Posted in Book Review

Bodie Troll

By Jay Fosgitt

Bodie Troll was recently reissued with some added adventures. The book on the left is the original and the right is the one issued by kaboom! I reviewed Bodie last year but still wanted the new version.

Although some adventures are repeats, the added adventures are hilarious. If you don’t know Bodie Troll, you need him in your life. He wants to be scary but he is just plain cute. He gets into all kinds of mischief and just gets into trouble. He learns lipstick isn’t his things (my favorite adventure).

I highly recommend Bodie Troll for those who like graphic novels and plain silly adventures.

Keep your ears open. I might be doing something with Bodie Troll himself soon.

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Jarrett Lerner and @Jarrett_Lerner (Twitter)

I live in Medford, Massachusetts, just a few miles outside of Boston, with my wife, my daughter, and a cat. Besides writing, I love to read, run, cook, and eat. I’m extremely lucky to get to spend so much of my time traveling around (both virtually, via Skype and Google Hangouts, and physically) to classrooms all across the country and up in Canada. Connecting with young readers and creators has become one of the most important – not to mention fun! — parts of my life.


When you were my age, did you like to read?

I loved it. But I had a lot of other interests, too. I played a lot of baseball, and then became obsessed with skateboarding, and then got really into playing guitar. Throughout it all, though, I was always reading.

Early on in my life, thanks to my parents, my siblings, and a handful of wonderful teachers, I learned the value of books. I knew I could go to them for entertainment and escape, inspiration and insight, knowledge and comfort and countless other things besides. Because of that, I was always in the middle of reading something or other, and rarely went anywhere without a book in tow.

What was your favorite story?

I had lots of favorites, but if I had to single out one book from all of the many I loved, it’d be Louis Sachar’s There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom. There’s something about Sachar’s mix of humor and heart – and in that book especially – that really spoke to me as a kid, and still does. Every year or so, I sit down and reread Bradley Chalker’s story. Somehow, it gets better every time.

How do you get your ideas?

I don’t know where ideas come from – if I did, I’d be there right now, scooping up as many of them as I could! What I do know, however, is that my best ideas always come to me when I’m doing three things:

The first thing is Reading. The best way to get your brain looking for ideas of its own is to expose it to the ideas of others, and books are an amazing place to find other people’s ideas – usually it’s where they put their best ones.

The second thing is Exploring. By that, I don’t mean you have to go on a trip to a faraway land or have some sort of dangerous adventure. You can explore every second of every day, even if you’re just walking to school or eating dinner with your family, simply by being present and observant. Pay attention to how the world works, how people interact within it. Collect experiences. Hoard them. If something in particular interests or confuses or irks or excites you, write it down – make sure to remember it.

The third thing is Dreaming, and that’s when you let your ideas and your experiences dance to the unique tune of your own imagination. It’s when you sit around and just let your mind wander and wonder and ask “What if? What if? What if?” These questions – along with their answers, of course – are the building blocks of stories.

Do those three things – Read, Explore, and Dream – and soon enough you’ll have more ideas than you know what to do with.

Is it hard to write a book?

Some parts of writing a book comes easy, and other parts are downright tough. But even the tough parts are, at the end of the day, beneficial, and often enjoyable. I love storytelling and the craft of writing. By challenging myself, by working through the harder parts of writing a book, I become a more skilled, versatile, and confident writer. That, to me, makes it all worthwhile.

What author do you really like right now?

There are way, way too many to name! But a few that I’ve been really excited about lately are Kat Shepherd, Saadia Faruqi, and Eric Bell. If you take a look at my goodreads page or, better yet, follow me on Twitter, you’ll find that I’m constantly talking about authors and books I like and am excited about. It’s pretty much all I do!

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

One of my all-time favorite authors is a guy by the name of Daniel Pinkwater. He’s published tons of books, and is still publishing today. But a lot of kids don’t know of him. I think that’s a shame. He’s hilarious, and his books are so, so fun. Reading them makes my head feel fizzy, like my imagination just chugged a couple gallons of soda.

