Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Home    Challenges    Reviews    Features    Contests    Review Policy    Contact

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Growing A Reader with Margie Myers-Culver, School Librarian

Growing A Reader
by Margie Myers-Culver

To be honest I can’t think back to a time when I was not reading. On the other hand I do remember when I started to gobble up words as if I was starving. I read every printed thing I could out loud; cereal boxes at morning breakfast, road signs and billboards on family trips, and the adventures of Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot the dog and Puff the cat in our early readers at school. Those SRA color-coded boxes and their contents in our classroom were snack food. My appetite for reading grew and grew. To this day it’s never been satisfied.

The only books I still have from my childhood are The Tall Book Of Bible Stories retold by Katharine Gibson with illustrations by Ted Chaiko (Harper & Brothers, 1957), The Tall Book Of Christmas selected by Dorothy Hall Smith with pictures by Gertrude Elliott Espenscheid (Harper & Brothers, 1954), The Tall Book Of Make-Believe selected by Jane Werner with pictures by Garth Williams (Harper And Brothers, 1950) and The Tall Book Of Nursery Tales (Harper And Brothers, 1944) with pictures by Feodor Rojankovsky. Much of the text and many of the images are firmly placed in my memory; appetizers for every meal of subsequent words throughout my life.

Another family favorite set were the books written by Thornton Burgess titled The Adventures of… A variety of animal names, at least twenty, would follow the first three words in common; Buster Bear, Danny Meadow Mouse, Grandfather Frog, Jimmy Skunk, Prickly Porky or Reddy Fox. Without a doubt these stories were an entree; the reason for my love of the animal world. Fortunately my mom loved to take these characters and create new episodes spinning tales during our lunchtime trying to get us to eat before we had to walk back to school for the afternoon. One vivid hour of non-stop laughter still stands in my mind when Jimmy Skunk made life very stinky for someone else.

In fifth grade we had a truly inspirational teacher, Mrs. Urquhart, who used special crutches and a wheel chair as a result of polio. As a class we studied folklore focusing on Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. This unit went on for several weeks with us making life-size replications of the characters placing them around our classroom. We delved into the stories and their origins. As a result of this I went to storytelling school for two summers, taught storytelling for more than twenty years and still visit the 398.2 section in the public libraries when traveling and visiting new towns. There is no better meal than that linking us to oral and cultural traditions around the world.

My dad was a truly inventive, master-of-all-trades kind of guy. There wasn’t anything he could not fix or build. He worked in the same factory for forty-one years. At the end of the day in the evenings he would read historical fiction in HIS chair. He would share his favorite books with me especially the works, in the beginning, of Kenneth Roberts. I began with Arundel and read them all when I was still in high school. Certainly this is why I consider historical fiction comfort food.

These books and these people fed my reader’s soul, ingredients in a recipe for life-long reading. Due to their efforts and habits I will never be hungry. For this reason I will continue to do the same for others for as long as I can. 


About the Author

Margie Myers-Culver was born in Lansing, Michigan growing up in the nearby community of Holt.  For thirty-four years she was fortunate enough to be a certified teacher librarian in grades K-12 in Eaton Rapids Public Schools, Gaylord St. Mary Cathedral School, Haslett Public Schools and Charlevoix Public Schools.  She began her blog, Librarian’s Quest, in 2008 but did not post regularly until 2010.  She is active on Twitter at @Loveofxena 

 Learn more about the Growing A Reader series here  


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Growing A Reader with Alison Cherry, author of The Classy Crooks Club

Growing A Reader
by Alison Cherry

I’ve been a book-lover since the very beginning. My first word, at the age of eight months, was “book.” My mom still rues the day she introduced me to One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and But Not the Hippopotamus as a toddler; I fell completely, head-over-heels in love with them. The moment she finished reading them, I’d demand them again, and she’d have to start over from the beginning or face my wrath. (This could repeat as many as five or six times.) Somewhere, there’s a home movie of two-year-old me, playing on the floor as my mom reads me One Fish, Two Fish; halfway through every sentence, she stops, and I recite the rest from memory.

