Friday, January 29, 2016

Winter Reading 2016 Calling All Cars


With the colorful charm of a Golden Book story and a catchy rhyming text reminiscent of Go, Dog, Go - Calling All Cars is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Anyone who loves cars and vehicles will have plenty to look at in these bright and energetic illustrations. Whether you prefer the lowrider with a driver in dark sunglasses or the slow car with a turtle at the wheel, there is something to suit every automotive taste. Look! There goes a car with three little pigs in it! But wait, isn't that a car with three bears inside? And check out the psychedelic colors on that clown car. From traffic jams to snow plows, convertibles to jalopies, things don't slow down until the very end. Finally, all the cars pull into their garage or parking space and settle down for the night, making this a perfect story even at bedtime.

Highly recommended for the preK-1st grade crowd, although it could become a favorite of some older readers who just love automobiles. This would be a great gift book for that child you know that just can't get enough cars and has worn out their DVD watching Mater and Lightning over and over. Even if your child is not car-crazy, they will still have fun working out the rhymes and looking at all the details included on every page. 

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

Winter Reading 2016 Pilfer Academy


Imagine a boy something like Kevin from the "Home Alone" movies. This boy you are picturing in your mind is George. He has brothers and sisters, but George always seems to be the one getting into trouble. If someone is reading his sister's diary, it's George. If someone is borrowing his brother's stuff and not giving it back, it's George. If someone is taking other people's pocket change without asking, it's George. So it really shouldn't come as a surprise that George is chosen to be a student at a school for thieves. The faculty of the school have been watching him for a while and when they see their chance, they kidnap him and carry him off. And George actually seems to be good at all the classes in trickery, manipulation, cracking safes, or creating disguises. But he also realizes that he misses his family and wonders if he will ever find his way back home. Can a kid who's always being bad actually be a good guy?

The descriptions of the school make it sound like a dream come true for most kids - eating whatever you want, wearing only the nicest clothes, sleeping in luxurious beds, learning how to build traps and play tricks on people. And the teachers are crazy. There is Strongarm, who stares into the sun until she can't see and then rubs sunscreen into her eyes to fix them (Ouch!) And Ballyrag, who can't say anything right. He calls New Hampshire "New Hampster" and transplanted comes out "splanstranted" when he says it. And the head of the school is just as ridiculous. The other students are a mix like you usually see in a school; some are nice to George while others pick on him because he is new. The lessons and tests they have in class will make you laugh out loud and there is plenty of action to keep you turning the pages. And when you reach the end and hear characters vowing revenge upon George, you will be hoping for a sequel to find out what happens next.

A great middle grade novel for fans of school stories and those who appreciate practical jokes and mayhem.

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Winter Reading 2016 You Look Yummy!


In a case of mistaken identity similar to Are You My Mother? a baby ankylosaurus hatches out of his egg right in front of a hungry tyrannosaurus. "You look yummy," says the T-rex. The baby thinks that his name is Yummy and the T-rex is his daddy. What will become of our little friend? This is a great story for dinosaur lovers and fans of family stories.

The illustrations are fun and colorful. There are great sound effects written in like the "thwack" of the T-rex's tail smashing a tree or the "gurgle" of the volcanoes. The incredible difference in the size of Yummy compared to his daddy reinforces how vulnerable he is. And the teeth and claws on the other dinos make them seem even more dangerous. Young readers will love the color and action, and adults may get a bit misty-eyed over the twist at the end.

Highly recommended for all ages.

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

Additional information from the press release:

Born in 1956, Tatsuya Miyanishi graduated from the Nihon University College of Art and was a doll artist and graphic designer before becoming a picture-­‐book author. Miyanishi’s books have a passionate fan base of all ages that enjoys his range of endearing characters in many genres, from superheroes to dinosaurs, all illustrated with bright colors. He has won the Kodansha Cultural Award for Picture Books, as well as the Kenbuchi Picture Book  Grand Prize.