I found out about your books via Multicultural Children’s Book day. Why do you think Multicultural books are important for kids?


Our world is increasingly interconnected. More and more it’s true that, in addition to our local communities, we all belong to one big global community. As such, it’s essential to understand our community’s members — our neighbors, whether they’re living in the house next door or somewhere halfway around the world. Books that are written by individuals from cultures other than our own and/or that are based in cultures other than our own teach us about different ways of life, making us more sensitive to other ways of doing things both basic and complex, and also making us more thoughtful and constructively critical about the ways in which we do them. Perhaps even more important than highlighting our differences, however, multicultural books reveal our sameness. They speak to the humanity in all of us, no matter where we’re from or how we grew up or what we believe – they tug at that common thread that runs through all seven-some-odd billion of us here on Earth. Such stories are invaluable, for all of us – kids and adults, too.

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

Read and read and read and write and write and write, then read some more and write some more and then do it all over again. But also make sure to share your stories with others, and find and befriend people who write the sorts of things you do, and reach out to authors to learn what they did in order to get their stories made into books.

Becoming a published author requires talent, certainly – but more than that, it requires a tremendous amount of hard work and persistence. You simply cannot give up, and cannot let a bad day, some negative feedback, or a rejection (or dozens and dozens of them) knock you down. Every success, big and small, is built upon a mountain (or at least a sizeable hill) of missteps, mistakes, and outright failures.

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

I do, and it’s one of my most favorite things. I’ve kept every piece of mail a reader has ever sent to me, and I look through them often. I’ve got some of the drawings kids have made me hanging up in my study, and I keep the comic books I’ve been given by them on my bookshelves. I like getting such mail for a number of reasons. One is that, hearing from readers, I know I’ve succeeded — I’ve reached a kid, convinced them to pick up my book and read it from front to back. I’ve made them smile, maybe even laugh, and made them wonder and think. And that is exactly why I do what I do every day!

Another reason I love receiving mail from readers: it inspires me enormously. I am constantly blown away by kids. Their thoughtfulness, their wisdom, their artistic talent, their brilliant ideas, the bigness and boldness of their imaginations — it has all, on countless occasions, literally made my jaw drop. That gets me excited. It gets my own imagination fired up. It leaves me far more energized than I would be otherwise the next time I sit down to write.

One last reason: getting mail from readers, hearing what they like and don’t like, what they got out of my book — all of that makes me a better writer. It’s the best and most important feedback I could get. I learn what I’m doing right and what I might be able to do better. As I said before, I love the craft of writing, and am constantly striving to become better at it. One of the best ways to do that is to pay attention to what your readers have to say. For all of these reasons, I am so very grateful whenever a reader takes the time to send me a letter, a drawing, or a story of their own.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review

The Super Life of Ben Braver

By Marcus Emerson

I was asked to read this book as part of it’s blog tour by the publisher. It is a very funny book. They say silly things. They do silly things. They make plans and then do silly things that weren’t in their plans. The drawings are silly.

Ben Braver is a normal kid who has an enemy. He is asked to attend a school for super heroes. Only problem is he doesn’t know what his super power is. He makes two friends at the school who know what their super powers are. Together they are trying to help Ben find his power. Oh and his enemy shows up at his school.

This is a story about friendship and finding your inner powers. We can all have a super power (ok maybe not invisibility or super strength or any of those) but you can be kind, helpful, a friend or just plain nice.

Diversity is a big topic for me. I was a little bothered that Ben is a white boy. True his friends are a girl and a black boy but why couldn’t Ben be the friend and Noah be the lead. Just saying it would be nice to see the roles reversed more often.

I think this a book both boys and girls will like. Kids who like Vordak or Star Wars Jedi Academy Books will enjoy this. It is written in a similar style, which is chapter book with graphics mixed in.

Posted in Book Review

Fort Building Time

By Megan Wagner Lloyd

Pictures by Abigail Halpin

We picked this book up because my mom grew up with the illustrator. I really like her style.

