Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf on #ReviewsDay

by Corey Rosen Schwartz
pictures by Deborah Marcero

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Anika Denise.)

What it's all about...
Think you know the true story of Cinderella? Guess what, you don't know the half of it! Turns out Cinderella has a twin sister, Tinderella, who splits the chores.

Why I love it...
In signature Corey Rosen Schwartz style, this fractured "fractioned" fairy tale delivers irresistible wordplay, plenty of girl power, and a unique twist on a beloved classic. Deborah Marcero's charming mixed-media illustrations are perfect for the story.

My favorite lines...
They'd each do:
Half the mopping,
half the raking,
half the shopping,
half the baking.
Half the folding,
half the mending,
Half the mean
stepsister tending.
My favorite illustrations...

What's the kid-appeal?
It's a fantastic read-aloud with fun-to-read rhyme and math puns throughout. Young readers love a clever twist on a fairy tale, and this one delivers on every level: humor, relatability, and a satisfying, super-cute ending.

What's the grownup appeal?
Parents and story hour hosts will enjoy its bouncy rhythm and clever concepts. Educators can use it to make STEM connections, and for fairy tale/ creative writing units.

Where to find/ buy Twinderella:
Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Corey Rosen Schwartz always longed to write a fractured fairy tale and got the perfect inspiration from her son. When he was three years old, he was asked if he spoke Spanish. His answer was: “No, but I speak a little karate.” Instantly, the idea hit her . . . the three little pigs could go to ninja school! Corey has no true Ninja training, but she can sure kick butt in Scrabble. She is the author of The Three Ninja Pigs; Hansel and Gretel, Ninja Chicks, Ninja Red Riding Hood, What About Moose? and more. She lives in Warren, New Jersey with her family. Learn more about her books at http://www.coreyrosenschwartz.com.

Deborah Marcero grew up in Michigan farm country where from a very young age drawing, writing, and reading filled her time.  She received a BFA in drawing, printmaking, and photography from the University of Michigan, and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Writing. After teaching in Chicago Public Schools as a Literacy Specialist, Deborah realized that writing and creating books for kids was how she wanted to spend her life. Learn more about her work at http://deborahmarcero.com.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf on #ReviewsDay

Main Street Magic
by Ingela P Arrhenius

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Jamie Michalak.)

What it's all about...
On this Main Street, nothing is as it seems. Kids can explore more than 30 lift-the-flaps and pop-ups to discover lots of strange surprises!

Why I love it...
The striking, graphic art is enormously appealing, and the mini mysteries illustrated on each page double as fun story starters. Who is peeking out of the hole in the bakery wall?

Favorite line...
Elephants never forget eternal love! 

Sample illustration...
From MAIN STREET MAGIC by Ingela P. Arrhenius. Copyright 2017 Chronicle Books.

What's the kid-appeal?
The unexpected details hiding under the flaps will keep little ones guessing until the grand finale -- a magical circus.

What's the grownup appeal?
The illustrations stir the imagination. Grown-ups can ask children to offer up their own explanations as to what's happening on Main Street.

Where to find/buy Main Street Magic!
Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Ingela P Arrhenius is a Sweden-based illustrator. She says, "I have quite a naive style and love the design of the 50s and 60s. To learn more about her work, visit www.ingelaparrhenius.com.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf on #ReviewsDay!

the scariest book ever
by bob shea

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Kara LaReau.)

What it's all about...
A reluctant little ghost encourages readers to go ahead into the "spooky" forest, where it turns out an adorable bunny is hosting a costume party.

Why I love it...
Bob Shea's artwork is as bright, graphic, and inviting as ever, and the funny interactive narrative is scary-good.

Favorite lines...

It's okay, you don't have to go back.

You can stay here and help me with the haunted housework. We'll tell spooky stories and clean the bathroom.

That's scary, right?

Sample illustrations...

What's the kid-appeal?
Kid readers will delight in knowing something the ghost narrator does not — that the story isn't scary at all.