At the end every school day, my fourth grade class listened to our teacher read one chapter of a book aloud. In November, she read us Gwinna by Barbara Berger, and I was captivated. I remember stumbling out to the carpool line after one particularly intense chapter, physically dizzy because I was having trouble pulling myself out of story-world and back into real life. It was the first time I felt a compulsive need to own a book, and I begged my parents to get it for me as a holiday gift. They did… and I opened the present so enthusiastically that I ripped the beautiful jacket right down the middle. We went to the bookstore the next day to get another one, but the pain of accidentally causing harm to a book I loved made such an impression on me that I still remove every book’s jacket before reading.


The first literary heroine I remember strongly relating to was Matilda Wormwood from Roald Dahl’s Matilda. She was quiet and conflict-averse, she loved to learn, she had an inappropriately large vocabulary for a child, and she thought the library was magical. Unfortunately, I couldn’t replicate her telekinesis—it wasn’t for lack of trying, but that glass of water just wouldn’t tip over, no matter how long and hard I stared at it. But even if I couldn’t use magic to bring down an evil authority figure, Matilda taught me that smart girls are powerful. She made me believe that if I tried hard enough, I could change the world with the power of my mind.


About the Author
I grew up in Evanston, IL, then went to Harvard and got a degree in photography. (Yes, that is possible. Although they like to call the visual arts “Visual and Environmental Studies,” for some unknown reason.) Then I spent the next three years as a freelance lighting designer for various theaters throughout the Northeast. Eventually, I got tired of hanging out on ladders and wrestling with faulty electrical equipment for 80 hours a week while getting paid almost nothing, so I spent the next four years working as a photographer for the Metropolitan Opera. Now I live in Brooklyn with my two kitties, Vivian and Sophia, and write full-time. I’m represented by Holly Root at Waxman Leavell.

About The Classy Crooks Club

Twelve-year-old AJ dreads spending an entire month living with her strict Grandma Jo. Not only does her grandmother dictate how she walks, what she eats, and which rooms she can enter, she fills all AJ's free time with boring sewing lessons. Grandma Jo wants nothing more than to transform her adventurous, fun-loving granddaughter into a prim and proper lady.

But AJ’s dull summer takes a sharp turn when she discovers that her grandmother's "bridge group" is actually a heist club. When Grandma Jo offers to let AJ learn lock-picking instead of embroidery in exchange for help with a few capers, AJ is happy to join her grandmother's madcap band of thieves, who claim to steal only for ethical reasons. But even the most respectable ladies can hide truly surprising secrets, and AJ finds she must decide for herself what it means to be one of the good guys.

About Look Both Ways
The story of a girl hoping she’s found a place to belong . . . only to learn that neither talent nor love is as straightforward as she thinks.

A summer away from the city is the beginning of everything for Brooklyn Shepard. Her theater apprenticeship at Allerdale is a chance to prove that she can carve out a niche all her own, surrounded by people who don’t know anything about her or her family of superstar performers.

Brooklyn immediately hits it off with her roommate, Zoe, and soon their friendship turns into something more. Brooklyn wants to see herself as someone who’s open to everything and everyone, but as her feelings for Zoe intensify, so do her doubts. She’s happier than she’s ever been—but is it because of her new relationship? Or is it because she’s finally discovering who she wants to be?
 Learn more about the Growing A Reader series here  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Trailer + Giveaway: The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

Enter to win one of two copies of Janet Fox's fantastic MG novel, The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle! I couldn't put this atmospheric, creepy mystery down. If you're a fan of books like Holly Black's Doll Bones or Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener, this book should be on your to-read list. 


