Posted in Illustrators, Meet the authors

Jim Petipas

 

Website: www.TheCowsGoMoo.com

 

Social media:

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecowsgomoo/?ref=bookmarks

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheCowsGoMoo1?lang=en

@thecowsgomoo1 

 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the.cows.go.moo/?hl=en

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You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJnAfZzwegSjTET0U3D0kw

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Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/thecowsgomoo/

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Questions from Bridget:

 

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

Absolutely! My parents weekly brought me to our public library in Hingham, Massachusetts. I can remember exactly where the children’s section was. I would always gravitate to books on how to draw animals and cars, two things that I love! I would also check out a lot of picture books to bring home and read either on my own or with my parents. Of all those years spending time in libraries who knew I would eventually become a children’s book author and illustrator and have my own book on the shelf!

 

2. What is a book that made an impact on you?

If I were to choose one of many, I would choose, “Start Something That Matters” by Blake Mycoskie. He is the guy who started TOMS shoes. When you buy a pair of TOMS shoes another pair is donated to a child living in a place or situation where they might not have access to good footwear. He calls this, “One for One.” The very evening that I finished reading that book, I said to myself, “I want to do something like that with my book!” Since my book series is about cows I came up with the, “Buy-A-Book / Give-A-Cow” project. Ten percent of the profits from all of my sales of my books and Moo Merch goes to providing real cows to a family’s living in poverty through Heifer International. The families are trained on how to care for their cow and start their own cow milking business to help provide for their family’s needs. I am very thankful that I read that book when I did!

 

3. Is it hard to come up with book ideas? 

I am full of ideas! So are my family members. Whenever we come up with a book idea, I write it down on a piece of paper and put it in my book ideas file, or I type it into the “notes” on my iPhone. As of right now I am focusing mostly onideas for, “The Cows Go Moo!” series. I have some other animal-based stories that I am working on as well. One of which, is about our Silver Labrador Retriever named Earl! Both of my daughters encouraged me to write, “The Cows Go Moo!” based on a silly song I wrote back in high school. A song I wrote in college has become thebasis for my second book, “The Cows Go Moo Shuffle!” Which will hopefully publish before the end of the year. Then my youngest daughter Sophia said, “Dad you should do a coloring book!” “The Cows Go Moo! Udderly Crazy Activity & Coloring Book” will be available in May 2019! Ideas are cool already, but when you see your ideas become a reality it is very cool! 

 

4. Like why do a book that supports a nonprofit?

Since middle school I have been involved in supporting non-profits such as World Vision, Compassion International, Boston Rescue Mission and others. Over the years I would regularly volunteer at homeless shelters, clothing drives, soup kitchens, food banks and as a youth worker. My dad was a homeless person for the majority of his adult life, so I have a special desire to support people in need. I have also had the opportunity to serve in schools, camps, and orphanages all around the world including Guatemala, Russia, Haiti, and Peru, as well as in many cities within the US. My support of Heifer International provides the opportunity and the training to families in need of assistance and this not only provides money for food, clothing and school, but it also builds other important aspects within a person’s life. Heifer International also does this cool thing called, “Passing on the Gift.” Whenever one of these family’s cows gives birth to a calf, that calf is passed along to another family in need within their community to continue the means to help end poverty! I have personally been given so much in my life and it is a privilegeand joy to pass that on to others.

 

5. Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of? 

For sure! There is an author who lives near me whose author name is G. Johnson. She wrote a wonderful children’s picture book entitled, “Seacoo.” The book was beautifully illustrated by Yifan Luo. The story is about a little panda bear named, Seacoo who loves to read. The story is a fun tale about his family, making friends with Coco and the beauty of change. When I was first considering turning my song into a picture book, I met with G. Johnson to get her advice based on her own experience of writing and publishing. The best piece of advice she gave me was, “finish the book!” This became a driving mantra and encouragement to help keep me focused and MOOving forward to finish the book! I encourage you to check out, “Seacoo!”

 

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

Be curious! What I mean by that, is to look for the amazing, funny, mysterious, and fantastical happenings in the world (or universe) around you, within your family, school, friends, experiences, likes, dislikes, dreams and imagination. Gather these ideas in a file and write about some of them. One helpful tool that I learned about writing was to do a Story Map! Take a blank sheet of paper, put it horizontal and write your idea right in the middle of the page. Now start brainstorming! Write down as many funny, strange, challenging, etc. etc. elements, memories, personal stories, etc. etc. that you can think of… this is often called a brain dump! Draw little pictures, circle words and connect themes. You can occasionally take this Map out and add to it again and again. Then you can start to write about it. Get the ideas out, have fun and learn as much as you can from others about becoming an author. Keep at it and don’t forget to, “finish the book!”