Museyon is an award-­‐winning independent publisher focused on worldwide culture. From the Chronicles series of historical guidebooks to the best Japanese children’s titles, Museyon takes readers of all ages around the world. Additional content from Museyon can be found at and at

Monday, January 18, 2016

Blog Tour If You Were Me and Lived In...Italy

If You Were Me and Lived in Italy Blog Tour Header

Carole P. Roman Discusses the Inspiration Behind Her Award-Winning Culture Series

If You Were Me and Lived In ... Italy

I have always loved learning about other customs and cultures. I love learning about the little things we have in common as well as the things that make us different. Give me an elevator and five minutes and I'll know where people are from and the reason their parents chose their name. I've had a fascination for these things for my entire life.

I started the series with Mexico because it is a close neighbor and there are so many people from Mexico working in the states. I wanted to make it very simple; the goal was for my grandchildren to be able to understand the concept of culture and countries. It was so hard to pare down the information, there was so much, and as soon as I started to question people I interviewed about it, they came up with so much more. Everyone loves to talk about his or her home! I chose France next; simply due to the fact we were in a French restaurant, South Korea because the woman who owns my nail salon was from there. Turkey was the result of going to a Turkish restaurant that week, and then I decided to try to represent the "four corners of the world," choosing Norway and Kenya next. I chose Norway because I knew nothing about it. Kenya: because President Obama's father came from there and it was in the news a lot.  

I start with basic facts using websites on the Internet. There are so many sites from the national census for the most popular names in that country, to recipes and the best place to get them. I look up national holidays and select one. I try to stay away from religious information and deal only with the ten or so subjects we discuss in each book. I research things that interest my own grandchildren, which catch their attention. What you would call your parents, foods you might eat, a favorite place to visit, the sport that is popular, and a fun holiday, things that they could relate to their own life. Invariably, I find something that tickles me, and I try to find a way to include it. I follow up with finding someone from that country. If I can't find anyone to talk to, I usually call the consulate in New York City and they have all referred me to someone here to talk to.  

Everyone volunteered information to me as soon as I started writing and producing these books. My hairdresser is from Russia (which turned out to be my most award-winning book), a merchant I do business with was from India, my neighbor hailed from Hungary. Everybody asked me to do their country and with sources available (the most important component) how could I refuse.  

Each time I pick another country, I try to be diverse. Whatever country I am working on, I try to spin the globe in another direction and get as far away as I can, so all the world is represented. A friend asked me to do Australia, my local diner promoted Greece, a girl I work with brought in things from Poland (almost completed along with Egypt, Brazil, and Israel).  

The books are pretty much a formula now and my illustrator Kelsea Wierenger knows exactly what we are looking for, so we work pretty quickly. I try to stay local and speaking to a source is merely an hour or two of their time. The books don't take long to do; it's the process that takes forever. Going back and forth— getting everything to fit on a page and making sure it's easy to read. I love the colors Kelsea chooses. I think they define the country.  

I loved learning about Hungary and the three cities straddling the river, Red Square in Russia is a central point where all the highways meet, the significance of mimosas in Italy, Kenyan galimoto toys, and Vegemite in Australia have all piqued my interest. My family emigrated from Poland and I was delighted with the information from that book. So much of it stirred forgotten memories of my grandmother.  

I have been to many of the countries, but sadly we don't travel anymore. We haven't gone many places since my husband became sick. Things have changed since I did travel, so I try not to let that influence me.  

The most challenging part is trying to get the pronunciations correct. I found out that many countries have different dialects and I was called out on things as being incorrect. I have to trust the sources I speak to and this can sometimes work against me. The book on Kenya was hard. I dealt with the consulate, yet someone criticized the pronunciations as wrong. However, a Kenyan from London wrote me a beautiful letter of thanks filled with gratitude that I did a book to bring her country to people’s attention. I asked her about the books' accuracy and she assured me it was fine.  

I especially love learning about the history of each country and that sparked a new spin-off involving civilizations. I am in the process of completing If You Were Me and Lived in... Ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, Elizabethan England, and Colonial America. I am very excited about this series. It is geared toward older children ages 8-14. These books are taking much longer to research, but I am having a ball doing them!

