Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Review: Are You My Monster? by Amanda Noll

by Amanda Noll
Illustrated by Howard McWilliam
Flashlight Press
Picture Book
26 pages
ages 3 to 7

In Are You My Monster?, the monster-loving boy from I Need My Monster tries to find his monster. He compares his drawing—showing a green monster with a long tail, pointy nails, and big teeth—with an assortment of amusing monsters, until he finds the perfect match. This turns out to be his beloved STUFFED monster toy. Children will love comparing colors, checking if tails are long or short, if nails are pointy or round, if teeth are big or small until they, too, find the monster who is a perfect match.


This is the partner book for How I Met My Monster and is such a cute, fun read!

Ethan makes a drawing of his monster. After all, only one monster is the monster for him. One by one, the monsters appear, and Ethan goes down his checklist to see if they are the one he's looking for. Sharp teeth, a long tale, green and... some criteria are met. Others not. As the monster go by and none seem to fulfill his entire list, the question of whether or not he'll ever find his monster arises.

Not only are the monster super sweet (in a scary, monstery way, of course), but the check list is something readers are sure to enjoy. Every two-page spread has a monster on one side, and Ethan and his list on the other. It's a simple concept and that's exactly what makes it fun. Young listeners will easily be sucked into Ethan's search and join in as each aspect of the monster is explored.

The illustrations are bright and bring across the right atmosphere. Each monster packs their own personality, and young readers are sure to find their own personal favorites. They'll probably want a monster of their own too.

 by Amanda Noll
Illustrated by Howard McWilliam
Flashlight Press
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 3 to 7

One night, when Ethan reaches under his bed for a toy truck, he finds this note instead: “Monsters! Meet here for final test.” Ethan is sure his parents are trying to trick him into staying under the covers, until he sees five colorful sets of eyes blinking at him from beneath the bed. Soon, a colorful parade of quirky, squeaky little monsters compete to become Ethan’s monster. But only the little green monster, Gabe, has the perfect blend of stomach-rumbling and snorting needed to get Ethan into bed and keep him there so he falls asleep—which as everyone knows, is the real reason for monsters under beds. With its perfect balance of giggles and shivers, this silly-spooky prequel to the award-winning I Need My Monster and Hey, That’s MY Monster! will keep young readers entertained. 


Monster fans are going to enjoy every page and maybe learn a little more about monsters along the way.

Ethan is looking for a toy and runs across a strange letter. Soon, five pairs of eyes are staring back at him from underneath his bed. These are monsters—furry, cute, long-tailed, and sweet. But these monsters are there for a reason. They need to learn the rules when it comes to kids and bedtimes. One of the monsters is sure to be perfect for Ethan, but it will take a bit of testing to find out which one it will be.

This reminded me a bit of Monsters Inc. but with a sweeter vibe. Ethan finds having monsters under his bed and in his room a little surprising, but he takes it all in stride and enjoys the fun. The monster rules seem sensible, but lead to funny situations and make it clear that finding the perfect monster-kid match isn't always easy. The monsters each bring their own personality and charm, and when Ethan and his monster are finally paired, it's simply heart-warming. Even if it might mean a little bit of a scare along the way.

The illustrations are super fun to gaze through. Each monster is portrayed uniquely and holds enough emotions to make them easy to like/love. There are little details to bring the pictures to life as they follow the tale and help the humor and friendship grow more vivid with each page. It's simply a cute story young listeners are sure to enjoy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Happy Book Birthday, Merged by Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl with Giveaway!


by Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl 

YA Romance, Science Fiction

Seven of our country’s most gifted teens will become Nobels, hosts for the implantation of brilliant Mentor minds, in an effort to accelerate human progress.
But as the line between what’s possible and what’s right, draws ever blurrier, the teens discover everything has a cost.
Scientists have created an evolved form of living known as Merged Consciousness, and sixteen-year-old Lake finds herself unable to merge with her Mentor.
Lake, the Nobel for Chemistry and Orfyn, the Nobel for Art, are two from among the inaugural class of Nobels, and with the best intent and motivation. But when Stryker, the Nobel for Peace, makes them question the motivation of the scientists behind the program, their world begins to unravel.
As the Nobels work to uncover the dark secrets of the program’s origins, everyone’s a suspect and no one can be trusted, not even the other Nobels.
As the Mentors begin to take over the bodies and minds of the Nobels, Lake and Orfyn must find a way to regain control before they lose all semblance or memory of their former selves.


