Thursday, August 31, 2017

September Writing Goals

Another busy month has come and gone. Things were especially hectic with school starting back up for my daughter, and my husband teaching again this semester. We're starting to get into the groove though, so that is good.

Before I do my usual recap, here are a few highlights from August that weren't originally listed in my goals for the month

  • I submitted two poems to some children's magazines
  • I applied to be a Cybils judge
  • I joined NetGalley so I can start receiving and reviewing ARC (advance reader copies of books)

I didn't do too bad on my August goals. Can't seem to crack that darn Madam Fang though.

August Goals Review

  • Finish final draft of Madam Fang and submit it for publication and Rising Kite contest (So, I'm almost through the final draft. Rising Kite is due the end of September)
  • Continue weekly book reviews
  • Continue weekly poetry reviews
  • Start working on my Zine (This is due October 1st, so I'll be hitting this hard in September.)
  • Hold book giveaway
  • Read 3 books
  • Daydream a bit more about potential story ideas

September Goals

  • Read 4 books
  • Continue weekly book reviews
  • Continue weekly poetry reviews
  • Submit to poetry anthology
  • Submit freaking Madam Fang already
  • Finish Zine
  • Hold Book Giveaway
  • Pick and start outlining my NaNoWriMo book

So there you have it! Another month in the books. What are some of your goals for the upcoming month?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Where Is My Coat? Farm Animals - Board Book ARC Review

Buy Here
Where Is My Coat? Farm Animals
by Anita Bijsterbosch
Clavis, November 15th, 2017

I received an advance reader copy of this book to review


At a Glance


Age Range: 

Newborn through toddler

Plot:

Farm animal lose their coats and the reader must guess why type of animal they are.

Pros:

  • creative take on a common board book type
  • illustrations are fun and vibrant

Cons:

  • I wish the text was more varied, but there is something to be said for repetition in board books

Would I recommend this title: 

Yes!

Anytime someone can take a board book and make it fresh is a win for me. Bijsterbosch does just that with this book. On each page, the animals are presented in silhouette, and the reader must guess what the animal is. Then the reader turns the page for the big reveal. I like the high contrast between the black and white images and the the full color spreads of the animals. I think that this book would hold a baby's attention.



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Zines Zines Zines!

I just received the first batch of zines for the upcoming Zine Swap! Jazlyn sent me these beautiful little booklets with an illustrated short story.




I'd love to have a few (or a lot) more people participate. Zines are fun and easy to do. The theme is Autumn/Fall. Make a zine of your illustrations. Fill it with poetry. Tell a story. It is up to you! If you'd like more info, check out this post, or email my at slothreads1985@gmail.com 

Monday, August 28, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/28/17




The weekly post where I recap all the KidLit books I’ve been reading. Occasionally, I’ll also review 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 pile.
                                         

Picture Books


written by Erica S. Perl
illustrated by Henry Cole

I enjoyed this first book, Chicken Butt, but this one fell flat. The concept is great, but something about the execution didn't work. It's a conversation between a mom and her son. She goes "Yes Dear, but..." and then a deer's butt shows up. My daughter and I actually read it--with me reading the mom parts and her reading the kid parts, but it just didn't flow. It may have been the way it was laid out or the sequence. I'm just not sure.


Because I Am Your Daddy
written by Sherry North
illustrated by Marcellus Hall

My husband read this one to our kids while I listened. My husband now wants to buy this one, so he especially enjoyed it. The illustrations are wonderful. The watercolor blending is amazing. The story is cute and is sort of a riff on The Runaway Bunny sans the running away part. 


Cesar Takes a Break
written by Susan Collins Toms
illustrated by Rogé

This one was just alright. I felt like it was a bit wordy, which was ok because my 7yo likes the longer text now. The illustrations are fun, and the idea is good too.


Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist
written by Jess Keating
illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens

I love it when I can find books about female scientists. My daughter and I were both engaged with this story. It spans Eugenie's childhood into her adult life and hits all the normal notes. I especially liked the back matter. There was a section on shark facts and then another section going into a bit more detail of Eugenie's life. She was the Chair of Scientific Research at Mote Marine Aquarium (20 minutes from our house). I have been trying to get my daughter interested in going for awhile, and now she wants to go.


Poetry


 Twimericks
by Lou Brooks

I really enjoyed this poetry book. The retro illustrations fit perfectly with the zany limericks that Lou Brooks wrote. One or two of the poems' meters were a bit hard to read, but most of them are spot on. I had so much fun with this book, that I decided to try my hand at writing my own tongue-twisting limerick. It is much harder than it seems.


Middle Grade


Pottymouth and Stoopid
by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
illustrated by Stephen Gilpin

I was disappointed in this one. Read my full review here.


