The Clues: Blind Date with a Book #3 (2018)

Here are this week’s Blind Date with a Book Clues! Leave your guesses in the comments below and don’t forget to check back tomorrow to see if you were right!

  1. The story takes place mainly at night
  2. The main character will be visited by three spirits
  3. The main character must find a way to halt a death curse

 

 

 

The Clues: Blind Date with a Book #2 (2018)

Help continue the Valentine’s Day celebrations with this week’s Blind Date with a Book! Check out the clues and leave your guesses in the comments below!

  1. This is a book about bridge.
  2. This is not a book about bridge.
  3. This is a story about a young man’s romance.
  4. This is a story about an old man’s romance.
  5. This is a story about the real meaning of winning and losing.

 

The Clues: Blind Date with a Book #1 (2018)

This year I will once again be offering you a blind date – with a book! To participate, check out the clues below and leave your guess in the comments. The answer will be revealed tomorrow. Best of luck!

  1. It is a gothic romance.
  2. It is set in an ancient castle in Romania.
  3. The story abounds with evil creatures like giant spiders, wolves, and bats – as well as a particularly malevolent murderer who impales or removes the blood of their victims.

 

 

Interview: Margaret Peterson Haddix

Children of Exile

Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing two books by popular author Margaret Peterson Haddix. You can check out both of those reviews here and here. There are even discussion questions!

I also had the opportunity to conduct a brief interview, and I am very excited to share Ms. Haddix’s comments here.

1. You have had a wonderfully prolific career. What is the #1 piece of advice would you give to your readers if they, too, want to become writers?

For years, my basic advice to kids who want to become writers has been to 1) read a lot; 2) write a lot; and 3) think a lot, and I believe that all of those things are important (as well as kind of obvious). Lately, though, I’ve been coming down a lot harder on the third point. And sometimes I adjust it to say to kids, “Make sure you have time to think.” I know I sound like some cranky old person if I start complaining about kids constantly being glued to cellphones or tablets or video games—and always being entertained, instead of becoming acquainted with their own thoughts. That can sound like I’m going to follow it up with, “Back in my day, we had nothing to do but stare at a blank wall and think about nothing but our own miserable thoughts for eight hours a day—and we liked it!” Really, I think adults (including, um, me sometimes, too) can be every bit as bad as kids about over-entertaining themselves, and using every spare moment to obsess over social media or watch Netflix, etc., instead of reading and writing and thinking. And I don’t think that social media or Netflix (or cellphones or tablets or video games) are evil in and of themselves. It’s just that I think everyone (kids, adults, future writers, current writers, even people who hate to write…) needs to have some time every day just to daydream and imagine and puzzle out life, the universe, and everything—and just try to figure out what’s going on in their own head, and in their own life, and what they really think and believe, and how that fits with the rest of the world.

Everybody needs to make time to think.

2. Can you give us any hints as to what’s next for Edwy and Rosi?

Children of Refuge

Children of Refuge by Margaret Peterson Haddix

It’s always hard to give hints without giving too much away. But I’ll go with this: Things are going to get a lot harder for Edwy and Rosi before they manage to solve their problems.

3. What other books would you recommend to young readers? 

Oh, wow, that’s a tough question, because there are so many great books out there, and I always realize too late that I’ve left out something I really love.

If you want a recommendation of a book that I loved as a kid that I think still holds up really well, I’d go with FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER, by E.L. Konigsberg. Granted, everything would be different if the book were set in the modern day (Because: cellphones! Amber Alerts! Etc.) But I think kids can still relate. And A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle. And…

Maybe I’d better move on to newer books. Some I’ve read relatively recently that I really love include WHEN YOU REACH ME, by Rebecca Stead; and THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE, by Kimberly  Brubaker Bradley; and GHOST, by Jason Reynolds; and all five books of the Lockwood & Co. series, by Jonathan Stroud; and WONDER, by R.J. Palacio (Of course, hasn’t everyone already won WONDER?) and ONE CRAZY SUMMER, by Rita Williams-Garcia…

And there are probably five billion other books that I’m probably still leaving out, but that’s a start.

