Posted in General

Big Milestone!

Today is a super exciting day! Today is my blog’s first birthday! I didn’t make a cake for it but check out this cake my mom made for my first birthday!

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I want to thank all of you for supporting me over this past year. I am really excited by the support I have received. I want to send a special thank you to Salina Yoon, Mike Maihack, Aimee Bissonette, Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas, who have really done a great job sharing my blog to their audiences.  Thank you to  Stephanie at Detroit News for the article on my blog and Fox 2 News Maurielle Lue for interviewing on her show.

Thank you also to my guest reviewers who shared their thoughts on books too!

Mom helped me look at what I have accomplished in the past year

  • Posts: 296 counting this one 
  • Visitors: 5946+
  • Views: 11,876+
  • Book reviews: 185 (wow and I have read a lot more books I haven’t reviewed yet)
  • Authors interviewed: 40
  • Librarians interviewed: 30
  • Illustrators: 9
  • My most viewed post is my interview with Meaghan Battle

Thank you for helping me be so successful this year!

And here is a new addition to my room! Guess who made it – yep, my mom! (She is good like that)


 

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Amy Grachow

When you were my age, did you like to read?
 I’ve always loved to read.  When I was younger, I read biographies of famous women like Marie Curie, Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale.  When I was a bit older, I read novels by Charles Dickens like Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and all the novels of Edna Ferber.
What was your favorite story?
My favorite was So Big by Edna Ferber.
How do you get your ideas?
 I decided to write my children’s book series “On A Planet Named Up-In-The-Sky” based on another planet because I could make up characters like Ms. Ella Robophant and Braver-Than-Brave and all kinds of strange and wonderful things like meatball flowers, lollipop stamps and pink jellyfish clouds.  I’ve always loved writing poetry so it was natural for me to rhyme the story.
Is it hard to write a book? It’s a lot of fun, especially since I was able to write it with my son, Keith.  It’s also a lot of work to edit your story.  We were constantly re-writing and cutting things out to make the story make sense.  It was certainly worth it for me.
What author do you really like right now?
 I like adventure, mystery novels by Steve Berry and Clive Cussler among others.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

If you want to be an author, go for it!  Don’t worry about whether it’s perfect, just write what interests you and you can always edit it later.

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Sarah Wassner Flynn

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Sarah Wassner Flynn has authored several children’s nonfiction books for National Geographic. Her most recent titles include This Book Stinks!: Gross Garbage, Rotten Rubbish, and the Science of Trash (out March 2017), Awesome 8 Extreme (out April 2017), and 1,000 Facts About the White House (out September, 2017) as well as Animal Records and Awesome 8. She has also contributed to the New York Times-bestselling National Geographic Kids Almanac for several volumes, as well as the popular Weird But True series books, including Weird But True GrossWeird But True Food, and Weird But True Christmas.

A competitive amateur triathlete, Sarah has twice earned All-American honors from USA Triathlon and represented Team USA at the 2016 International Triathlon Union World Championships in Cozumel, Mexico, placing 10th in her age-group. She often contributes to USA Triathlon Magazine, Triathlete Magazine, Girls’ Life Magazine, and other health and fitness-focused websites and publications.

Sarah lives, writes, and trains in the suburbs of Washington, DC with her husband and three small children.
When you were my age, did you like to read?
Of course! While I loved to play outside and spent many, many hours riding my bike around my neighborhood or digging for worms in my backyard, I always ended the day with reading. My parents are big both big readers and encouraged me and my three sisters to read often. It seemed like we were always going to the library to return and pick up books; I loved scanning the shelves for new titles and discovering authors that appealed to me. At your age, I think I was very much into Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume…authors whose books are still read today!

What was your favorite story?
 What environmental book do you recommend for kids?
As a young kid, I loved anything by Richard Scarry–and now I share these books with my own children! They are timeless, interesting, and so much fun to read.

As I grew a bit older–say, third or fourth grade, I got into Judy Blume, as I mentioned above. I probably read Superfudge five times in a row!

