Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blog Tour: Emily and the Spellstone by Michael Rubens

Welcome to Day #4 of the Emily and the Spellstone Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of Emily and the Spellstone by Michael Rubens (6/13/17), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Michael and 10 chances to win a copy of Emily and the Spellstone, as well as a Grand Prize Giveaway!

Top Three Tasks for My Demon
Imagine you were in control of a powerful supernatural being that had to obey you. What would you have it do? That’s one of the many questions the heroine in Emily and the Spellstone has to deal with. Emily finds herself the master of an unwanted demon-like servant named Gorgo (unwanted for several reasons, including the fact that he keeps cheerfully reminding her that he intends to eat her as soon as he figures out a way to free himself). But in the meantime, he is indeed bound to her service and has to obey her: “I’d prefer if you’d just think of me as an immortal creature of malignant intent with powers that you can’t even imagine. Who can bench-press a lot.” He flexed. Emily believed him. “And you have to obey me?” said Emily. “Yes! Until such time as I’m freed by some trick or power, at which point I will consume you! But until then I have to serve you.” “How?” “What do you mean, how? However. Do you have enemy armies that need smiting? Castle walls destroyed and the habitations put to flame? A mountain moved?”

 Emily doesn’t have a need for any such services, and nor do it. But if I did have such a servant, here are three things I’d have him do: 1. Clean the apartment. Like, a really thorough cleaning, lifting up all the furniture, scrubbing the walls and ceiling, taking a brush to all the grout between the bathroom tiles. Oh, I’d also have him do the laundry. This may sound like a boring, unimaginative assignment to you – after all, this creature could literally move mountains – but I think I’d rather have a really clean floor without having to do it myself. 2. Ride him to school. This one actually comes from my ten-year-old daughter. When I asked how she thought other people might react if they saw her getting a piggy-back ride from a giant demon-like creature, she agreed that might cause some problems, but also noted that we live in Brooklyn and the inhabitants are pretty used to seeing weird stuff. 3. Speaking of living in Brooklyn, I would have him sit on the stoop at night, waiting for horn-honkers, loud-music-players, and motorcycle-revers, at which point he would approach them and very politely and very cheerfully -- but very firmly -- request that they keep it down. 
*****
Stop by Positively Book Crazy tomorrow for day #5 the tour!
Blog Tour Schedule:
June 19th — Bookhounds  
June 20th — Mundie Kids
June 21st — WordSpelunking  
June 22nd — Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
June 23rd — Positively Book Crazy  
June 26th — GeoLibrarian
June 27th — YA Books Central  
June 28th — A Dream Within a Dream  
June 29th — Book Swoon  
June 30th — Crossroad Reviews
 
Follow Michael: Website | Twitter
Emily picks up a stone that looks like a cell phone but has unexpected magical powers. It's a Spellstone! Now that she has become an unwilling Stonemaster—one who wields the power of the Stone—she has to figure out Spellstone technology fast if she is to survive a hair-raising adventure among giant dogs, demons, clones, mean girls, and deeply wicked people who want the Stone. A witty tale of a quiet girl who discovers she's a hero when she needs to be. Stonemasters rule!

About the Author: Michael Rubens is the author of two YA novels, Sons of the 613 and The Bad Decisions Playlist, and one novel for grownups, The Sheriff of Yrnameer. A correspondent and producer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, he has also been a producer for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His writing has appeared in places like The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, Salon and McSweeney's. He lives with his family in Brooklyn. Visit his website at www.michaelrubens.com.

BLOG GIVEAWAY: Win a Copy of Emily and the Spellstone

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GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY
  • One (1) winner will receive signed copies of Spellstone and Michael’s 2 YA novels, Sons of the 613 and The Bad Decisions Playlist, as well as a custom Spellstone phone case!
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Music in George's Head by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Stacy Innerst

George's Rhapsody in Blue was smooth and sultry.
Brash and bouncy...
No one had ever heard anything like it.
Except George.
He'd been hearing beautiful music all his life.


As a youngster, beautiful is certainly not the word I would have ever used to describe George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. But just as my palate for different, more sophisticated foods has expanded as an adult, so too has my ear for music. Now instead of groaning every time I hear the introductory shrieking notes of the clarinet that signals this piece of music, now I just smile, sit back, and enjoy this 17 minute piece of Americana.

The moody blue palate of the illustrations are somehow both brooding and uplifting at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. And if you are not familiar with this brilliant piece of music, take 17 minutes out of your day and go fix that problem right now. I'm actually listening to it as I write this review because I was tired of it being stuck in my head. I may as well just listen to it outside my head.



The Music in George's Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Published: September 8, 2016
Publisher: Calkins Creek
Pages: 48
Genre/Format: Picture Book Biography
Audience: Middle Grade
Disclosure: Library Copy

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Monday, June 19, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? 6-19-17


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

Last week I finished reading:

Funny Girl edited by Betsy Bird 
I can't wait to share this with my students in the fall! They are going to love it! 


Picture books that stood out in the pile last week:

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
I have to admit, I was a bit dubious when I heard about this book. It seemed like it was just a quick way to capitalize on a particular moment in politics. But then I read the book. It is beautifully written and thoughtfully curated. The women included in this book go beyond the typical names you're used to reading about like Rosa Parks or Susan B. Anthony. But whether the women in this book were well-known or little-known, one thing unites them all. They were warned. They were given an explanation. Nevertheless, they persisted. And so should you.


Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay Haring, illustrated by Robert Neubecker
Keith Haring was a kind and generous soul who thought art was for everyone and belonged everywhere for people to enjoy, not just hanging up in expensive art galleries. His art was worth a lot of money, but often he gave his work away or donated the money to charity because he just wanted to keep drawing; he never did it for the money. Sadly, Keith died young at the age of 31 of complications from AIDS, but his legacy lives on today in his familiar, accessible, and beloved artwork.  


The Music in George's Head:  George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Full review to come.

 
Mr. Emerson's Cook by Judith Byron Schachner 
An enchanting story of Annie Burns, the Irish immigrant hired to be the cook for the family of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who were all exasperated by his desire to think and write and wander in nature instead of eat. An interesting tidbit you learn at the end of the book in the author's note: Judy Schachner, the author of this book, is the great-granddaughter of Annie Burns.

 
Together by Emma Dodd
Darling picture book about a mama and baby otter who do everything together. Illustrations contain a dash of bling with silver foiling on every other full-page spread.

 
Mom, Dad, Our Books, and Me by  Danielle Marcotte, illustrated by Josee Bisaillon
A feel-good story about a family that loves to read and all the ways in which we read beyond books. A great book to read aloud and then to prompt students about all the other ways we and our family members read the world.  


Currently reading with my eyes:

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon 
Once again, Nicola Yoon has helped to get me out of my reading rut. This book is sooooooo good!!!!!  

Currently (Still) Reading with my ears:

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 
This book is slow-going for me because it disturbs me far too much.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? 6-12-17


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.


Last week I reviewed:

Marcel by Eda Akaltun


Other picture books that stood out in the pile last week:

The Liszts by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julia Sarda
I love the message of this book: Don't let your lists and plans consume you. Always make room for the unexpected. Although I have to say, as a classical music lover I am a tad bit disappointed this book had nothing to do with Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. :)


Renato and the Lion by Barbara DiLorenzo
Gorgeous watercolor illustrations that will transport you right to Florence and a story that will tug at your heartstrings. 


The Quest for Z: The True Story of the Explorer Percy Fawcett and the Lost City in the Amazon by Greg Pizzoli 
Greg Pizzoli is quickly becoming one of my favorite nonfiction picture book creators. His illustrations are accessible and intriguing for kids and his writing is both succinct and suspenseful. 


Grandma's Tiny House by Janay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Priscilla Burris
This is so much more than a counting book. It is a celebration -- of family, friends, food, and life's riches that you simply can't quantify. Grandma's house in this book might be tiny, but it is giant in love.  


Currently reading with my eyes:

Funny Girl edited by Betsy Bird 



Currently Reading with my ears:

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Marcel by Eda Akaltun

Marcel is a dashing French bulldog in a striped sweater who loves everything about his home in NYC -- except for uptown, that is. His favorite place to go for a walk is downtown. So when his person meets a new love interest from uptown, Marcel is not happy that this new man has invaded his life... and might even send him away from the city he loves.

Adorable story with charming illustrations. I could not stop smiling throughout the entire book. The ending sets itself up nicely for a sequel. 


Marcel by Eda Akaltun 
Published: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Flying Eye Books
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
Audience: Primary
Disclosure: Library Copy 

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Monday, June 5, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? 6-5-17


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.


Last week I finished reading:

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner    
The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock 
I absolutely loved both of these books. Highly recommended. 


Picture books that stood out in the pile:

The Journey by Francesca Sanna
A simple yet haunting story with allegorical elements that follow a family on a journey through the ravages of war. The beautiful and colorful illustrations add a new dimension of hope to what is usually a grim, gray and otherwise colorless genre. 


Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton, illustrated by Dougal MacPherson
The story certainly lives up to its subtitle. It is sweet, gentle, simple and is a wonderful book to use as a conversation starter to kids about what it means to be transgender.


How to Dress a Dragon by  Thelma Lynne Godin, illustrated by Eric Barclay
Dragons do not like shirts but they love underwear and capes. Who knew? 


Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes  
Reminiscent of Bink & Gollie with a little Diaper Gang and Pied Piper thrown in for good measure. Looking forward to reading the next one.

Monday, May 29, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? 5-29-17


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.


Last week's posts:

The Explorers: The Door in the Alley blog tour
Orphan Island blog tour +giveaway


Last week I finished reading:

Saving Red by Sonya Sones 

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson 


Picture books that stood out in the pile:
 
Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Kadir Nelson's illustrations always stir my soul and move me to near tears. This book is no different. A lovely, spare, and inclusive tribute to our flag.


Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez 
Margarita Engle's poetry always manages to be simple, lyrical, and profound all at the same time.


We're All Wonders by R.J. Palacio 
When I heard that there would be yet another spinoff Wonder book, I have to say that I was rather dubious. It seems like every year there's a new book to try to capitalize on the popularity of the original middle grade novel that was published in 2012. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book as well as the artwork. RJ Palacio isn't just a talented writer, but also a gifted artist. 


Currently reading:

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner