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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Storytime: New & Notable Picture Books (38)

This week's Storytime features a vision impaired canine, a nervous teddy, a young gardener, a jet-setting Lady Liberty, and two very silly knights.

Douglas, You Need Glasses!

Written & Illustrated by Ged Adamson
Ages 3-7, Available Now

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Meet Douglas, a dog with a big problem: he needs eyeglasses but doesn’t know it, and his bad eyesight tends to land him in some pretty hairy situations.

Readers will laugh along with the new picture book character Douglas as he chases a leaf that he mistakes for a squirrel, walks through wet cement because he can’t see the warning sign, and annoys the neighbor’s dog by mistakenly eating out of his bowl. And when Douglas’s owner Nancy finally takes him to what is clearly an eyeglass store and Douglas asks, “Why are you taking me to a shoe store?” everyone will be giggling.

After an eye exam confirms that Douglas needs glasses, and Nancy helps him find the perfect pair, readers will rejoice with Douglas as he sees all the amazing things he’s been missing!

Both kids and parents will laugh out loud—and may even recognize themselves!—while reading this utterly irresistible, hilarious picture book.

Oh, how I love this book! As one of the many members of my family who wears glasses, this book fits right in at my house. I would have loved share Douglas's story with my little sister when she was younger and insecure about wearing glasses

Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship
Written by Jessica Walton; Illustrated by Dougal MacPherson
Ages 4-8, Available Now

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Originally a Kickstarter project, the book was inspired by Walton's father's transition from male to female. In the story, a boy and his teddy bear, Thomas, are best friends. But one day, the boy finds that Thomas the Teddy is sad, and can't figure out why until the teddy shares that she's really Tilly the Teddy.

I'm a fan of this quiet story about a teddy named Thomas who nervously tells his best friend Errol that, in his heart, he is Tilly the Teddy. Hurrah for Tilly and her loving friends - both new and old!

Diana's White House Garden
Written by Elisa Carbone; Illustrated by Jen Hill
Ages 5-8, Available Now

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Diana Hopkins lived in a white house. THE White House.

World War II is in full force across the seas. It's 1943, President Roosevelt is in office, and Diana's father, Harry Hopkins, is his chief advisor. And Diana wants to be part of the war effort. After some well-intentioned missteps (her quarantine sign on her father's office door was not well-received), the President requests her help with his newest plan for the country's survival: Victory Gardens!

A great pick for the start of summer and the gardening season, the inspiring story of Diana Hopkins shows young readers that even they can make a difference and inspire others!

Lady Liberty's Holiday
Written by Jen Arena; Illustrated by Matt Hunt
Ages 5-8, Available Now

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Hit the road and see America with the Statue of Liberty!

The Statue of Liberty is feeling a little blue, despite being green. As much as she loves welcoming people to America, standing still for over a hundred years has left her with a stiff neck, aching arms, and a cramp in her leg. This lady could use a vacation!

With some encouragement from her friend Moe the pigeon, Lady Liberty takes off to see the rest of America! She explores the sandy beaches of Cape Cod, the waving wheat fields of Kansas, the breathtaking grandeur of the Grand Canyon, and the cozy sunshine of the California coastline. But will Lady Liberty make it back to New York City for the Fourth of July? And will she even want to?

I especially liked that Lady Liberty visited monuments and little, perhaps lesser known spots around the country. Perhaps a fun intro to a project or report on the US/specific place within US.

The Sword in the Stove
Written & Illustrated by Frank W. Dormer
Ages 4-8, Available Now

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Two knights have their dinner plans derailed as they discover object after object in their stove—objects that ominously belong to their missing friend, Harold—in this delightfully slapstick picture book.

Someone has put a sword in the stove.
Was it Eenie?
Was it Meenie?
Was it Harold?

Frank Dormer’s rollicking whodunit has bumbling characters worthy of The Three Stooges, sly humor straight out of Monty Python, and an irresistible screwball spirit all its own.

Can I buy this book for everyone I know? I can? Good! (Seriously though, this book is hilarious!) This is one you just need to pick up and read yourself.

Love any of the books featured this week? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Interview with Hudson Talbott, author of From Wolf to Woof

Don't miss my interview with author and illustrator Hudson Talbott! His new book, From Wolf to Woof is in stores now.


From Wolf to Woof tells the story of how a relationship between a wolf pup and a boy may have sparked the evolution from wolf to dog. Can you share your inspiration for this book? Did it require any research?
The story is based entirely on the research I did, which included the most recent theories. I wanted it to be a realistic hypothetical - in other words, nobody knows what actually happened in the vast ocean of prehistoric time, but this could have happened.

As for my inspiration, you only have to look into any dog’s eyes to see that look asking “can I trust you? Will you love me? Can we share this journey?”

I have cats - they can be as loving and trusting, but they always know where the exits are, just in case.
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end? 
My writing is subordinate to my art and both are subordinate to the story and the optimum way to tell it. Doing a picture book is more akin to write a screen play than a chapter book as it is a story told in a series of images, with the text linking the plot points. When I come up with an idea for a book I develop it by looking for the best “photo-ops”, or in my case “art - ops”. Sometimes I’ll have an idea for a compelling image in the middle of the book and then figure out how can I get there from here. Once i have the general plot points I do make an outline and often a storyboard. It’s a chart that has several lines of double-squares representing pairs of pages. I have a limited number of pages in a picture book - usually 32, 40, or 48. Having a sense of my frame before I really get started helps me stay focused and let the boundaries inspire me rather than hinder me. I love the challenge of seeing what I can get into a confined space and still tell the story the best way!
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book or author that has provided you with a hiding spot.
“Play of Consciousness” by Swami Muktananda.
Inspiration comes in many forms. Share three people, places, or things that inspire your creativity. 
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Ghandi are the three people who inspire me to work toward being who I want to be. I would also add President Obama and my two cats. And most of all, my own curiosity. My creativity seems to be a by-product of my joy and gratitude for the doors that have been opened for me to walk though and explore a bigger me.
What can your readers look forward to next? 
I currently have three book projects and a few other things taxiing down the runway. Very excited about all of them but a bit premature to talk about them publicly yet. Stay tuned!

About the Author
Hudson Talbott is a published author and an illustrator of children's books and young adult books. Some of the published credits of Hudson Talbott include United Tweets of America: 50 State Birds and Their Stories, Their Glories, Show Way (Newbery Honor Book), Leonardo's Horse, and Safari Journal: The Adventures in Africa of Carey Monroe.
About the Book 
How did dog become man’s best friend? Dogs come in such a variety of shapes, sizes, and breeds, that it is hard to believe that they all have a common ancestor--the wolf! Hudson Talbott takes readers on a fascinating journey through history to see how wolves’ relationships with humans sparked their development into the dogs we know and love today.

Striking paintings, from an adorable wolf pup to a wide range of modern-day dog breeds, illustrate this insightful story of teamwork and friendship. Through the eyes of a prehistoric boy and a lone wolf pup, we see how the bond between our ancestors and these wild animals may have developed. Starting as enemies competing for food, the wolf and the boy realize that they’ll eat better and be safer if they team up. Over time, others catch on, and as many of the wolves become more domesticated, the humans breed them for skills like hunting, herding, pulling, and rescuing. And today, there are more breeds of dog than of any other animal, all thanks to this relationship that started so long ago.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cover Reveals - Young Adult (76)

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
Tommy and Ozzie have been best friends since second grade, and boyfriends since eighth. They spent countless days dreaming of escaping their small town—and then Tommy vanished.

More accurately, he ceased to exist, erased from the minds and memories of everyone who knew him. Everyone excerpt Ozzie.

Ozzie doesn’t know how to navigate life without Tommy, and soon suspects that something else is going on: that the universe is shrinking.

When Ozzie is paired up with new student Calvin on a physics project, he begins to wonder if Calvin could somehow be involved. But the more time they spend together, the harder it is for him to deny the feelings developing between them, even if he still loves Tommy.

But Ozzie knows there isn’t much time left to find Tommy–that once the door closes, it can’t be opened again. And he’s determined to keep it open as long as possible.

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale
An eerie tale of far-flung villages, dark woods, and creatures that hunt in the night, through which the heroine, Alys, must find her way.

Be Good Be Real Be Crazy by Chelsey Philpot
Three teenagers. One road trip. Countless detours. From the author of Even in Paradise comes a compelling story of self-discovery that is perfect for fans of Paper Towns and Mosquitoland.

When Mia first waltzed into Homer’s small corner of Florida, her bold approach to life changed Homer’s entire world. It wasn’t long before he was hopelessly in love.

Now Mia is moving away—and Homer and his younger brother, Einstein, are helping her drive hundreds of miles to her new home. This is Homer’s last chance to tell Mia how he really feels. And with so many detours in front of them, anything could happen.