Depending on your point of view, I’m either famous or infamous. I’m called by many names: Ward of the State, Orphaned, Foofool (only by Sister Mo), and Kevin. That last one makes me feel like I’m wearing someone else’s clothes. Tight and loose in all the wrong places. So, I came up with my own name, though no one has ever connected it to me. The identity of street artists should never be revealed.
I flick turpentine at a rat that’s getting a little too curious about my brushes. The alley smells like something died, making me wonder if there’s a body in the dumpster. Michelangelo cut up dead people to better understand how we’re built. If he was willing to do that for his art, I can endure this stink for one night. I breathe through my mouth and get back to work.
After four straight hours, the painting is coming along great, and I know I can finish it before people start heading out for their nine-to-five jobs. I paint madly, getting lost in the scene, moving from figure to figure, jersey to jersey. It’s my best work yet, and I want this one to last.
At least, for a few days.

And here they are...

Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl are a husband-and-wife team who write YA novels and stories of mystery and adventure from their cabin in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Their debut novel, Merged, will be released by Month9Books on September 17, 2019.


Trailer Reveal: Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest

Monday, September 16, 2019

Review: The Mystery of the Lost Map by Jim Rhoden

by Jim Rhoden
Lanier Press
Children's Western/Historical
92 pages
ages 4 to 10

Cowboy Little and Cowboy Small like adventures even more than Sunday dinner with fried chicken and Mama’s blue-ribbon apple pie. Every chance they get, they climb on their horses Ned and Ted, round up their dogs Red and Fred, their fleas Itch and Scratch, and their cattle Brawny Bull and Helen Heifer, and head out beyond the fences of Circle R Ranch. When they find old saddlebags filled with gold coins and a strange map, they set out to solve the mystery. On the way, they face bandits, Indians, and bats. 


The Wild West comes to life in this exciting and short read, which does so much more than visit robbers, horses, and cowboys.

Cowboy Little and Cowboy Small live with their family on the ranch. They spend their days searching for small 'treasures', fishing, exploring and all those wonderful things kids their age do. When they run across saddles bags with coins and a strange map, adventure and mystery are not far behind. But this isn't a simple mystery to solve, and soon, they find themselves facing bandits, Indians and finding help in the most extraordinary places.

The author tugs readers into life in the West and brings it to life through two boys' eyes. While there are horses, Indians, bandits and all those type of things which readers expect when reading a Western, this novel goes a step further and shows that life had a more normal side too. The two young cowboys act and have interests as normal boys would have. Their interactions, thoughts and decisions come across understandable and readers will have no trouble connecting to them. There's a wonderful sense of family and friendship as well as trust in these pages.

There's never a boring moment as the adventure unfolds and soon holds many unexpected twists and turns. The mystery isn't easy to solve and as tension mounts, the two need to seek help from others.  Not only does the story keep the pages turning, but the length is great for even more reluctant readers. Add the lovely illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, and this is a book which readers will enjoy for many reasons.
And here he is...

Jim Rhoden is the chairman and principal owner of Futren Hospitality, which owns and manages private clubs and golf clubs in the greater Atlanta area. Throughout his long career, he has developed and managed major real estate projects in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, and believes strongly in giving back to his community.
He is also a talented and prolific storyteller who has amused two generations of kids with tales about his favorite characters, Cowboy Little and Cowboy Small, who love to explore the world around them.
Collaborator Mickey Goodman is a veteran memoirist, ghostwriter, and journalist with more than seven hundred bylined articles in scores of national and regional publications. She has also coauthored five books.

The Illustrator...
Marilena Perilli has enjoyed working as an illustrator for over fifteen years. She has illustrated books and created artwork for numerous national brands, as well as the New York Times.

Cover Reveal: Parting Worlds by Kaitlyn Davis

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Review: Silly Lullaby by Sandra Boynton

by Sandra Boynton
Little Simon Books
Board Book
16 pages
ages 0 to 5

What’s the best way to say good night? With a silly lullaby from the beloved and bestselling Sandra Boynton.

