Book Review: I Am a Cat by Galia Bernstein

I Am a Cat by Galia Bernstein (Author)

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I Am a Cat, illustrated and written by Galla Bernstein, is about a small house cat comparing itself to various jungle cats. While some are stronger, brighter, bigger and faster than the house cat, they do all share many feline qualities. The story not only does a great job of highlighting differences, it brings it all back around to recognize similarities. For the intended age group, it provides a double-dose of awesome. The text is perfect for beginning readers, while the concepts are so important for an early grade-school audience already preoccupied with where they fit in compared to their peers. A fun read, important concept, and beautifully illustrated, this one merits two paws up!

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Book Review – Unplugged by Steve Antony

Unplugged by Steve Antony (Author)

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Blip finds herself unplugged and outdoors during a blackout! For screen families like ours, Unplugged is a wonderful reminder to build more outdoor time into our busy schedules. Author and illustrator Steve Antony uses a fantastic combination of illustration materials to express the the world of computers vs the world outside. The fun animal friends are an adorable touch. We could all use a bit more Blip-ology in our life!

Book Review – When I Grow Up by Tim Minchin

When I Grow Up by Tim Minchin (Author),‎ Steve Antony (Illustrator)

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Are you a fan of Tim Minchin’s Tony Award-winning Matilda the Musical? Minchin pairs the fabulously fun lyrics from the song When I Grow Up against Steve Antony’s gorgeously detailed illustrations to bring to life the fun that comes with anticipating adult life when you are young. From ice cream, candy, and cartoons to climbing trees…each page feels like summer vacation! When I Grow Up makes a great read for school or home, with each page depicting a wonderland of experience! Enjoy!

 

Book Review – 100 Things I Love to Do with You by Amy Schwartz

100 Things I Love to Do with You by Amy Schwartz (Author)

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100 Things That Make Me Happy author, Amy Schwartz, does it again with the super sweet 100 Things I Love to Do with You! Told in rhyme as snippets of insight featuring the essential nature of closeness between (but not limited to) friends or siblings, this book would be an especially big winner in families where a second child was on the way. Focused on the enjoyment of micro-moments in time, Schwartz does an equally amazing job with the illustrations to create an overall feeling of intimacy by celebrating simple acts of mindfulness. A joy to read and share!

INTERVIEW: Lesléa Newman

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See my interview in this month’s Story Monsters Ink Magazine!

I had the amazing opportunity to interview Lesléa Newman, author of Heather Has Two Mommies and her latest title Sparkle Boy. Come on, you remember Heather Has Two Mommies – it was the second most controversial topic of the 90’s. Falls in right there with the O.J. car chase fiasco.

Her latest book, Sparkle Boy, is a story about choosing what makes you happy, sticking with it, and being loved for it. We watch the main character interact with his family over his decisions to wear sparkly clothes and accessories. Each character illustrates another layer of acceptance that diversity needs to wipe away to allow its shine to come through. The main character’s older sister, is an example of any kid (or adult) struggling with what it means to let go of a stereotype. But once  gone, acceptance makes way for something much bigger. Love.

Can you tell me a bit about your new book Sparkle Boy as a stream of consciousness? 

I am the type of author who takes a long time to get an idea, but once I have an idea and it “takes” inside me, I write pretty quickly. That’s because I get obsessed. Once I have a solid first draft, I pester the book endlessly until I feel that I’ve gotten it right. Usually this takes at least 20 drafts. Then the book is shown, first to my beloved spouse who is an excellent reader, then to the brilliant women of my writing group. And finally I send the book to my agent and we discuss where to send it. SPARKLE BOY took three years from idea to publication, which is actually pretty fast. I’ve had picture books take up to seven years to journey from idea to publication. I have a sign over my desk that says, “The reward of patience is patience” (and underneath I’ve scribbled, “But who wants to wait that long?”)

I read in your May 11th LA Times interview that Heather Has Two Mommies was in the top 10 most challenged books of the 90’s!  With gender identity being such a hot topic, are you feeling any stir around Sparkle Boy taking the same path from controversial to collectable? 

It’s too soon to tell, since the book is just coming out now. But I sure hope it becomes a classic! I think of SPARKLE BOY as Heather’s little brother. (though believe it or not, if Heather was real, she’d be about 30 years old now, maybe even with a child of her own!).

How are your responses so far from Sparkling families? They must be pretty relieved that the work is out there and available!

I recently heard from a family of two dads and a daughter. The book made one of the dads cry—in fact, I have been surprised to see many grown ups tear up while reading the book—and the little girl has asked to have the book read at bedtime for five nights in a row! Almost everyone I’ve shown the book to has told me, “I know a sparkle boy who is going to love this book.” It’s definitely a book whose time has come.

I wanted to write a book in which the adults in the family are open-minded and accepting, as Casey’s parents and Abeulita are. And I wanted to show that sometimes, it takes a while for a family member to come around, as in the case of Jessie, Casey’s older sister, who has somewhere along the way picked up the (incorrect) message that shimmery, glittery, sparkly things are only for girls. By the end of the book, Jessie is Casey’s biggest advocate. Love conquers all!