More About the Book

If You were Me and Lived in ItalyJoin Carole P. Roman as she visits the Republic of Italy. Learn what it is like to live in Rome, see the famous architecture, celebrate a favorite holiday and discover popular names for both boys and girls. Be fascinated with it's diverse and rich history and colorful traditions. On the way, you might learn a word or two in Italian! The If You Were Me and Lived In ... Series is available on Amazon. If You Were Me and Lived In Italy Interior 2 Ages 4-8 | CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform | 2015 | 978-1519241412
About Carole P. Roman
[caption id="attachment_30760" align="alignright" width="100"]Carole P. Roman Carole P. Roman[/caption] Carole P. Roman’s is the award winning author of the nonfiction If You Were Me and Lived in… series of children’s books. The first title in the collection, If You Were Me and Lived in…Mexico, won the Pinnacle Award for Best in Children’s Nonfiction in 2012. If You Were Me and Lived in…Russia and If You Were Me and Lived in...France were finalists in the Indie Fab Foreword Review Book of the Year. Norway and South Korea have also been named as Book of the Year with Rebecca's Reads and Children's Reader's View Book of the Year. Roman has also found success with her Captain No Beard children’s books. Her debut, Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life, was named a Kirkus Best of 2012, received a Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award in 2012. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and very near her children. | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Captain No Beard Tour Giveaway

If You Were Me and Lived In ... Italy, by Carole P. Roman | Series Giveaway Enter to win a complete autographed set of the If You Were Me series, written by award-winning author Carole P. Roman and illustrated by Kelsea Wierenga; including If You Were Me and Lived in … Italy: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World! Plus, the grand prize winner will also receive the Educational Insights Geosafari Jr Talking Globe. Giveaway begins January 10, 2016, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends February 16, 2016, at 11:59 P.M. PST. a Rafflecopter giveaway

If You Were Me and Lived In ... Italy Tour Dates

Sunday January 10 2016 The Children's Book Review If You Were Me and Lived In ... Series Giveaway Sunday January 10 2016 It's Fundamental Author Interview with Carole P. Roman Wednesday January 13 2016 Teacher Dance Book Review of If You Were Me and Lived In ... Italy Monday January 18 2016 The Fairview Review Guest Post with Carole P. Roman Monday January 18 2016 Strategically Thinking Guest Post with Carole P. Roman Thursday January 21 2016 The Children's Book Review Book Review of If You Were Me and Lived In ... Italy Monday January 25 2016 5 Girls Book Reviews Author Interview with Carole P. Roman Tuesday January 26 2016 Icefairy's Treasure Chest Book Review of If You Were Me and Lived In ... Italy Wednesday February 3 2016 Little Miss History Book Review of If You Were Me and Lived In ... Italy Sunday February 7 2016 Inspired by Savannah Author Interview with Carole P. Roman Tuesday February 9 2016 Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers Book Review of If You Were Me and Lived In ... Italy

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Winter Reading 2016 Surf's Up


The imagination that went into creating this wonderful picture book is amazing. Two friends on a summer day have different pursuits in mind. Dude wants to go surfing, but Bro is thoroughly engrossed in a book (Moby Dick to be precise). Dude can't understand the interst in a boring book and Bro can't be torn away from it. As Dude literally carries Bro off to the beach with his nose still buried in the book, he begins to be curious about this whale of a story. Bro keeps calling out "Wowie Kazowie!" and "Whoa, Daddy-o!" as events unfold in the hunt for the white whale. Eventually Dude is pulled into the book despite his initial disinterest. What makes it all the more entertaining is the fact that Bro and Dude are frogs!

The mix of Bro's enthusiastic exclamations and Dude's reluctant interest seem to prove that old adage that opposites attract. And in addition to the insanely funny story-line, there are the illustrations to pull us in as readers. While Bro describes the plot of his book to Dude, those scenes are shown on the page along with the two friends. We can see the scenes gradually grow larger until Bro and Dude are actually on the deck of the whaling ship. After all that, it comes as no surprise to us that Dude decides to read the book himself. 

An excellent story to illustrate the power of books to capture our imaginations and the thrill of finding a book and sharing it with a friend. I recommend it to readers of all ages.

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

Monday, January 11, 2016

Winter Reading 2016 A Bear's Year


Short rhyming text accompanies illustrations made from a combination of drawing and screen printing to create a charming explanation of how bears experience the seasons. Beginning with a mother bear and her two cubs sleeping in their winter den, the book carries us through the year as the cubs grow and learn. For very young readers this is simple nonfiction, but they may not realize they are learning as they enjoy the pictures and the rhymes. Early elementary school students might try to emulate the spare style and create their own versions with different young animals and habitats. For older elementary grades, this could be used in a language lesson in creative writing. They could explore how the words are used to create the mood and convey facts at the same time with this as a "mentor text." Why does the author say, "Northern Lights paint the sky" or "Earth's snowflake blanket soft and deep"? What sort of imagery is that?

This could be one of those books that is read and re-read until every word is memorized and yet it is still requested at bedtime or story-time. Whether it is read at home, used for a science lesson, modeled in a language arts class, or even shown as an inspiration in art class, it is sure to be enjoyed and appreciated. For a "Read Aloud and Celebration of the Seasons Kit", visit Curious City DPW and check out the extension activities suggested.

Winter Reading 2016 I'm New Here


Anne Sibley O'Brien has created a simple book that shows some of the obstacles children face when their families move to America. They have to learn a new language, new customs, new rules, and make new friends. She shows three children - Maria from Guatemala, Jin from Korea, and Fatimah from Somalia - and different situations at school in which they try to fit in. Maria watches classmates playing at recess and wishes she understood what they were saying and could join them. The illustration shows speech bubbles over the heads of the children with words sounded out in them. "Come on" is actually shown as "KUM AWN" and other phrases are done in the same way to emphasize how strange it all sounds to her. Jin remembers how writing and reading Korean letters felt like doors opening into a world of stories, but the English alphabet doesn't make sense to him and "the windows and doors are shut tight." Fatimah is nervous about doing something wrong because she doesn't know the way things are done in her new school. But they all keep watching the other students and then begin trying these new ways of doing things. When they do, they discover that they don't have to feel sad or alone, there are new friends and new beginnings here for them.

In the author's note, she explains that her parents moved the family to South Korea and served as medical missionaries when she was a child. So she understands the emotions of children in a new place and wants to help immigrant children feel welcome in their new communities. She suggests visiting I'm Your Neighbor to see other recommended titles like her book.

This is an excellent resource for teachers and guidance counselors who have a student that is new to the United States. The story shows that others have also felt alone and confused after such big change, but that there are opportunities to make new friends and find a new home.

Visit Curious City DPW for a Classroom & Community Guide to Welcoming Immigrants.

Winter Reading 2016 Don't Touch This Book


If you've had the joy of reading Don't Push the Button! by Bill Cotter, then you don't me to recommend this new book featuring our friend Larry. For those who don't know, Larry is a big purple monster who has his own book. Well, he has two of them now. And there's only one rule in this second book - don't touch it! But when Larry lets us try just a little touch with one finger, it works out so well that he lets us try more and more things. Young readers will love seeing different colors appear on the page, then wiggle, then swirl, then...I can't tell you everything or it would spoil all the fun. (Then again, maybe not. It has a lot of fun inside.)

Read this for an interactive experience that doesn't need any batteries or electronics, just your imagination and the book. Great fun for all ages, especially if you share the book with a younger friend or family member and help them read it.

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

Winter Reading 2016 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


I am attempting to complete the "2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge." Zooming right along, I have now finished the sixth book from my list. Category: a book originally published in the decade you were born. Book: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming. I've always loved the movie, and always meant to read Fleming's only children's book, so this was a good time to do it. 
Some differences between the book and film versions:
- Obviously, no singing or Dick Van Dyke dance numbers in the book.
- No evil Baron Bomburst, but a gangster with the nickname "monster."
- There is an actual mother named Mimsy, rather than a bubbly Truly Scrumptious.
- Sadly, there is no hideously evil Child Catcher in the book.
Overall, it is a wonderfully entertaining read and the car herself is just as awesome as her movie version.
For those who haven't read the book or seen the movie, Caractacus Pott is a former Navy man, an explorer, and an inventor. To his neighbors who don't think much of his inventions, he is sometimes known as "Crack Pott." When he finally sells a new candy he has created, he uses the money to purchase a defunct racing car. Once he gets it home and works on it for a while, the car is restored to even better shape than its former glory. While on a picnic trip to the beach, the family is pulled into an accidental adventure involving gangsters, explosions, a robbery attempt, boxes of chocolate, and French bread.
If you enjoy gadgets and adventures, you should read this book and laugh along at Jeremy and Jemima enjoying their new "high-flying" friend.

