Right now my daughter an I are loving our nightly reading of Lizzie and Lou Seal by the talented author/illustrator Patricia Keeler. A day at the beach, some adorable flip-flops, an inflatable seal, and pretty seashells…what could go wrong? If you’re Lizzie and Lou Seal your happy outing is about to hit a snag! Can anyone say “deflate?”
Lizzie and Lou Seal is one of those books that will make you look twice at every illustration because you want to catch the details. It’s also rhythmic, catchy, and fun to read aloud. Lizzie and Lou Seal is packed with onomatopoeias especially when Lou Seal looses air. It’s a fast read, perfect for toddlers on up.
The only thing I can’t figure out, is where are Lizzie’s parents? I’m not sure an inflatable marine mammal qualifies as sufficient supervision at the beach!
I’m thrilled to unveil the trailer for book two in Donna Galanti’s fantasy adventure Lightning Road series, JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM, arriving August 30th. The Midwest Book Review calls book one, JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD, “a heart-pounding thrill ride full of unexpected twists and turns from start to finish.” Grab book one for just $.99 cents now through September 20th.
Be sure to enter the fun giveaway package at the bottom of this post that includes a paperback of book one, poster of the Lost Realm, bookmarks, and a $25 B&N gift card (U.S. only).
ABOUT JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM:
On August 30th take the lightning road back to a world of beasts, bandits, and heroes in book two of the Lightning Road series. Join Joshua in a new fight for power in the Arrow Realm. Can Joshua and his friends conquer an unstoppable evil?
Joshua never thought he’d return to the world of Nostos but is soon called to the Arrow Realm to free his imprisoned friend, King Apollo, kidnapped as a power pawn in Queen Artemis’s quest to conquer every realm. With his loyalties divided between our world and theirs, Joshua wonders whether he alone can restore magic to the twelve powerless Olympian heirs and save all those enslaved. But when he finds himself abandoned in his quest, he fears he cannot only save those imprisoned—but himself as well.
“Fast-paced and endlessly inventive, Joshua and the Arrow Realm is a high-stakes romp through a wild world where descendants of the Greek gods walk beside you, beasts abound, and not everything—or everyone—is as it seems.” ~ Michael Northrop, New York Times bestselling author of the TombQuest series
A faint rumble groaned through the whistling wind.
Thunder ripped the sky overhead.
Charlie reached the frozen pond, spinning across it. “Woohoo! I win! You Americans can’t beat us at speed!”
Lightning flashed. It zinged across the pine trees like brilliant sunlight. A seed of terror flickered inside me.
Another flash scorched the sky.
Charlie’s smile fell to a frown as he raced across the ice, peering up into the swirling clouds.
We both knew what lightning could do.
Suddenly, sneaking outside for a moonlit sled ride before Bo Chez got home from his monthly poker game didn’t seem so smart.
The sleet turned to snow. Icicles flew off trees like glass splinters, shattering on the hard snow. As I shot toward the pond, a tree on the edge moved. Its branches swayed in the swirling snow.
It wasn’t a tree, but a girl! She stumbled through the mad flurry, arms outstretched.
Gusts snatched the words away as my sled hit the ice and careened out of control on the bumpy surface. The girl staggered and fell onto the pond. I twisted my sled away to avoid hitting her and smashed right into Charlie. With a yelp, he pulled me up, and we clumped toward the girl. We lifted her up, half dragging her back up the hill to the house in the pelting snow and sleet.
“Who is she?” Charlie yelled.
“No idea,” I yelled back.
He said more, but his words were lost in the wind.
My lungs burned with the cold and effort. There was only one reason someone would appear with lightning—to steal us. This girl might appear like a waif unprepared for a storm but I couldn’t trust that’s all she was.
PRE-ORDER JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM:
MEET DONNA GALANTI:
Donna Galanti is the author of The Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). She attended an English school housed in a magical castle, where her wild imagination was held back only by her itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). There she fell in love with the worlds of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and wrote her first fantasy about Dodo birds, wizards, and a flying ship. She’s lived in other exotic locations, including Hawaii where she served as a U.S. Navy photographer. She lives with her family and two crazy cats in an old farmhouse, and dreams of returning one day to a castle. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. You can find her at http://www.donnagalanti.com.