It all starts with the big bear observing to the little bear in the red footie pajamas:

Your pajamas are on.
There’s a duck on your head.
I think that this means
you are ready for bed.

Curl up with your favorite little person and this charmingly unpredictable go-to-sleep book. Whether you are a parent, child, or just another snoozing chicken in the bathtub, Silly Lullaby is truly a sweet dream surprise. The sneakers in the freezer heartily concur.


Silliness hits high in this sweet little lullaby which makes absolutely little sense and will have those tired eyes happily ready for bed time.

This is a short, cute and absolutely ridiculous book. The first line might sound normal, but already with the second, nonsense starts and will have kids saying 'huh?' before diving into a world of giggles, snorts and nonsense. When the lullaby really gets underway, it starts with an accompanying tune, written out for those who might be ready to sing this thing. And it is worth singing..again...and again...and again...and again...

The illustrations are bright and allow the silliness to be shown without adding to it...too much. These too will have kids flipping through again and again as they  soon sing the song on their own.

My kids found this book hilarious (although I did lift my eyebrows at first) and insist it's a definite 5-star read.

And here she is...

Sandra Boynton is a popular American humorist, songwriter, children's author and illustrator. Boynton has written and illustrated more than forty books for both children and adults, as well as more than four thousand greeting cards and four music albums. She has designedfor various companiescalendars, wallpaper, bedding, stationsery, papergoods, clothing, jewelry, and plush toys.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Review: Arrivederci, Crocodile by Fred Marcellino and Eric Puybaret

by Fred Marcellino
Completed by Eric Puybaret
Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
ages 4 to 8

Can a hungry crocodile trick—and eat!—his way through Italian high society? Pack away your pasta—Crocodile is heading to Italy in this long-awaited sequel to Fred Marcellino’s award-winning I, Crocodile.

First that dastardly Napoleon kidnapped Crocodile from his beloved Egypt, then he dragged him to Paris to be gawked at, and THEN he tried to eat him! Luckily our dear croc escaped, but while Parisian life may be glamorous, life in Paris’s sewers is not. If only Napoleon had taken Crocodile to a more aquatic reptile–friendly city. Perhaps one with an excess of canals and better food…


Surely Napoleon wouldn’t mind if Crocodile hitched a ride out of Paris…

Will our crocodile find his perfect home amongst Italian high-society? Or will he be revealed as an impasta? Pack away your pasta—Crocodile is heading to Italy in this long-awaited sequel to Fred Marcellino’s award-winning I, Crocodile.


This is a fun, whimsical tale with tons of historic and international surprises...and maybe a few bites on the way.

The Crocodile isn't so excited about Napoleon dragging him off to Paris, but at least, he escaped and is living in the sewer. Until he discovers that Napoleon is headed to Venice, that is. A long trip to Italy ends with many pleasant surprises, and the Crocodile might have discovered just the right place to be. If he can stay away from Napoleon.

I did not get a chance to read the first book but will be changing that. This book can be read as a stand alone, however.

This is a book for small adventure fans, who are ready for rivers of fun as waves of unexpected moments and excitement. It's told from the Crocodile's point of view. He's not only a curious reptile, but humorous too. While Venice in all of it's richness is already a treat to discover, it's even more interesting from the eyes of a crocodile. It's hard not to like him as he runs across true wonders, finds a place to fit in, and maybe escapes Napoleon's grip again.

Young readers are introduced to Venice not only through Crocodile's tale, but with colorful illustrations. The pride and energy of Venice comes to life as the fish markets, architecture, people and even a bit of the underwater world are presented. It's fun simply to gaze through the illustrations and see what Crocodile is up to next.

And here they are...
Fred Marcellino, the renowned and beloved artist and illustrator, won a Caldecott Honor for his first full-color picture book, Puss In Boots. He began his career in children's literature with Tor Seidler's A Rat's Tale in 1985, and followed with many other classics such as I, Crocodile and The Steadfast Tin Soldier.

Eric Puybaret has illustrated many children's books, including Suite for Human Nature, the bestselling Puff, the Magic Dragon, The Night Before Christmas, Over the Rainbow, as well as many others in his native country, France. Eric's critically claimed work was praised by then New Yrk Times as 'elegantly rendered' and Publishers Wek\ekly calls it  'graceful (and) whimsical'.