Once Upon a Story
April 7, 2014

18405514Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake by Julie Sternberg, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Published by: Abrams Books

Release date: March 2014

Ages:6-9

Pages: 192

From the publisherI did a mean thing.
A very mean thing.
I HATE that I did it.
But I did.
This is worse than
carrot juice on a cupcake
or a wasp on my pillow
or a dress that’s too tight at the neck.


In the third installment from the team who created Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and Like Bug Juice on a Burger, Eleanor’s relationship with her best friend, Pearl, experiences its first growing pains. When a glamorous new student transfers to school, at first Eleanor’s excited about the possibility of a new friend. But when Pearl is assigned to be the new girl’s buddy, Eleanor fears she can’t compete. To make matters worse, Eleanor’s been chosen for the lead role in the springtime musical, which means she has to sing a solo in front of the entire school!
From overcoming stage fright to having a secret crush, young readers will relate to Eleanor as she navigates the bittersweet waters of growing up.

My thoughts:

As adults, we sometimes look back on our childhoods as carefree.  And for many, in many ways, they were.  But when you’re in the midst of that childhood, it can be tough.  There’s changing friendships, and new experiences, and fears to be conquered.  With the gift of time, those pain of those challenges fade and we forget.

Fortunately for today’s kids, Julie Sternberg hasn’t.

In Like Carrot Juice for a Cupcake, Sternberg gives voice to the everyday fears of today’s elementary-age youth.

Why does my best friends suddenly have a new best friend?

What does it mean that the boy sitting behind me pictures and kicks my chair every day?

Will my parents give my dog away if he doesn’t stop destroying the house?

This is childhood. And rather than waving away these big heartaches of youth, Sternberg confronts them head on in a way every child can relate to.  Couple that with Cordell’s sketch-style illustrations and you have a winning chapter book series.

Haven’t met Eleanor yet?

Here’s your chance. I have ALL THREE BOOKS to give away to one lucky recepient!

That’s Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie (2011), Like Bug Juice on a Burger (2013), AND Like Carrot Juice On a Cupcake (2014), all in one fantastic giveaway package!

U.S. Residents only, please.

Giveaway closes at 11:59pm on Monday, April 21st, 2014. 

Winner will have 48 hours to respond by email before a new winner is selected.

 

Good luck!

Congratulations, Julie W.!

 

Disclosure

March 26, 2014

18079564The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky

Published by: Dial

Release date: February 2014

Ages: 8-12

Pages: 240

From the publisher:

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” meets Because of Winn Dixie in this inspiring story of hope.

Auggie Jones lives with her grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town.  So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.”  But Auggie is determined to prove that there’s more to her—and to her house—than meets the eye.

What starts out as a home renovation project quickly becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time.

Holly Schindler’s feel-good story about the power one voice can have will inspire readers to speak from their hearts.

My thoughts:

From the very first page, I was rooting for Auggie. She’s what I think most would consider the underdog.  Living with her grandfather in the less affluent part of the neighborhood. Forced to move schools after her old school is closed down. Writing to a mother in California who never seems to find the time to write back. Auggie is the type of girl you want to hug and fix things for.

But Auggie doesn’t need somebody to fix things for her.  She’s got grit and determination and an unusual eye for beauty.  She’s not one to be kept down.

And neither is her Grandpa Gus, which is why I invited him on the blog today to share a little bit more about what has happened at The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky.

Hi, Gus!  Thanks for stopping by today!  I know you’re a busy man, so I’ll get right to it.  Tell me a little bit about what you do?

Well, I’m a trash hauler.  Doesn’t sound like such a fancy job, and it isn’t.  Really, I’m retired.  Get “security checks,” as Auggie and I are always calling them.  Trash hauling’s something I do on the side.  Got my old truck—Old Glory, we call her—painted up on the doors, with “Gus’s Salvage.”  Even got a winch on the back, so I can pull old cars out of muddy spots and rivers where they got abandoned.

And you’re raising your granddaughter, Auggie, right?  Tell us a little bit about her.