E-book ARCs are available for this next thrilling book in The Lightning Road series! Email donna(at)donnagalanti.com for copies and specify the format you’d like.
Click on a Rafflecopter giveaway to enter!
My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights is a lovely read that explores the life of a seventh grade “ninja freestyle” dancer named Dillon. It looks at all the twists and turns of a dancer’s life. The ups, the downs, the ins and outs.
Dillon is part of a dance crew with his close friends Carson, Kassie, and Austin. Sounds great, right? Wrong. When Dillon comes across and ad for a dance scholarship, he’s thrilled, but Kassie has a bad history with that studio and she claims that studios are for “sell outs.” And that’s not Dillon’s only problem. His dad has him committed to football, though the only position Dillon seems to play in Bench. Will Dillon earn the dance scholarship? Will Kassie let him? Will Dillon’s Dad finally understand why Dillon thinks dancing is awesome? Read the book to find out!
My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights is a highly enjoyable book that I would recommend for anyone ages nine to ninety. It’s a quick read that will make you think.
Counting Thyme is an enchanting read that tells the story of Thyme and her cancer-stricken brother Val, who are forced to move to New York for Val’s treatment. Thyme longs to connect with her friends back in San Diego, but it remains hopeless. Then Thyme remembers the “Thyme Jar,” a jar that her mother made shortly after Val was diagnosed. The “Thyme Jar” has pieces of paper for “me time,” time that Thyme can just be alone and use to her heart’s content.
Thyme’s new school isn’t so bad either, although there are a few jerks at it. Jake, on the other hand, is not a jerk. Quite the opposite, in fact. And then there’s a new adult in Thyme’s life who makes things better.
All in all, I think Counting Thyme is definitely a worthwhile read. Kids from ages eight to fourteen would like it. It is full of deep emotions.
For decades, Chris Riddell has delighted families with unique storylines along with equally impressive fantastical line drawings. Last year, the award-winning British author was bestowed the title of Children’s Laureate 2015-2017, and in honor of his accomplishments, here’s an overview of some of his most notable works of literature.
The Ottoline Series One of his more recent literary plus illustrative pieces is The Ottoline series, composed of three novels: Ottoline and the Yellow Cat, Ottoline Goes to School, and Ottoline at Sea. The first book in the series has won a number of prestigious awards, including a Red House Children’s Book Award and a Nestlé Children’s Book Prize. A mystery trilogy for kids aged 7 years and up, Ottoline is a curious and inquisitive girl that has a knack for solving unexplained occurrences in and around her neighborhood. Join Ottoline and her furry feline companion Mr. Munroe in discovering clues with enchanting, quirky illustrations.
The Goth Girl Series Riddell takes on 18th century Gothic tradition with a humorous twist, starring Ada Goth, daughter of the famous cycling poet Lord Goth. The two live in Ghastly-Gorm Hall, and in the first book Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award in 2013, Ada works with new friends to stop an evil plan set to occur on her father’s metaphorical bike race. The second book titled Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death features celebrities like Nigella Sugarspoon and Gordon Ramsgate that compete in the Ghastly-Gorm Bake Off, while familiar characters and references can be recognized by any bookworm in Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright. Overall, the witty allusions to real life characters, in addition to the historical “footnotes,” make the series enjoyable for all ages.
The Emperor of Absurdia Another book that garnered the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize as told by Lisa Dwyer Hogg of Tootsa, The Emperor of Absurdia shares a world with children that is anything but ordinary. Follow a young boy as he stumbles upon a dreamland called Absurdia, where the sky is a sea of snoring fish and the umbrellas are trees and the trees are birds. Fit for young readers, children will be captivated by this storybook adventure through both the words and the pictures.
Wendel’s Workshop Stories resonate with families more when there’s an underlying message in them, and that’ exactly what you’ll find with Wendel’s Workshop. A tale of an inventive mouse, Wendel goes through tests and trials of a cleaning robot, tossing his failures into the bin but he eventually learns the importance of recycling and waste management. Check out ChildrensLaureate.org.uk for a complete list of Riddell’s literary and illustrative works.
