Monday, January 31, 2011

Where did dinosaurs come from?

Where Did Dinosaurs Come From? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)Children can't get enough dinosaur books, so Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld has come to the rescue with Where Did Dinosaurs Come From? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)

There are many mysteries when it comes to dinosaurs, but possibly the biggest is... Where did dinosaurs come from? To find out, Zoehfeld looks way back in time. Children will be fascinated as they discover fossils--the earliest fossils from creatures that lived in the sea, the first backboned animals, and mammal relatives. They'll also enjoy venturing through the Triassic period to the Jurassic to the Cretaceous. Young readers will explore why early mammal relatives couldn't have been dinosaur ancestors and they'll dive into some of the important features all early meat-eating dinosaurs had. And don't forget about the first plant-eating dinosaurs who are covered as well.

This is a wonderful addition to any dinosaur lover's collection. The pastel illustrations will leave you in awe of these creatures who lived long ago and the informative text will have young minds trying to uncover one of the biggest mysteries of all.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 5-9
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Collins (December 21, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0060290226
ISBN-13: 978-0060290221
Source of review copy: Publisher

This post is part of Nonfiction Monday! Nonfiction Monday takes place every Monday as various blogs throughout the kidlitosphere write about nonfiction books for kids and collect them all in one place. This week, check out the Nonfiction Monday roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect. To see the entire schedule, please visit the blog of Anastasia Suen.

Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book. I maintain affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). You can support this site by originating your purchase via these links and I appreciate your support of Lori Calabrese Writes!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fish For a Free Book: January 28

It's time to fish for a free book! 

If you are hosting a children's book giveaway, or if you found a giveaway somewhere on the net that you just have to share, I'd love to have you share your links with us here on our weekly giveaway linky so that we can all stop by and enter.

If you're looking for more children's book giveaways, be sure to visit
Brimful Curiosities' Full to the Brim,
Winning Readings (listings of adult and children's book giveaways),
and Got Great Giveaways? (linky of adult and children's book giveaways at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer)

Please post your links however you wish. Some like to include their blog name, some just want to leave the prize and the ending date. Post it whatever way you feel like, but make sure that the prize listing and the date the giveaway ends is listed. And make sure you post a link directly to your giveaway - not just to your main blog page.

Here's an example:
Your name: The Bug Book Launch (11/31)
Your URL: http://thebugbooklaunch.blogspot.com/2010/10/your-mission-should-you-choose-to.html

Now it's your turn. Leave your links here...
(If you're reading this in a reader, please click through to the original post)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Secret Life of Ben H. Winters

Ben H. Winters wrote the New York Times bestseller Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (with Jane Austen) and Android Karenina (Quirk Classic) (with Leo Tolstoy). As a journalist, Ben has written for a wide range of newspapers and magazines, from Slate to The Nation to the Chicago Tribune; as a nonfiction writer, he's worked on many books in the bestselling Worst-Case Scenario Survival Guide series; as a librettist, he wrote the children's musicals The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, A (Tooth) Fairy Tale, and Uncle Pirate, all published in acting editions from Samuel French.

The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman is his first novel for young readers and it's been nominated for a 2011 Edgar Award for mystery fiction!
The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman

About the book:
Just your average middle-school punk rock detective novel! A plucky seventh grader named Bethesda is determined to find out the hidden truth about her boring Music Fundamentals teacher. Soon the whole school is in a rock and roll frenzy, with Bethesda, Ms. Finkleman, and a pop-music obsessive named Tenny Boyer leading the charge.

I had the chance to ask Ben H. Winters about his new book and why he thinks The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman has brought up the curtain on a wonderful new part of his life.

Tell us about your path to publication.
With Finkleman, I had a pretty classic publication path, which of course still felt like a total miracle to me. After writing a few solid chapters, I reached out to an agent, Molly Lyons, who represents a wonderful friend of mine named Abby Sher. Molly was intrigued enough to ask to see the rest of the book, at which point I said, "Oh, um, right. Sure. The rest of the book." So I went ahead and wrote it, and -- after I had incorporated some very sage ideas of Molly's -- she sent it around to the various publishers. I am very glad to say that a couple were interested, and Harper (and my editor there, Sarah Sevier) seemed like the right fit.

As you've said, you've 'written a bunch of other stuff, including plays, musicals, articles, and most recently two parody novels, smooshing together famous books with strange genre elements: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Android Karenina', so why the urge to write for younger readers?
Android Karenina (Quirk Classic)Writing for kids has long been a vague part of my plan, to the extent that any writer can be said to have a plan. The first thing I wrote for kids was a musical called The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, in collaboration with a great composer/lyricist named Stephen Sislen. That experience was incredibly fun and gratifying, and I just loved, loved watching kids watch that show. And it had a bunch of happy results: A) a marvelous gig as a creative writing "teaching artist" at an elementary school where the show had been performed; B) the opportunity to write more theater for kids, including two very fun musicals called A (Tooth) Fairy Tale and Uncle Pirate; and C) the crazy idea in my head that I should try writing fiction for young readers.