 Castle Hangnail
by Ursula Vernon

I thought I would like Castle Hangnail, and ended up enjoying it even more. Full review here.



Non-KidLit


 Postcards from the Edge
by Carrie Fisher
read by the author

I was as shocked as anyone else when I found out about Carrie Fisher's passing last year. Since then, I have decided to work my way though her books. This is the first one that I picked. I will say that it was great to hear her voice reading the book. I know that there was a movie made, but I have never seen it. It doesn't surprise me. Sometimes the book felt like a screenplay, describing outfits in detail, or having characters almost "enter stage left" into the scene. Overall, it was alright.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Poetry Friday - Sally Sloth's Swan Song


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 Check It Out to see this week’s round up of wonderful poetry related posts, blogs and goodness. 
________________________________________

I'm still looking for a few more people to do a Zine Swap! Check out the info here.


As you may have noticed, the blog got a little bit of a face lift this week. My wonderful illustrator husband drew me as a book-loving sloth (my favorite animal) so I decided to put it up as my new blog header. In celebration, my poem this week is also sloth related! I'll get to it in just a sec.

This week I read a really fun poetry book call Twimericks, by Lou Brooks.


 Twimericks
by Lou Brooks

The illustrations were excellent and the retro, quirky style went right along with the tongue-twisting limericks. One of my favorite poems from the book hadto do with a tooting platypus:

art and text © Lou Brooks

A Flatulent Platypus
by Lou Brooks

A petulant flatulent platypus starts,
To tooting and flouting his flute to his farts,
But at platypus outings,
His flatulent floutings,
Flout his flute flat at the tootiest parts. 

I enjoyed the poetry book so much, that I decided I would try my hand at writing a tongue-twisting limerick. And now I have a newfound respect for Lou Brooks. It was WAY harder than I thought it would be. I struggled writing one and he wrote a whole book of them. But the exercise was still fun.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Castle Hangnail - Middle Grade Review

Buy Here
Castle Hangnail
by Ursula Vernon

At a Glance


Genre(s):

Fantasy, Humor


Age Range: 

8-12


Plot:

When 12 year old Molly shows up at Castle Hangnail to fill its wicked witch vacancy, the minions of the castle are a bit skeptical. Will she be able to complete the tasks set by the Board of Magic so that Castle Hangnail isn't decommissioned and sold?


Pros:

  • Original and clever plot--I was surprised at the twists and turns
  • funny
  • Fun, well rounded characters
  • I loved the idea of the minions (like Igor, not the yellow dudes) and the Minion Union
  • Satisfying ending

Cons:

  • I wasn't a huge fan of the artwork (I usually like Vernon's stuff)


Would I recommend this title:

Yes! I would especially recommend this to anyone who has read and enjoyed Goth Girl by Chris Riddell.


The Review


When I picked up Castle Hangnail, I expected a cute, predictable story. I was quite surprised at how great this book was. I usually can see where the plot is headed, but this one took some unexpected turns and it was wildly refreshing. 

I was also surprised at how funny it was. There are some definite cute parts in the book, but they're not overly cutesy or pandering, if that makes sense. 

I especially enjoyed the minions in the book. The minions--there's even an Igor-like character--take care of the castle, serve the Master and are employed by the Minions Union. It is quite fun.

My only complaint is that I didn't feel that the art in the book added much to the story. It felt sporadic, and pulled me out of the book. I will say, though, the culprit may have been the formatting on my 2nd generation Kindle instead of the artwork itself.

Overall, this is a great book. Even the ending is solid. And Vernon leaves a little wiggle room for a sequel. I'd be okay with that. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Pottymouth and Stoopid - Middle Grade Review

buy here
Pottymouth and Stoopid
by James Pattterson and Chris Grabenstein
illustrated by Stephen Gilpin

At a Glance


Genre(s):

Humor, Realistic Fiction


Age Range: 

8-10 years old

Plot:

David and Michael, AKA Pottymouth and Stoopid, have been bullied since pre-school. Now in 7th grade, they try to use humor to deal with the incessant name-calling. 


Pros:

  • Gilpin's illustrations are fun, and help to move the story along
  • Quick, easy read
  • Pottymouth's made-up words are actually pretty fun

Cons:

  • Completely unrealistic, insensitive take on bullying
  • stereotypical, cardboard characters
  • the ending felt tacked on and insubstantial
  • while it is trying to be funny, the humor is just over the top

Would I recommend this title:

No.


I think I may be in the minority when it comes to Pottymouth and Stoopid--it has 4.5 stars on Amazon and 3.86 stars on Goodreads. I did not like it at all.

The characters are very stereotypical--the main bully is a blonde cheerleader. The bullying was also unrealistic, and in my opinion insensitive. The teachers and the principal even get in on the bullying. The teachers weren't just turning a blind eye to the bullying--they were actually participating.