The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle
by Janet Fox

Goodreads / Purchase
Something is not right at Rookskill Castle, a rundown Scottish manor shrouded in mystery. The castle is a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz, but soon it’s clear there is something terribly wrong. There are clues hinting that a spy is in the house, and there are undeniable signs of a sinister magic. When the children in the castle’s temporary boarding school begin disappearing one by one, it’s a race against the clock for twelve-year-old Kat Bateson, her two younger siblings, and their new best friend.


2 winners. US only. Ends 4/12/2016.

My Brain on Books - 03/14/16
Word Spelunking - 03/15/16
The Book Wars - 03/16/16
Great Imaginations - 03/17/16
As They Grow Up - 03/18/16
Middle Grade Mafioso - 03/21/16
Pop! Goes the Reader - 03/22/16
MuggleNet - 03/23/16
YA Books Central - 03/24/16
The Reading Nook Review - 03/25/16
Chapter By Chapter - 03/28/16
The Hiding Spot - 03/29/16

Growing A Reader with Dahlia Adler, author of Just Visiting

Growing A Reader
by Dahlia Adler

The first years

I was early. In my house, that just made sense, because reading was such old news for everyone else; that's what happens when you're the youngest by six years. The first word I read was "cold" in the first line of Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik, and I remember everything about it, except that I maintain I was 3 and my brother maintains I was 4. Either way, by the next year, I was attempting Sweet Valley High, because, well, it was there, and it looked so much cooler than everything else on my shelves. I didn't exactly get the nuances there, though. One book had the tagline "Can Jessica play Bruce Patman's game and win?" I asked my sister what game it was. She said it was Monopoly. Needless to say, that ended up being a disappointment.

The slightly more seasoned reader years

Eventually, I landed in a comfortable, age-appropriate spot, and when that happened, Beverly Cleary and Ann M. Martin were my heroes. I devoured every Ramona book, and every Baby-Sitters Club, and the awesome part is that they weren't just keeping me a reader, but I could feel them turning me into a writer, too. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure my earliest work shows some heavy influence there. At this point, I was a introverted solo reader, with one exception: my sister was reading Of Mice and Men for school, and she used to let me sit in her walk-in closet with her on Friday nights while she read it out loud to me, using voices. She made me bawl with that, though; if I think about her Lenny voice saying "George" too much, I still start to tear up.

Tweens and teachers

It was in fifth grade when a teacher first really made me feel like I could step up beyond the Sweet Valley Highs I was still devouring regularly. Not that I had to abandon them completely--and I never have--but that I could probably handle some stuff I'd previously found scary. She got me reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Gone With the Wind, and it turns out? Yeah, I could handle it. If I ever think to underestimate what a tween can read and absorb, that's where my brain goes to remind me to stop it.


About the Author
Dahlia is an Associate Editor of mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and does a whole lot of writing at every spare moment in between. She's also been a Production Intern and Editorial Assistant at Simon & Schuster, a Publicity Intern at HarperCollins, and a Fashion Intern at Maxim. (She's kind of into that whole publishing thing.)

She's the author of the YA novels Behind the Scenes, Under the Lights, and Just Visiting, and the NA novels Last Will and Testament, Right of First Refusal (March 15, 2016), and Out on Good Behavior (Spring 2016).

She lives in New York City with her husband and their overstuffed bookshelves, and you can find her on Twitter at @MissDahlELama and blogging at B&N Teens, The Daily Dahlia, and YA Misfits.

About Just Visiting

Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas.

Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn’t go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won’t stand out for being Mexican.

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective…only to learn she’s set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants…only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they’ve sworn to leave.

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don’t know about each other’s pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they’ll have to decide whether their friendship has a future.

About Behind the Scenes
High school senior Ally Duncan's best friend may be the Vanessa Park - star of TV's hottest new teen drama - but Ally's not interested in following in her BFF's Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father's mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van's on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she's capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can't play by Hollywood's rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

About Under the Lights
Goodreads / Purchase

Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents' wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls ... opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he's trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he's in the spotlight—on everyone's terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents' disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she's painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van's life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she'll have to choose between the one thing she's always loved ... and the person she never imagined she could.

