Friday, April 20, 2018

Happy 10 Year Anniversary to The Underneath by Kathi Appelt!

If you've read The Underneath you know how difficult it must be for me to put in words how I feel about this story. Can you wholeheartedly hand this book to another, gushing about how good it is without also giving a bit of a warning? A warning about all the sadness the reader will be exposed to, enveloped in. I think you can, if you are careful with your audience. 

I do not believe in censoring or shielding young readers from heavy stories. Because some of our young readers have even heavier lives, and to pretend otherwise simply isn't fair.

Kathi recommends her book is best suited to readers in grades 4-8, and I agree 100% with this. The parallel stories in this book nudge me to think that older readers will take a bit more away from it. And the story certainly begs to be discussed. In fact, reading this in solitude was difficult. Many people around me have heard about The Underneath because I couldn't keep all my thoughts inside while reading, I needed to process through talking.

The story does not dash along at a breakneck pace. Readers that need constant action and motion will need to work hard at sitting put and waiting, much like a character or two in the book. With chapters commonly under 1/2 to 3 pages long, it doesn't drag, either.

So, who are those sweet animals on the cover? The old hound dog, Ranger. The two gray kittens, Sabine and Puck. What is their story? And whose porch do they call The Underneath? Gar Face. Do not cross Gar Face. He is the most damaged soul I've ever come across in a middle grade novel.

If the cats and dog were humans this story would be too much. But they are cats and a dog. And you should read this story. Appelt's writing is masterful, which is what saves you in the midst of the sorrow, her beautiful way of stringing words together.

In celebration of 10 wonderful years, a new trailer and a contest have been released. Enjoy and share!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Judy Moody: Redesigned and More Fabulous than Ever!

I brought the excitement to my classroom, and am pleased to share the following student reviews:

My super-stellar reviewers!
They want you to know they worked for stickers...and you can get your own Judy Moody stickers in the back of the books!
Coming September, 2018:
Keep the fun rolling! Visit the official Judy Moody website for activities, information about the creators, and other Way-Not-Boring-Stuff!

Now, do you want to own the collection? Enter below, and read carefully for bonus entries! 
Drawing will be held April 30th. Please no P.O. Boxes. Open to US and Canada.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Bat and the Waiting Game: Blog Tour & Giveaway!

Bat is back! I first posted about my love for this character a year ago this month when we met Bat for the first time. To see what I thought about A Boy Called Bat, visit this post.

I found the second book in the BAT series to be as readable and lovable as the first. Bat might not commonly be described as a common third grader, but I kind of feel like he is in more ways than he isn't. So many kids will relate to Bat's every-other-weekends between parents, the love-hate relationship between he and his sister, and his nurturing love of animals. And dare I say, the way Bat often overlooks the feelings of others is something that many kids his age are guilty of. We all have things to learn from Bat and from the characters around him that gently guide him through his daily life.

Bat's mother is so sweet and patient with Bat. She is the mother that I hope I am, more often than not. I loved reading the passages where Dr. Tam would lower to Bat, speak softly, gently apply pressure to parts of Bat's body, and slowly bring him down to a more regulated sense of self. At the same time, we read how it felt from Bat's perspective, so we could slowly feel the changes as described by Bat.

Yesterday we spent some time talking about Bat in my classroom. It happened very naturally, unplanned by me. A student brought A Boy Called Bat up to me, asking if I would book talk it. Right then another girl piped up and said that she knew I was reading the second book, and had decided to put the first book in front of one of our Realistic Fiction book baskets because she thought someone might want to read it. What a lovely and thoughtful moment in our reading lives. 

As a teacher and blogger, I am so thankful to share my reading and thoughts with a wide audience of adults from all over, but even more grateful to share them with my small group of students.
When I am done the reviewing process, I get to put these books right into the hands of my readers. And this particular one is 100% perfect for my third grade class. 

I'd recommend this series to readers ages 8-11.


3/12 For Those About to Mock, @abouttomock Sam Eddington

3/15 Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook @knott_michele Michele Knott

3/15 @iowaamber Amber Kuehler

3/16 The Hiding Spot @thehidingspot Sara Grochowski

3/18 Educate*Empower*Inspire…Teach @guerette79 Melissa Guerrette

3/19 Maria’s Melange @mariaselke Maria Selke

3/20 Nerdy Book Club post by Elana

3/20 Writers Rumpus @kirsticall Kirsti Call

3/22 Bluestocking Thinking @bluesockgirl Nicole Levesque You Are Here 😀

3/28 Unleashing Readers @unleashreaders Kellee Moye

Walden Pond Press is graciously offering a giveaway to one of my readers! Enter and share the love, tell your friends!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

*The Super Life of Ben Braver* Blog Tour & Giveaway!