What's the grownup appeal?
It's a terrific read-aloud for Halloween and beyond, and an excellent way to address (however-unfounded) fears.

Where to find/buy the scariest book ever!
Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Bob Shea is the author-illustrator of the popular Ballet Cat series, the Dinosaur vs....series, and several other picture books, including The Happiest Book Ever, Buddy and the Bunnies in: Don't Play with Your Food!, and Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great. He's a really nice guy, and he lives with his wife and son in Madison, Connecticut. For more information, visit www.bobshea.com.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf on #ReviewsDay!

by Ruth Behar

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Anika Denise.)

What it's all about...
Ruthie Mizrahi has only just begun to adjust to her life in America, so different from the one she left behind in Cuba. She's finally switching out of "the dumb class" into the smart one, now that her English is improving. Her Papi buys her first pair of go-go boots as a surprise. And she's the reigning neighborhood "Hopscotch Queen." But all that changes when a car accident leaves her in a body cast for months. With the help of family and neighbors, and by unlocking secret talents and passions within her, Ruthie slowly puts the pieces of her broken leg, and spirit, back together.

Why I love it...
While poignant and sometimes downright sad, Ruthie's story is ultimately one of hope and healing. Out of a terrible tragedy, Ruthie finds love, community, and most importantly, a deeper understand of herself. I fell in love with her character's wisdom and grit. I also love how Ruthie uses writing and painting as a means of working through her complex feelings about the accident. Art is transcendence for so many kids. (It was, and still is, for me.) Behar's exploration of fixing the broken pieces of oneself through artistic expression is both beautiful and powerful.

One of my (many) favorite passages...

      "That's good," I say to Joy. "Because I don't want them to send me back to the dumb class after missing so much school!"
      "That won't happen," Joy says. "Not if we keep your brain working. Being bedridden shouldn't hold you back."
      "Bedridden?" The word sounds to me like a witch's curse: And you, Ruth, will be BEDRIDDEN for the rest of your days. . .

What's the kid-appeal?
Kids will feel Ruthie's emotions right along with her, from her frustrations to her triumphs. Any child who has ever had to navigate a new country, city, community or school, will relate to Ruthie's situation. Those who haven't, will have their eyes (and hearts) opened. Behar's fearless writing makes it impossible not to empathize with Ruthie, and cheer for her.

What's the grownup appeal?
Parents and educators will find much to savor and appreciate in Behar's novel about overcoming challenges and adversity. It's a lovely springboard for discussions of history, immigrant experiences, inner strength, forgiveness and perseverance.

Where to find/buy Lucky Broken Girl:
Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Ruth Behar (www.ruthbehar.com) is an acclaimed author of adult fiction and nonfiction, and Lucky Broken Girl is her first book for young readers.

She was born in Havana, Cuba, grew up in New York City, and has also lived and worked in Spain and Mexico. An anthropology professor at the University of Michigan, she is also co-editor of Women Writing Culture, editor of Bridges to Cuba/Puentes a Cuba, and co-editor of The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World. Her honors include a MacArthur "Genius" Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Senior Fellowship, and a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University. Much in demand as a public speaker, Ruth's speaking engagements have taken her to the United States, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, Spain, Finland, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Poland, England, the Netherlands, Japan, and New Zealand. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf on Reviewsday!

PIZZA! An Interactive Recipe Book
illustrated by lotta nieminen

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Kara LaReau.)

What it's all about...
The second title in this interactive recipe series (I reviewed the first title here), this is a reading AND cooking experience that allows readers to make pizza prom scratch — mixing ingredients, kneading dough, and spreading sauce, all while following a simple recipe.

Why I love it...
My little one loves to cook — this book allows him to make one of his favorite foods by engaging a series of ingenious (and super-fun) wheels, flaps, and levers!

Sample illustrations...

What's the kid-appeal?
All of the fun of cooking without needing any parental supervision!

What's the grownup appeal?
All of the fun of cooking without needing any parental supervision!

