Posted in Meet the authors

Patchen Barss


Twitter: @patchenbarss

1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
I have always liked to read. The house I grew up in was full of books, and when I was your age, I had a really great teacher who taught us all about grammar and structure in writing. So that was the year when I went from just enjoying good stories, to really starting to think about what makes them good. I don’t think I knew I wanted to be a writer yet at that age, but it was definitely when I started to learn how to do it.

2. What was your favorite story?
I remember one day telling my parents that I had just finished reading a book called No Flying In the House ten times in a row. The book is about a girl who discovers that she’s actually a fairy princess who can fly and do spells. I still remember strange little details like the fact that she could kiss her own elbow—that struck me as some amazing magic. As a grown-up, I still often have dreams at night where I can fly—just as I imagined it when I was a kid reading that book.

3. How do you get your ideas? You write science books, are they hard to research?

It does take a lot of research to write a book, but it’s always fun.

My job is to write about science in lots of different ways. I write for magazines, museums, and websites, as well as writing books. So I’m lucky—I get to talk to scientists all the time. They tell me about their new ideas and discoveries, and also about the questions they haven’t answered yet that are driving them crazy with curiosity.

I’m also a dad, so I’m always talking to kids as well. I’m struck by the way scientists and kids are curious about the same kinds of things—they try to figure out how the world works, test theories, make discoveries, revise their ideas. I try to find book ideas that encourage kids to be scientists, to pay attention to their own curiosity, and to try to figure out why the world works the way it does. (That’s a big theme in Flow Spin Grow.)

4. What author do you really like right now?
My own kids are six and seven years old, so our house is now full of picture books and chapter books. We’ve been revisiting some classics lately, including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I don’t know if an author today would be able to publish a book that makes so little sense. But the book’s nonsense is full of cleverness, terrible puns, and iconic characters—the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts. I can read it over and over, and be completely confused and delighted at the same time.

5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?
One book we read recently that I really loved is Wicked Nix by a Toronto-based writer named Lena Coakley. By coincidence, it’s also about people and fairies. The main character, a fairy named Nix, seems at first to be up to some pretty normal magical mischief, but the story becomes mixed up with themes of memory and family. In the end, it’s still a magical story, but it’s a different kind of magic than you might expect.

6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Read as much as you can, and write as much as you can. Find other kids who also love books and writing and reading, so you can share your ideas and make up stories together. Go to bookstores and libraries and ask for recommendations. And, think about the things you’re most interested in—sports, dance, art, robots, movies, anything—and create stories about those things. I have always loved science and math, so it makes sense that that’s what I write books about. Find the things that you love to write about the most, and focus on those.

7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
Hearing from readers is the best. As a writer, you tend to really care deeply about your subject matter. I have always found nature’s patterns fascinating and beautiful. I wrote Flow Spin Grow to share my passion with other people. I wanted to inspire kids to be scientists, to ask questions and satisfy their curiosity. Now I meet people or they send me notes talking about how they now see patterns everywhere. I feel great that I’ve had an effect on them. Even more, I’m just glad to know that there are other people out there who share my interests.

8. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
This is a tough one. I like stories where writers create whole worlds—Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Lord of the Rings, etc. But those books tend to have lots of battles and villains and danger. I’m happy to read about those things, but I don’t actually need to be in there myself waving a wand or a sword around. (Honestly, I don’t think I’d last very long.)

But I do like being a part of stories where groups of talented friends accomplish great things together. So, I’m going to say that I would become a student in the Grade 2 classroom of Miss Lila Greer, in Andrea Beatty and David Robert’s great picture books, Iggy Peck, Architect; Ada Twist, Scientist; and Rosie Revere, Engineer.

Thanks so much for this interview—it’s very fun to think about these questions.


Posted in Book Review

Diary of an Ice Princess

By Christina Soontornvat

Book Source: provided by Christina to review

Book Status: Available July 30, 2019

This book is about a girl who is an ice princess who thinks she is a wind taker but she isn’t. When her family goes on a family picnic she really messes up because she knocks down all of her family. Her grandpa is the north wind and he wants her to practice her wind powers every Saturday. But when she goes to the beach to visit her best friend (she lives in a castle in the sky) her friend, Claudia, wants her to go to her school, Hilltop Academy, she applies, gets in, but her parents aren’t happy, they agree after a while, and of she goes there. But her powers keep acting up and she finally tells her mom about it after she accidentally makes icicles in her classroom, freezes her classmates feet in ice blocks, and freezes her science project and they have to figure out how to fix it!

This book is unique because it’s an ice & snow book and it comes out in July, and that the ice princess has 1 bestie, because most princesses have a lot of friends.

Posted in Book Review

Fallen Empire

By Mike Maihack

Book Source: Provided by Scholastic for review

Book Status: Out on March 26, 2019

I finally got Cleopatra In Space 5!!! In this one there’s even more EXPLOSIVE EXPLOSIONS!!!!!!! Half of it is about GOZI!!! Okay, on with the review!!