The Super Life of Ben Braver is the first novel I've read by Marcus Emerson. 
The Super Life of Ben Braver will not be the last novel I read by Marcus Emerson.
This guy is great!
I am so excited to put this book in the hands of one of my eager 3rd grade readers tomorrow. I will book talk this one and I can already envision the hands popping up and the arms wiggling in the air. I can hear the "memememes" and the "oooooeeehhhhhaaas" as kids stretch their bodies longer and longer in hopes of me choosing to bestow this book upon the kid that can look most like a stretched piece of saltwater taffy. 
But why will they all want it, you ask.
They will all want it because I'm going to tell them that this book is awesome! And I never lie about that. Ben Braver is a character I instantly fell in love with. It might be because he is so honest about who he is and what he likes. I wanted to sit on that questionable couch, eat a Reese's, watch an old sci-fi movie, and listen to Ben's commentary on it. He just feels so real.
I'm also going to tell my readers that the story kicks into gear right away with Ben being sent to a boarding school for kids with special abilities (super powers!!).
I'm going to tell my readers that they will find mystery, action, barfing, teasing, and tons of humor within these pages!
And they won't be able to resist it.

If you know/work with/or want to impress kids in grades 3-5 I would highly recommend grabbing a copy to share with them. Lots of white space and lively illustrations throughout will make this book accessible to a variety of readers.

Visit to learn more about the author. 

Read a bit!
(Book description and book interior are taken from 

Many thanks to Macmillan for providing a copy for this giveaway! Winner must provide a mailing address in the U.S. or Canada.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

*GRANTED* Blog Tour & Giveaway!

I've blogged before about The DungeoneersMs. Bixby's Last Day, and Posted. 
I've more than blogged, I've shared my love of John David Anderson's characters, worlds, and experiences. And I hope what I've really done is help his books find their way into the hands of more readers. I don't know this author personally, but sometimes I feel like I do. I feel like I know what kind of man Anderson is. A great one. The characters he wrote in Bixby and Posted are so rich and complex. I loved Dungeoneers, but find his next two novels to be an entirely different experience. Anderson's writing is evolving so beautifully. And I simply cannot wait to see what unfolds in the pages of this novel.

Here's a bit of honesty: The book was overnighted to me, but with a full day of toddler momming and teaching 3rd grade, there just wasn't time to read it in under 48 hours. Which I'm not sad about, because I wouldn't want to rush this anyway. I'm only telling you this because it's important to know why I'm not sharing my honest review of the book today. That's to come, in case you want to check back. *Spoiler alert: I will probably love it.*

Granted by John David Anderson 
(Published February 13, 2018) 

Everyone who wishes upon a star, or a candle, or a penny thrown into a fountain knows that you’re not allowed to tell anyone what you’ve wished for.  But even so, rest assured: There is someone out there who hears it.

Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets is no ordinary fairy – she is a Granter: one of the select few whose job it is to venture beyond the boundaries of the Haven and grant the wishes of unsuspecting humans every day.  It’s the work of the Granters that generate the magic that allows the fairies to do what they do and to keep the Haven hidden and safe.  But with worldwide magic levels at an all-time low, this is not as easy as it sounds.  On a typical day, only a small fraction of the millions of potential wishes get granted.  And even granting those promised few means navigating a human world fraught with danger.

Today, however, is anything but typical.  Because today, Ophelia is going out on her first assignment.  And she’s about to discover that getting what you truly want takes much more than a handful of fairy dust. (Granted)

John David Anderson is the author of Ms. Bixby's Last Day, Posted, Sidekicked, Minion, and The Dungeoneers. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at

Did you know that Anderson will skype your class or book club for FREE? I'd suggest you read aloud one of his amazing stories before requesting a virtual visit.

Check out all the stops for reviews, insights, and giveaways!