Thanks again to Margaret Peterson Haddix for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to Edwy and Rosi in the next book!

 

 

February 2018 Update

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.

-Charles M. Schulz

I have a lot of exciting things planned for this month. First and foremost, I’d like to let readers know that tomorrow will feature an interview with author Margaret Peterson Haddix. I reviewed and posted discussion questions on her books Children of Exile and Children of Refuge about a month ago.

The blog will also be participating in our annual “Blind Date with a Book” posts. On Monday there will be a list of clues and the book will be revealed on Tuesday. A variety of genres have been chosen – mystery, romance, fantasy – just to make sure there is something for everyone.

As usual, there are several picture book reviews prepared. If you are not planning to give chocolate for Valentine’s Day (or maybe in addition to a little of the sweet stuff), I have some great options to consider as gifts.

Happy reading!

Review: Best of the Best 2017

People often ask me how I choose the books which I review. The answer is, of course, that I use many sources. I check out new books at bookstores (and admit to eavesdropping on other customer conversations). I listen to what librarians have to tell me. I read other reviewers and look for ads about newly released titles.

However, one of my all-time favorite resources is the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Each December, they invite Susan P. Bloom and Cathie Mercier from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature to host a program: The Best of the Best. Each year their selections are phenomenal. I often look for their selections to review in the upcoming months because they are books not to be missed.

Earlier this month, I gave some holiday gift ideas. If you are still struggling to come up with last minute gifts, their list of some of the best picture books of 2017 should inspire you. I know it did me; you will certainly be seeing reviews on some of the following suggested titles.

Best of the Best 2017:

Elisha Cooper. Big Cat, Little Cat. Roaring Brook Press.

Emily Jenkins. A Greyhound, A Groundhog. Illustrated by Chris Applehans.  Schwartz & Wade.

Akiko Miyahoshi. The Way Home in the Night. Kids Can Press.

Joyce Sidman. Round. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. Roaring Book Press.

Cao Wenxuan. Feather. Illust

Nicola Davies. King of the Sky. Candlewick.

Barbara DeCosta. Mighty Moby. Illustrated by Ed Young. Little, Brown.

Julia Denos. Windows. Illustrated by E. B. Goodale. Candlewick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December Update

December Update:

“December. Early snows and Orion. The pale fires of the Milky Way. It was really winter now – wonderful, cold, starry winter. … Days of clear brilliance. Evenings that were like cups of glamour – the purest vintage of winter’s wine. Nights with their fire of stars. Cold, exquisite winter sunrises. Lovely ferns of ice all over the windows of the Blue Castle. Moonlight on birches in a silver thaw. Ragged shadows on windy evenings – torn, twisted, fantastic shadows. Great silences, austere and searching. Jewelled, barbaric hills.”

From The Blue Castle, by L. M. Montgomery

 

I chose that quote as we begin December to remind those (most) of us who grumble as winter closes in. We are so wrapped up in the grumbling, we often forget to see its beauty. With that it mind, I’d like to give you some hints as to what to expect in posts for this month.

As promised, the first week of December will be devoted to reviews of National Geographic books that will make excellent holiday gifts. Then, as those cold, wintry nights close in, look for a couple of selections that mirror Montgomery’s sentiments of winter. There will be a review of Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre. I will also be reviewing Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. I’ve got a couple of selections more suited to cuddling up in a blanket before the fire while enjoying a hot cup of cocoa. Later in the month, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art will be sponsoring their annual Best of the Best program. I’m hoping to attend and share some selections with readers (weather permitting, of course).

As usual, for the end of the year there will be a break in blog posts. December 22nd will be the last post of the year. Don’t worry; it’s just planning time and posts will begin again on January 2nd.

2017 Holiday Wish List

Teddy book GiftHoliday Wish List:

Did you brave the crowds on Black Friday? Perhaps Cyber Monday is more your style. Either way, here are some ideas for those bookworms remaining on your gift list.