This book is about Cleopatra who—- no. 😑. It’s about Cleopatra and GOZI!!!!!!!! So the first half reveals why Gozi hates, hates, and hates Cleo, ( he thinks that she left him on purpose ). It shows how a miscommunication in a friendship can horribly, world destroyingly wrong. There are also lots of twists and turns.

Cleopatra and her friends get into real deep trouble. She sees who will stand by her even in when she is accused of a crime. The cat council is really visible in this book. I like the cat council so much I just named my new cat “Khensu”. (yea I really like this series).

Mike did an awesome job on the illustrations. The pages that show Gozi’s life without Cleopatra and without words are really cool. I can forgive Mike for making me and all of us wait an extra year for this one. Because it is AWESOME! It is definitely worth the wait.

If you haven’t read Cleopatra In Space yet, read the first four and then this one. You will love it.

If you are a Cleopatra fan make sure you have you have your plan for getting a copy as soon as possible. Preorders are always good. Even though I got a review copy, my comic book store has it preordered for me. I first found Cleopatra via them in a free Kids Day Comic. Boy, I wish I knew where that comic is now (Mike told me it has a small difference from the book).

Mike also assures me there is a book 6 but this time he isn’t telling me when it should be out. Just don’t make me wait too long!

Posted in Book Review

A boy called BAT

By Elena K Arnold

illustrated by Charles Santoso

Book Source: Owned

Book Status: Available

This book is about a boy named Bixby Alexander Tam (B.A.T.) who’s mom brings home a baby skunk who was born after his mom was ran over by a car. Bat immediately falls in love with the skunks and names it Stripy, but bats sister says it should be named Thor, because it was born on Thursday, which was first called Thor’s -Day. But Bat’s mom says they can only keep it for a month and then Bat realizes that he must convince his mom to keep Thor until hes old enough to be released into the Wild. At school he practices with the class pet, an adorable little bunny, Babycakes. He then finds a skunk expert, Dr. Jerry Dragoo! He emails him about Thor– SPOILER ALERT 🚨 SPOILER ALERT 🚨 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This book is unique because usually somebody doesn’t want a skunk as a pet. ( I’m not speaking for myself, I would love have one)

Posted in Meet the authors

Wendy Ledger


Author website/social media:

1.     When you were my age (9), did you like to read?

I loved to read! I read as much as I could. The library was my favorite place in the world.

2.     What was your favorite story?

I loved Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. I was fascinated by the idea of a young girl who carried a notebook around with her so that she could always write.

3.     How do you get your ideas?  

Oftentimes, my ideas come from a moment in my life. I wrote Joy Returns! because when I was young, I loved to play the piano. I also lived near a stable, and I had my favorite horses there. I wrote Kate and the Horses to remember the horses from my childhood. I wrote The Loudest Meow: A Talking Cat Fantasy because I had a calico cat who died suddenly, and I missed her, and so I wrote a book, imagining what she was doing in the afterlife.

4.     What author do you really like right now?

This is a classic that I had never read before, but I really loved it. It’s The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I listened to the audiobook version. It was really fun to hear.

5.     Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?

Have you read Jessica Townsend’s books? I really liked Nevermoor; The Trials of Morrigan Crow, and I want to read Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow.

6.     What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Write! If anyone says that you are not a writer or you can’t be a writer, don’t listen. Keep going. Write!

7.     As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

Yes, I love hearing from my readers. A writer can get lonely. You’re imagining all these things and creating stories on your own. It’s always nice to hear from others that they enjoyed what you dreamed up.

8.     If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

I would portal into my book, The Loudest Meow and spend some time with my calico cat and other cats that I’ve known.

Posted in Book Review

Narwhal’s Otter Friend

By Ben Clanton

Book Source: Gifted by Kim Campbell

Book Status: Available February 5, 2019

This book is about Narwhal’s friend Jelly, who is jellyous (haha! See what I did there?) that Narwhal has a new friend, an explorer otter. Jelly try’s to find a friend but, Sea turtle is going to a birthday shellabration, Shark is playing Buoy Ball with octopus, and crab is crabby, grumpy, and, like, 😠😡😠. But then,– SPOILER ALERT 🚨🚨🚨🚨SPOILER ALERT 🚨🚨🚨🚨Oops😬😬

This book is unique because snails are not, well, seafaring, Sea Serpent ridding, explorers!! But still, this book is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Psst! You should read this if you’re jealous of a friend!!!

Posted in Book Review

Flight of the Bluebird

By Kara LaReau

illustrated by Jen Hill

Book Source: Own

Book Status: Available

Sooo, I love this book, but it’s the last book which is like, 🥺🥺🥺.

This book is about the Bland sisters who are on a plane to Egypt, and they stop at an airport and a guy attacks them. Then he makes ”V” with his fingers. Then, the Jaundice and Kale read from their mom’s journal and find that it means Victor Gazebo, who is an evil guy who wanted to auction off all of the artifacts from a tomb! That leads to a lot of trouble.

This book is unique because usually people don’t give the bad guy all the power and actually get out of it as quickly as the Bland sisters do!

PSST! I met Kara LaReau and she’s so awesome!! I can’t wait to see what she writes next!!