Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Book Blitz and Givaway: The Law of Cavities (Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad #3) by Valerie Tripp



Meet the characters, watch the book trailer and check out the Educator and Reader's Guides on the series website here!

The S.M.A.R.T. Squad is back to tackle more middle school mayhem with science, technology, engineering, math, and friendship!

In this third book in the S.M.A.R.T. Squad series, best friends Izzy Newton, Allie Einstein, Marie Curie, Charlie Darwin, and Gina Carver set out on a mystery-filled Outdoor Adventure Camp experience.

Now that Izzy’s finally found her voice in public speaking class and become an ice hockey star, she’s determined to conquer her “dizzy-Izzy-ness” in new situations―including caring for her brand-new braces on an outdoor education overnight and her friends’ good-natured teasing about her friend Trevor. But the forecast for fun turns cloudy when the girls discover their cabin chaperone is none other than Izzy’s tough public-speaking teacher, Ms. Martinez, and their junior counselor is eighth grade mean girl, Maddie Sharpe.

When an innocent exchange of harmless pranks with Maddie takes a turn for the worse, the Squad turns to science to prove their innocence. That’s nothing, though, compared with the terrifying swamp monster haunting their campsite, a catastrophe befalling Ms. Martinez, and a mysterious disaster threatening the future of camp itself.

With their very survival on the line, will science be enough to save the day?


"Wholesome entertainment for preteens, offering positivity without didacticism."

"It's one thing to have children's books about scientists or podcasts or stories about strong women in STEM, but it's another world entirely when your children get to feel represented by the characters they're reading about. The characters in the Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad series are diverse, smart, and sure of themselves the way all middle school girls are---through their dreams and newly acquired skills they're still getting used to."

About the Creators

VALERIE TRIPP is the co-creator of the American Girl book series that includes titles featuring Felicity, Josefina, Kit, Maryellen, Molly, and Samantha. Tripp also wrote American Girl's Wellie Wishers titles, Hopscotch Hill School titles, numerous leveled readers, songs, stories, skills book pages, and plays for educational publishers. Tripp is writer and editorial director of the Boys Camp series, and a writer, editor, and art editor for Sterling Publishing Company. Tripp received a B.A. and honors as a member of the first co-educated class at Yale University and a master's of education degree from Harvard University.

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MILLIE LIU was born in sunny Pasadena, California, and has been drawing ever since she could hold a pencil. It did start with color pencils on walls but after some scolding, she decided paper was much better. She graduated from Otis College of Art and Design and went into the field of toy design shortly after, designing colorful toys for children the world over. Her favorite subject to draw is story-driven fantastical locations with a touch of magic. When not drawing, she loves to read, experiment with cooking, and keep up with her fierce, growing collection of house plants. She also makes a conscious effort to buy secondhand or used products, and tries to reduce her use of single-use plastic.



  • Three (3) winners will receive the complete 3-book Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad series: Absolute Hero, Newton's Flaw, and The Law of Cavities
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 12/11 at 11:59pm ET
  • Enter via the Rafflecopter below

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Monday, November 28, 2022

The Best Gift for Bear written and illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell

The Best Gift for Bear
written and illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
Two Lions/Amazon, 2022, 40 pages
The holiday season is the perfect time to show your appreciation to friends and family for all the times they were there for you throughout the year. And that is just what Hedgehog is busy doing. She's been busy baking all kinds of special cookies for her friends. There are snowflakes for the mice, trees for the squirrels, and special rabbit cookies for each of the rabbits. But what about Bear?

Hedgehog is at a total loss about what to bake for Bear. After all, it was Bear who taught her how to ice skate, but ice skate cookies just don't feel right.
Bear loves butterflies and sunflowers, but even though they are lovely, some butterfly or sunflower cookies just don't feel right for Bear, either. But then snow on the roof of her little house gives Hedgehog the perfect idea. So, she plans it and bakes it and puts it together with frosting - the perfect gingerbread house for a special friend. It even has a bear cookie standing proudly in front of the house, along with sunflowers growing and a butterfly flying.

