Posted in Meet the authors

JA White

Author website/social media:
Twitter: @jawhitebooks
Instagram: @jawhitebooks
Tell me a little about yourself:
I’m the author of The Thickety series and Nightbooks, all published by Katherine Tegen Books.  I’ve also been a teacher for 20 years! My wife and I live in New Jersey with our three sons: Jack (16), Logan (10), and Colin (8).   My favorite dessert is pumpkin pie, and I’m really bad at fixing things around the house.
  1. When you were my age did you like to read?
I was a VORACIOUS reader!  My parents took me to the library every Saturday morning and I used to come back with piles of books.  I would then sit on my bedroom floor and read until it was dark out!
2.  What was your favorite story?
Such a tough question!   I liked anything scary (no surprise there), but also fantasy, fairy tales, and mystery novels.  I used to especially love the Prydain novels of Lloyd Alexander and a mystery series called The Three Investigators.  
3. How do you get your ideas?  How do you write spooky vs. scary?
Some of my ideas come out of the blue during times when I let my brain wander, like during my commute to work.  Other ideas take a little work, and I have to sit at my computer and try out some bad ideas before figuring out a good one.  I think “spooky” is more like the tone of a story, and I usually convey that through the setting and description. “Scary,” to me, is when a character is in peril.  There are only a few scary parts in my books, but they pretty much have a spooky tone at all times!
4.  How does being a teacher help your writing?

I write about children, so it definitely helps that I’m around kids all day.  I hear how they talk and see how they act, so that (hopefully) helps me create more realistic characters.  Another part of my job is reading lots of children’s novels, so I always stay immersed in that world.


5. What author do you like right now?

I think Jonathan Auxier is a splendid writer.  I’ve just begun his new one–Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster–and it’s top notch, as always.  Kate DiCamillo and Katherine Applegate are always sure bets as well.

6. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?
John Bellairs.  He might not be as well known to children since he wrote a long time ago, but hopefully the recent film version of The House with a Clock in its Walls will help young readers discover his novels.  I’ve been re-reading his books recently, and I like them every bit as much as when I first read them as a child.
7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Read, read, read.  Not just novels–short stories, too, since that’s what you’ll be writing at the start.  And make sure you write every single day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. It’s like exercise!

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

Social media is great for interacting with readers, and I’m also lucky enough to get emails as well. It’s especially touching when the email comes from somewhere far away, like England or Australia.  I’m always flattered when any reader takes the time to reach out and contact me, because that means they really loved something I wrote.  That makes all that hard work worth it!

9.  If you could portal into any book, what book would it be?

It definitely wouldn’t be one of my books–too scary!  I’d have to say Harry Potter. It’s such a rich and varied world, and I’d love to explore it.  (But only if I get to be in Ravenclaw

Posted in Book Review

Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows

By Jacqueline West

Book Source: Borrowed from Library

Book Status: available

This book is about a girl who finds some spectacles which alow her to go into the paintings on the walls of her new house. She gos into her favorite painting long after her discovery on a night she is left alone and let’s out a lady in it and she tries to get a pendent of her and then tries to let out her evil grandpa!

This book is unique because there aren’t many books about magical glasses! If I could go into a painting it would be……. a Voltron watercolor that I got from ComiqueCon!a

Posted in Book Review

Lilac Skully

Written by Amy Cesari

Book Source: owned (third Gifted to me by author)

Book Status: Available

This Book is about a girl who lives in a mansion infested with ghosts who are known as: Fredrick “mr fright”, Milly ” little girl ghost”, Archie and Bram “the Butler ” so her father goes missing and when she tries to do a seance to get rid of the ghosts Mr fright gets mad and starts shaking the door some strange people break in that night that apparently want to kidnap the ghosts so they work together to stop the people but mr fright won’t cooperate until the end of the book– SPOILER ALERT!!!! SPOILER ALERT!!!! 😬 oops.

This book is unique because most books that include ghosts are about the people fighting them, not befriending themb.

Plus there are two more books in the series to enjoy!

okay I’m updating this review so the other books are featured. On with the review:

Lilac Skully 2

This book is about Lilac breaking into Black, Black, and Gremory and finding her dad, ( she doesn’t rescue him though!) riding A ghost carriage to get there and getting kidnAped to the under world.