The bullying just get tedious and eye-roll-worthy after awhile. There was no reprieve because the humor, in the face of this bullying was insubstantial. It almost felt like it was trying to go for Captain Underpants or Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets bullying, but it fell flat.

Early in the book, the mom tells Stoopid that there are worse things in life than being called a silly name. And then the book does nothing to show any fallacy in this statement. The ending felt tacked on. The book could have been saved by some kind of message that bullying is inherently wrong. But it never got there. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/21/17




The weekly post where I recap all the KidLit books I’ve been reading. Occasionally, I’ll also review 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 pile.
                                         


I'm organizing a ZINE Swap! For more info, check out this post here!



Board Books


Orange Triangle Fox
by Sarah Jones

I stumbled into two really good board books this week. I was drawn to the cover of this book and it didn't disappoint. It is a color, shape AND animal book. The way Jones combined common board book themes made for a really refreshing take on the topics. Each animal is drawn into a particular shape (and color). My husband, who teaches illustration at Ringling College, is planning on using this book to demonstrate how basic shapes can inform character design. So fun.


Everything Goes: 123 Beep Beep Beep!
by Brain Biggs

The illustrations in the book take the mundane counting book and make it so fun. We just loved the designs of all the vehicles. The colors are really great too. They held our 9mo's attention for the entire book. 


Picture Books


 Daddy Honk Honk!
by Rosalinde Bonnet

I thought this book was sweet. A fox finds a goose egg and gets more than he bargains for. The illustrations are fun, and the idea is cute. I liked the ending as well. It is worth a read. 


The Day the Crayons Quit
written by Drew Daywalt
illustrated by Oliver Jeffers 

Sometimes I go into a book a bit skeptical when it is praised a ton. I worry that they book won't live up to the hype. Well, this book does live up to all the praise. I thought it was wonderful. I love how the type and illustrations look like they were done by kids. And the idea is really fresh and clever. So much fun.


 Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox
written by Erin Dealey
illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama

Do kids get chicken pox anymore? This would be a good book to read as they're confined to the house with those little bumps. My daughter has never had them, so she was confused about what they even were. The illustrations had a wonderful 1950s feel. Some other fairy tale characters show up to check on Goldie Locks, which was fun.


Nerdy Bird Tweets
written by Aaron Reynolds
illustrated by Matt Davies

After quickly flipping through a few pages and seeing that the two characters were a little bird and a vulture, I thought this book was going to be about internet safety and how we never know who we're talking to online. I was completely wrong, but I am really glad I picked it up anyway. It more has to do with internet bullying and how we should be just as nice online as we are in person. It allowed my daughter and I to have a discussion on appropriate and inappropriate things to post. 


Nugget and Fang: Friends Forever--or Snack Time?
written by Tammi Sauer
illustrated by Micahel Slak

I was drawn to the cover of this book. It is really a cute, straightforward idea. It would be a good book to start a conversation on having friends that are different from us and not letting peer pressure dictate who our friends are.


Waiting for High Tide
by Nikki McClure

I wanted to love this book. And I did love parts. The illustrations, especially once you know that they're made with cut up paper, are breathtaking. And I loved the story, overall. But it is too wordy. This, perhaps, would work for a much older child. But then you run into the problem of older kids thinking picture books are too "baby-ish". My daughter had a hard time sitting through it all. 


Poetry


Literally Disturbed 2: More Tales to Keep You Up at Night
written by Ben H. Winters
illustrated by Adam F. Watkins

When I picked this book up, I was expecting something akin to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. This one was decent. My 7yo enjoyed it a bit more than I did--she had me give it an extra 1/2 star. The illustrations are good and, overall, it was worth a read-through.


Chapter Books


The Mosquito Brothers
by Griffin Ondaatje

This chapter book was a miss for me. The story itself was cute, but I think the integration of a mosquito's life didn't quite hit the mark. I felt like, while it was trying to be humorous--and it was at times--it pulled you out of the story. For example, the mother mosquito is so distraught because she left a son back in the country. But then goes on to explain that within a week of leaving the son, she has met and married a new husband, and had 401 new babies. Yes, that is the cycle of a mosquito, but it didn't work for developing a sense of loss for the character. It just didn't translate well.


Middle Grade


Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star
by Brandon Mull

How much do I like these books? I have the whole series signed by the author, that's how much I enjoy them. I am rereading all of them because the new book, Dragonwatch, came out earlier this year. It is part of the same universe but not part of the original series. Anyway, this is a great set of books if you're into fantasy. The grandparents of the main characters take care of a magical preserve for mythical creatures. Seriously, a fantastic premise. 

Poetry Friday - Inktober Week 2

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 t...