Little Sister, I call my Auggie.  Since it feels like I’m raising daughter number two—a little sister to the first one.  Right about the time she got sent to a new school, she realized she and I don’t really just live in an old house—it’s, well, it’s poor, too.  Got it in her head that she wanted to spruce the place up.  But like I told her, “Poor folks have poor ways.”  We couldn’t afford a bunch of fancy new stuff for the house.  Had to use what we could—which turned out to be the stuff I picked up as a trash hauler.

You and Auggie live in Serendipity Place and there’s been a lot of chatter surrounding your neighborhood lately. What’s going on?

A fancy new committee recently formed—The House Beautification Committee.  Decided to clean up old neighborhoods like ours.  And when Auggie and I started working on our house, boy, did they get mad!  Started sending us warning notices and fines…but what could we do?  We’d put in stained-glass windows and glass-filled Quikrete on our walk!  Wasn’t like we could just take it off anytime we wanted.

But the committee didn’t like the rest of Serendipity Place’s updates, either.  We’re all getting fined.

So you and Auggie have been hard at work.  Can you share a little bit of your project?

Sure—like I said, we’ve been using the stuff I pick up as a trash hauler.  But we’re also using an old welding torch I had from back when I was a full-time welder.  We’ve taken junked cars and old water heaters and toasters and a hundred other discarded items and turned them into metal flowers and sculptures of people who dance and jump rope and play Duck, Duck, Goose, and anything else that Auggie can think up.

I’ll let you get back to work, Gus.  But just one more question.  If there’s a message you want everyone who hears about you, Auggie, and Serendipity Place to hear, what is it?

Sometimes, “pretty” and “new” aren’t the same thing.  Seems to me, something that’s old can be every bit as pretty as something that’s still got its new shine on it.  Funny, isn’t it?  Auggie found her own “shine,” her great special talent, by finding what’s pretty in rusted, old, discarded stuff.

 

Thank you Gus (and Holly!) for visiting today.

Words of Praise for The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky:

“…a heartwarming and uplifting story…[that] shines…with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Axioms like ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ and ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ come gracefully to life in Schindler’s tale about the value of hard work and the power of community…Auggie’s enthusiasm and unbridled creativity are infectious, and likeminded readers will envy her creative partnership with [her grandfather] Gus.” – Publishers Weekly

“Determined to save her home, Auggie [uses] pottery shards, vivid glass, and metal sculptures [to] transform the house’s exterior into a vibrant expression of the love within its walls.  In Auggie, Schindler creates a spunky, sympathetic character young readers will engage with and enjoy.” – The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Book Studies

“The protagonist perches in the reader’s heart as she goes about trying to “‘discover her shine.’”  – NY Journal of Books

Holly_Schindler_SMLLinks:
Twitter: @holly_schindler
Facebook: facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor
Author site: hollyschindler.com

More from Holly:

Site for young readers: Holly Schindler’s Middles – hollyschindlermiddles.weebly.com. I’m especially excited about this site. I adored getting to interact with the YA readership online—usually through Twitter or FB. But I had to create a site where I could interact with the MG readership. I’m devoting a page on the site to reviews from young readers themselves! Be sure to send your young reader’s review through the Contact Me page.
Group Author Blogs: YA Outside the Lines (yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com) for YA authors and Smack Dab in the Middle (smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com) for MG authors.
THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY Trailer:

Link to purchase on Amazon:

My next YA, FERAL, releases with HarperTeen on August 26, 2014:

The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question Feral HCeverything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

 

 

Disclosure

December 20, 2013

2286697The Visit by Mark Kimball Moulton (as recalled by Dinghy Sharp), illustrated by Susan Winget

Published by: Schiffer Publishing

Release date: October 2013 (first published October 2001)

Ages:8-12

Pages: 54

From the publisher: In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore created the classic Christmas poem, “The Night Before Christmas,” for his daughter. Here, in verse and accompanied by over 50 richly detailed illustrations, is the story of the writing of this classic. It is based on the history of the poem as passed down through the generations of the Moore family and told to the author by Dinghy Sharp, the great-great-granddaughter of Clement Moore.

My thoughts:

“The Night Before Christmas” is one of those time-honored classics that most children hear for the first time as a lap read, and most adults can recite from memory by the time they have children of their own.  It is widely accepted that Clement C. Moore penned the famous poem, but how many know more about its origins?