Where to find/buy Cook in a Book: PIZZA!
Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Lotta Nieminen is an illustrator, graphic designer, and art director from Helsinki, Finland, now running her own New York-based studio. In 2014, she was nominated for Forbes magazine's annual 30 Under 30 list. In 2010, she received the Art Directors Club Young Guns award. Her client list includes Google, New York Times, and Vanity Fair, among many others.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf on ReviewsDay!

Dear oh-so-patient readers,

We apologize for our absence this September. We cottagers (Anika Denise, Kara LaReau, Jamie Michalak and Mr. Pig) have been up to our ears in bookish things, and haven't been able to visit as much as we'd like.

The good news? WE'RE BACK! And we've been doing some redecorating.

In order to accommodate our writing deadlines, appearances, school visits, etc., AND keep hosting kidlit faves in the Cottage—we're changing things up a bit.

With a big nod of thanks to author Jess Keating, we're pleased to join the #ReviewsDay movement, by posting reviews of our favorite picture books, early chapter books, and middle grade novels, every Tuesday. We'll simultaneously post to the Cottage's GOODREADS account, and on AMAZON. This helps readers, by spreading the word about books we think are truly FANTÁSTICO! And helps authors, who rely on reviews to help boost sales and visibility of their titles.

Voila! A win-win.

And guess what? YOU can help, too—by commenting, sharing our reviews on social media, and by  posting Tuesday #ReviewsDay of your own, for books you love.

So... without further ado, our first #ReviewsDay selection is...

by Maria Gianferrari
pictures by Patrice Barton

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Anika Denise.)

What it's all about...
Zara, a little girl in a wheelchair, has a special bond with her lovable dog Moose. Moose loves saying hello to Zara, but isn't so fond of goodbye. So when it's time for Zara to go off to school, Moose figures out a way to pay her a visit.

Why I love it...
Even if I didn't know Maria Gianferrari is a passionate dog-lover (I do), it's abundantly clear from the warmth and humor of her story. As I was reading, I found myself thinking: Yup, that's exactly what a dog would say if he could talk. Patrice Barton's equally expressive illustrations provide a perfect complement to the charming text.

My favorite line(s)...
"Goodbye was a tag without an 'It.'
Goodbye was a tug and no war.
Goodbye was a hide without seek.
Goodbye was being alone.
AAAA-WOOO, yowled Moose."

What's the kid-appeal?
Kids with dogs (or those who desperately want one, like mine) are sure to love this story of a devoted furry friend.

What's the grownup appeal?
Parents and educators will no doubt welcome the addition of this heartwarming story, featuring a diverse main character and a lovable (yet imperfect) pet, to their libraries. An author's note at the end includes information on therapy dogs and their uses in classrooms and libraries—providing a wonderful discussion prompt for ability differences, and how dogs (to quote the author) can have "pawsitive" effects in a variety of environments.

Where to find/buy Hello Goodbye Dog
Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Maria Gianferrari is the author of several picture books, including Coyote Moon, published by Roaring Brook Press. For Maria, hello is sunshine after a snowstorm, the scent of cinnamon, and happy greetings from her beloved mutt, Becca. Maria lives in northern Virginia with Becca, her scientist husband and her artist daughter. To learn more about Maria, visit her at mariagianferrari.com.

Patrice Barton is the illustrator of over twenty picture and chapter books, including the award-winning MINE! by Shutta Crum and The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig. Her chapter books include Junior Library Guild selections The Year of Three Sisters (An Anna Wang Noel) by Andrea Cheng and The Naming of Tishkin Silk by Glenda Millard. Patrice lives with her husband and her sweet dog, Archer. You can learn more about her at partricebarton.com.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mr. Pig's Summer Reading Picks -- and a Giveaway!

It's here, it's here! Summer has arrived and the Cottagers  Kara LaReau, Jamie Michalak, Anika Denise, and moi  are ready to kick up our hooves, erm, feet and relax. Here's a list of books we're looking forward to packing in our beach bags.

And we have a special smorange treat for you  a GIVEAWAY!