This a book about the seasons and what kind of fort you can build each time. In winter, you build an snow fort. In the fall, a tree house fort. The forts in the book are very nice and elaborate. They might not be what a kid could build but they could do it with help. They could build the tent one or the box one or my favorite one – the cushion one.

This is a book that helps you use your imagination. You could read out loud and talk about the fort you would build. I would build a cushion fort.

I recommend this book to parents reading to their kids and teachers wanting an imagination project. Imagine all the forts the kids would design. Imagine what kids could build with a quilt and some cardboard.

Off to go build a fort.

Posted in Book Review

The unintentional adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Uncanny Express

By Kara LaReau

Illustrated by Jen Hill

Wheee! The Bland Sisters are back and boy is this a crazy adventure. They have traded in the pirate ship for a train and you would think it would be calmer but nope. They get sent on a mission to see their aunt (or is she). A mystery arises and well the sisters come to the rescue and solve the mystery of the missing Aunt Shallot.

I like that the Bland Sisters are funny because their parents send them on seemingly normal missions that never stay normal. The books are fast paced and full of twists and turns. The minute I think I have it figured out, a new twist pops up. The girls are an updated Nancy Drew in this book.

I just really enjoy these books and think everyone should read it.

Posted in Author Meet Up, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Supriya Kelkar

• Author website/social media: Twitter: @soups25    Instagram: @Supriya.Kelkar

Tell me a little about yourself: Born and raised in the Midwest, Supriya Kelkar learned Hindi as a child by watching three Bollywood films a week. Now she works in the film industry as a Bollywood screenwriter. Ahimsa, inspired by her great-grandmother’s role in the Indian freedom movement, is her debut middle grade novel.

1 When you were my age (8), did you like to read? I used to like to read the Babysitter’s Club series, books by Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl, and a series of comic books from India called Amar Chitra Katha.

2 What was your favorite story? When I was younger, for several years my uncle and aunt would give me a Book of the Month Club membership for my birthday, Diwali and Rakhi presents. This was in the pre-Amazon days, so it was really exciting getting a package with books in it every month. I loved most of those books dearly and still have them all, so it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. I remember really loving the Babysitter’s Club books, Matilda, and Harriet the Spy.

3 How do you get your ideas? They usually come to me when I am trying to solve something for another project I’m working on at the time. Sometimes it can be a picture or an object that gives me the idea. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and inspiration strikes.

4 Is it hard to write a book? It is hard. But it isn’t impossible. It takes a lot of revising and you have to be willing to delete words and characters and chapters you really like. But in the end, it is worth it, when you have a story that works well.

5 Your book is based on your family experience. How did you get the information? I talked to my great-grandmother’s daughter, my great-aunt. I talked to my mom about family stories. And I read my great-grandmother’s biography, written by her husband, my great-grandfather.

6 When we met, you shared how you named your characters. Could you share it here? Yes! The main character, Anjali, is named after my mom. For the rest of the characters, most of them have names of family members from my parents’ or grandparents’ generations. I wanted to make sure they were names that would have existed in the 1940s.

7 What author do you really like right now? That’s a hard question to answer! I have so many favorites right now, that I have gotten to know over the past year. I absolutely adore the books written by all my fellow middle-grade debuts of 2017. I was also really floored by REFUGEE by Alan Gratz.

8 Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest? I would highly recommend all the middle grade novels written by the 2017 debut authors. Ali Standish, Melissa Roske, Linda Williams Jackson, Kristin L. Gray, Karina Yan Glaser, Sarah Cannon, Dusti Bowling, Amanda Hosch, Beth Von Ancken McMullen, Karuna Riazi, Gareth Wronski, Leah Henderson, Patricia Bailey, Sally J. Pla…I could go on and on (there are 57 of us at last count!)

9 What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Read a lot of books, especially books in the genre you want to write, and keep writing and learning.

10 As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that? I do! I absolutely love getting to hear from readers that they connected with my book. It is the best feeling and makes my day!