The Visit is the result of an interview between the author and Moore’s great great grandaughter, Dinghy Sharp.  The story of how “The Night Before Christmas” came to be was as much a part of Ms. Sharp’s childhood as the poem itself.  It tells of a sick child, a winter storm, the compassionate (and unrecognized) kindness of a stranger, and the dedication of a man to his wife and child.  The icing on the cake is an appendix containing a copy of the famous poem, written in Moore’s own handwriting a year before his death, and approximately 40 years after he first penned the words (I love stuff like this).

While “The Night Before Christmas” is a poem meant for young children, The Visit is geared towards older readers.  The length, the vocabulary, and the minute details all are meant not to introduce the poem, but to provide background to those already familiar.  The book itself is written in verse, and divided into three sections.  The first is narrated by Ms. Sharp as a child, telling of her first experience hearing this family history on her grandfather’s knee.  The second is narrated by her grandfather, and provides specific explanation for some of the poems famous lines.  What is a sugarplum?  What are coursers?  Why were stockings hung at the fireplace and not in the bedrooms?  The final section, also narrated by the grandfather specifically recounts the events that inspired the poem, beginning with Mother fussing at Papa Moore as he relaxes with a book while she’s frantically trying to finish Christmas preparations.

Every single page has a new surprise, a new piece of information I never would have guessed, and even doses of humor.  Is it all true?  Who knows.  Stories that get passed down through the generations tend to change slightly .  But in the end, that doesn’t really matter.  What we have is a “true as possible” account of a poem I’ve known since my childhood, accompanied by gorgeous, full-spread, illustrations.  While my own children are still too young to appreciate this book (or even sit through it), I’m saving it for future years.  What a delight to have this little bit of shared Moore family history.

Disclosure

December 16, 2013

15937099The Christmas Cat by Maryann Macdonald, illustrated by Amy June Bates

Published by: Penguin

Release date: October 2013

Ages:4-8

Pages: 32

From the publisher: A cozy Nativity story for those who love Christmas and cats.

All babies are beautiful and all babies cry. Jesus was no exception. On the night he was born, nothing Mary, Joseph, or the animals in the stable could do would comfort him. But when a curious kitten wanted its turn to calm the baby Jesus, a loving friendship blossomed on that very first Christmas.

This perfect read-aloud was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of La Madonna del Gatto, which show Mary lovingly holding the baby Jesus who is cuddling a cat.

My thoughts:

Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to review a copy of Maryann Macdonald’s lyrical historical fiction, Odette’s Secrets.   So when she told me she had a new Christmas story coming out and asked if I would be interested in reading it, I was eager.  After receiving the book I read it and then excitedly wrapped it and put it in our Bookish Advent Calendar (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, the basic idea can be found here).  I knew my daughter would love this one, and I couldn’t wait to share it with her.

I was right.

We read it for the first time last week and have read it several times since then, in addition to having additional “remember that part in the story?” conversations.

This is the Nativity story, a story my own child was familiar with.  But then it goes beyond to follow Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in their flight into Egypt to escape Herrod.  What made this unique for me was Macdonald’s focus on this Holy Family as a “normal” family.   The baby Jesus is crying.  The barn animal noises aren’t helping.  Mary is becoming frustrated.  It isn’t until a tiny kitten cuddles up against the baby that the vibrations from its purrs calm the child.  Later, the family has to pack and leave unexpectedly and the kitten is nowhere to be found.  Once again, Mary tries everything to soothe her fussing child, even expressing her wish that the cat were around to make things better.  Once again, the (crying) crisis is averted when the stowaway cat appears and the two friends–boy and cat– are reunited.

We’ve read (and enjoyed) many versions of the Nativity story. The humanistic component in this one, however, made it something special.  An author’s note in the back tells the reader that the story was inspired by a  DaVinci painting depicting  Mary, the Child, and a cat.  I love that Macdonald has taken this image and spun a story around it.  A child and his beloved pet.  It’s a universal theme.

So there’s the story.  But once you’ve read the text, take the time to go back and fully enjoy the illustrations.  They’re full page watercolors, full of warmth, that beautifully complement the theme of this book.

I have a feeling this will be an annual favorite in our Christmas collection.

Disclosure

December 3, 2013

17333265Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release date: September 2013

Ages: 3-7

Pages: 42

From the publisher:

Are you bored with being so proper?