Leave a comment below for a chance to win Adam Rex's new picture book, 

Kara Recommends ...

by Gaia Cornwall

Set on a summer’s day at the pool, this gorgeous ode to bravery and trying new things is written and illustrated by FOC (Friend of the Cottage) Gaia Cornwall, and it’s already a favorite in our house!

by Laurel Snyder

Every year on Orphan Island a new orphan arrives on a green boat and the oldest orphan leaves the island for good. A moving story about growing up and letting go by one of the masters of middle grade fiction, Laurel Snyder.

by Kat Yeh
Illustrated by Chuck Groenink

A solitary little hedgehog sets off in search of a rumored “Friend Ship,” and ends up meeting a menagerie of lonely animals along the way. A sweet story (and a fun read-aloud) by Kat Yeh, with lovely illustrations by Chuck Groenink.

by Debbi Michiko Florence
Illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic

I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of this chapter book, the first in a wonderful, funny new series starring eight-year-old Jasmine. In this story, Jasmine longs to do something first before her big sister, Sophie — and that something may or may not have something to do with pounding mochi rice!

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Jamie Recommends ...

by Stephan Pastis

My 10-year-old son is not a fan of any activity that requires sitting quietly. However, he took this book to his room and read it cover to cover. He wasn't supposed to have this private record of Timmy Failure's sensitive time as a detective, but my son is also not a fan of following rules. So he read it anyway — and fell off his bed laughing. 

Perfect for reluctant sitters and fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

by Adam Rex

When a cast of fruit makes up a rhyming ditty about themselves, even the lowly Kumquat gets his own verse. But nothing rhymes with Orange. How will he ever join the fun? Find out in this totally smorange picture book about celebrating difference!


by Stephen Shaskan

This rhyming romp, with humorous illustrations and fun-to-say sound effects, is a can't-miss storytime hit! Toadally adorable. 

Anika Recommends ...

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist 
by Jess Keating
Illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns
(Ages 4-8 years)

Critically acclaimed zoologist and author Jess Keating tells the life story of Eugenie Clark, a.k.a. the “Shark Lady,” who daringly dove the deep to study creatures many  considered “ugly" and “scary.” In devoting her life to proving them wrong, Clark broke gender barriers — charting a channel for future female scientists — while illuminating the true nature and majestic beauty of sharks.

Packed with fin-tastic shark facts in the back matter, this book is the perfect reading ramp-up to Discovery Channel’s Shark Week: starting on Sunday, July 23rd!

Shackles from the DeepTracing the Path of a Sunken Slave Ship, a Bitter Past, and a Rich Legacy
by Michael H. Cottman
(Ages 10 and up)

Continuing with a deep sea exploration theme, but for a slightly older reader, this is the riveting (formerly unknown) true story of a slave ship wrecked off the coast of Florida at the turn of the 18th Century, the Henrietta Marie. In what is part history lesson, part page-turning adventure, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Michael H. Cotter weaves the narrative in a deeply personal way, to deliver a fascinating and important story young readers will connect to. 

7 Ate 9: The Untold Story
by Tara Lazar
Illustrated by Ross MacDonald
(Ages 4-8)

Who doesn’t love a good detective story for a summer read? This one just happens to be a picture book starring digits (and a "Private I”)! Perfectly punny and delightful, this is one of the wittiest, most enjoyable picture books I’ve had the pleasure to read. Kids will giggle. Grown-ups will chuckle. A new classic perfect for any season, but particularly readable (and re-readable) during the carefree days of summer vacation.

Heartwood Hotel: A True Home 
by Kallie George 
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
(Pub date: 7/4/17; Ages 7-10)

We love reading chapter books aloud on summer nights in our house. Kallie George’s heartwarming first book in the Heartwood Hotel series is a perfect chapter-a-night read. Young readers will enjoy being be transported to the tiny woodland world where Mona the Mouse discovers the Heartwood Hotel while seeking shelter from a rainstorm. Mona is quickly welcomed into the fold—where a cast of characters, soft moss-lined beds, and a little adventure (and danger!) awaits.