As for an environmental book, I have to recommend my brand new book published by National Geographic, This Book Stinks: Gross Garbage, Rotten Rubbish, and the Science of Trash. In it, you can read about how trash is impacting our environment and what’s being done about it. My mission with This Book Stinks is to inspire all kids to become “waste warriors” since reducing the amount of trash we send to landfills is a huge, important step in protecting our planet. Plus, there’s a bunch of cool infographics and feature stories on all things trash–it’s a fun read, if I do say so myself. 🙂

How do you get your ideas?
My ideas usually come to me when I least expect them. I’m a triathlete, so I tend to have my best “a-ha” moments when I’m swimming, biking, or running. When I limit distractions of my phone, computer, and other screens, I can focus so much better! And since I mostly write books for kids, I often talk to kids to hear about what they are interested in.You guys are full of amazing thoughts and ideas!

why do you write about the environment for kids?
The more kids know about the environment, the better off we will be in the future. You have the power to make changes now that will, hopefully, shift things for the better years from now. Plus, many issues having to do with our environment are quite complicated. It’s even hard for adults to understand! In This Book Stinks, I break down certain topics like landfills, climate change, ocean waste, recycling in an approachable, informative way. I hope that both kids and adults can learn from and enjoy the book.

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written?
This Book Stinks was quite a labor of love, and I am so proud of the finished product. Other than that, while I have enjoyed every book I’ve written for National Geographic, my favorites are probably Animal Records and 1,000 Facts about the White House. The Weird But True books are always a blast to write–and I have some upcoming books on sharks and mythology that I am very excited about.

What author do you really like right now?
I’m actually working on an article about the Harry Potter series right now, so I guess you could say I’m all about J.K. Rowling! I admire everything she’s done and see her as such a creative force.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Write as much as you can! I discovered my love of writing very early on and would write stories about anything and everything. Some were silly, some didn’t make sense, and there were plenty I never actually finished. But for every story I wrote, I was able to develop my voice, learn more about the craft of writing, and figure out the best way to communicate thoughts from my heads into a cohesive story. Just like any habit or career, the more practice you have, the better you will be.

Also, write about what you love. Crazy about Star Wars? Come up with your own characters or recreate one of the stories with your own plot twists. Same goes for nonfiction writing: If you are passionate about baseball, do some research into your favorite player and write about his life. When you are excited about what you’re writing about, the words will fly out of your head and onto the screen.
Posted in Book Review

This Book Stinks

By Sarah Wassner Flynn

This book stinks…. not really. It is about garage, recycling and landfills. (Maybe Mindy and Guy should read this before their next picnic – hehe)

I learned a lot about trash and what they do to the environment. There were ideas at the back of the book on how to recycle things via crafts. Like a sprinkler (oops, spoiler alert). I was really surprised to learn how long things take to break down. It makes think before I throw something out.

There is also a quiz on how wasteful you are. There are a couple of questions to help you figure it out. I was in the middle – not super wasteful but I am not wasteless yet. I am working on being less wasteful.

I liked that the book explained trash in a way I could understand. I think kids will like that. I also liked the recycling ideas because I do like to make crafts from everything.

I recommend this book to people who want to learn about recycling and people who want to learn new crafts. Also people who like the environment.

Posted in Comics, Graphic Novels

Dan Mishkin


Tell me a little about you: I’ve written comics professionally since 1979, and I’ve loved comics since the first time I read one at age 5. I think it’s fair to say that comics shaped who I am as a person — because they fired up my imagination, showing me that there were all sorts of possibilities in the world that I hadn’t dreamed of; and because they gave me role models whose actions taught me that the amount of power you have in life is not as important as how you use that power.

Describe event: The Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival is a free, two-day celebration of comics held at the Ann Arbor District Library (downtown). There will be over 50 cartoonists and writers on hand who will not only have comics to sell, but are eager to share their passion for making and reading them. We’ll also have hands-on comics-making workshops, art demonstrations, interactive drawing games, and an awesome music and dance party!


What is the easiest part of the event? Most of the work I contribute to A2CAF takes place before the event, so the easiest part is attending — and especially having lots of conversations about comics with kids, teens and adults.