 
Do you want to have more fun?
 
Mr. Tiger knows exactly how you feel. So he decides to go wild.
 
But does he go too far?
My thoughts:
Let’s be honest.  It’s Peter Brown.  The same mind who brought us the hilarity of Children Make Terrible Pets and the wonder of The Curious Garden.  Of course Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is going to be a hit.
When I first read the book with my daughter, she had this to say:
To which Mr. Brown responded:

 

 

And that pretty much sums it up.  Reading this book as an adult, the message is both clear and timeless:
Be yourself.

But that message is embedded in a story about a community of animals who are so uptight as to seem almost Puritan (the illustrations add greatly here). Mr. Tiger tries to fit in, he does. He dresses the right way, says the right things, behaves with the right manners. But something inside of him is just “roaring” to get out. When it does, the town’s reaction is not positive. But over time, Mr. Tiger and his neighbors are able to reach a peace, one we hope all children, even the most “wild” of children, are able to find. There is, after all, a time to be proper and a time to be wild. As a parent, I feel as if I’m relaying this message 1000x a day. Apparently, it’s a message Peter Brown has heard, too.

So.

Go read the story (psssttt!  If you don’t own it, I’m giving a copy away below!)

Then.

GO HERE.

Because right now, on his website, Peter Brown is offering a free printable activity kit.

AND

There’s a second bonus kit of holiday activities.

SO MANY GOODIES, Y’ALL!

Oh, and did you catch that bit about my having a copy to give away?

Yup.

Thanks to LB Kids and Blue Slip Media, I have a copy of Mr. Tiger Goes Wild for you! Just fill out the form below between now and December 10th for your chance to win! U.S Residents only.

 

Disclosure

November 13, 2013

16142129Listening for Lucca by Suzanne LaFleur

Published by: Random House

Release date: August 2013

Ages: 8-12

Pages: 240

From the publisher:

“I’m obsessed with abandoned things.” Siena’s obsession began a year and a half ago, around the time her two-year-old brother Lucca stopped talking. Now Mom and Dad are moving the family from Brooklyn to Maine hoping that it will mean a  whole new start for Lucca and Siena. She soon realizes that their wonderful old house on the beach holds secrets. When Siena writes in her diary with an old pen she found in her closet, the pen writes its own story, of Sarah and Joshua, a brother and sister who lived in the same house during World War II. As the two stories unfold, amazing parallels begin to appear, and Siena senses that Sarah and Joshua’s story might contain the key to unlocking Lucca’s voice.

 

My Thoughts:

Being an almost-teen is hard.  Being an almost-teen who can see scenes from the past, and who has vivid dreams that are more like memories, that’s even harder.

Siena feels isolated and lonely in her Brooklyn hometown, so she’s not really bothered by her parents’ decision to move the family to the Maine coastline.  In fact, the move is almost comforting.  After all, she’s been seeing the beach house in her dreams for a long time now.  So moving into the house is familiar somehow. And then there’s three-year-old Lucca, who just stopped speaking one day.  Maybe this slower lifestyle, this quiet beach town, will be exactly what Lucca needs to begin talking again.  After all, they’ve tried everything else.
So Siena is hopeful. Except that instead of becoming easier, things become harder.  Not only does Siena see things she’s not supposed to, now she begins hearing them, too.  And when she finds a pen that belongs to a long-ago child who lived in the house, things go from strange to truly bizarre.
This middle grade novel has  many swirling elements.  Ghosts.  Time travel.  Family relationships.  Guilt.  Sorrow.  War.  Adolescent crushes.  Selective mutism.  There are so many threads, but Listening for Lucca pulls them together so beautifully.  The story crosses between two different time periods, but LaFleur has developed each narrator’s voice distinctly, and the transition through time feels seamless.  While some weightier subjects, such as war and PTSD, are hinted at (the latter perhaps handled almost too neatly), the content remains on an age-appropriate/maturity-appropriate level.
I was fortunate to be able to read the whole thing in one two-hour sitting while traveling this weekend.  One of those experiences where you fall completely into the story, only to come up for air after the last page and realize how much time has passed.  Wonderfully woven story, distinctly crafted characters and an ending that, while somewhat predictable, leaves the reader satisfied.
Disclosure

 

November 6, 2013

17332435The Boy on the P0rch by Sharon Creech

Published by: HarperCollins

Release date: September 2013

Ages: 8-12

Pages: 160

From the publisher:

One day a young couple wakes to find a boy asleep on their porch. Unable to speak, the boy cannot explain his history. What kind of people would leave their child with strangers? All John and Marta know is that they have been chosen to care for this boy. As their connection to him grows, they embrace his exuberant spirit and talents. The three of them blossom into an unlikely family, but how long can their happiness last?

