Posted in Meet the authors

Monica Brown

Monica Brown_Credit Josh Briggs.jpg
Photo by Josh Briggs

Author website/social media:


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

 I loved to read when I was young. I always had a book in my hand. I had an aunt who was a kindergarten teacher and she gave me a variety of books. I remember reading Nancy Drew, Beverly Cleary’s Ribsy, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and Judy Blume’s Blubber. I particularly loved books with adventurous kids and animals too.

 What was your favorite story?

I never had just one favorite story!  The lovely thing about books is how many different kinds of adventures they can take us on. I like stories with witches and monsters, and quiet stories set in nature. I like stories about nerds and about misfits and about rebels.

 How do you get your ideas?

I’m a curious person, so I read a lot, and listen to others, and observe the world around me. There’s so much beauty and wonder, I’ve always been able to come up with interesting ideas and characters. Sometimes, fictional characters, like Marisol McDonald and Lola Levine, are drawn from my own family and life, and at other times, they come from a question asked by a child. For example, the character of Chavela Chavez from Chavela and the Magic Bubble was inspired by a question my daughter Isabella asked me: “Where does bubble gum come from?”  With my new Sarai series, I was inspired by Sarai Gonzalez herself! She’s a bold, caring, creative girl who wants to change the world and leave it a better place!


Why do you think multi-cultural (including bilingual) books are important?

Multicultural books are important because they reflect our world and our reality. I love bilingual books because I think it’s neat to see two beautiful languages side by side on the page. I also think being bilingual, or trilingual, is something to be celebrated! The more languages we know the more people we can connect to, and life is all about relationships and friendship.


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

 Read. Read. Read. Write. Write. Write. Revise. Revise. Revise. And don’t give up! Keep writing and believe in yourself, even if nobody else does! Write the stories you want to read.


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

 It’s always a lovely gift to hear from my readers! I like knowing that I’ve made them laugh or think or that I’ve given them the enjoyable experience of reading a good story.


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

 My Lola Levine series is inspired by my family, so it’s certainly a place I enjoy being in—if only in my mind when I write. My children are grown up and at college, so it’s fun to remember the times when we were all at home together. But I supposed if I could portal into a book, I might choose one where there’s magic, like Cornelia Funke’s Inkspell or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series, because who wouldn’t like to be magical?


Posted in Book Review

Sarai Series


Both books by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown

Book Source: provided to me in exchange for a review

Book Status: Released

This is a double book review of the two new books by Sarai Gonzalez. She is a young girl who became famous on YouTube. She is a little older than me and has released two books with more coming in 2019.
In Sarai and the meaning of awesome, her grandparents have to leave their home because they can’t pay the rent anymore. The owner would like to sell the house. Sarai decides to take action and does stuff like a lemonade stand to raise money for her grandparents.  She learns that no matter how lemonade stands or dance concerts she does, she wouldn’t be able to raise enough money for the house.  It is an important lesson about how grownup life is.
Sarai in the spotlight is about her entering in a school talent show. She can’t be with her sister because their grades are separated. They have to be in different talent shows.  There is also a new girl who she doesn’t know well but they become friends. The new girl likes to write in her journal at recess instead of playing. The girls partner up for the talent show. This is a book about teamwork.
These books remind me of Jasmine Toguchi and her adventures. Both are also diverse books written by authors from that culture. They really understand what is feels like to be the character. That helps the book be more interesting, valuable and unique. It also is a strong reason to have these in your library.
The Sarai books are quick chapter books like Jasmine Toguchi. They would be great for kids just into chapter books or looking for an easy read. For me, these books would fall into my book candy category (but they meet my reading teacher’s log rules so YEA).
Posted in Book Review

Legend of Greg

By Chris Rylander

Book Source: July OwlCrate Jr

Book Status: Published

This book is about a boy named Greg who finds out he’s a dwarf and his best friend is an Elf after his dad’s store was destroyed in an elven attack. Quick dwarf history lesson: ELVES ARE ENEMIES AND ELVES ARE TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, and his dad’s being held hostage by some elves.

This book is unique because I’ve never seen a book where elves and dwarves are enemies. It’s kinda like a new take on fantasy.

I recommend this book to kids who are sick of the oh everybody’s friends except for the evil witch and her henchmen.

Posted in Book Review

Try This!

By Karen Romano Young

Photographs by Matthew Rakola

Book Source: provided by Media Masters Publicity in exchange for review

Book Status: published

We received this book before school ended to review and it got misplaced. Mom had put it away so we didn’t do experiments by ourselves. Then we couldn’t find it till September. A heat cancelled school day was a great day to do experiments.

