Monday, July 23, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - 7/20/18


The weekly post where I recap some of the KidLit books I've been reading. Ocasionally, I'll also talk about some adult fiction books as well.

Be sure to check out Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to see what other Kidlit readers are reading. Because, you know, we can never have too many books in our TBR piles.


Board Books

by Patty Rodriguez & Ariana Stein
Lil' Libros, 2017

We. loved. this. book. The illustrations are so bright and wonderful. Each page has an emotion in both Spanish and English. In the 3 weeks that I had it home from the library, I bet I read it at least 50 times (I'm not kidding). Now my 20 month old son toddles around the house making all the hand motions to accompany the emotion (hand to the cheek with a shocked expression for surprise/sporendido, scratching his head for confused/confundido). He even walks up and says "amada" while giving us hugs. We will be buying this one for our home.

by Christopher Silas Neal
little bee books, 2018

This was a fantastic read and a very creative color concept book. I love the mash up of both the colors and the wacky animals. What does a blue whale and a yellow lion make? A green whion of course!

Picture Books

by Damian Synadinos 
Proving Press, 2018

I haven't ever seen a book that introduces kids to improv before. It was a fun read that would make for a great rainy day book. I especially like the improv games included as back matter to get the creative juices going. You can read my full review here.


poems by Carol Murray
illustrations by Melissa Sweet
Henry Holt and Co., 2017

This was a wildly fun read. The poems were playful and informative. And the illustrations were fantastic too. My daughter and I both loved the nonfiction tidbits that accompanied each poem. 

Middle Grade

by Peter Brown
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016

I cannot heap enough praise on this book as a read-aloud. My daughter and I read this together and it is simply wonderful. The chapters are super short, which make bedtime (or classroom) reading perfect because there is always an easy stopping point. The characters are all so lovable. My daughter especially enjoyed Chit Chat, the squirrel, who talks exactly how you'd picture a squirrel to talk. We cannot wait to pick up the sequel.

by Cassie Beasley
Dial Books, 2015

Cassie Beasley is one of my new favorite authors. I read Tumble and Blue earlier in the year and thought it was wonderful. Circus Mirandus is just as good. I love a good circus story and Beasley does such a fantastic job of bringing the magic to life. She also does a magnificent job of taking serious, sorrowful topics (like the death of a loved one or a parent abandoning a child) and wrapping it in a story filled with magical realism and tangible characters so that the topics can be easily digested by a young reader. She doesn't pander, but delivers real emotions in a way that young readers can understand.

Young Adult

by Angie Thomas
Balzar + Bray, 2017
narrated by Bahni Turpin
HarperAudio 2017

I feel like I am late getting to this one, but I am so glad I finally read it. This book needs to be read and anyone and everyone. Sometimes I worry when tons of hype is put into something but the hype is absolutely well deserved. I listened to the audiobook and it was one of the best performed audiobooks that I have ever listened to. So so good and impactful. This book has the power to make change happen. I cannot wait to see the movie. 

Adult Fiction

by Edgar Cantero
Doubleday, 2014

I read Cantero's Meddling Kids last year and really enjoyed it--it's probably my favorite adult fiction book from the last few years. So I picked up this one and really liked it as well. It is basically a Victorian gothic horror story set in Virginia in the 1990s. Cantero walks the line of giving the reader just enough information to push the story forward while leaving a lot in the dark until the end. All around a fun read. His next book, This Body's Not Big Enough for the Both of Us--a hard boiled mystery where the protagonist detective is a set of twins stuck in one body--comes out in two weeks and I'm really excited to pick it up.

by Kristin Hannah
St. Martin's Press, 2018

Excellent, excellent book. A lot about this struck home for me, which made it quite personal. I could really relate to Leni's circumstance. The descriptions of the Alaskan frontier were beautiful and wild. I felt like I was right there with the Allbrights. I especially liked how it is a very satisfying ending , but it's not wrapped up in a pretty bow and perfect. It felt real. Highly recommend. 

Nonfiction - Craft

by Mary Kole 
Writer's Digest Books, 2012

One of my writing group members lent me this book and it is fantastic. Because I have such a small amount of time to write, I have been looking for a book that could help me outline my current work-in-progress. This book was helpful during the planning stages of my novel and I believe it will also be very helpful during the revision stages as well. I will be adding this to my bookshelf for future reference. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Poetry Friday - Lake Poetry Swap

It’s Friday! And you know what that means: Poetry! Want to know more about Poetry Friday? Click this link right here. And be sure to check out Heidi Mordhorst's blog, My Juicy Little Universe, to see this week’s round up of wonderful poetry related posts, blogs and goodness. 