 

My Thoughts:
Do yourself a favor.  If (when!) you pick up this book, allow yourself the time to read it, in it’s entirety, in one sitting.  The book is not very long, and the writing flows easily, so you won’t have to allow yourself hours and hours of time.  But put the kids to bed, clean up the house, get out your clothes for the next day…do whatever it is you have to do first.
And then sink in.
John and Marta are simple folk.  Kind-hearted, hard-working, country folk.  They lead a seemingly uncomplicated life.  And then a boy shows up on their porch.  A boy, according to the note left in his pocket, named Jacob. The note asks Marta and John to take care of the child, and that whoever left him there “wil be back wen we can.”
Almost immediately, John and Marta realize there’s something strange about the boy.  He doesn’t speak, but communicates in rhythmic tapping.  He becomes close friends with the beagle and a cow.  As time goes on and nobody appears to collect Jacob, John and Marta help him explore other interests, and discover he has a brilliance for both art and music.  John regularly brings home jellybeans from the store.  A family is formed.
There’s so much more I want to share about this book, but to share too much would destroy the framework for the absolutely beautiful ending Creech has crafted.  Upon finishing the book, I tweeted the following:

And within several minutes had responding cries of agreement.  There are many, many good books.  But The Boy on the Porch goes beyond “good” to “necessary.”  This is a book that needed to be written.  There are people, amazing people, who need to hear the message it has to share.

 

While that’s deliberately vague, it is intentional.  A book with a powerful ending deserves to be experienced without spoilers.  I don’t want to diminish that power.

Find it. Read it.  And then pass the story on to someone else.

October 31, 2013

13521501Starry River of the Sky  by Grace Lin

Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release date: October 2012

Ages: 8-12

Pages: 288

From the publisher:

The moon is missing from the remote Village of Clear Sky, but only a young boy named Rendi seems to notice! Rendi has run away from home and is now working as a chore boy at the village inn. He can’t help but notice the village’s peculiar inhabitants and their problems-where has the innkeeper’s son gone? Why are Master Chao and Widow Yan always arguing? What is the crying sound Rendi keeps hearing? And how can crazy, old Mr. Shan not know if his pet is a toad or a rabbit?
 s
But one day, a mysterious lady arrives at the Inn with the gift of storytelling, and slowly transforms the villagers and Rendi himself. As she tells more stories and the days pass in the Village of Clear Sky, Rendi begins to realize that perhaps it is his own story that holds the answers to all those questions.

 

My thoughts:

I know there are some reading this saying, “Oh yeah!  I read this when it came out last year!” It did come out last year.  And it got some  great reviews and lots of attention, and I thought, “Oh, I’d like to read that.”  So I added it to my evergrowing  list of “I’d like to read that!” books .  And then time went on and the list continued growing, and I continued reading, and, well…this book slipped through the cracks.  Then last week, I was shelf-browsing at the library, and the spine caught my eye, and I remembered, “Oh!  I’d like to read that.”

What attracted me to this book is that, at its heart, it is a collection of folk stories.  Specifically, Chinese folk stories. When I was teaching, we spent alot of time sharing folk stories.  Not just as an isolated unit, but throughout the year.  I wanted my low-income, untraveled, students to be exposed to other cultures, but in a manner that’s comfortable and relaxed and entertaining.  Not textbook dry.

Back to the library.  I picked up Starry River and was excited to start reading.  A few chapters in…I wasn’t hooked.  A few more…a bit better, but still wasn’t enthralled.  I kept reading because, to be honest, I was a little frustrated with me.  What wasn’t I getting that everybody else got?

