Posted in Book Review

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart

By Stephanie Burgis

Book Source: Owned

Book Status: Available

This book is about a dragon named Aventurine who’s family thinks she couldn’t survive and hour in the wilderness. When she sets of to prove them wrong, a food mage uses enchanted hot chocolate to turn her into a girl, and she goes on an adventure to try and get back to the family cave. But on the way, her grandpa flameballs her, and she decides to go to the big city the food mage told her about instead. On the way there, a lady named Greta finds her and takes her to the city. Don’t be fooled by her hospitality, she’s a very mean woman, trying to make Aventurine an unpaid maid for her house, doing all the work, and the only one there. But she loves chocolate soo much Aventurine escapes and try’s to get an apprenticeship to a chocolatier. The first two throw her out, but the last one, The Chocolate Heart, takes her in as an apprentice. The Chocolate Heart has a bad reputation for firing apprentices very quick because the owner, Marina makes quality more important than look. But Aventurine is not fired at all because she does exactly what is told and is rather fond of the owner. A little after she arrives at the city, a girl name Silke comes to her to help her get enough money to get nicer clothes. First they cut her long hair, then using the money she got from her hair cut, she got a nice dress that had color instead of the other peoples clothes ( they dressed like trees apparently) and some nice red boots. But when the king and the two princesses come in incognito, Marina and Horst ( they’re kinda like an unmarried pair) have an argument about how to make what the royals ordered they leave and Aventurine and Silke are left to make the order. 2 problems occur during the time the royals are there. The first one is that Aventurine has never made the order before, and the second one is that when the royals get their order, two people of the Lord Mayor come in and spin tales of mold by the oven, cockroaches in the chocolate cupboard, and other other disgusting lies. Ok I have to stop because if I don’t I’ll tell the whole story. 😬😬😬😬

This book is unique because usually it’s the girl that gets turned into the dragon and it’s a spell that transforms them not a dragon turned into a girl by enchanted hot chocolate.

I found it on my bookshelf and have had it for a while. It took me two days to read this. I am glad I waited to read it till now!

Kids who like adventure and fantasy stories will like this.

Posted in Meet the authors

S.A. Larsen

S.A. Larsen Author image 1.jpg
Twitter: | @SA_Larsen

1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
I loved Nancy Drew mysteries and anything that had spooky or eerie elements to it. I also adored Judy Blume’s SUPERFUDGE. But I truly discovered my love of the eerie mingled with fantasy in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien.

2. What was your favorite story?
As a young child, it would be Where The Wild Things Are. As a middle schooler, it would be Judy Blume’s Are You There God. It’s Me, Margaret. And as an adult, there is not doubt my favorite story is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; not spooky, I know. But my love of romance is the flip-side to my creepy, eerie side.

3. How do you get your ideas?
I read. A lot, and of all sorts of subjects. I’m also a people watcher, because people are interesting and where real stories begin. But in all of that I must find something that visually catches my eye. I’m all about physical imagery, a visual writer. Often while writing, I’ll close my eyes to see a scene play out in my head. What were the colors, the smells? What did the characters sound like, and how is their world different from all other worlds? If the sky was blue, I’ll ask myself ‘Does it have to be for this story?’ Playing the ‘what-if’ or the ‘details’ game always generates ideas.

4. What author do you really like right now?
Tough question. I’ve been a fan of Kate DiCamillo and Alice Hoffman for as long as I can remember, so those are a given. For right this moment . . . I’ll go with Jonathan Stroud. I totally heart The Screaming Staircase!

5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?
There are so many talented authors in the kidlit writing community. There’s my fellow @TheSweet16s authors, but in particular my friend Kathleen Burkinshaw, who wrote The Last Cherry Blossom, which is fantastic. And I must give major props to my #SpookyMG author mates from I can’t choose just one of them. You should read them all! As a matter of fact, we have a Reading Challenge available, where you can win prizes! For a list, feel free to check out our website because spooky books aren’t just for Halloween anymore.

6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Write, often. One way to do that is to keep a journal. You can write your thoughts, story ideas, hopes, fears, or whatever. Even a creative shopping list. It doesn’t matter. Writing is writing.
Remember that writing is subjective. Just because someone doesn’t like what you wrote doesn’t mean it isn’t good or well written. It could simply be their taste in subject.
If you love writing, don’t ever give up.
7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
Yes, and it’s probably the top most exciting thing to happen to me aside from getting married and having my children. Receiving correspondence from readers is like opening up unexpected Christmas presents. I am so grateful that they’ve taken time out of their lives to share in my make believe worlds. I remember shortly after Motley released I was in a local restaurant with my husband and a few friends. A woman walked up to our table and tapped me on the shoulder. She had a little boy with her. He saw me from across the restaurant and recognized me from my author photo in the back of my book. He wanted to tell me he’d read Motley and loved it; he also asked when book two was coming out. My heart practically burst from joy. His words meant the world to me and encouraged me to write the next book, which I recently completed.