We tried the following experiments:

  • Cool glow sticks
  • spin wool into yarn
  • Elephant toothpaste
  • Color explosion
  • Instant slushie
  • Orange oil lamp
  • The experiments were easy to do with a grownup. We did projects based on what we had at house. We will do some other experiments in future. We needed some other things to do them!
  • Along with the instructions, the book explains what the science is. For example, elephant toothpaste is an exothermic reaction and decomposition. It was warm to the touch!
  • The color explosion is about emulsion. The food coloring shows how the suspension is broken up. We even dipped paper in this to make cool marble paper.
  • Note: We didn’t have regular milk in house (dairy allergic) so we used almond milk. The color explosion worked fine.
  • Cool glow stick shows how cold affects items.
  • Teachers should have this book. The projects were fun and easy to understand.
  • Posted in Music Review, Reviews by Annoying Little Brother

    Building Blocks

    CD by Tim Kubart

    Music source: Tim provided to me

    Music Status: Out September 28th

    Review by Coopbart (Lil’ Brother)

    A perk of being Tim Kubart’s biggest fan is getting to listen to his new cd early! I have had it for a while. You would be jealous if you knew how long I have had it.

    My favorite song is “Going Up” which is about construction sites. I also like “Field Trip”, “Oopsie Do” and what I call the mommy song (Day One). I can’t wait to play “Birthday” on my birthday.

    If you liked “HOME”, you will play this one just as much. (I wore out my “HOME” cd)

    You can sing and dance to all the songs. I just keep listening to the songs. I am not sick of it yet. Oh and I created a dance for “Going Up” that I need to teach Tim and Alex!

    My recommendation is buy lots of copies of “Building Blocks” and see Tim in concert a hundred times. I also recommend dressing as him just as many times.

    Ps I made it in the video for “Day One“!

    Posted in Book Review

    Santa Cow Studios

    By Cooper Edens

    Illustrated by Daniel Lane

    This book is about some cows who make movies giving a family a tour of Santa Cow Studios. The cows take them through sets of their movies that include Star Cows, Jurassic Cows and The Wizard Of Cows.

    This book is unique because I having read any books about cows that are filmmakers.

    I recomend this book to everyone.

    Posted in Meet the authors

    Stephanie Campisi


    Twitter, IG: @stephcampisi


    Tell me a little about yourself:

    I’m a picture book author who writes stories about creatures and people who don’t quite fit in. My books include The Ugly Dumpling, Luis and Tabitha (out this month!) and soon The Five Sisters and Very Lulu.

    I’m originally from Australia, but now live in a tiny town in Washington State, USA. I spend my days working in my upstairs office, reading on the porch and keeping an eye out for interesting wildlife in my yard.

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

    Absolutely! I was lucky enough to have a library at the end of my street, so I spent most of my afternoons there. They had a great kids’ section, and I remember trying to work my way through all the books in alphabetical order!

    2. What was your favorite story?

    I loved animal books, fantasy stories and ghost stories. When I was 9, some of my favourites were The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda and R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books, which were starting to become really popular at the time.

    3. How do you get your ideas?

    I get ideas from everywhere! I email myself newspaper stories that I find interesting, take photos when I’m out walking or travelling, and make notes when I read something interesting in a book. Normal conversations with people can also lead to great ideas. People all lead such different lives, and it’s easy to come across something that you find really interesting and worth exploring in a story. I also love word play, so lots of my books start out with a funny title and build from there.

    4. Your book – was it easy or hard?

    The initial idea is always easy, but turning it into a book is hard work! Even a picture book can take months to write, and it can be a few years before it ends up in a bookshop or on library shelves. I do think that the more you write the easier it gets. It’s a bit like taking up running: at first you run out of breath really quickly, but the longer you train, the longer (and better) you can run!

    5. What author do you really like right now?

    I really enjoy Cressida Cowell – I think she’s hilarious! In teen books I love Jaclyn Moriarty, and for picture books I think that Julie Falatko and Ame Dyckman are great.

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

    For picture books, Jessie Sima and Dashka Slater; for novels, Mary Hooper and Cassandra Golds are authors you might like to try in a few years’ time. (I have to keep it short, or I’ll go on forever! I feel like so few authors are as well-known as they should be!)

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

    Just the basics: read a lot, write a lot, and be a mindful “reporter” of the world around you. Write stories that you love, and explore interesting characters and ideas. Don’t even worry about how to turn a story into a book. Just enjoy reading, writing, and observing. All of these habits are very valuable skills for an author.

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

    Yes, I do! It absolutely makes my day to get an email or a message from someone telling me that they’ve enjoyed one of my books. So if you read something that you love, don’t feel shy about letting the author know. I promise they’ll love to hear from you. It’s much better than getting a bill in the post.

    (In fact, when I was about 13, I wrote to one of my favourite authors, and she wrote back with a lovely note – I was so surprised and excited, because up until then I don’t think I’d truly realised that authors were real people! That note helped me realise that being an author was something that I could do, too.)

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

    Well, books are full of drama, and I’m a very boring person. So nothing where I’d be in trouble or danger! I think I’d pick a setting by Diana Wynne Jones. Weird, strange things might happen, but I’d be having so much fun I wouldn’t mind

    illustration by Hollie Mengert

    illustration by Hollie Mengert

    illustration by Hollie Mengert