And  then the main character, Rendi, began sharing stories.  And that’s when it happened.  Something in his voice grabbed me.  He was so obviously an unhappy child, and when the reasons why began to become apparent, I felt a stronger emotional response to his plight.  I wanted to remove his hurt and I silently cheered the gentle Madame Chang who oh-so-quietly-but-effectively acted as a balm. The theme of kindness and compassion is one that all children need to hear, repeatedly, especially when so much of what they see and hear in the day-to-day is the opposite.

Lin’s weaving of the main plot and the traditional folktales is seamless.  In fact, by the end of the novel, the two are so tightly woven that they are, in actuality, one.  And you can’t quite remember when the two paths merged.

I very rarely give up on a story because sometimes it pays off to get beyond the opening chapters, beyond the pages where you don’t quite “connect” the the pages where you do.  Starry River of the Sky is an example of one such case.  I’ve now added its companion, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (2010 Newbery Honor) to my want-to-read list, too. Better late than never, right?

 


 

October 23, 2013

 17780857Loula is Leaving for Africa by Anne Villeneuve

Published by: Kids Can Press

Release date: September 2013

Ages: 4-8

Pages: 32

From the publisherLoula has had enough of her terrible triplet brothers and decides to run away to Africa. Luckily, her mother’s chauffeur, Gilbert, knows just how to get there. Together, Loula and Gilbert ride camels, cross a desert and, most important, use heaps of imagination in this heartwarming adventure.

 

 

My thoughts:
Running away.  It’s a childhood rite of passage.  At some point in our childhood, most of us can remember stomping our feet, crossing our arms, and announcing our intent to begin a new life elsewhere.  I can remember this moment in my own life.  When I announced to my mother my intent to leave, she told me she would miss me, then calmly helped me pack my bag and waved goodbye.  I think I made it to the neighbor’s yard, where I’m sure I waited as long as 10 minutes, before sulking back home.
So readers both young and old will relate to Loula, who has had enough of her “MEAN HORRIBLE STINKY” brothers.  When Loula announces her intent to leave, her distracted parents wish her well and warn her to be home before dark.  Determined, Loula packs her most important items (a stuffed cat, a tea set and her best drawing) and heads off to Africa.  Which, she decides, is a tree in the backyard.
Were this all there is to the story, the tale would be ho-hum.  But it’s the entrance of another a character, the family chauffeur, Gilbert, that takes this story from amusing to touching.  Like her parents, Gilbert is not alarmed by Loula’s desire to run away.  In fact, he agrees to escort her on her long journey.  On a ship (the limo), through the jungle (a park), to a stop at a restaurant (ice cream truck), over the dessert (sandbox), and finally across a vast ocean (lake) to Africa, just in time for tea and a sunset.  And when all is said and done, Gilbert escorts her safely back home, which it turns out is not so far away after all.
This a story of kindness, of unusual friendship, and of vivid imagination.  The pen and ink watercolor, the imaginative light-hearted adventure, and  the spirit of kindness are delightful.  Those who appreciate the original Madeline books, or titles by the author-illustrator team of Sarah Steward and David Small will also find joy in Loula.  A contemporary book with a classic feel.

Disclosure

October 14, 2013

Mitchell Goes Bowling coverMitchell Goes Bowlng by Hallie Durand, illustrated by Tony Fucile

Published by: Candlewick

Release date: September 2013

Ages: 3-7

Pages: 40

From the publisherOne Saturday, when Mitchell almost knocks down his dad, his dad catches him and puts him in the car. And when they step into the bowling alley, Mitchell feels right at home. Pizza! Giant crashing noises! Special shoes! But as Mitchell picks up the biggest ball and quickly learns the word gutter, and when Dad does a little kick with his leg and earns a big X on the scoreboard, Mitchell starts to get peevish. How can Mitchell get a chance to do a steamin’-hot-potato-dance too? With wit, warmth, and comedic charm, Hallie Durand and Tony Fucile roll another strike with this tale of a lovably rambunctious child and his doting dad.