Winter Reading 2016 The Turtle of Oman


I love the poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye, so when I needed a book set in the Middle East for my 2016 Reading Challenge, I chose this novel by her. Afer is a 3rd-grader who lives in Muscat, Oman and is leaving soon to travel with his parents to America. (His parents are pursuing doctorate degrees in Michigan.) Resisting the idea of moving away for 3 years, Afer refuses to pack anything in his suitcase. His grandfather, Sidi, takes him on small trips around their town and helps him see that traveling and then coming home again is not a bad thing. They visit the beach, camp in the desert, ride on a fishing boat, and even sleep on the flat roof of Sidi's house one night. All along they are also making memories of their time together.

There is nothing tragic or awful about this story, but it will make you feel the sadness that Afer and Sidi feel about their separation. It is a wonderfully told tale of the love between a boy and his grandfather, and also about leaving your hometown to see other places in the world. Afer loves the sea turtles that come to the beach nearby and lay their eggs. He marvels at their ability to go out to sea and always find their way back. His grandfather reminds him that he and his parents will also be coming back, and that Sidi will be waiting for them.

The descriptions of the city and all the places in and around it make you feel as if you are there. You can picture the moon "orange and full, like a big fat juicy melon"shining down on them as they have their sleepover on the roof. And when Afer goes to bed and begins "pressing his face into the pillow that smelled like sun and air," you can almost smell the fresh breeze clinging to the pillowcase. But the descriptions of their feelings might make you cry. Afer "wished he could tell Sidi, you are the king of my heart forever...I cannot stand the thought of being far from you, ever, ever, ever." Yet he doesn't say it, because he knows it will make Sidi sad to hear it. His grandfather is feeling the same way, and during their sleepover he had said, "Aref, I'm going to miss you terribly, you do know that?" Aref knows is must be true, because Sidi generally said only positive things, so this was "a rare comment from his happy tongue."

For those who enjoy stories about family relationships, this is a great book about a child and a grandparent who love each other and enjoy each other's company. For those looking for books that share cultures from other lands, this does a great job of showing how the new is mixing in with the old in Oman and weaving in details like the fishermen using nets to catch sardines from their small fishing boats, vendors selling paper cones full of roasted almonds, or the dust swirling over the desert outside the city. And it would be a good story to read with a child who is nervous about moving to a new place, or to recommend to someone who enjoys stories that highlight the pleasures of doing simple things together with a loved one.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Winter Reading 2016 Gemina: The Crooked-Neck Giraffe


After visiting the Santa Barbara Zoo and meeting Gemina, the author/illustrator was inspired to write about this unique giraffe. She tells about Gemina's birth in the San Diego Wild Animal Park, her transfer to Santa Barbara when she was 2-years-old, and then how a bump appeared on her neck when she was 3. Although tests were run, no one ever figured out what caused her neck to develop in such a crooked way. It never stopped her from doing all the things the other giraffes did. And it gave inspiration to many visitors to the zoo who also had differences, including a young boy who had scoliosis. The illustrations show Gemina at various times in her life, doing a variety of activities. There is also a photograph of her at the end of the story. One of the features that makes the book special is that the end papers show some of the pictures and letters that children had sent to the zoo as fan mail for Gemina.

For teachers and children's librarians looking for narrative nonfiction, this is another read-aloud to add to their collections. I was lucky enough to win a copy in a giveaway and will be placing it in my school's library.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Gene Luen Yang Named 5th National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, 2016-2017

Visit Diamond Books website:

Gene Luen Yang Named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

We’re thrilled to share this fantastic news with you!  

First Second has been publishing Gene Luen Yang since 2006, and we’re very proud to see him recognized by this groundbreaking honor.  Gene and his books have a history of creating new possibilities in the industry for everyone – with the first graphic novel to be a National Book Award finalist, the first graphic novel to win the Printz Award, and now – the first graphic novelist to be representing the whole children’s and young adult industry as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. 

Please join us in celebrating Gene Luen Yang (and if you want to personally send along your congratulations on social media, he’s at @geneluenyang, or with the hashtag #NatAmb). 

Please see below for the full press release.