In the tradition of Let's Get Lost and Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, Be Good Be Real Be Crazy is a story about love, friendship, and finding yourself.

Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage
Ben touched seven parts of Mira Cillo: her palm, hair, chest, cheek, lips, throat, and heart. It was the last one that broke her. In Beautiful Broken Girls, Mira sends Ben on a post-mortem quest to find notes in the seven places where they touched — notes that explain why she and her sister, Francesca, drowned themselves in the quarry lake. How Ben interprets those notes has everything to do with the way he was touched, once, by a bad coach years ago.

But the truth behind the girls’ suicides is far more complicated, and has to do with a dangerous infatuation, a deadly miracle, and a crushing lie. Beth Clark’s cover is delicately spooky, but the teens in the novel are not delicate. Rather, they love fiercely, protect one another unwaveringly, and risk everything to speak the truth. In the way that the hand on the cover hovers near the heart, there is a mystical secret at the heart of Beautiful Broken Girls that I cannot wait to share with readers.

Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles
After her soldier brother is horribly wounded in Afghanistan, Gabriela must honor the vow she made: If anything ever happened to him, she would walk the Camino de Santiago through Spain, making a pilgrimage in his name. The worst part is that the promise stipulates that she must travel with her brother's best friend--a boy she has despised all her life. Her brother is in a coma, and Gabi feels that she has no time to waste, but she is unsure. Will she hesitate too long, or risk her own happiness to keep a promise? An up-close look at the lives of the children of military families, "Beneath Wandering Stars" takes readers on a journey of love, danger, laughter, and friendship, against all odds.

The Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs

Seven tightly interwoven narratives. Three harrowing hours. One fateful day that changes everything.

Delaware, the morning of April 19. Senior Skip Day, and April Donovan’s eighteenth birthday. Four days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the country is still reeling, and April’s rare memory condition has her recounting all the tragedies that have cursed her birth month. And just what was that mysterious gathering under the bleachers about? Meanwhile, in Nebraska, Lincoln Evans struggles to pay attention in Honors English, distracted by the enigmatic presence of Laura Echols, capturer of his heart. His teacher tries to hold her class’s interest, but she can’t keep her mind off what Adrian George told her earlier. Over in Idaho, Phoebe is having second thoughts about the Plan mere hours before the start of a cross-country ploy led by an Internet savant known as the Mastermind. Is all her heartache worth the cost of the Assassins’ machinations? The Light Fantastic is a tense, shocking, and beautifully wrought exploration of the pain and pathos of a generation of teenagers on the brink—and the hope of moving from shame and isolation into the light of redemption.

The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull
The babies were born as the clock struck twelve. A bat fell from the air mid-flight. A silver salmon floated dead to the surface of the river. Snails withered in their shells, moths turned to dust on the night breeze and an owl ate its young. The spell had been cast.

Poppy Hooper has managed to deceive her father into believing that there is nothing mysterious or unnatural about her. He ignores the cats that find her wherever she goes, the spiders that weave beautiful lacy patterns for her, even her eyes - one blue, one green with an extra black dot orbiting the pupil.

Ember Hawkweed is a pitiful excuse for a witch. When the other girls in her coven brew vile potions, Ember makes soap and perfume. Fair and pretty, Ember is more like a chaff than a witch. One of the Hawkweeds will be queen of the witches - but everyone knows it won't be Ember.

When the two girls meet, Poppy discovers her powers, and finds out the truth. Bound by their unlikely friendship and the boy they both love, the girls try and find their place in the world. But the time of the prophecy draws nearer - and the witches won't give up the throne without a fight.

Speak of Me As I Am by Sonia Belasco

Damon and Melanie know something about what it means to lose those you love. Months after his best friend Carlos's death, Damon tries to see the world through the viewfinder of his camera, hoping to understand what Carlos saw – or perhaps what he didn’t. With her artist mother gone, Melanie picks up a paintbrush to feel her nearby, but the set pieces she paints are filled with empty spaces. When fate conspires to bring them together, Melanie and Damon quickly become each other's anchors. But as their friendship deepens into romance, things get complicated fast. They find that they can’t ignore the past forever – especially when working on a school production of Othello triggers memories they both wish they could leave behind.

Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin

Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel.

There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls spend a lot of time with her at a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments.

Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…

Spindle by E.K. Johnston
The world is made safe by a woman...but it is a very big world.