Battle on! Head to the lanes for another hilarious, high-energy story as four-year-old Mitchell and his obliging dad strike a winning deal.
My thoughts:
Did you know that October is  National Learn to Bowl Month?
And have you met the instantly lovable, high-energy, very typical four-year-old Mitchell?  If you missed meeting Mitchell in his debut,Mitchell Goes Driving, this is the perfect time to become acquainted.
I have a four year old. One very much like Mitchell, in fact.  A constant motion blur.  Interested in everything.  Full of questions.  Quick to laugh, and just as quick to stomp her feet in anger when things don’t quite go her way.  She is a constant source of smiles and entertainment. And also possibly some hair-pulling and deep breaths on my part.
I love how Mitchell’s dad accepts and embraces his son’s enthusiasm for life. When he realizes Mitchell has a knack for knocking him down…he takes him to the bowling alley.  Many important lessons are to be learned:
  • Stay away from the gutter
  • Kick your leg back for a little extra “oompf”
  • Then try kicking the other leg

Sometimes, you might do all of the above, and still be losing.  And that’s frustrating.  So frustrating that you might want to go home.  But it’s here that Mitchell learns something else.

Sometimes, (asking for) a little help goes a long way.

After reading Mitchell Goes Bowling, I was so bowled over (HA!) by Mitchell’s spirit, that I wanted you to meet him for yourselves.  So I asked him for a little interview, in which he answered a few questions in true Mitchell fashion:

Hi Mitchell!  My 4yo daughter has never been bowling, but I bet she’d love it!  What was the best part for you?

Knocking stuff down. And we winned.

 

Sometimes my daughter gets frustrated when things don’t quite go her way.  Has that ever happened to you?  

Ummm.  Not that I “can” remember.

 

 I think your dad sounds like a pretty special guy.  Besides bowling, what else does he teach you?

  To bring my mom her coffee.  And I can’t invite myself to somebody’s house.  They have to invite me.

 

I hear you also have a license!  I’m impressed!  Tell us about your “car”.  😉 

My car runned out of gas and put me in bed.

 

Any other adventures you’d like to have with your dad?  

Wrestling for real, not for joking. Catching crickets for my leopard geckos. And doing a cannon ball.  And I want to go to Austria and see a koala.

 

Thanks, Mitchell!

 

And in case you’re not already sold, how about an exclusive peek at some book art?

Interior from MITCHELL GOES BOWLING_copyright (c) 2013 by Tony Fucile

MITCHELL GOES BOWLING. Text copyright © 2013 by Hallie Durand. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Tony Fucile. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

 

How can you not fall in love with this guy?  We feel as if we’ve made a new friend at our house.

 

Want more of Mitchell?  Follow him on his blog tour!

Sat, Oct 5 Booking Mama http://www.bookingmama.net/
Mon, Oct 7 The Children’s Book Review http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/
Tues, Oct 8 Susan Heim on Parenting http://susanheim.blogspot.com/
Wed, Oct 9 Sharpread http://sharpread.wordpress.com/
Thurs, Oct 10 There’s a Book http://www.theresabook.com/
Fri, Oct 11 Just a Little Creativity http://www.justalittlecreativity.com/
Mon, Oct 14 Once Upon a Story HERE
Tues, Oct 15 Geo Librarian http://geolibrarian.blogspot.com/
Wed, Oct 16 5 Minutes for Books http://www.5minutesformom.com/category/feature-columns/5-minutes-for-books/
Thurs, Oct 17 Kid Lit Frenzy http://www.kidlitfrenzy.com/
Fri, Oct 18 As They Grow Up http://www.astheygrowup.com/
About the Author:Hallie_Durand
Hallie Durand is the author of Mitchell’s License, now available in paperback as Mitchell Goes Driving, among other books for children. About Mitchell Goes Bowling, she says, “I love hanging out at the lanes with my crew, especially when I get a couple of Xs!” She lives with her family in Maplewood, New Jersey. To learn more, visit her website at http://www.halliedurand.com/.
About the Illustrator:
Tony Fucile is the author-illustrator of Let’s Do Nothing! as well as the illustrator of the Bink & Gollie series by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. He has spent more than twenty years designing and animating characters for numerous feature films, including The Lion KingFinding Nemo, and The Incredibles. He lives with his family in the San Francisco Bay area.
Thanks to Candlewick and Blue Slip Media,  I have a copy of Mitchell Goes Bowling for you!  Just fill out the Rafflecopter below between now and October 28th for your chance to win!  U.S Residents and Canada residents only.

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