Gene Luen Yang Named 5th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, 2016–2017

Yang Champions Diversity in All Forms and Reading for Non-Readers with his Platform, “Reading Without Walls”

New York, NY, January 4, 2016—The Children’s Book Council (CBC), Every Child a Reader (ECAR), and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (CFB) have announced the appointment of Gene Luen Yang, Printz Award winner and two-time National Book Award finalist, as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The program was established by the three organizations in 2008 to highlight the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education, and the development and betterment of the lives of young people. Yang will travel nationwide over the course of his two-year term promoting his platform, “Reading Without Walls,” showing kids and teens that reading is a vital part of their lives, and speaking to parents, teachers, librarians—everyone invested in young people’s literacy—about how better to connect with kids and teens and help them love reading. Yang succeeds beloved and esteemed authors Jon Scieszka (2008–2009), Katherine Paterson (2010–2011), Walter Dean Myers (2012–2013), and Kate DiCamillo (2014–2015) in the position. Gene Luen Yang is the first-ever graphic novelist to be named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
The inauguration ceremony, presided by acting Librarian of Congress David S. Mao and featuring both Yang and DiCamillo, will take place on Thursday, January 7 at 11 a.m. in room LJ-119 of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington D.C. The event is open to the public; no tickets are required.
“I’m thrilled and humbled to be appointed National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Reading breaks down the walls that divide us. By reading, we get to know people outside of our own communities. We gain knowledge others don’t expect us to have. We discover new and surprising passions. Reading is critical to our growth, both as individuals and as a society. The Children's Book Council, Every Child a Reader, and Library of Congress all empower people by getting them to read. I'm honored to take up that mission myself and to carry on the amazing work of the ambassadors before me,” said Gene Luen Yang.

“Gene Yang is a talented writer. He is a brilliant artist. His stories are thought-provoking, genre-bending, utterly original examinations of the human heart. In short, Gene Yang is a Renaissance man. I am so honored to pass the torch of this sacred task to Gene. No one is better suited for bringing us all together,” said Kate DiCamillo, two-time Newbery Award winner and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Emeritus.

“What an inspired choice the selection committee has made in Gene. He is a brilliant storyteller who makes meaningful and profound connections with readers of all ages. And he has been a de facto ambassador for reading, inclusion, and graphic novels for years. I can’t think of anyone better than Gene to break down the walls stopping people from becoming lifelong lovers of reading,” said Jon Yaged, President & Publisher of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

Jon Colman, Executive Director of the CBC added, “We couldn’t be more pleased with the selection of Gene Luen Yang as the next ambassador. He embodies everything that we look for in this position and we can’t think of a more fitting person to be representing young people’s literature over the next two years.”

“We are thrilled that Gene Luen Yang has agreed to be the new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature,” said John Y. Cole, director of the Center for the Book, which administers the ambassador program with the Children’s Book Council. “Gene’s message of inclusion and acceptance of all people is especially relevant today. The Library of Congress looks forward to the next two years of Gene’s promotion of reading and literacy among young people.”

The National Ambassador is selected for: his or her contributions to young people’s literature, the ability to relate to kids and teens, and a dedication to fostering children’s literacy as a whole. The selection is based on recommendations from a CBC-ECAR-CFB-appointed committee comprising educators, librarians, booksellers, and children’s literature experts.

The members of the selection committee for the 2016–2017 ambassadorship were:
     Betsy Bird, Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library
     Shelley M. Diaz, Senior Editor, Reviews at School Library Journal
     Kate DiCamillo, Newbery Medal–winning author, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, 2014-15
     Jonathan Hunt, Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education
     Kimberly L. Jones, Store Manager at Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA
     Deborah Taylor, Coordinator of School and Student Services at Enoch Pratt Free Library
     Lisa Von Drasek, Curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collections at University of Minnesota Libraries

The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature program is administered by Every Child a Reader. Financial support for the National Ambassador Program in 2016 is provided by HarperCollins Children’s Books, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Penguin Young Readers Group, Random House Children’s Books, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, and the Lois Lenski Covey Foundation.

