Thursday, October 10, 2019

Picture Book Round-Up -Our Big Little Place by James A. Conan and Nicolle Lalonde

Welcome to October Picture Book Round-Up! Today I am reviewing Our Big Little Place by James A. Conan, illustrated by Nicolle Lalonde.

This story revolves around a little boy who lives in an apartment with his parents. He often overhears them mention how small their place is, but to him, it is his whole world. He doesn't understand what they mean. He loves to play pretend, hide and seek or basketball with his parents. There is even a big park where he can play with other kids. To him, it is perfect. When he is with his family it never feels small.

Great storyline, however, I have to point out the name of the boy is never given, but every other character is listed. That hit me as an odd mistake. There are wonderful scenes using the boy's imagination and lots of family fun and togetherness. So many families live in apartments or in a big city, so I think kids will relate well to their world being what is in their eyesight. I'm giving this book a 3.5!

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Picture Book Round-Up The Seed Who was Afraid to be Planted by Anthony DeStefano and Erwin Madrid

Welcome to October Picture Book Round-Up. Today I am reviewing a new release PB, The Seed Who was Afraid to be Planted by Anthony DeStefano, illustrated by Erwin Madrid. It came out just yesterday! Oct. 7th.

This is a delightful picture book that tells the story of a little seed that likes hanging out with all the other seeds. He doesn't want to be planted. When the day comes that the farmer removes him from the drawer, the seed is terrified. He doesn't understand why he is put into a hole and buried with soil. However, as he grows, and his branches and leaves reach high, be realizes how much he missed by being in a drawer and how his view is now filled with beauty.

The illustrations are lush and vivid. I really enjoyed looking at all the seeds and animals and highly recommend it for the artwork alone. The story is done in rhyme, however, the cadence doesn't always ring true and I got thrown out of the story at times. It really is hard to do a rhyming book that works. The plot though pulls through and the story is at the end related to Bible verses of seeds becoming plants. I didn't know it had a religious twist until the end, and it actually made the story more real to me. I liked it. I'm giving it 4 stars!

Buy it now-

Monday, October 7, 2019

MG Spotlight- Awesome Achievers by Alan Katz

Welcome to Middle-Grade Monday! Today I am spotlighting a MG non-fiction series that is perfect for back to school, Alan Katz's Awesome Achievers.

Two books kick off the series: 
Technology and Science

Everyone has heard the name Steve Jobs, but what about Nolan Bushnell--Jobs's boss before the invention of Apple, and the founder of the first major video game, Pong? Many of the most relevant figures in tech history have remained in the shadows, but not any longer! From Alan Katz's new Awesome Achievers series, Awesome Achievers in Technology gives kids a look behind the scenes at 12 lesser-known inventors whose contributions to tech are personally relevant to their lives today. Each figure is given a traditional biography but is also subject to Katz's unique brand of silliness, with humorous elements such as imagined poems, song lyrics, and diary entries by and about the not-so-famous figure accompanying each bio.

Everyone has heard the names Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but what Awesome Achievers in Science gives kids a look behind the scenes at 12 lesser-known scientists whose contributions are personally relevant to their lives today. Each figure is given a traditional biography but is also subject to Katz's unique brand of silliness, with humorous elements such as imagined poems, song lyrics, and diary entries by or about the not-so-famous figure accompanying each bio.
about Michael Collins--the third brave Apollo 11 astronaut who didn't get to walk on the moon? Many of the most relevant figures in scientific history have remained in the shadows, but not any longer! From Alan Katz's new Awesome Achievers series,

About the Author-
Alan Katz
Alan Katz is the author of many highly acclaimed children’s books, including Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs, Don’t Say That Word! OOPS!, Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking, and The Day the Mustache Took Over and its sequel, The Day the Mustache Came Back. Alan is also a six-time Emmy-nominated writer for TV series including The Rosie O’Donnell Show, animated series Taz-Mania, Disney’s Raw Toonage and Goof Troop, the Grammy Awards and Tony Awards, and many network specials and game shows. he has also created comic books, trading card sets, web videos, TV commercials and hundreds of other special projects for kids and parents. He lives with his family in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Alan can also be found at

Buy Them Now- Amazon


Thursday, October 3, 2019

Picture Book Round-Up The Hug by Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar

Welcome to October Picture Book Round-Up! Today I am reviewing The Hug by Eoin McLaughlin, illustrated by  Polly Dunbar.

The Hug is a unique picture book that I loved! This clever book can be flipped around to tell the story from each character's point of view. It is relatable for both children and grown-ups. There are many times when you feel lonely and unloved and all you want is a hug. For both hedgehog and tortoise, this is true. They ask everyone they come across for a hug, but everyone turns them down by making up an excuse.

Then, separately, they each meet the wise owl, who tells hedgehog he is too prickly and tortoise he is too bony, but not to worry because there is someone for everyone. And that is when the two see each other and running, they hug. What a heartfelt story with a wonderful theme, there is someone for everyone! The uniqueness and message of the book have me giving it a big 5 stars!

Buy it Now-

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Time to meet Feiwel & Friends' assistant editor Rachel Diebel

For our Publishing spotlight today I am highlighting Feiwel & Friends assistant editor Rachel Diebel, who I met at the PNWA19 conference.