 

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

Yes! Because I have a catchy song that goes along with my book, I have received many videos on Facebook of kid’s singing the song, holding up the book, dancing and mooing around! It has been very funny, encouraging and heartwarming to see and hear that my book is bringing joy into people’slives and homes. I also hear a lot from parents. One just told me, “My son loves your book!” One of my favorite reviews was from a grandmother who said, “I was playing the recording of “The Cows Go Moo!” song and reading the book to my five and half year-old grandson when all of a sudden he exclaimed, “Grammy this is better than “Who Let the Dogs Out?” isn’t it?” Great job with the book and catchy tune!” Some of the best experiences are on author visits when we sing the song together, read the book and do some drawings of the characters. Instant feedback and great fun!

 

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

Great question! There are many books I can think of where that would be very cool to be able to do. The book that comes to the front of my mind right now is actually a series of wordless picture booksby Aaron Becker, Journey, Quest & Return.” I love the fantastical settings, the colors, the way the main character can draw a boat or anything rightwithin the story to be able to escape danger or travel to a far away land. Being a wordless book allows the reader to imagine the words for themselves, to scream, to greet, or to cry with their own voice. The intricate artwork and vivid colors are amazing. I have always loved the medium of pen & ink with watercolor. That was actually how I started doing my first book, but then I moved into using all ink with Copic markers. More recently I have been doing some digital artwork on an iPad that I received for Christmas! Aaron Becker and I both live in Massachusetts, so I guess the both of us currently journey in the same land! Moochas gracias for interviewing me for your terrific website!

 

Posted in Meet the authors

Julie Falatko

Author website/social media:

Website: juliefalatko.com

Twitter: @juliefalatko

Instagram: julie_falatko

Facebook: JulieFalatkoAuthor

 

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

YES. I loved to read. There was a great library in the town where I grew up, and my mom used to take me there for hours. I am an only child and sometimes my whole weekend would be sitting in my room, with a cat on my lap, reading book after book. It was dreamy.

 

2.             What is a book that made an impact on you?

This was a hard question to answer, because so many books have made an impact on me, from novels that made me feel seen to picture books that made me laugh. I’ll choose Bridge to Terabithia, which was the first book that made me cry. I think that showed me how magic books can be – little squiggles on the page that can make me feel real feelings? Sorcery!

 

3.             Is it hard to come up with book ideas?

It’s not hard to come up with ideas, but it is hard to figure out which are the good ones. I get most of my ideas when I’m outside, walking my dogs or going for a run. I always bring something with me to write on, and I write them all down. Then I play around with them, and some have momentum and become a good story, and some turn out to not be so great, idea-wise.

 

4.    What author or book have read recently that impacted you?

I can’t stop thinking about The Lost Girlby Anne Ursu. It’s a real page turner that grabbed my heart, made me smile, and empowered me stand taller.

 

5.      Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of? 

Yes! My friend Karen Strong has a debut middle grade coming out in May called Just South of Home, that has family, mystery, science, and ghosts, and I can’t wait to read it. 

 

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

The first thing I need to make sure kids know is that authors are real people. I didn’t know that when I was a kid. I assumed all my favorite authors were dead. Or, if they were alive, they were much fancier than me. So you heard it here first: authors are regular people. Not fancy. And alive.

 

The second thing you need to know is that the way you write – your process – is exactly the same for me as it is for you. Professional grownup authors struggle with our words too. We write terrible stories sometimes. We get frustrated because the words on the page don’t match the words in our heads. We get distracted. We stare out the window. The biggest difference is that I know this is how it works, so I know to keep going. 

 

And the last thing I have to tell any kid who wants to be an author is: GOOD. If you have stories you want to tell, then we need to hear them. Please keep writing. Know that the story you have to tell is worth telling. Write the story in your heart. Write the stories you want to read. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it. 

 

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

 I do hear from readers! I love when readers draw my characters and write their own stories about them, or when they put characters from different books in a picture together, like Snappsy and Bert chatting with Waldo and Sassy. 

 

I also love when they write me to tell me they like my books because they’re funny. Maybe this is because I’m a needy person who likes to be reassured that I am, in fact, funny. Or maybe this is because I think funny books are important, and those readers reiterate that for me.

 

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

I would portal into Everything You Need for a Treehouse by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Emily Hughes. I want to spend a night in each of those treehouses! And most especially live in the one with all the books.

 

Posted in Book Review

Top 20 Daredevils

By Melvin & Gilda Berger

Art by Berat Pekmezci

Book Source: provided by Scholastic for reviews

Book Status: Available April 30, 2019

This book is about the top twenty daredevils of all time. They give their talent, what made them daredevil, and some of their top stunts. There is a mix of female and male daredevils so lots of people do crazy stuff.