What was your inspiration for The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman?
I'm always fascinated, when working in schools, with the relationship between children and their teachers. Whenever a teacher lets slip some detail about their personal life, mentioning a husband or a dog or a previous job or a hobby, the kids kind of lean in and perk up. What? Teachers are actually human beings when they're outside this building? So that was sort of the seed of the idea: What happens when an enterprising seventh grader digs up some dirt on her seemingly-boring music teacher? I've also always played in bands and been a big fan of rock and punk music, so that was a big part of it too, the desire to write about music, kids playing music. I loved writing long descriptions of that special joy and power an eleven-year-old feels behind a drum kit.

Your previous two books, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Android Karenina were both "coauthored" with famous authors. Give us a sense of that experience and how that compares to having a first novel that's written entirely by you.
Sense and Sensibility and Sea MonstersWriting those "mash-up" novels was incredibly fun for me, both as a writer getting to take on an enormous and satisfying challenge, and as a reader getting to spend some serious quality time with two wonderful novels. I felt like my challenge on both Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Android Karenina was to take this terrific idea (of melding classic works of literature with genre fiction) and to make the actual finished product live up to the concept. (The concept, by the way, the whole mash-up craze, originated with Jason Rekulak, my brilliant editor at Quirk Books. A mad scientist of literature if ever there was one). Writing Finkleman was both a lot easier and a lot harder: easier because I wasn't constrained by any existing text that I was re-writing, and harder because...well, because I didn't have any existing text that I was re-writing. And as proud as I am of my mash-up novels, I'm even prouder of Secret Life, because it's mine, all mine!

On your HarperCollins author site, you say you have this sneaking suspicion that you'll be spending at least a big chunk of the rest of your career writing fiction for kids. Why do you say that?
I find everything about it to be so joyful. Imagining stories that will resonate with young readers is joyful, crafting characters and situations and (especially) jokes that they'll respond to is joyful, and visiting classrooms to read aloud and talk with kids is super joyful. So if I am fortunate enough to be allowed to keep doing all of these things, there's no way I'm going to stop. The sequel to Finkleman comes out in the fall, and I'm currently working on a historical fiction novel for young readers that I'm pretty jazzed about. So with any luck, I can be answering more questions for you in a couple years.

A big thanks to Ben H. Winters for taking the time to talk to us about his new book. If you'd like to learn more about Winters and The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman, please visit his official website.

Monday, January 24, 2011

No name-calling for one week! Are you in?

Everyone longs to eliminate bullying in their communities, so the No Name-Calling Week Coalition, created by GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, and consisting of over 40 national partner organizations, organized an actual No Name-Calling Week in schools for the first time in 2004. The event is now held annually in schools nationwide and is taking place this week (Jan. 24-28).

No Name-Calling is an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.

The MisfitsNo Name-Calling Week was inspired by a young adult novel entitled The Misfits by popular author James Howe, in which a group of students organize a "No Name-Calling Day" at school.


Click here to visit GLSEN's No Name-Calling Week website to plan an event, enter the Creative Expression Contest, and download free materials.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fish For a Free Book: January 21

It's time to fish for a free book! 

If you are hosting a children's book giveaway, or if you found a giveaway somewhere on the net that you just have to share, I'd love to have you share your links with us here on our weekly giveaway linky so that we can all stop by and enter.

If you're looking for more children's book giveaways, be sure to visit
Brimful Curiosities' Full to the Brim,
Winning Readings (listings of adult and children's book giveaways),
and Got Great Giveaways? (linky of adult and children's book giveaways at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer)

Please post your links however you wish. Some like to include their blog name, some just want to leave the prize and the ending date. Post it whatever way you feel like, but make sure that the prize listing and the date the giveaway ends is listed. And make sure you post a link directly to your giveaway - not just to your main blog page.

Here's an example:
Your name: The Bug Book Launch (11/31)
Your URL: http://thebugbooklaunch.blogspot.com/2010/10/your-mission-should-you-choose-to.html

Now it's your turn. Leave your links here...
(If you're reading this in a reader, please click through to the original post)

Fish For a Free Book Participants
1. *LOW* $10 book from the Book Depository/Kindle book Ends 1/24
2. Teaching Authors Giveaway of YA novel BLESSED ends 2/2
3. Win 6 books from R.W.W.W-Ends 2/8/2011
4. AFF - Children's Book (Your Choice) from Silver Dolphin Books 2/9
5. 2011 Young Adult ARC of your choice - End Jan 31, INTERNATIONAL

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Loyalty, unconditional love and companionship prevalent in The Blue House Dog

The Blue House DogThe Blue House Dog by Deborah Blumenthal isn't just a story about a stray dog. It's a story about the relationship between man and his best friend.