With Sparkle Boy being a very visual character, I imagine the choice of illustrator had to be very important. Can you say a few words about working with illustrator Maria Mola?

My editor and the art director worked with the illustrator, and I have to say they did an amazing job. I absolutely love the illustrations. The sparkles on the book jacket were my idea, and I have to say they add just the right touch!

As an incredibly accomplished author, I’m sure you’ve had a rollercoaster of ups and downs working in the field. Do you give your school groups any words of wisdom personal to your experiences?

Ah, words of wisdom: read, read, read. Write every day. Be kind to other writers. Believe in yourself. Never give up. I think that just about covers it.

…And any words for the wonderful Sparkle Boys out there and the people who love them?

Be yourself. (Everyone else is taken). Keep shining. The world is a brighter place because you are in it.

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This book is a great way to put value on acceptance, tolerance, diversity and family, but it also opens a dialog with children about what ideas they have already come to accept as truth. My own daughter had a real problem with Sparkle Boy at first. It opened the door to a discussion I didn’t even know needed to happen. She had already begun drawing very real lines in the sand about gender, and my inner Mama Bear wasn’t digging that at all. We had a wonderful discussion about what girls and boys were expected to be vs. what the could be. I’m thrilled to have had the moment accidentally thrust upon me before her judgements cemented over time.

Sparkle Boy is a difficult subject made into a feel-good moment, and perfectly timed with current events and the struggle for our ever changing society to find common ground. As a primer for young minds to grasp the ideas of difference and inclusion, Sparkle Boy is pure gold.

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Get Sparkle Boy here!

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Lesléa Newman is the author of seventy books for readers of all ages. She has received many literary accolades, including poetry fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and has served as Poet Laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts, from 2008 to 2010. In addition to creating her own books, Newman teaches writing for children and young adults at Spalding University’s low-residency MFA in Writing program. She wrote this book to celebrate all the “sparkle boys” she knows. Newman lives in western Massachusetts, with her spouse, Mary Vazquez. www.lesleakids.com

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Julianne Black has written and illustrated several books,  including Sleep Sweet the multi-award winning Augmented Reality picture book.  She is an internationally recognized graphic artist, fine artist and author. She can be reached at www.julianneblack.com

Review: The Hug Who Got Stuck

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The Hug Who Got Stuck by Andrew Newman (Author), Alexis Aronson (Illustrator)

Mom’s Choice Award-winning The Hug Who Got Stuck is an amazing visual telling of what happens in our hearts when we withhold love.

In a totally fresh allegory, The Hug Who Got Stuck creates a visual narrative for our emotional reactions to that moment we are too upset to apologize, forgive or just love who we want to love.

When the hug gets stuck in the icky web of negative feelings, the whole hug factory shuts down, and the heart grows dark. But when the hug lets go and releases itself from the negativity it can fly out to love up its intended recipient and the hugs factory starts to whirr back into business.

The illustrations are as unusual as the story itself, full of detail and meaning wrapped up in a gorgeous layered and multimedia collage. Complete with a hug meter tucked thoughtfully at the end, The Hug Who Got Stuck is another big winner from The Conscious Book Club!

Available on Amazon here!

Happy Reading!

Julianne Black

Hi! I am the author and illustrator of over a dozen children’s books, including the Augmented Reality enhanced Sleep Sweet, exhibited at BookExpo 2017 in NYC and being used nationwide in children’s hospitals for relaxation and distraction therapy. I’m the recipient of multiple awards for my writing and artwork, most recently the 2017 Jack London Award from the California Writers Club. My work as an internationally recognized graphic designer and digital/print promotion specialist with clients including Sears, Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, and Quebec’s Place Des Arts can be viewed worldwide. I’ve been published several years in a row in ComicCon International’s Souvenir book, Art 278, Story Monsters Ink Magazine, and multiple travel and trade publications.

I started BookTurnip because I am passionate about children’s literature! Reviewing new releases and interviewing the amazing minds behind them fires up my own creativity and helps fuel my passion for spreading the word on great books keep up with me by subscribing to the www.BookTurnip.com blog and check out my own site at www.JulianneBlack.com

 

 

Review: How to Make Friends with a Ghost

 

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How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green

Ever wonder how to score a ghoul bestie?

How to Make Friends with a Ghost is everything you need to get started!

Snack recipes. hiding techniques, game suggestions, exercise ideas, even bath time care – this book is your one stop shop for all friendship related advice when it comes to your new GBFF (Ghost Best Friend Forever)!

Special guest author Dr. Phantoneous Spookel – a leading ghost expert as well as beautiful illustrations copied directly from the archives of the Department of Paranormal Classification at the Society of Supernatural Studies give readers an up close and personal account of exactly what to expect.

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Written and illustrated by Rebecca Green ( myblankpaper.com ) , How to Make Friends with a Ghost is as informative as it is delightful! Just don’t skimp on the Pickled Boogers!