Everything inside me is saying ‘any Harry Potter book’. Just imagine how fun that would be! But, when I let my adult brain take over, I think I’d love to drop into Pride and Prejudice. To chat in person with Elizabeth Bennett would be awesome! She’s such a strong female lead. I love her character.

Thank you so much for your interest in Motley Education and for giving me this opportunity! I’m super excited.


Posted in Book Review

Motley Education

motley education (2)

Written by S.A. Larsen

Book Source: Owned

Book Status: Available

While visiting my grandparents in Maine, my grandmother lent me a book by a local author to read. I didn’t finish that book but made note of the author’s name. When I visited Kim at South Portland Library, she had book marks signed by the very same author. I took it as a sign I needed to read S.A. Larsen books. When we got home, my mom got me Motley Education on her tablet.

This book is about a girl named Ebony, Ebony goes to a school for kids who can communicate and see spirits or make potions, so essentially a dark magic school…. in Maine! Ebony is not a very good student plus her dad is like the superintendent or something. Let’s just say kids who have issues at school will totally get Ebony. She is also know for some “weird” behaviors like using sign language to communicate with spirits which make her stand out from the other kids. So a kid who feels like they don’t belong will like Ebony.

The chain of events is a kid goes missing, Ebony uses a school project to open a magic door to trolls/fire giants and stuff like that, she meets a kid who is controlled by an evil spirit and she gets attacked by a fire giant. Doesn’t this sound like a school you want to go to? No, I am not so sure either but it sure is fun reading about it. It is exciting to see the book is also noted as Book 1 so there should be more adventures.

So if you have middle grade readers like me, this is a super fun fantasy book. I really liked the use of Norse Mythology in the story. I like mythology and like it when authors use mythology in a story. It is a neat way to introduce kids to mythology in a fun way. So if you are interested in mythology this could be a book for you.

If you like spooky books, this could be your book. So maybe everyone could find a reason to read this.

Posted in Book Review

Dragons eat noodles on Tuesday

By Jon Stahl

Illustrated by Tadgh Bentley

Book Source: provided by Scholastics for review

Book Status: available March 26, 2019

So this book just showed up at my house the other day and I loved it. It also has the very important schedule of dragon eating. So on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, people better stay inside. Monsters need to avoid Wednesdays. Savage cabbages should hide on Sundays. Tuesdays are noodle day which this noodle loving kid is fully on board with.

But besides that its really about how people make up stories as they go along. It’s silly because it is how people tell stories. Kind of like when your parents tell you the two sentence story to get you to bed. “Once upon a time there was a kid named Bridget. She went to bed. The end”

This can be a fun read aloud story. I am going to spoil the ending because it could scare a kid – the monsters realize it is not Tuesday, it is Wednesday so they get eaten by the dragon. It does set up for a second book of how they get out of the dragon’s stomach.

So with that in mind, this is a great fun book. I like it when surprise books show up! Now to go set up noodles for tomorrow’s dragon visit!

Posted in Book Review

Penguin Problems

By Jory Johns & Lane Smith

Book Source: Gifted by Kim Campbell

Book Status: available

This book is about a penguin who has a million problems like, its to cold, it’s to bright, and I don’t know who anybody even is. His problems go on and on and on, until a walrus is like, look at the water and mountains, look at the snow, and stuff like that. Then——- SPOILER ALERT 🚨 SPOILER ALERT 🚨!!!!!!!! Oops😬😬

This book is unique cause most books about penguins don’t have a walrus that comes and fixes a penguins problems, come to think of it, most books about penguins don’t even have a nice walrus!

Posted in Book Review

Flow Spin Grow

Written by Patchen Barss

Illustrated by Todd Stewart

Book Source: Gifted via Patchen’s publisher

Book Status: Available

This book is about how you can find patterns everywhere in nature. Branches are a key part in this book too.

This book is unique because it shows how there are patterns everywhere, but in poetry.

This book is a very interesting book and I recommend it to younger kids who want to become a scientist. It is also a good book for any class, no matter what grade. Even a homeschool class.

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.