1. For new or expecting parents, I recommending checking out the website for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. https://www.carlemuseum.org/ Here you can find a whole bunch of bundles: The Eric Carle Baby Book Bundle, My First Library Book Bundle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Bundle – just to name a few. Actually, any product purchased at the museum is of excellent quality. Perhaps you have a family to buy for in the Amherst, MA area. If so, a gift membership is a wonderful idea. It’s a gift that keeps giving all year long.

2. Middle grade readers really enjoy National Geographic books. This list includes some of the newest releases:

Weird But True! Christmas: 300 Festive Facts to Light Up the Holidays

Just Joking Jumbo

Ultimate Dino-pedia (Second Edition)

Bet You Didn’t Know: Fascinating, Far-Out, Fun-tastic Facts

Hey, Baby! A Collection of Pictures, Poems and Stories from Nature’s Nursery

(As an extra bonus to help you make your shopping decisions, I am devoting the first week of December to reviewing each of these books, so check back for more details!)

3. Perhaps something more is needed. How about designing your own gift basket or “book crate”? I actually came up with the book crate idea from the post I wrote for Loot Crate. While I chose The Outsiders for that post, it was tough to narrow it down to just that book. This idea does take a bit of work to pull together and lends itself well to an older audience (why not even an adult book?), but I had a lot of fun coming up with ideas. Try something like The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird or the Harry Potter series. Your young reader might enjoy the Redwall series (I love the maps you can buy for these books. Check here: http://www.oocities.org/redwallhq/maps.html) or Little House on the Prairie (link to official site: http://littlehouseontheprairie.com/. Whatever the interest, there is something to find.

If you feel you would like a little help with this type of gift, you can check out https://theunicorncrate.com/pages/past-boxes. Warning: These boxes have proven to be very popular. December is already sold out.

Good luck! I hope some of these ideas help take the stress out of shopping for you.

 

Event: CT Children’s Book Fair 2017

This past weekend I had the great pleasure of attending the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair at the University of Connecticut. I love this fair because it is not only an opportunity to buy more books and pick up holiday gifts, it is an opportunity to meet some of the authors. I attended several presentations and all were wonderful. However, I would especially like to share some information I learned during the presentation given by Rosemary Wells. I feel the information she shared with attendees is just too important not to pass on.

I am sure many of you know Rosemary Wells. She has had a forty-five year career as an author/illustrator with 145 books published, including such classics as the Max and Ruby and McDuff series.

To start off her presentation, Ms. Wells showed an exciting new video of an MRI showing the connections a child’s brain makes when a mother or father reads to their baby. When the parent reads to the baby, the neural connections simply light up everywhere! And what this even more important is that these connections are permanent; the brain actually makes permanent growth. Now here is the scary part. After the age of six, this type of growth is not possible. The child’s brain NEVER develops to full capacity if you start reading to them after the age of six. (If you haven’t been reading to them earlier, you should still start. It does mean, however, that they won’t reach what their full potential might have been.) These studies show that reading to your child is “singly the most important thing a parent can do.” This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep right on reading after age six. Of course you should – for as long as they will listen. But the earlier you start, the better.

After that exciting video and news, she showed a presentation that she often gives for school audiences: How I Put Together a Book. It was a very interesting presentation, but once again she shared some news that I felt should be passed on to readers. Today’s children have very low fine motor skills. She attributed this to the fact that children have too many screens in their lives. Although this was not scientifically proven, she is probably right. Additionally, she shared an exercise that she does every morning. For ten minutes she colors in a piece of artwork making sure to get it perfect (a coloring book would suit for young artists). She works with a steady hand and a sharp eye, focusing quietly and completely on the work. “When I can draw a straight line without a ruler, I know I have a steady hand and sharp eye.”  What a wonderful activity! It gives practice, helps focus and develops discipline. Perhaps this is the way everyone should start their day.

Two BookWorms Blog Celebrates Halloween!

If you’d visited the Two BookWorms Blog household this Halloween, you might have gotten an extra treat this year!

Halloween