Posted in Blog Tour, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Abby Hanlon

Today is a bonus stop on the Dory Fantasmagory: Head in the Clouds blog tour! Today, author Abby Hanlon is joining us to answer my questions.

Abby Hanlon.jpg

Tell me a little about yourself:
Hi Bridget. Thank you for interviewing me! I live in Brooklyn and I have twins who are 11 years old. I started writing the Dory books when they were five years old. I love my job because it is something I get to do with my kids. They help me write my books. It’s a whole family project.
When you were my age (8), did you like to read?
Yes, but I was not a great reader. I had too much energy to stay still. I adored Shell Silverstein’s poems and I liked to act them out for my parent’s friends.
What was your favorite story?
I loved the Ramona books. My third grade teacher thought I looked like Ramona so when our class created a Ramona bulletin board in the hallway, she put photographs of me on the board to represent Ramona! For a long time, that was my closest claim to fame.
How did you become an author? Your bio says you were a teacher.
Yes, I was a first-grade teacher. That was when I first got the idea in my head that I wanted to make books. Not only did I love reading picture books out loud to my students, I loved seeing how my students were able to use words and pictures to tell their own stories. I wanted to do it too! I would go home after school and try and make books like my students. I didn’t know how to draw so I had to start with stick figures. I wrote a picture book manuscript that was inspired by a little boy in my class who hated writing. That became my first book, Ralph Tells A Story.
How do you get your ideas for your stories?

Most of my ideas come from my twins. I have spent a lot of time spying on my kids and writing down the details of their games and the funny things they say. Some examples from when the series first started… Dory pretends to be a dog named Chickenbone –my son pretended to be a dog named Buffy for years, and my daughter was his owner. Dory’s cow costume comes from my son’s beloved cow costume that he wore every day for nine months… and like Dory, he would ask us to milk him. Dory gives the doctor a shot with a lollipop- unfortunately my son actually did that too. Like Dory, my daughter never wanted to take off her nightgown and she constantly begged for salami. Dory’s friend Rosabelle wears many skirts under her dress so her dress looks poufy—that was something my daughter used to love to do.
Is it hard to write a book?
Yes, it’s hard for me. It takes me a long time. I want my books to be funny and also to have a suspenseful story. They also have to be clear and easy to follow and be full of stuff that makes kids go, “That happened to me!” I want my books to be so absorbing for kids that once they start reading, they don’t want to stop. And for kids who are just learning to read, I want them to push through all those new hard words just to find out what happens next. AND I want kids to love the books so much that they read them over and over again. So, yes, it is very hard for me to write a book that can do all that.
What author do you really like right now?
I love Dav Pilkey mostly because of his new Dogman series.
Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?

My daughter introduced me to a brilliant Japanese graphic novel/manga series called Yotsub&! by Kiyohiko Azuma. We have so much fun reading it out loud because the dialogue of the 5-year-old girl Yotsuba is hysterical. I also love the French graphic novel series called Ariol.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Well, I know everyone says read a lot. And that’s always a good thing! But what I would also say is to keep your imagination alive. Never outgrow your imagination. Also, I think writing in a diary helps you find your voice. When I was a kid, I wrote a lot in my diary. Writing can be a powerful way of making meaning out of your experiences. For example, if you have an awful day but then you write an amazing story about it – you can wonder- maybe it was worth it to have that horrible day because then I wouldn’t have this story…
As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

Yes! I get lots of emails and letters from kids. They send me drawings, photographs and even sometimes photographs of themselves dressing up as Dory or Mrs. Gobble Gracker. Very often their letters are full of ideas for the next Dory book. I love reading their ideas. But mostly I’m just inspired by how many ideas they have. Whenever I ask a kid, what should happen next to Dory, kids never hesitate—they have a million ideas. Their limitless imagination is what inspires me most.


Previous Stops:

2/26 – Librariel Book Reviews – Review
2/27 – Readchapter20 – Review
2/28 – Briannas_book_binding – Review
3/1 – Bridget and the books – Review
3/2 – How Useful Is It – Review