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! I'm so glad that you stopped by. Things have been hectic with both the kiddos and my husband home for the summer. I love them all to death, but it feels like I am getting nothing done! I am still trying to savor it because I know school will start back up here in about a month. 

With all the craziness of summer, it was so nice to receive a summer poetry swap package from Irene Latham. Not only did she send a wonderful poem, but she also sent me this adorable turtle. He has found a comfy home with my other slow-moving stuffed animals. 

Knowing that I enjoy horror, Irene sent me a spooky poem about swimming in a lake. Little did she know that lakes really do give me the heebie jeebies! I live close to the ocean and don't think twice about all the sharks, jelly fish and rays when I go for a swim. But there is just something creepy about lakes. I just know that a monster tentacle is going to curl around my ankle one day and drag me down! Thanks, Irene for the fantastic poem.

Swimming in the Lake
by Irene Latham

It starts with a whisper
on my ankle,
a tickle on my thigh --

I kick and shiver:
are there alligators nearby?

Something bubbles,
something pops.
I see a head --
           my heart squeezes!

-- and a pair of eyes.
           my body freezes!

Get me out of here, quick!

What? It's just a stick?
Not a snaketurtlepirhanasharkALLIGATOR
hunting me now
for a feast later?

I wish I knew what to believe...

It ends with me
climbing the ladder,
crying, No more!

I think I like the lake better
from the shore.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

SOMETHING FROM NOTHING by Damian Synadinos - Informational PB Review

Hank and Stella in Something from Nothing

by Damian Synadinos

At a Glance


Informational picture book

Age Range: 

ages 5-10, but can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in improv


"Hank and Stella in Something from Nothing" is an engaging story with cute characters that introduces children to improv principles and skills that are as useful on stage as they are at play and in life" (source).

The story follows two stuffed animals as they make a boring rainy day more fun by learning about imrov.


  • makes improv easy to understand for young children
  • illustrations are bright and engaging
  • a great tool when children say "I'm bored"
  • a great tool to teach that it's okay to make mistakes

Would I recommend this title:

Yes, especially to those who are interested in improv

Full Review

I have seen various books on how to do improv, but they have always been geared towards adults or older teens. Enter Something from Nothing by Damian Synadinos, a picture book that teaches children the principles of improvisation in a fun and engaging way.

Hank and Stella show young readers how to play together, how to build their confidence and how to develop their imaginations. I especially like the fact that the book teaches children that it is okay to make mistakes and that we can grow and build on those small accidents.

One concept in the book is the "Yes, And" rule. It teaches a skill that I think is invaluable throughout life. Part of creativity and brainstorming in a team is building on what others say. Instead of shooting down and idea, you say "yes" and then continue to add your own input. This promotes innovation and collaboration.

I also love that the book comes with a list of improv games to get kids going. I can't wait to try them out with my own kids as I think that they will have a blast trying them out.

Overall, this is an excellent book for showing kids how much fun improv can be, and  that it doesn't have to be scary. The idea of standing up and performing on the spot kind of terrifies me. Maybe it wouldn't be so scary if I had something like this when I was a kid.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Poetry Friday - Sloth Poetry Swap

It’s Friday! And you know what that means: Poetry! Want to know more about Poetry Friday? Click this link right here. And be sure to check out Michelle Kogan's blog to see this week’s round up of wonderful poetry related posts, blogs and goodness. 

Hello and happy Friday! I joined the Poetry Friday community last July and I had just missed the Summer Poetry Swap. So I have been looking forward to participating for nearly a year and I just sent off my 1st poem.

A word to the person who receives mine: I decided to do a concrete poem, and I hand wrote it. I apologize for my tiny chicken scratch! I do have a digital copy for you as well, so just let me know when you get it (I don't want to email early and ruin the fun) and I'll send it your way. I did write my email on the postcard, but I don't even trust my trying-to-be-neat handwriting. :)

I received my first poem of the swap this week and it was from none other than the amazing Tabatha Yeatts. She wrote me a sloth-themed poem and she even put cute sloth tape on the envelope. 

by Tabatha Yeatts
for Rebecca
A sloth has fur so thick it lends
itself to sheltering small friends

Their shaggy selves might turn pea green
when algae is the friend who's seen

 then they match the leaves they eat
and their homey tree retreat.

 Since they create a habitat
for beetles, moths, and things like that,

 though people say they're solitary,
you might want to say "Not very!"

I loved her poem not only because it has to do with sloths, but she also included a little note about the community connection to our Poetry Friday community. She did say, though, that "that makes poetry the sloth and we're the bugs." That image makes me smile. Thank you, Tabatha.