What is the hardest? The hardest part is making sure we’re sharing all the information we need to with our Artists Alley guests, library staff and the public in a timely way. And that we’re hearing about concerns when they first come up and are more manageable. There are a lot of people we need to keep in communication with from about January forward in order to make sure the two days in June go smoothly.


As a writer yourself, how did you get started? I was lucky that when I was trying to break into the comic book field, DC Comics was publishing anthology series featuring stories that were sometimes as short as 2 or 3 pages — usually science fiction, fantasy or horror and often with a twist ending. That made it easier for an editor to take a chance on a new artist or writer, knowing they wouldn’t ruin an issue with one clunker of a story, or worse, turn out 20 or more pages of unpublishable work that the company would still have to pay for. The first story I got to do in comics was the only idea one editor liked out of a dozen I sent him, and he gave me 3 pages to tell it.

What is your favorite comic you have worked on? I’ve had a lot of great experiences working on superheroes like Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman — sometimes with editors and artists that I’d idolized in my childhood — as well as on titles like Star Trek and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (and even a Roger Rabbit story). But my favorites have been the comic book series that I helped create, like Blue Devil and Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld

Why do you think kids should read comics? My hope is that comics can still do for kids today what they did for me as a child: expand their imaginations and help them see that life doesn’t have to be limited by other people’s expectations. Making comics can also be a great outlet for creativity and expressing emotions. And as many people have pointed out (though this is actually at the bottom of my personal what-comic-are-good-for list), they can be a stepping stone to all kinds of reading that some young people might have a hard time starting out with — which is fine by me as long as they don’t then abandon comics.

Can you recommend a comic series to me? If you haven’t read it already, the Zita the Spacegirl series by one of this year’s A2CAF guests, Ben Hatke, is one of my favorites. (Bridget note: agreed. I like Zita a lot) And I hear terrific things about Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. You could even try my old Amethyst series, which has been collected into a single paperback volume.

Bridget Note: if you can join this event next weekend, I hope to see you there!

Posted in Awesome Kids, Book Review, guest kid reviewer

Grandfather Whisker’s Table

By Eun-Jeong Jo

Illustrated by Bimba Landmann. 

Review by Westley.

This story is about a little boy and his dad a long time ago.  The little boy buys a toy for his baby brother.  The dad goes to one of the first bankers and the little boy ask the banker to hold his toy for his baby brother so he doesn’t lose it at the Palio di Siena horse race.  Then he loses the receipt to get the toy back!

I liked when he lost the receipt and the banker gave back the toy even though he didn’t have the receipt since it was a present for his baby brother.  I like the pictures and the artwork because they were pretty.  They had lots of detail.

I think people who like history would like this book.   This is a story about a time that was real, but the people aren’t real.

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Kara LaReau

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Kara LaReau was born and raised in Connecticut. She received her Masters in Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts and later worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and at Scholastic Press. Among other celebrated titles, she edited Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and the Mercy Watson series. She is the author of picture books such as UGLY FISH and OTTO: The Boy Who Loved Cars, illustrated by Scott Magoon, and NO SLURPING, NO BURPING! A Tale of Table Manners, illustrated by Lorelay Bové; a chapter book series called The Infamous Ratsos, illustrated by Matt Myers; and a middle-grade trilogy called The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, illustrated by Jen Hill.  Kara lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband and son and their cat.

One half-eaten sandwich. Two sisters. A crew of lady pirates. Hold on to your booty.-2

When you were my age, did you like to read? I LOVED to read. I especially liked reading at night, when I was supposed to be sleeping. (I still do.)

What was your favorite story? I didn’t have a favorite. But here are just a few authors I liked: Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, Beverly Cleary, Norma Fox Mazer, and the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.

How do you get your ideas? I try to be observant, to keep my eyes and ears open, as my ideas come from funny or interesting things I notice in my everyday life.

Is it hard to write a book? VERY hard, but in a fun way, like a puzzle.

What author do you really like right now? Too many to count! There are so many terrific books out there right now. Currently I am reading Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder, and it is very good.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Read a lot, write a lot, and keep those eyes and ears open for new ideas!