It is so big and so heavy, though, Hedgehog can't possibly carry it all the way across the forest to Bear's house. Instead, she decides to load it onto a sled and pull it to Bear's. 
The only problem is that then snow and a whipping wind begins to blow and the next thing she knows her perfect gift has been blown to pieces. Just then, Bear opens his door to see what's going on and is surprised to find a very upset Hedgehog. Bear brings her inside, gives her a warming cup of cocoa and listens as Hedgehog tells him what happened to his special gift. After she finishes her story, Bear has a surprising story of his own - and my young readers definitely did not see his surprise coming. And in the end, they actually give each other the best gift ever - the gift of friendship.

The Best Gift for Bear is just the book to begin the holiday season with. It's all about acceptance, friends, and giving, without any of the commercialism that has evolved around the holiday season. It is a quiet, gentle, heartwarming tale that reminds us of what is really important. I loved that Hedgehog gave gifts that she had made herself - they are real gifts from the heart. And I was really happy to see that the gingerbread cookie recipe is included in the endpapers. Yum, I love gingerbread. Complimenting this heartfelt story are clear, uncluttered illustrations done with gouache and colored pencil in a very definite winter palette.    

This was a story that led to lots of talk about the different holidays my young readers celebrate in their families and because this book doesn't identify the holiday Hedgehog is baking cookies for, it was the ideal book to share with my small class of readers, and perhaps with your young readers as well.

Thank you, Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this book.

 ★“This genuinely heartfelt, quietly moving friendship story emphasizes that ‘a day with a friend is the best gift of all.’” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A sweet, appealing picture book for the season.” —Booklist

A 2022 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee

Jennifer A. Bell is the illustrator of more than forty children’s books, including the Sophie Mouse series. She studied fine art at the Columbus College of Art & Design, and her work can also be found on greeting cards and in magazines. This is the first picture book she’s written and illustrated. She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Learn more about her at

Instagram: @jbellstudio

Facebook: Jennifer A. Bell Illustration

Twitter: @JenniferABell_

Thursday, November 17, 2022

My GrandMom written and illustrated by Gee-eun Lee, translated by Sophie Bowman

My GrandMom written and illustrated by Gee-eun Lee,
translated by Sophie Bowman
Amazon Crossing Kids, 2022, 40 pages

Grandparents are often such important part of a child's life (if they are lucky enough to have them and they live nearby) and this is a particularly endearing story because it is based on the author's own experience with her Halmonie. Much to her distress, Gee-eun's parents work long hours and she must stay home with her GrandMom. Trying to calm her granddaughter down, GrandMom suggests they make kalguksu, a knife cut Korean noodle soup. While GrandMom makes the dough for the noodles, Gee-eum makes a dough family to put in the soup. 

Later, on Family Sports Day, a day Gee-eum has been excitedly looking forward to, she's disappointed that her mom won't be able to participate with her. To comfort her, GrandMom tells Gee-eum about good she has always been at running, tug of war and doing a cheer dance. But when GrandMom and granddaughter arrive at the field, Gee-eum is excited, sure that they will win all the competitions with such a strong, athletic grandmother.

 But is seem's that GrandMom isn't as spry as she used to be and when they lose all the competitions, Gee-eum becomes very mad at her Halmonie. Can GrandMom jolly Gee-uem into a better mood with a fresh curry bun that will be their delicious secret? 

I love how the focus of My GrandMom is only focused on the relationship between grandmother and granddaughter. In fact, Gee-eum's parents never even make an appearance. Instead, we see the two Gee-eum and GrandMom doing all kinds of things that ultimately lead to a strong bond between the two of them. I particularly liked the way readers can see how this strong intergenerational bond develops over the course of the book 

The illustrations, done with a subtly colored palette using colored pencils and paint, totally enhance and compliment the story and the have a certain humor to them even when there is unhappiness or when Gee-eun is angry or crying. 

My GrandMom will be a welcomed story for any kids living in an intergenerational home, as Gee-eun does, or whose grandparents are just an important part of their life, as many of my young readers do. I suspect this is a book that will be read in my class again and again. 

"A touching tale that exudes love and warmth." - Kirkus Reviews 

"A touching celebration of grandparent-and-grandchild connection that will warm many hearts." - Booklist

Meet the Author:
Gee-eun Lee is an award-winning Korean author/illustrator. She recently won the prestigious BolognaRagazzi Award in the comics category for her book, The Story of How the Korean Shaved Ice Dessert Was Born, and is also a top winner of the Korean Young Illustrator Award. She studied design and illustration in Korea and the UK. Her first picture book, Paper Dad, was made into a children’s musical in Korea. My GrandMom is the second book she both wrote and illustrated and is based on her own grandmother. Instagram: @studio_geeeun 

Meet the Illustrator:
Sophie Bowman is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, studying Korean literature. She was awarded the ICF Literature Translation Fellowship at Ewha Womans University. In 2015, she won the Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Award grand prize for poetry with her translations of Jin Eun-young and co-translated Kim Bo-Young’s I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories. She recently translated the picture book Magic Candies by Heena Baek, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Follow her on Twitter @SophieOrbital.

Publisher tags;
Twitter: @AmazonPub

Thank you, Barbara Fisch at BlueSlipMedia

Monday, November 14, 2022

Blog Tour: The Great Caper Caper (Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast Book #5) by Josh Funk, illustrated by Brendan Kearney

The Great Caper Caper:
Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast #5
written by Josh Funk, illustrated by Brendan Kearney
Union Square & Co., 2022, 40 pages

I'm always up for a fun blog tour and books by Josh Funk are always a lot of fun to read to kids, and, true to form, the latest story about the adventures of Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast does not disappoint. Their newest caper all begins one night when Lady Pancake is suddenly awakened from a deep sleep in the refrigerator by a loud scream. Sir Pancake has just discovered that the refrigerator light is missing. But who would have taken their light? 

Everything was dark, except for a glowing light in the distance, just past Pita Plateau. Following the glow, Lady French Toast and Sir Pancake find themselves at the entrance to Fabulous Las Veggies, but barred from entering by security and taken to the office of Count Caper, the richest, more powerful food (or so he says). Denying that she stole the light, Lady French Toast and Sir Pancake are told to leave and never come back. They may be sure that Count Caper is the culprit, but how can they get their light back? to get back their light now that they can't go back to Fabulous Las Veggies? Perhaps Lady Pancake can come up with a solution with the help of Sir French Toast and a few good friends like Barron von Waffle, Miss Brie, and Tofu, Professor Biscotti, the Fruitcake, the Beets, and Inspector Croissant, and maybe even a few Animal Crackers. 

Told in rhyming couplets that never falter together with colorfully amusing illustrations, The Great Caper Caper is sure to please fans of Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, and to win over anyone meeting this delightful couple for the first time. The story focuses on problem solving, the importance of friends helping each other, and a clear message that crime does not pay, even when it looks like it does. 

I can't wait to share this book with my young readers. We have read all the other Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast books and they always enjoy them. They're funny, the characters are so appealing, and the situations they find themselves in are always relatable. Plus my young readers all tell me they love pancakes and french toast.  
One thing I did notice - when did Lady Pancake find time to take the curlers out of her hair and style it before running off to fight the missing refrigerator light? She was totally coiffed. Needless to say, your kiddos will find lots to explore and talk about in this book its endearing characters and detailed illustrations. This is definitely a book that will be revisited over and over again in my reading class.