Monday, June 11, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - 6/11/18

The weekly post where I recap some of the KidLit books I've been reading. Ocasionally, I'll also talk about some adult fiction books as well.

Be sure to check out Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to see what other Kidlit readers are reading. Because, you know, we can never have too many books in our TBR piles.


Picture Book 

written by Amy Dixon
illustrated by Karl James Mountford
Sterling Children's Books, 2017

I absolutely love this picture book. It is funny and heartfelt and just great. Both of my kids sat through multiple readings. Mountford's illustrations are fantastic. Highly recommend. 

Middle Grade

written by Jan Eldredge
illustrated by Joseph Kuefler
Balzer + Bray, 2018

Another fantastic read. I love excellent kidlit horror, and this one grabbed me from the get go. Highly recommend. Read my full review here.

Young Adult

by Scott Westerfeld
Simon Pulse, 2014

Scott Westerfeld is always so consistent in his ability to tell a great story. This one was particularly fun because of the NaNoWriMo component. As an aspiring writer, I found myself easily cheering for the writer protagonist. The format of Afterworlds is pretty unique because it is essentially two books/stories wrapped together. Recommend. 

Adult Fiction

by Jonathan Maberry
St. Martin's Press, 2018

I really enjoyed this book. It is creepy and unsettling and wonderful. The story is essentially about what happens when nightmares and reality collide and spill into each other. Jonathan Maberry, with all his amazing skill, has written a book about dreams that actually makes you feel like you are in a waking dream. And it's just fantastic.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

EVANGELINE OF THE BAYOU by Jan Eldredge - Middle Grade Book Review

illustrated by Joseph Kuefler
Balzar + Bray, 2018

At a Glance


supernatural, folklore, horror

Age Range: 

8-12 years old (middle grade)


"Twelve-year-old haunt huntress apprentice Evangeline Clement spends her days and nights studying the ways of folk magic, honing her monster-hunting skills while pursuing local bayou banshees and Johnny revenants."

"But when Evangeline and her grandmother are called to New Orleans to resolve an unusual case, she uncovers a secret that will shake her to the soles of her silver-tipped alligator-skin boots." (source)


  • excellent overall storytelling
  • the mix of folklore was fantastic
  • I liked Evangeline's character and I think kids will relate
  • Just the right amount of creep factor for the age range
  • Werewolves!
  • illustrations were so much fun
  • a twist actually surprised me 

Would I recommend this title:

Most definitely yes!

Full Review

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you'll know that I am always on the lookout for good kid appropriate horror. Evangeline of the Bayou totally fits the bill. I love all the folklore that Jan is able to pull into the novel. Her descriptions actually have me wanting more, in a good way. I want to go on every single hunt with Evangeline and her Grandma to see how each baddie--big and small--is handled. I hope that there will be a sequel.

Joseph Kuefler's black and white illustrations throughout the book are fun and add a bit to the creep factor without going overboard. 

I feel like Evangeline's character is relatable, especially to the target age group. That is what makes the book so great. Growing up, living up to expectations--both internal and external, death, and loss are all artfully intertwined into a story about a young girl fighting monsters. What is not to like?

One thing that I give total props to Jan for is getting me with a few twists. I usually have things all figured out by the end, but she got me.  I tip my hat to you, Madam. 

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys folklore, spooky stories, or just great storytelling.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Poetry Friday - A Is for Alvarezsaurus

It’s Friday! And you know what that means: Poetry! Want to know more about Poetry Friday? Click this link right here. Be sure to check out Keisha Shepard's blog, Whispers from the Ridgeto see this week’s round up of wonderful poetry related posts, blogs and goodness. 

Hello and Happy Friday! I am back from my fun (and exhausting!) trip to Tennessee. 13.5 hours driving (not including stops) in one day is a lot to do with two little ones in tow. But we made do. It is always great to see family and watch the cousins play together.

Animal Alphabets (an A-Z twitter drawing prompt, but I use it as a poetry prompt) just started fresh with a new theme of extinct animals. A was for Alvarezsaurus (which posted this past Monday) and I had some fun writing an acrostic for it. I meant to do a little sketch to go along with the poem (as it primarily is an illustration prompt) but I ran out of time. I am kind of glad that I did, because now I don't feel so much pressure to accompany each letter with a poem and a drawing. 

(c) Rebecca Herzog 2018

I was really excited when they announced the theme was extinct animals. I was thinking they would pick animals like the passenger pigeon, and the black rhinoceros. Well, next Monday, B is for Boreaspis! Boreaspis was a jawless fish from the Devonian period that had a long pointy snout. You can learn a bit more here. Ha! Piece of cake, right?