Bones is a stray dog left to wander the neighborhood in a small town. He struggles to evade the dog catcher, avoid being hit by passing cars, and to find shelter when his former home is torn down. But Cody, a young boy who lives in the neighborhood and who once had a dog he loved very much, doesn't see Bones as just a stray dog. Cody attempts to figure out what it must feel like to be a dog without a home, and leaves food for Bones, watching him day in and day out. Unsure of Bones at first, Cody begins to realize that 'dogs find their way inside you and you want to keep them there.'

This is one heartwarming tale that will have you welling up inside. Based on a story inspired by a stray dog in Astoria, Queens, Blumenthal has crafted a warm story that confronts the emotions of friendship and healing. Just as Cody begins to realize the place Bones holds in his heart, Bones, too, begins to trust Cody as they grow closer with each day. Any dog lover will enjoy the loyalty, unconditional love, and companionship prevalent in this powerful tale.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (August 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1561455377
ISBN-13: 978-1561455379
Source of review copy: Publisher
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book. I maintain affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). You can support this site by originating your purchase via these links and I appreciate your support of Lori Calabrese Writes!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What will Alex want next?

I Wanna New Room
In I Wanna Iguana, Alex tries to convince his seemingly unshakable mother that he should be allowed to adopt a friend's baby iguana. Now, in the highly anticipated follow-up, I Wanna New Room, Alex longs for his own room.

In a series of letters, Alex attempts to convince his parents that he shouldn't have to share a room with his baby brother, Ethan. After all, when Ethan sleeps, he sounds like the cat coughing up fur balls. Ethan also sticks crayons up his nose and barks like a walrus! All poor Alex wants is his old room back.

Readers will be laughing out loud as they read Mom and Dad's replies, explaining that his new little sister, Annie needs her privacy to do girl stuff. But Alex will not be swayed and devises his own ways to handle the situation, which include taping the room, and pleading that even his friend Stinky's dog Lurch has his own room! After all, it's more than a room, it's the principle of the thing.

Alex eventually pulls it off and convinces his dad that he needs his own space. Dad builds Alex a special place of his own--a brand new tree house. But, in the end, Alex realizes, who will he play ping-pong with?

Every child longs for their own room, but sometimes it's just not possible. I Wanna New Room is a wonderful book that can give kids a new outlook on the situation.The wonderful illustrations by David Catrow add to the flair of this book and will have readers wondering, what will Alex want next?

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (December 2, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0399254056
ISBN-13: 978-0399254055
Source of review copy: Personal copy
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book. I maintain affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). You can support this site by originating your purchase via these links and I appreciate your support of Lori Calabrese Writes!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

All the Huck-Finn Hub-Bub

Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: The NewSouth EditionHave you guys been following this? Unless you've fallen off the face of the Earth, I'm sure you've heard all sides of the recent debate over the new edition of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Original Unabridged Version is a classic by most any measure, however for decades, it's supposedly been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation's most challenged books. And all because of one offensive word-- "nigger."

Twain scholar Alan Gribben was determined not to let that happen to the classic. With the help of NewSouth Books, Gribben released a version in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the "n" word (as well as the "in" word, "Injun") by replacing it with the word "slave."

Needless to say, book lovers have been up in arms, questioning how anyone can edit a classic and in a recent Publisher's Weekly article, Gribben defends the 'other' Huck Finn and says he was quite shocked at the response.

The whole thing makes for an interesting debate. One certainly doesn't want the classic to be ignored and relegated to dusty bookshelves. One also might find it ironic that Twain himself defined a "classic" as "a book which people praise and don't read, but which would Twain rather have? Gribben's intentions mean well--to get the book back into schools and it's important to note that readers still have access to Twain's original. However, I'm a firm believer in the saying, 'Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it' and we shouldn't go revising books, so that they don't portray the time period correctly. If we removed every harmful or negative facet from a book, what would we have? Certainly, not reality, that's for sure!

I also believe, as much as we want to shield our children and protect them from harmful influences, it's also our responsibility to teach them right from wrong.

So what do you guys think? Is this the right way to get this book back into the hands of young readers?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Author Ellen Schreiber's attraction to writing paranormal

Once in a Full MoonBefore Ellen Schreiber took pen to paper, she was an actress. Schreiber attended a local university majoring in theatre and spent a summer in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. When Schreiber returned from London, she relocated to Chicago where she graduated from the Second City Training Center and performed improv, Shakespeare, comedies and dramas. On a plane to Los Angeles, Schreiber had to decide her fate-- “to move to LA or not to move to LA” that was the question. But it was when her brother handed her a young adult book to read during the flight, that Schreiber thought, "I can do this!" Although Schreiber did not move to LA, she wrote a young adult novel titled, Johnny Lightning and when Katherine Tegen joined HarperCollins and was accepting 'unsolicited manuscripts,' Schreiber seized the opportunity. HarperCollins published Schreiber's Teenage Mermaid and also bought Vampire Kisses and Comedy Girl. After Vampire Kisses was published, Katherine asked Schreiber for a sequel, and there begins the evolution of the series. Schreiber's latest release is Once in a Full Moon...