Feb. 22 – Gina Reba at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Mar. 01 – Nicole Levesque at Bluestocking Thinking
Mar. 02 – Sara Grochowski at The Hiding Spot
Mar. 05 – Michelle Knott at Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook
Mar. 06 – Maria Selke at Maria’s Melange
Mar. 09 – Katherine Sokolowski at Read, Write and Reflect
Mar. 10 – Sara Gundell Larson at Novel Novice
Mar. 13 – Jennifer Kelley Reed at Reederama

Mar. 14 – Jillian Heise at Heise Reads

****Win a SIGNED copy!****

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 26, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2-26-18

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers. Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews and recommendations!

Books I Read this Week:

Best Buds Under Frogs by Leslie Patricelli
Candlewick Press, 2018
288 pages
Realistic Fiction
Recommended for grades 3-5

I've been reading Leslie Patricelli's board books to my boys for a while now, coming to love that awesome little baby with a single strand of hair. I can't recommend her board books enough to my friends with babes. So imagine my excitement upon discovering Patricelli was writing a book with more than 20 words! Turns out she should have started writing middle grade novels long ago! And, she better not stop.

What I love about this one: The friendship struggles are so real. When Lily throws up on her first day at a new school, it can't get any worse. But a kind stranger takes her by the elbow to the nurse's office. Lily is so thankful for the rescue, and begins a friendship with Darby. But here's the thing, Lily can't figure out what is up with Darby. Is she a genuine friend, or not? She does things that seem mean, so Lily finds herself confused about how to navigate this friendship. I loved it because it made me think. Do we have people in our life like Darby? Or not? Would I continue being friends with Darby? Probably. Should Lily? I don't know!
I also love how Lily is far from perfect. Kids don't need to read about perfect kids, they need to read about real kids. Lily is real. 

What I don't love about this one: Nothing. Ha, I just wanted to keep things balanced.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
First Second, 2018
277 pages
Realistic Fiction
Recommended for grades 7+

Grab this one if you have older readers. There is a scene where the prince drinks too much, so you be the judge on the age you want to recommend this one to. That's the only thing that makes me hesitant about handing it to younger readers.
I have a longer post about this book here, and I really love this one!

Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable
First Second, 2018
128 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5

A graphic novel about a couple of sloths, what's not to love? Peter and Ernesto are hanging in the treetop, finding pictures in the clouds. All is perfectly simple and sweet. Until Ernesto gets the great idea to see the WHOLE sky. And sets off. Peter is against the trip, but soon finds he misses his friend too much not to set out after him.

The illustrations are bright and appealing, the story is silly and fun. 

I book talked this one recently and passed it off to a 3rd grade boy. He enjoyed it so much that he was borderline disruptive during independent reading! (hehehe) When he finished, he started it over again. If that's not a genuine thumbs up rating then I don't know what is!

This one hits bookshops in early April.

Up, Down & Other Opposites by Ellsworth Kelly
Phaidon Press, 2018
30 pages
Recommended for ages 1-3

This little beauty showed up at my doorstep out of the blue. What a treat! 
This glossy board book features opposites, of course! Each picture is an original abstract artwork by Ellsworth Kelly, an American painter and sculptor, born in New York in 1923. (Book Biography) The biography in the back is a cool section for the grown-up reader.

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck:

Blog Tour Post: 3-1-18 Giveaway!

Blog Tour Post: 3-6-18

Blog Tour Post Coming Soon!

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great reading week!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Prince and the Dressmaker *Blog Tour & Giveaway*

February, 2018

At nearly 300 pages long, there is a lot to love within these pages. Dressmaker Frances is all we want to be. She is independent, driven, and talented. She is also loyal, trustworthy, and kind. Prince Sebastian could not have found a better dressmaker, or friend, than he found in Frances. Their complicated relationship somehow seems uncomplicated because it is sweet and gentle at its core.

For this tour bloggers are asked to share their favorite panel or page from the book. Here is my choice:
Why I love this panel: This is the first time Sebastian puts on one of Frances' designs. Frances looks so surprised. Is it because her dress is so beautiful? Because Sebastian is so beautiful in her dress? Because Sebastian is wearing a dress in front of her? You'll need to read the next page for more insight.
I also love how happy Sebastian looks. You can feel it radiating off the page. The confidence he gains from Frances' designs and friendship change his life, and this is just the beginning.

The final section of the book is a glimpse into Jen Wang's process of creating The Prince and the Dressmaker. When I got to this section I had already thoroughly enjoyed the story, and then I was given pause to really let the process of creating it sink in. I think you're going to enjoy every bit of this one.

Thanks for stopping by! For other stops in the tour visit: Fierce Reads