This book is very interesting and you learn a lot. It is not the book to share with your little brother who is already a daredevil. He may try to flip off your couch, do a barrel roll or plan a bike jump, much to Mom’s dismay. (Though I have heard stories of Mom’s crazy stunts. She has broken or sprained like every bone in her body but her collarbone.)

This book should be in a class or school library for kids who like real stuff.

Posted in Book Review

Searching for Lottie

By Susan L Ross

Book Source: provided by author

Book Status: Available February 26 2019

This book is about a girl who is doing a research project about her grandmother’s sister, Charlotte (Lottie) who died, well nobody really knows how she died if she died, but they think she died in the Holocaust. So first she asks her grandma about Lottie in letters, and she gets Lottie’s Diary!! It’s written in another language but they find somebody to translate it! Then they find a cousin———SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oops! I don’t want to spoil it all!😬😬

People should read this because it is a great book to use in classrooms and libraries and is a book that can be used to tell about how, not everybody died in the Holocaust. I didn’t know families were separated not just for the Holocaust but for the rest of their lives.

I also learned how so many people have the same story!

I had hit a book wall and then I got this book. I read it in one evening. It was so good I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to solve the mystery and learn more.

This is one of my top books of 2019!

Posted in Meet the authors

Susan Ross

My name is Susan L Ross, and I’m an author from Maine and Connecticut. For more information about my two middle grade novels, Searching for Lottie and Kiki and Jacques: A Refugee Story, you can visit my website at: www.AuthorSusanRoss.com. I’m also on Twitter @SusanRossAuthor.

My new book, Searching for Lottie, is a modern mystery about a 12 year girl named Charlie who tries to discover what happened to her grandmother’s sister, Lottie — a young violinist who disappeared during the Holocaust. Charlie knows that Lottie probably perished, but the more she learns, the more she wonders: Is is possible that Lottie survived? Much of the story is based on my own family’s history. My first book, Kiki and Jacques: A Refugee Story, is about a refugee Somali girl and boy in Maine and was inspired by my childhood home in Maine.

  1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read? When I was young, I didn’t just like to read — I LOVED to read. My main interest was horses, and I would devour any horse-related book I could find: Black Beauty, Misty, and The Black Stallion were among my favorites. There was just one thing that I liked even better than reading — and that was writing! I wrote my first novel in fourth grade. It was called Diablo, and the story was about — you guessed it — a horse. I had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. MacDonald, who even let me stay inside at recess and write.

2. What was your favorite story? As a kid, another favorite book was The Little Engine that Could. In Searching for Lottie, Charlie’s Nana Rose is always full of optimism, in spite of early tragedy and hardship. She has encouraging sayings for almost everything. Like Nana Rose, Charlie keeps going when things get tough. She thinks about The Little Engine That Could and repeats to herself:  “I think I can, I think I can…!”

3. How do you get your ideas? I usually get my ideas from a real-life setting or something that is true. Kiki and Jacques: A Refugee Story was inspired by the many Somali families who have settled in my childhood home in Maine and my belief that books can help make our world a kinder, better, place by letting kids experience different cultures through diverse characters and stories. I want my readers to feel as if they are a character within each story and in this way, build empathy for the characters around them. The idea for Searching for Lottie came from my own family’s experiences during and after the Holocaust — and seeing how much it meant to my kids to learn about our family’s history.

4.  What author do you really like right now? I am an enormous, life-long fan of Patricia Reilly Giff, who won two Newbery Honors with her wonderful books. Her newest middle grade novel is Island War. Pat wrote the lovely blurb for the jacket of Kiki and Jacques: A Refugee Story.

5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest? A “newer’ author whom I admire is Anna Crowley Redding, the author of Google It: A History of Google. She writes about STEM subjects, something I am definitely not good at — so I love learning from her books! 

6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Here is my advice for a kid who wants to be an author (and guess what? It’s the same advice for adults!) KEEP WRITING! It takes a really long time to write a book and can feel exhausting sometimes, but don’t give up. Remember, so much of writing is thinking about your stories — and then, revising your drafts. Like Nana Rose always says in Searching for Lottie: “If at first you don’t succeed — try, try again!

7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that? I love doing school visits and hearing from my readers. For World Read Aloud Day, I was able to Skype with many schools on the same day — it was SO cool talking with kids from Iowa to Ontario. I felt especially happy after reading a review of Kiki and Jacques from a Somali girl in Australia; she was excited because she rarely sees books about her culture. Best of all, she thought I got the details right. Since authors do a lot of research — I met with Somali teens over several years to learn about their lives and was tremendously inspired by them — I was delighted she felt that way.

8. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be? The story behind Searching for Lottie is based on my own family’s experiences, so if I had a portal, I think I’d use that to find out even more about our family’s history. My son did a school project about my refugee mother’s journey to America, and I began to realize that although many years had passed since World War II, in some ways, it felt like our family history had actually gotten closer and more accessible because of the Internet and because kids can ask questions today that were sometimes too painful for my generation. All families, whatever their backgrounds, have stories — and it is so important for kids to save these memories for the future.

Many thanks and let me know if there’s anything else you need — I love your blog and think you are amazing!

Posted in Book Review

Jordan and the Dancing Hippo

Written by Jo Kusi

Illustrated by Arnav Mazumdar

Book Source: provided for review

Book Status: Available

This book is about a boy who on his birthday thinks everybody has forgotten. Then he takes a nap. When he wakes up there are presents. Toys, toys, toys, and more toys, oh and if you were wondering, a hippo 🦛.

People should read this book because it is a good book about patience. This book and the book on Monday are a nice combination for a class.

Posted in Meet the authors

Elly Swartz

Author website/social media:

Site:  www.ellyswartz.com

Twitter: @ellyswartz

Instagram: @ellyswartzbooks

Webseries with author Victoria J. Coe: #BooksintheKitchen

 

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

When I was 9, I loved to read. At bedtime, I would use a flashlight and read under my covers until my mom made me promise I’d turn it off and go to sleep.

 

2. What was your favorite story?

When I was growing up, I loved stories about strong girls with lots of heart and a dash of humor. My favorites were: Ramona the Brave, Pippi Longstocking, and Eloise. I also loved every book by Judy Bloom. Her stories always made me feel all the feels.

 

3. How do you get your ideas?  

Life is happening all around me. So, I try to pay attention to the beautiful, weird, interesting, unique, scary, gross, and funny. I jot these things down in my notes app on my phone. I’ve done this on a hike, bike ride, at a restaurant, even in yoga class. I never know when one of these seeds is going to sprout into an idea. 

 

I also use objects to ground my stories. For instance, I have a perfume bottle on my desk. It was my mom’s. And ever since she passed away, I keep it close. It reminds me of her and all the things I loved most. And miss tremendously. So, in Finding Perfect, I used this perfume bottle to anchor Molly’s story. It representsMolly’s longing to be with her mom when her mom leaves the family to take a job far away. It reflects Molly’s desperate desire for things to be the way they were. Before the leaving. The missing. And the hurt.

 

4. Best part about kids’ books today?

What I love about kidlit today is that there are amazing authors writing incredible stories that reflect so many different readers’ experiences. I love that more readerscan see themselves and their lives reflected on the page. Truly, it is so important for all kids to feel seen, heard, and respected. For all kids to feel connected. For all kids to feel valued. And loved.

 

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

My advice is to read everything. And write because you love it. Because you have a story to tell. Write what matters to you. If you write from that place of true authenticity, the place that tugs at your heart, your words and your story will connect with your readers. 

 

Then follow your dreams and embrace the journey! 

 

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

I hear from readers often. And I love it! I love kids’ honesty, vulnerability, and willingness to share. And, sometimes what they share fills my heart. One reader sent me a letter that opened with, “I just want you to know that you changed my life.” A teacher shared how her student realized after reading, Finding Perfect, that she had OCD and was now getting help and resources to cope. And recently, I received a letter from a boy who confided that my books had become a place where he sought refuge from anxiety “like an anchor in an ocean.” 

 

I always knew that books mattered. Made a difference. But it wasn’t until I became an author, that I felt the true impact of a story.

 

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

Oh, I love this question. I have 2 books that I’d wantto be dropped into. One is my new book, Give and Take (out in October, 2019). In that story, you meet 12-year-old Maggie who has a big heart and a hard time letting go. Of stuff. Of people. Of the past. And when she has to say goodbye to Izzie, the newborn baby her family fosters, Maggie’s collection of things under her bed and in her closet grows out of control. Eventually, with the help of her pet turtle Rufus and Baby Izzie, Maggie learns that sometimes love means letting go. 

 

I’d love drop into Maggie’s world so I could hug her and tell her that she doesn’t need to hoard rocks and sticks and gum wrappers to remember the memories that are attached to those things. Her mind and heart will hold onto what’s important. And remind her that sometimes we love, not to be remembered, but because we can. Because it is the best gift we have togive.

 

The other book I’d love to swoop into is Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin. I’d love to spend time with Rose and, when her dog Rain goes missing, help her findhim.