Be sure to visit these other stops on The Great Caper Caper Blog Tour:

Sunday, October 30, 2022

New Kids and Underdogs by Margaret Finnegan

Fifth grader Robyn has already been the new kid in school five times because of her mom's job as a biology professor, and now San Luis Obispo will be number six. But this time will be different. This time Robyn is determined not to stick out as the new kid and she's even created a list of 10 Rules for New Kids for blending in and avoiding the judgey kids. All she has to do is stick to the list. Luckily, Robyn has her two faithful and inseparable dogs, anxious Sundae and nearly blind and deaf Fudge, her supportive dad, even if he does live in Toronto, and of course, her mom.  

One thing her mom is firm about is doing extracurricular activities. So when Robyn sees a dog agility class in the park, she is sure that is what she wants to do with three-year-old Sundae and Fudge. But the woman running the class says no, they wouldn't be able to do the agility course. Then, on her first day of school, Robyn meets Lulu and Marshan who seem friendly enough to even warn her not to associate with Alejandra, who's "radioactive" and cruelty nicknamed the Grape because she wears purple every day, but she also skipped fourth grade and is a whiz at math. Later, Robyn runs into the boy who had been helping the woman in the park on the handball court, whose name is Nestor, and his cousin Jonathan. And just like that a deal is struck - Nestor, grandson of the woman in the park, Mrs. Zazueta, will provide agility training on the sly in his grandmother's backyard if Robyn brings snacks and Alejandra provides math tutoring for the three of them. What could possibly go wrong?

It turns out that Fudge and Sundae really can't to agility training, but Nestor comes up with the idea of doing ability training instead, and it really works out well for the two dogs. Before long, they are joined by William, a friend of Alejandra, and his dog. But Robyn is so set on following her Rules that she keeps telling herself that the ability training is just a business arrangement and Nestor, Jonathan, Alejandra, and now William are not really friends, enabling her to keep her distance.

On the other hand, Robyn continues to hang out with Lulu and Marshan, despite feeling uncomfortable with some of the judgey things they say. Both girls seem to get off on other people's difficulties, shortcomings and disabilities, including Sundae and Fudge, constantly remarking on their sad lives (and I kept wondering why Robyn couldn't see them for who they are). 

Nestor's ability class grows bigger, and the dogs doing it seem to be thriving until one day his grandmother catches the class in action. And she was angry. Will that be the end of ability training? 

I've never been the new kid in school, but I have a friend who was almost as often as Robyn. It can't be easy to make friends and have to leave them a year later. This new move may be permanent for Robyn and her mother, which would be nice, but Robyn is still very defensive about making friends. I thought that her difficulties were realistically portrayed, though, and she was lucky to have a babysitter who understood what was going on with her. Still, Finnegan shows all they ways Robyn's Rules didn't work. 

The problem with Robyn's Rules is that it means all her relationships with other kids is always superficial, and she never gets to see what's below their surface, what the other kids are really like or what their story is. And they never get to see the real Robyn. 

As much as I liked New Kids & Underdogs, I wish it had been a little bit shorter. I thought Robyn's dilemma went on too long and she began to get annoying. I realize she was defensive and didn't want to experience the kinds of fails she had in previous schools, but her refusal to not give in to what she wanted was just too drawn out, especially given who Lulu and Marshan are. But I would still recommend this novel. It's a fast read and does come to a satisfying conclusion, with a valuable lesson for anyone, whether they are new kids or not.   

A thoughtful story about learning to look beneath the surface and be a better friend.” —Kirkus

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Meet the Author:

Margaret Finnegan is the author of We Could Be Heroes and Susie B. Won’t Back Down, both Junior Library Guild Selections. Her other works have appeared in FamilyFun Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Salon, and other publications. She lives in South Pasadena, California, where she enjoys spending time with her family, walking her dog, and baking really good chocolate cakes. To learn more, and to download free discussion guides, visit

Twitter: @FinneganBegin

Instagram: @finneganbegin

Just like the kids in New Kids & Underdogs, you can ability train your dog! Check out the fun tips here!

Thank you to Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of New Kids & Underdogs.

Instagram: @blue_slip_media

Facebook: Blue Slip Media
You can see all of this week's wonderful MMGM books thanks to Greg at Always in the Middle
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