Learn more about the Growing A Reader series here  

Monday, March 28, 2016

Growing A Reader with Erin L. Schneider, author of Summer of Sloane

 Growing A Reader
by Erin L. Schneider

When I was in the first grade, my older sister, Nicole, came home with a dog-eared copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I can remember that day like it was yesterday: we were eating dinner and she had just started in on the first page – but before she could even take a bite, she started over again…and this time, began to read Charlie out loud to me.

Needless to say, neither of us ate very much of our dinner that night. Or slept.

And to think I thought I’d found the mecca of all things books with Charlie – so imagine my surprise when my dad took me to the library and I saw ALL the books Roald Dahl had written. It was like a dream come true! Miles and miles (or so it seemed to me at the time), shelf after shelf, of all those magical words! From Charlie to his sequel, to James and the Giant Peach, to the two I love the most: The BFG and The Witches. I think I checked out every single one of those books a minimum of a hundred times each and to this day, I still own the very same copies my dad ended up buying for me, so the library could check them out to “other kids”.

Growing up, Roald Dahl was to me, what J.K. Rowling has become to so many – and he’s every reason the far away make-believe worlds I created were ever put into words on paper.

Fast forward a few years later, shortly after I turned eleven, when my favorite librarian recommended a list of books for me to read over the summer – and on that list: Island of the Blue Dophins by Scott O’Dell.

I recently re-read the old tattered copy that’s been sitting on my shelf for decades and it was everything I remember from when I was eleven years old – Karana, the sole individual left behind on an island all alone, after the rest of her tribe is rescued and taken to the mainland. How she hunted the great devilfish and gathered abalones and set them out to dry in the sun. And the beautiful relationship between she and her faithful companion, Rontu, one of the wild dogs on the Island, that hit oh-so close to home. A setting so descriptive, I saw myself there with Karana as I read, and I cried at all the same parts I remember as a child. And all these years later, Island of the Blue Dolpins is still in my top all-time favorite reads.

By the time high school rolled around, I was reading any book I could get my hands on. John Grisham? Sign me up! Stephen King? Oh that IT clown had nothing on me. Not to mention every book in the Sweet Valley High and The Baby-Sitters Club series, and everything by V.C. Andrews (although I’m pretty sure Flowers in the Attic scarred me for life).

And now as an adult, I often times stare at all the amazing books I own – many from when I was a child, some I’ve purchased over the years, and all that found their way into my heart and home.

I’ve already started reading some of my favorites to my own son, who’s almost 8 months old now. He loves Brown Bear, Brown Bear and all of the Berenstain Bears books I coveted as a child. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for when we can read the Harry Potter series together. Or the day we start in on the greatness that is Roald Dahl.

And so the cycle begins again. Hopefully my son will find new books he’ll keep close to his heart until he’s older – and maybe one day, he’ll read them to his own kids.

So many thanks to Sara for having me here on The Hiding Spot to celebrate March is Reading Month! I’m honored to be a part of this great series and loved sharing what books have meant to me over the years!


About the Author

Erin L. Schneider is native to the Pacific Northwest, attended college in Honolulu, and - although Hawaiian - should never be allowed on a surfboard. With more than twenty years in corporate merchandising, she’s now a full-time writer living in Seattle with her husband, Neal; their baby boy, Kellan; a rowdy German shepherd named Ronin; and two crazy cats, Ono and Poke. She’s a member of both the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and SCBWI, and is also co-founder of the YA Buccaneers.

Summer of Sloane is her debut novel, out May 3, 2016 from Disney-Hyperion. Visit Erin online at Erin L Schneider or on Twitter: @ErinLSchneider1.
About Summer of Sloane
Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

Learn more about the Growing A Reader series here