For more information about the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, visit
About Gene Luen Yang
Gene Luen Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade; he began making comics professionally over fifteen years ago. In 2006, his graphic novel American Born Chinese (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/First Second Books) became the first graphic novel to be a finalist for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award. It also won an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album. In 2013, Boxers & Saints (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/First Second Books), his two-volume graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion, was a National Book Award finalist and won the L.A. Times Book Prize. Gene has also won an Eisner for The Eternal Smile, a collaboration with Derek Kirk Kim. He is the author of the Secret Coders series (with artist Mike Holmes) and has written for the hit comics Avatar: The Last Airbender and Superman. Yang lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Learn more at

About the Children’s Book Council (CBC)
The Children’s Book Council, established in 1945, is the nonprofit trade association of children’s book publishers in North America, dedicated to supporting the industry and promoting children’s books and reading. The CBC offers children’s publishers the opportunity to work together on issues of importance to the industry at large, including educational programming, literacy advocacy, and collaborations with other national organizations. Please visit for more information.

About Every Child a Reader (ECAR)
Every Child a Reader is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children. ECAR administers programs including Children’s Book Week, the annual celebration of books and reading, and the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country; the Children’s Choice Book Awards, the only national book awards program where the winning titles are selected by kids and teens of all ages; and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Program. Please visit for more information.

About the Library of Congress and the Center for the Book (CFB)
Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to “stimulate public interest in books and reading,” the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The Center provides leadership for affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center and its Poetry and Literature Center. Visit to learn more.

Winter Reading 2016 Infinitas


A sinister dragon sorceress, a prophecy that has waited one hundred years to come to fruition, and four companions with the courage to overcome their fears and take on a seemingly impossible quest. What more could you want in a story? Kali and Drake are descendants of the famous hero Arturo, and they have finally come of age. Together with their friends, Ferra and Harold, they travel across the world of Aeon to fulfill their destiny and confront the evil Marigot. Of course, they have help along the way, as well as facing the dangers of betrayal. They encounter everything from harpies, wyverns, and wood sprites to unknown creatures like kangaboons. Each of them must face their worst fears and use their special skills to reach their goal.

For those who have played Dungeons & Dragons, the teenagers fall into easily recognized roles: Drake is the brawny warrior with a sword, Kali is the lithe fighter with a bow and arrows, Ferra is the nimble thief, and Harold is the cleric with healing skills and knowledge of plants and herbs. There are other standard items for this type of adventure such as magical amulets, potions, and a bag of carrying that holds seemingly limitless supplies. The action is quickly paced, each character has the chance to use their strengths to help the others, and their journey also gives them a chance to practice their skills and accumulate some of those helpful magic items. 

For middle grade readers who enjoy swords and sorcery type adventures, this is an enjoyable start to a new series, with books that are long enough to build the story, but not so long that they are intimidating. There is the added bonus that once the characters have become familiar, another adventure will be coming in the future. Parents and teachers will be pleased that although there are fights and battles, there are no overly gruesome descriptions, nor are there relationships or language that are too mature for younger readers.

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

Friday, January 1, 2016

Winter Reading 2016 Charmed (Fairy Tale Reform School #2)


Gillian Cobbler. Thief. Fairy Tale Reform School student. Hero. Can one girl really be all those things? She's already a daughter, a sister, a friend. But because she and her friends thwarted Alva the Evil Fairy's attempt to take over their school, Gilly is now famous. There are good and bad consequences of fame. Her father's shoe business is now booming, because everyone wants a pair of glass slippers like Princess Ella's.  With all the new income, the family can finally afford new clothes and has plenty to eat. On the downside, Alva has a vendetta against Gilly. It's also very hard to sneak around when your face is recognized by everyone, so Gilly and her friends are having to work extra hard to figure out who is the mole at FTRS that is feeding Alva information. A hero's work is never done.

One of the great things about the Fairy Tale Reform School series is that they don't focus on the fantasy elements to the exclusion of everything else. Readers still get to see the evolving relationships between the characters, whether they are friends, family, or foes. Watching Gilly try to earn her way back into her sister's good graces or make her father proud or apologize to her friends when she hurts their feelings, all of that makes it  much easier to identify with her and care about her fate. Although the characters are from Enchantasia, and some of them are even magical creatures such as fairies or ogres, they are not two-dimensional stock characters. They all have strengths, weaknesses, and emotions that make them interesting as individuals.

Fans of fantasy, fractured fairy tales, mysteries, or school stories will all find something to enjoy about Charmed.

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

*Update 08/01/2016 We have added this book to the Fairview library.