Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Melanie Conklin

Author website/social media:, @MLConklin on Twitter

1When you were my age (8), did you like to read?

When I was eight years old, I loved to read! I always took a book with me in the car, especially on the long drive from North Carolina to Buffalo, NY to visit my grandparents. That takes 12 hours! I would read several books going one way, then swap them with my cousin in Buffalo so I had new reads for the way back.

2 What was your favorite story?

My favorite were stories that had anything to do with horses—so, Black Beauty, and horse-racing mysteries, and veterinarian stories like James Herriot’s. I grew up riding horses, and I loved stories that showed how incredibly tender and loving horses can be, as well as passionate and fiery! I also liked a good cry, so stories like The Secret Garden and Charlotte’s Web were favorites, too, along with every one of the Babysitter’s Club stories.

3 How do you get your ideas? 

My best ideas come from paying attention to my life. There are moments that make you smile, or cry, or laugh, and those are the moments that feed into stories. The start of a story always comes from a What If? For Counting Thyme, that question was, what If your little brother or sister got sick? What if you had to move to New York City to help them? (I moved to New York City TWICE, so that’s an experience I knew a little bit about!)

4 Is it hard to write a book?

Books are not easy to write because they take a long time to complete, but writing CAN be easy. My best trick for making sure writing stays fun is really listening to my heart about what I WHEN I really want to write. It is no use beating yourself up for not writing when what you really need is to stop and eat lunch, or read someone else’s book, or go see a movie. Experiencing life and other people’s stories fills you up so that you have a lot to say when you do sit down to write.

5 Mom says your book is about a family where one kid has cancer. That sounds like a really hard topic. Was it hard to write this?

The story in Counting Thyme is about a girl named Thyme whose little brother, Val, has cancer. I wrote about this because the same thing happened to friends of mine many years ago, and the story really stuck in my heart. While cancer was a tough subject to research and to write about, I also felt driven to do a good job showing what it’s like for families to go through this experience.

6 What author do you really like right now?

Ooh, this is such a great question! I read a LOT, so I have many authors to recommend. One of my recent favorites has been Erin Entrada Kelly, who just won’t he Newbery medal! Her books have such great friendship stories, with lots of Filipino traditions that are fascinating to read about.

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

I also love Debbi Michiko Florence’s JASMINE TOGUCHI books because Jasmine reminds me of myself as a kid. I’m a little obsessed with Celia Pérez’s THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK. The zines in this book are so cool! Elise Gravel is an author you should check out. Her books about OLGA are hilarious, and her illustrations are awesome!

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

My advice for anyone who wants to be an author is to start a writing notebook. It can be whatever kind of notebook you want—I like smaller ones, with spiral binding so the pages flip all the way around. Let yourself write WHATEVER YOU WANT in your notebook. I like to keep several notebooks, one for random ideas and notes, and separate notebooks for each book I’m working on. A notebook gives your mind a place to play and collect ideas. Plus, you can doodle in them!

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

I love hearing from readers! Sometimes I get letters in the mail, and those are always so special because it takes work to mail a letter! I also love reading email messages and tweeting with readers. Reading was so special for me growing up that it’s a real privilege to have kids reading my book now. Plus, young readers share the best comments, because you are full of ideas.

Posted in Book Review

Science Comics: robots and drones

By Mairghread Scott and Jacob Chabot

The Science Comic’s next release is about robots and drones. This is something kids are curious about so the timing is very good. The book is a graphic novel that goes through the history of robots and also drones. Robots are not as new as we think they are. There are new versions and robots can do a lot of new things.

The book uses a robot character to bring to different points in history and explain how robots came about. There is a lot of information in the book. I learned a lot from the book and would learn more each time I read it. One of the first robots in history was a bird on a string.

This book would appeal to boys and girls who are interested in history, robots and more. If they liked previous Science Comic Books, they will like this one. It comes out next Tuesday.

Thank you to publisher for providing me a review copy.

Posted in Book Review

Marabel and the Book of Fate

By Tracy Barrett

I picked this up at the bookstore recently. It is great, which is good because I was torn between this book and another everyone is raving about. I have the other one on hold at the library. This is a book that features a strong female lead.

Marabel is a princess and a twin. But her twin is very important because he is the chosen one. He gets kidnapped and guess what he can’t save himself from their aunt (haha strong evil female). Marabel has to go save her brother. Tagging along is her friend, Ellie, who works in the castle, and a sassy/funny unicorn. This trio is not to be messed with.

What I liked about this book is the females are strong. They are saving the boy. Marabel is good in weapons, a good fencer and a planner. Ellie is good at whatever she needs to be. The unicorn is good at eating and being sassy.

I recommend this book to people who need a laugh, to people who want adventure, people who need to see a strong female character. Kids who have been reading Princess in Black and need harder reading would like this.

Posted in Book Review


By Matthew Cordell

In honor of my interview with Romy being so popular, I picked up this book by Matthew Cordell. I would have gotten Wolf in the Snow but the copies didn’t have their stickers yet.

Wish is a picture book about wishing for a family. It starts with two elephants who are wishing for a kid. They know they want one but they have to wait. And they wait until a storm comes and there is a little elephant.

I think a family that adopted might really like this story as well as families having a baby. Also kids who are waiting for a sibling.

I like the pictures. Matthew is a good illustrator. I like that the characters are elephants because he makes cute elephants. His words read like a poem. It feels soft – I read soft and slow. It would help someone calm down. Probably put you to sleep too.

There are other books in this series so go look for them!

Posted in Awesome Kids, Friday Fun

When your dad wins the Caldecott….