Get it here on Amazon

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Watch for my interview with Rebecca Green! 

 

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Happy Reading!

Julianne Black

Hi! I am the author and illustrator of over a dozen children’s books, including the Augmented Reality enhanced Sleep Sweet, exhibited at BookExpo 2017 in NYC and being used nationwide in children’s hospitals for relaxation and distraction therapy. I’m the recipient of multiple awards for my writing and artwork, most recently the 2017 Jack London Award from the California Writers Club. My work as an internationally recognized graphic designer and digital/print promotion specialist with clients including Sears, Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, and Quebec’s Place Des Arts can be viewed worldwide. I’ve been published several years in a row in ComicCon International’s Souvenir book, Art 278, Story Monsters Ink Magazine, and multiple travel and trade publications.

I started BookTurnip because I am passionate about children’s literature! Reviewing new releases and interviewing the amazing minds behind them fires up my own creativity and helps fuel my passion for spreading the word on great books keep up with me by subscribing to the www.BookTurnip.com blog and check out my own site at www.JulianneBlack.com

 

 

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Review: The Chalk Rainbow

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The Chalk Rainbow

by Deborah Kelly (Author), Gwynneth Jones (Illustrator), published by EK Books

The Chalk Rainbow is a pure celebration of co-creation, love, acceptance and triumph through dedication and appreciation. The story centers around a family experiencing some of the totally naturally occurring challenges of ASD and the ripples it creates in daily routines.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is so different from family to family, but The Chalk Rainbow does a great job of expressing common situations without drawing any specific conclusion. Zane’s character is exactly who he is, the challenge is how to work together to make a brighter situation for everyone.

Told by the sister in the family, her challenge to engage and comfort him becomes a game that transforms into an adventure – eventually becoming a situationally-unique and brilliant solution.

Each member of the family represents common reactions to ASD trials and in the end, patience and empathy are the big winners.

A staple for families, friends and schools to teach insight, understanding and creative problem solving, The Chalk Rainbow is both an important communication tool and story time treasure.

Available on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2uq2Ncq

Happy Reading!

Julianne Black

Hi! I am the author and illustrator of over a dozen children’s books, including the Augmented Reality enhanced Sleep Sweet, exhibited at BookExpo 2017 in NYC and being used nationwide in children’s hospitals for relaxation and distraction therapy. I’m the recipient of multiple awards for my writing and artwork, most recently the 2017 Jack London Award from the California Writers Club. My work as an internationally recognized graphic designer and digital/print promotion specialist with clients including Sears, Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, and Quebec’s Place Des Arts can be viewed worldwide. I’ve been published several years in a row in ComicCon International’s Souvenir book, Art 278, Story Monsters Ink Magazine, and multiple travel and trade publications.

I started BookTurnip because I am passionate about children’s literature! Reviewing new releases and interviewing the amazing minds behind them fires up my own creativity and helps fuel my passion for spreading the word on great books keep up with me by subscribing to the www.BookTurnip.com blog and check out my own site at www.JulianneBlack.com

 

Review: Zip! Zoom! On a Broom

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Zip! Zoom! On a Broom

by Teri Sloat (Author), Rosalinde Bonnet (Illustrator) Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

A delicious Halloween treat, Zip! Zoom! On a Broom counts up to ten and back while racing through anights adventure for ten crazy witches.

One goes zip,

two go zoom.

Three witches glide from room to room.

Just try to keep up with these gory gals, as they go on an adventure with skeletons, monsters, bats, haunted castles, volcanoes,eagles, frogs, rainstorms, lightening, dragons… this is one wild group! While the story and illustration are amazing,

I think what sets this one apart is that it counts both up to and back from the number ten, and with all the witches trying to stay on the same broom, the visual component of addition as well as subtraction is present.

Fast paced and fun enough to hold an audience but consistent enough to get the fundamentals across, Zip! Zoom! On a Broom is a wonderful addition to your October bedtimes or school’s seasonal reading routine.

Available from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, this book is also available in Kindle for travel by broomstick!

Find it on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2uq6oXM

Happy Reading!

Julianne Black

Hi! I am the author and illustrator of over a dozen children’s books, including the Augmented Reality enhanced Sleep Sweet, exhibited at BookExpo 2017 in NYC and being used nationwide in children’s hospitals for relaxation and distraction therapy. I’m the recipient of multiple awards for my writing and artwork, most recently the 2017 Jack London Award from the California Writers Club. My work as an internationally recognized graphic designer and digital/print promotion specialist with clients including Sears, Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, and Quebec’s Place Des Arts can be viewed worldwide. I’ve been published several years in a row in ComicCon International’s Souvenir book, Art 278, Story Monsters Ink Magazine, and multiple travel and trade publications.

I started BookTurnip because I am passionate about children’s literature! Reviewing new releases and interviewing the amazing minds behind them fires up my own creativity and helps fuel my passion for spreading the word on great books keep up with me by subscribing to the www.BookTurnip.com blog and check out my own site at www.JulianneBlack.com