This book is unique because : same as first one.

Lilac Skully 3

This book is about Lilac making friends and going to an amusement park where she finds Black, Black, and Gremory trying too kidnap every single ghost in the amusement park. You also get to know what The Blue Lady did to her sister Astrid ( Lady o’ lightning, light house ghost.).

This book is unique because: same as first one.

Ummm totally can’t wait for #4. Amy, if you need a reviewer for it, I am your gal!

Posted in Book Review

The Day You Begin

By Jacqueline Woodson

Illustrated by Rafael Lopez

Book Source: Gifted by my from Kim Campbell

Book Status: Available

This book is about when you go to a new school and you’re different, be who you are.

This book is unique because it is A book about being yourself on the first day of school. Most books are about either fitting in perfectly or how to survive school.

I like this book because it is diverse characters. This is a picture book for big kids. It could be used in a class for a lesson on differences but that is okay.

Posted in Book Review

Time castaway #1: The Mona Lisa Key

By Liesl Shurtliff

Book Source: Owned

Book Status: Available

Liesl is one of those authors that if she releases a new book, there is a 99.9% chance I will get. I did try the library first but they didn’t have it yet so I looked sad and my parents bought it for me. I do have a book allowance but sometimes I can get extra books! Ok now for the review……..

This book is about three kids who are late for school so they go to the subway station but they get on the wrong train and end up on the shape changing ship that is piloted by captain Vincent. And from then on they are stuck there unless they want to leave which is never. They steal the Mona Lisa and one of them finds a clue that— WAIT I CANT TELL YOU THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This book is unique because I’ve never read a book about this mix: time travelers; shape shifting ship; clues; key; secretive captain; surprising mom identity; ok I can’t tell you more soooooo………


Posted in Meet the authors

Christina Soontornvat

Soontornvat 2_24Sep15_Cathlin McCullough Photography.jpg

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

I loved magical fantasy stories, like Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I also loved comics! My favorite ones were Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side.

What was your favorite story?

I read The Hobbit about a hundred times!

How do you get your ideas? 

I get some of my best ideas when I have to make up a story on the spot for kids. The Changelings books came about when I made up a story about two sisters for my nieces. Somehow when I am telling a story out loud, my imagination really takes over and goes to some wild places.

Why do you think diverse/multicultural books matter? How would 9 yr old you react to the books? 

I think diverse books matter because we live in a diverse world. For a long time, books featured only one type of character, which is a shame because our world has so many different types of people in it. All those different people deserve to be heroes in books! And personally, I don’t want to read books about one type of person all the time. I want to read books that show me the whole wide world.

What author do you really like right now?

I love so many authors, how could I choose just one? One of my favorite authors is Lindsay Eager. Her book Race To the Bottom of the Sea is one of my favorite magical adventures. There are pirates and candy and sharks and heartaches. It has everything.

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

There is a new book coming in December, called Blizzard Besties written by Yamile Saied Méndez that is about a girl who has to save her little brother during a snow storm (with the help of a lovable dog). I love snow survival stories so I’m really looking forward to it!

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

Now is the time to try out writing whatever you want. Don’t worry about anyone reading it, don’t worry about being perfect. You don’t have to show anyone if you don’t want to! But the more you can practice and stretch your writing muscles now, the better you will get.

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

I do! I love getting emails from kids or their parents telling me they read the book. I never, ever get tired of it. My Changelings books have big twists at the end, and I love hearing from kids who never saw it coming!

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

I’d portal into Middle Earth (from the Lord of the Rings books). Hopefully not during a battle. I would prefer to portal straight into an Elvish feast with lots of singing and good food!

Posted in Book Review


By Juan Felipe Herrera

Illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Book Source: Gifted to me by Kim Campbell

Book Status: Available

This book is about when the author was kid. It is written in poem form and has really nice illustrations.

Okay, this is a read aloud book but a kid will probably need a grownup to help them understand. I struggled to understand this until my mom explained that it was his childhood story. This is the first poem life story picture book I have read so it was a new way to hear the story. I will probably have to read a lot more times to really get it.

My recommendation is this would be a book for upper grade reading. A picture book for fourth grade and older. A teacher could use it to teach poetry and show a different way to tell your life story. The class could look up Juan Felipe Herrera to learn more about him and how poetry has been part of his life.