Bridget note:I have interviewed Matthew Cordell previously. His daughter, Romy, has provided reviews for my blog. When I heard the news that Matthew had won the Caldecott this year,  I was curious what Romy thought. So I asked her about it.

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1. How did you find out your dad won the Caldecott Award?

When I woke up in the morning, my mom was very excited and she said, “Your Dad won the Caldecott!” And then I went into my parents’ room and my Dad was on the phone. When he finally got off the phone, I jumped on him and hugged him, and I screamed until I was hoarse. Then, my parents let me and my brother stay home from school for the morning, so we could watch Dad get the award on TV. My dad and I went and got donuts and when we went home, we ate our donuts and we watched the award announcements.


2. What was your first thought when you heard the news?


3. This isn’t the first award Wolf in the Snow has won, but was this surprising or shocking?

Wolf in the Snow won a Boston Globe-Horn Book honor award first, and then when it won another award, you’d think it wouldn’t be as shocking. But it really was because the Caldecott is a huge honor.

4. Did your dad use his win to get out of a chore? (My Dad would.)

Actually no, but he wanted to. He didn’t because my mom wouldn’t let him.

5. What did your classmates think?

Some of my classmates didn’t know what it was, but the ones who did totally flipped. Some of my teachers didn’t know either, but the ones who did were silent for a minute.

6. Do you get to go with your dad to get the award?

Yes, because my Dad didn’t want to go without me. I’m so glad, my whole family is going. I am really excited about going to New Orleans, but I don’t like when my ears pop on the plane.

7. Both your parents are writers. What does that feel like? (P.S. My mom really likes your mom’s books.)

It feels really good since I can give my teachers a truck load of signed books for the holidays. (And that is so nice of you to tell me! I’m so glad!)

8. Who is the coolest person you have met?

Well, I’ve met lots of cool people, but I think the coolest person I’ve met is Carrie Fisher and her dog, Gary Fisher. (Bridget note:SUPER JEALOUS!)


9. What was your favorite book this past year?

I love to read and I have a lot of favorite books, but I think my all time favorite is How to Train Your Dragon, book, 3, How to Speak Dragonese by Cressida Cowell.

10. Do you think you might write a book?

I’ve been working on a novel since second grade, but I don’t think I will finish that one. I want to write a different one, but I don’t really know what it will be about.

Thanks, Romy! I have seen lots of interviews from your dad on this but it is cool to hear what a kid thinks. Plus I can’t wait to see your book! ~ Bridget

Posted in Book Review

Star Scouts: The League of Lasers

By Mike Lawrence

Avani is back in book 2 of Star Scouts. In this adventure, she gets stranded on a new planet while on a mission for the League of Lasers. She meets an alien who says she is alien . (I think they are both right) The alien takes them to his farm where Avani is captured by aliens. (Trust me it is easier to follow in the graphic novel) Her future friend helps rescue her. And there are all kinds of space adventures, mischief, friendship and all the things I like in a book.

This isn’t my favorite book series but it is fun. It works with Zita, Cleopatra, Clem – all of which I am impatiently waiting for new books on. Avani is a strong, independent girl. She doesn’t need a boy to rescue her unless she is stranded but you also think she would do the same for him.

I like that she is drawn as a Multicultural character. Any girl could see themselves as Avani, which I know from my friends is important. I could see my best friend dressing as Avani.

This is a good addition to the girl in space graphic novel sets. If Zita, Cleopatra or Clem isn’t your gal, maybe Avani is. And if none are your girls, that is okay because there a million other books on the shelf.

I think kids should be encouraged to read graphic novels because it isn’t just words, words and no picture or picture, picture, no words, it is both. Graphic novels are a good bridge between picture books and chapter books plus a lot of the ones I have read recently are a solid read. They challenge you but are fun.

Note: First Second Books provided me this copy of the book in exchange for a review. The book comes out next Tuesday, March 20th so still a little time to pre-order

Posted in Book Review

Girls who Code

Book by Jo Whittemore

Activity book by Sarah Hutt

I was super excited to be asked to be part of this book’s blog tour. I am very curious about coding. The last coding book was a little too hard for me so I hoped this would easier. It was much clearer.

First there is a story book of girls who code. It is a fun book. It is nice to have a diverse group of girls who are into STEM. There look to be a couple books in this series so that is super exciting. In the one I read they won an ideas contest for an upcoming dance. It had to be related to coding. So it is kind of neat to see mixing of school activities with coding. I like the girls and this story.

I was asked to try one of the activities in the second book. This book is AWESOME. It was super hard to pick one activity to do! I wanted to do them all and I just might. I picked Optical Illusions as my activity. I even copied my sheets so I could do it a couple times.

This was my first version. The activity sheet is like a color by number. You pick your colors and then follow the pattern. It ends up looking 3-D. It is not!

I even tried changing colors in my second try. You get the same illusion, just more color.

If I was coding this, the activity sheet says it could animated to make the illusion appear. That’s cool.

The activity book all the little things that go into coding. There are lots of details to consider. I think it is a good way to introduce kids to coding without overwhelming them. Plus if they don’t have regular access to a computer they can still participate.

I really am happy I was asked to do this! I was considering giving the books to my school but I just might be keeping these!

Make sure to check the other stops on the blog tour!


3/12 – Crossraod Reviews – Coding Activity

3/13 – Biblobakes – Coding Activity

3/14 – Bridget and her Books – Coding Activity


3/20 – Book Reporter – Coding Activity

3/21 – Margie’s Must Reads – Coding Activity

3/22 – The Readathon – Coding Activity

3/23 – Melimimi – Coding Activity