About the book: Celeste is part of the popular crowd at Legend’s Run High, but she never feels like she belongs. Her world is changed when Brandon, an enigmatic new student from the wrong side of town, saves her from an unusual and dangerous encounter with wolves and is injured in the process. Celeste finds herself growing more and more enamored with Brandon until one night they kiss under a full moon and everything changes.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Schreiber about her attraction to writing paranormal and the evolution of the series...

Before you took pen to paper, you were an actress. How do you think your acting career influenced your writing?
Love Bites (Vampire Kisses, Book 7)I think it taught me to see through the characters eyes--exploring their motivations. I also did a lot of improv--where you have to create a scene on your feet. I think that helped a lot in writing dialogue and creating conflict.

What attracted you to writing paranormal?
It’s funny because I’d never imagined that I would write paranormal. But it just happens that way. I guess I loved mermaids and then when I wrote Raven--and wanted her to be obsessed with vampires and explore them (vampires) in a romantic way. I never stopped. I like the idea of fantasy and people who are extraordinary--but have to deal with being an outsider at the same time.

Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives, Vol. 1How did you deal with the evolution of the Vampire Kisses Series?
I didn’t intend on it being a series when I originally wrote it--and now I’m contracted for the tenth book and sixth manga. I just tend to write what would happen next and the characters usually tell me what they want to say or do. Were some novels easier than others? Only because of deadlines. Sometimes I have to write them very quickly. I like when I have more time--yet I like when I’m under deadline because I work constantly.

Did you feel any pressure because of the popularity of the series?
The readers begin to identify with the characters so they want certain things. I keep writing what the characters drive me to--and that seems to keep things fresh and real.

What is your favorite book of the series?
I tend to like the one I’m writing the best.

What have you learned from writing in a variety of formats (novels/ manga)?
That it is the story and the characters that matter most. Of course, in a manga, the artwork is very important. But I love writing both and seeing both come to life in their different forms.

To learn more about Ellen Schreiber, please visit her official website.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fish For a Free Book: January 14

It's time to fish for a free book! 

If you are hosting a children's book giveaway, or if you found a giveaway somewhere on the net that you just have to share, I'd love to have you share your links with us here on our weekly giveaway linky so that we can all stop by and enter.

If you're looking for more children's book giveaways, be sure to visit
Brimful Curiosities' Full to the Brim,
Winning Readings (listings of adult and children's book giveaways),
and Got Great Giveaways? (linky of adult and children's book giveaways at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer)

Please post your links however you wish. Some like to include their blog name, some just want to leave the prize and the ending date. Post it whatever way you feel like, but make sure that the prize listing and the date the giveaway ends is listed. And make sure you post a link directly to your giveaway - not just to your main blog page.

Here's an example:
Your name: The Bug Book Launch (11/31)
Your URL: http://thebugbooklaunch.blogspot.com/2010/10/your-mission-should-you-choose-to.html

Now it's your turn. Leave your links here...
(If you're reading this in a reader, please click through to the original post)

Fish For a Free Book Participants

1. Cynsations--Night School- 1/21

2. The Great Wall of Lucy Wu!- 1/19

3. Pug at the Beach- 1/22

Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

All the Things You'll Love About this Book

All the Things I Love About YouLeUyen Pham is the bestselling illustrator of Grace for President, and Freckleface Strawberry and her dazzling illustrations come to life once again in her latest, All the Things I Love About You.

The book is dedicated "For all those many mamas who love their little boys!" And those mamas will enjoy reflecting on the many things they love about their child-- the way his hair sticks up in the morning, the way he looks in pajamas and the way he hugs like this...and this...and this!

But it's the illustrations that make this a fun read as mom tries to wrestle with her son as she's putting on his pajamas, how the little boy makes a mess with his food, how Dad throws him around, and the many instances where the little boy is calling Mama (yes on the toilet, and while she's trying to catch some ZZzz's) Every mom will be able to relate!

Overall, it's one of those books that will have you grabbing your little guy and giving him one big hug.

Additional Information:
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (November 23, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0061990299
ISBN-13: 978-0061990298
Source of review copy: Publisher
Disclosure: Some of the books I review are received from publishers , PR agencies, and authors, but it does not sway my opinion of the book. I maintain affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). You can support this site by originating your purchase via these links and I appreciate your support of Lori Calabrese Writes!