans. Okay?

The premise of the story is funny to begin with, and the illustrations will make everyone smile, if they don't just break down and chuckle out loud. Scenes of gorillas in scuba gear or teaching humans sign language may cause enough merriment to make your cheeks sore from all the grinning.