It has been generations since the Storyteller Queen drove the demon out of her husband and saved her country from fire and blood. Her family has prospered beyond the borders of their village, and two new kingdoms have sprouted on either side of the mountains where the demons are kept prisoner by bright iron, and by the creatures the Storyteller Queen made to keep them contained.

But the prison is crumbling. Through years of careful manipulation, a demon has regained her power. She has made one kingdom strong and brought the other to its knees, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When a princess is born, the demon is ready with the final blow: a curse that will cost the princess her very soul, or force her to destroy her own people to save her life.

The threads of magic are tightly spun, binding princess and exiled spinners into a desperate plot to break the curse before the demon can become a queen of men. But the web of power is dangerously tangled--and they may not see the true `pattern until it is unspooled.

The Swan Riders by Erin Bow
Greta Stuart had always known her future: die young. She was her country's crown princess, and also its hostage, destined to be the first casualty in an inevitable war. But when the war came it broke all the rules, and Greta forged a different path.

She is no longer princess. No longer hostage. No longer human. Greta Stuart has become an AI.

If she can survive the transition, Greta will earn a place alongside Talis, the AI who rules the world. Talis is a big believer in peace through superior firepower. But some problems are too personal to obliterate from orbit, and for those there are the Swan Riders: a small band of humans who serve the AIs as part army, part cult.

Now two of the Swan Riders are escorting Talis and Greta across post-apocalyptic Saskatchewan. But Greta’s fate has stirred her nation into open rebellion, and the dry grassland may hide insurgents who want to rescue her – or see her killed. Including Elian, the boy she saved—the boy who wants to change the world, with a knife if necessary. Even the infinitely loyal Swan Riders may not be everything they seem.

Greta’s fate—and the fate of her world—are balanced on the edge of a knife in this smart, sly, electrifying adventure.
Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman

Anne and Teach (the future Blackbeard) are on separate ships and endure horrendous journeys, violence, and even mutiny until arriving in the tropics of Nassau—only to face corrupt politics and danger around every corner.

We Own the Night by Ashley Poston

"Happy midnight, my fellow Niteowls..."

As a candy store employee by day, and mysterious deejay "Niteowl" by night, eighteen-year-old Ingrid North is stuck between rock 'n roll and a hard place. She can't wait to get out of her tiny hometown of Steadfast, Nebraska (population three hundred and forty-seven) to chase her dreams, but small-town troubles keep getting in the way. She can't abandon her grandmother with Alzheimer's, or her best friend Micah--who she may or may not be in love with.

But for one hour each Saturday, she escapes all of that. On air, she isn't timid, ugly-sweater-wearing Ingrid North. She's the funny and daring Niteowl. Every boy's manic pixie dream girl. Fearless. And there is one caller in particular-- Dark and Brooding--whose raspy laugh and snarky humor is just sexy enough to take her mind off Micah. Not that she's in love with Micah or anything. Cause she's not.

As her grandmother slips further away and Micah begins dating a Mean-Girls-worthy nightmare, Ingrid runs to the mysterious Dark and Brooding as a disembodied voice to lean on, only to fall down a rabbit hole of punk rockstars, tabloid headlines, and kisses that taste like bubble tea. But the man behind the voice could be surprising in all the right, and wrong, ways.

And she just might find that her real life begins when Niteowl goes off the air.

The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day

Ash Gupta is having an amazing senior year, hanging out with his tight circle of friends and cranking out the grades his wealthy, immigrant Asian-Indian parents expect. A model student in every way, Ash is on track to earn every school honor there is... except one. It looks as if valedictorian will go to the anti-social, foul-mouthed girl who has been a thorn in his side throughout high school, and that’s just not a part of Ash’s—or his parents’—plan.

Eden Moore’s biggest goal is to escape the poverty that haunts her family. When she’s not babysitting a special needs boy, managing the high school website, or attending classes, she’s studying her ass off. Her perfect GPA should be enough to win her the class valedictorian title, and with it, an endorsement for the full-ride Peyton Scholarship. Eden’s sure this is her chance to get out of her dead-end town and her trailer-park life for good, until she discovers that the arrogant, rich Ash also wants the title and the scholarship that will come along with it—for the prestige.

To both of their surprise, when Eden and Ash are forced to work together on a school project, sparks fly. As they spend more time together, antagonism changes to romance. They start a secret relationship, even though they’re on opposite sides of nearly every social hierarchy their friends and families can imagine—race, class, social status.

Can they put all that behind them and start something real?

Do you have a favorite recent new cover? Or a favorite from this list? Let me know in the comments!