Who is Rachel?
Rachel Diebel is an assistant editor at Feiwel & Friends, where she works on middle grade and young adult novels of all genres. She got her start in publishing at St. Martin’s Press, where she worked with her supervisors on bestselling authors like Kristin Hannah and the Instagram poet Atticus. She holds a Masters in Publishing from Pace University. Rachel is originally from the Pacific Northwest and now lives in Brooklyn.

What is she looking for?
Children's Picture Books, Children's Chapter Books, Middle Grade, YA Fantasy, YA Graphic Novels, YA Historical, YA Literary, YA Mainstream, YA Mystery/Suspense, YA Romance (Romantic Comedy), YA Thriller, Indigenous stories (PB, MG, YA)

She specifically told us she is looking for the following in MG: Catchy, fun antics books, fantasy, and commercial. In non-fiction MG she would like sports. She is just now dipping her toes into the picture book world.

 In YA: High concept content with a great hook, commercial, contemporary fantasy, and Romcom. She will also look at YA short story collections.

What she doesn't want?
General nonfiction
High fantasy
Hard Sci-fi

Her advice?

Cross-over books are hard to sell. There is no section for them at Barnes & Noble. Stick to either MG or YA or they will have to pick an angle for marketing purposes. If you don't know what level your book is, don't worry, it happens often and the publisher will decide.

Can MG be dark?
Kids read up and can handle more than they are given credit for. It's often the parents' publishers are worried about. So writers often need to pull back on extreme details. The themes of the book can be dark, but the on-page descriptions are not.

What if you've self-published first?
If this is the case then it must be decided if something new can be added. We will look at adding art or bonus chapters. The self-published book must be taken down once we contract for it.

Where to find her?
On Twitter- @diebelra
You can contact her at HOWEVER, please see below.

Feiwel & Friends is part of US Macmillan- Please note that we do not accept unsolicited submissions, resumes/portfolios, and vendor inquiries via email. All emails of this nature will be deleted.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Picture Book Round-Up - The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses by Susanne Gervay and Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Welcome to October Picture Book Round-Up! All this month I will be reviewing picture books every Tuesday and Thursday! To start us off I have a delightful release, The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses by Susanne Gervay and Marjorie Crosby-Fairall.

The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses is about a little boy named Sam. One day he gets glasses, blue ones, and everyone tells him how handsome he looks. He doesn't think so. Then people start asking, "Where's Sammy?", the reader knows it's people trying to make Sam feel better, but in the story, Sam just thinks people can't see the real him anymore. Only his friend George still knows him.

Sam tries to hide his glasses, but the adults keep finding them. He is forced to wear them and some classmates tease him. Then, one day George stays home sick from school and Sam has no one to play with. He takes off his glasses to clean them, and instead of seeing other students in the class, his blurry eyes make people seem like waving animals. He starts joking around and soon everyone thinks he is funny. When George comes back to school, Sam is now okay with his glasses, and everyone plays together.

The story is perfect for young ones getting their first pair of glasses. The events are relatable, from people always telling you how good you look in your new glasses, to the part where kids in class might tease you. It shows a child whether they wear glasses or not, they are still the same person. One cute tidbit, as you read the story, the shadow behind Sam often appears to be a grown-up superhero. I'm giving this one 4 stars!

Buy it Now-

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Last Dragon by James Riley- Review and Giveaway!

Welcome to Middle-Grade Monday! Today I am reviewing a brand new release, The Last Dragon by James Riley! It goes on sale next week on Oct. 8th. The publisher is offering a copy of books 1 and 2 in the series to ONE lucky winner in the  US. To enter, fill out the rafflecopter form below.
The Book-
Fort Fitzgerald can’t stop having nightmares about the day his father was taken from him in an attack on Washington, DC. In these dreams, an Old One, an evil beyond comprehension, demands the location of the last dragon. But other than some dragon skeletons dug up with the books of magic on Discovery Day, Fort has never seen a dragon before. Could there still be one left alive?

And weirdly, Fort’s not the only one at the Oppenheimer School having these nightmares. His new roommate, Gabriel, seems to know more than he’s letting on about this dragon as well. And why does everyone at the school seem to do whatever Gabriel says? What’s his secret?

Fort’s going to need the help of his friends Cyrus, Jia, and Rachel if he’s going to have any chance of keeping the Old Ones from returning to Earth. Unless the Old Ones offer something Fort could never turn down.

My Thoughts-
First off, this is book two in the series and I did not read the first one. Luckily, the author does a great job of releasing info so that the reader fully understands what came before. However, some of the things he mentions seem really cool and I wish I'd read the first book. So my recommendation is to read the first one.

The story starts off with Fort now at the new Oppenheimer school for magical kids. He can't forget that his father was taken in the last book, so the entire theme of this second book is to find and recover dad. Everything Fort does is to accomplish this goal. The story starts a bit slow and I had to push myself to keep reading so I could get to the juicy stuff. Once the story gets rolling, I went along for the ride and loved Fort's adventure into another universe to rescue his dad.

There is a great twist that took me by surprise and loyal friends to save the day. I enjoyed the story and can't wait to see what happens in book 3. I'm giving it 4 stars!

The Author-
JAMES RILEY lives in Virginia. He is the author of Half Upon a Time, Twice Upon a Time, and The Story Thieves series. Find him online at or on Twitter @_JamesRiley_. Author Photo by Maarten de Boer

The Giveaway-