Exclusively written for Teaching My Baby To Read By MommyDreamer
MommyDreamer is a regular mommy with a dream. She attends to her two angels almost 24/7. When she is not mommying, she can be found daydreaming and sharing mommy hacks she discovered online. Watch out for her blog soon!
Grief, magic, and a secret passage. That sounds like an intriguing combination, doesn’t it? Here’s what my ten-year-old has to say about The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari. He read it start to finish in one day!
The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price is quite an interesting concept. Charlie’s mom had cancer and died. Charlie and his sister, Imogen, are grieving. But something isn’t right. Charlie is seeing less and less of Imogen, and when he does see her she is disgruntled and can’t remember anything. Charlie discovers Imogen is going through a secret passage in her room to a parallel universe where their mom is alive. It almost seems too good to be true. Is this just a lucky discovery or sinister magic at work? Read the book to find out!
This book really tugged at my heartstrings. I think this book would be good for a range of kids from seven to fourteen. A wide variety of kids would like it, especially those who enjoyed tear jerkers and magic.
My ten-year-old son is on a reading rampage through all the middle grade books from debut authors in 2016. Here are his thoughts on Treasure at Lure Lake by Shari Schwarz which is our newest purchase:
Treasure at Lure Lake is an exhilarating read that I read in under three hours out of pure excitement. Bryce and his older brother, Jack, are staying with their Grandpa for a couple of weeks. Except, it’s not that simple. Bryce finds an old treasure map and starts hunting around. With twists and turns at every corner, the lure of Lure Lake remains illusive. Will Bryce find it? What is the treasure? Will Jack finally get cell phone reception? Read the book to find out!
This book would be great for third through seventh graders. Girls would probably like this book too, even though it’s heavy on boy characters. It’s a fast read that will keep you turning pages.
My ten-year-old son has issued himself the challenge of reading all of the Middle Grade debuts in 2016 from my fellow Sweet Sixteen authors–except for “the girly books.” Here’s his review for The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee by Erin Petti:
I think that The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee is a great book with an artfully crafted build-up to the final moments. Thelma Bee is a very curious girl, and when her dad receives a strange antique she can’t help but investigate. I won’t give away the exact happenings, but she should have just burned that box on the spot.
One of the many things that makes this book special is the illustrations. They are beautiful paper and pencil efforts worked into the text. The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee is a short but sweet read that people of any gender will like.
The Hour of the Bees is a lovely read, well worth my time. It tells the story of a girl named Carol and her grandfather, who has dementia. My great-grandmother has dementia too, but (no offense) she’s not nearly as interesting as Grandpa Serge. Carol’s grandpa starts telling odd stories, and they all chalk it up to dementia. But when the words of the story start coming out into real life Carol wonders: “Is it really just dementia or is there something strange afoot?”
Hour of the Bees didn’t start with a big bang, but by twenty pages in it was really going. I stayed up all night to read it. I couldn’t have slept without finding out what happened. I think this book is great for ages five (with a parent reading it) to fifteen.
Here’s my ten-year-old’s review of Poppy Mayberry, The Monday (Nova Kids) by Jennie K. Brown. We received a free, advanced reader’s electronic copy as part of my participation as a debut author in The Sweet Sixteens. My son has read a lot of books in the past few months, but you’ll see that this one really captured his attention!
Poppy Mayberry, The Monday is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It has a perfect mix of romance, comedy, and suspense–all geared toward middle grade readers. The plot line is that all kids in the town of Nova have special powers determined by the day they were born on. Monday is telekinesis, Tuesday is teleportation, Wednesday is electrical, Thursday is mind reading, and Friday is disappearing. Saturday and Sunday don’t have any powers.
As the title states, Poppy Mayberry is a Monday, but she’s not a very good one. After being shipped off to a special school for power-disabled kids with her worst enemy Ellie (who can’t control her powers), Poppy is paired up in a team with Logan, a Friday, and Samuel, a Wednesday. That’s when things take a downward turn. I won’t give away spoilers but it gets pretty wild.
I think kids ages eight to fifteen would like Poppy Mayberry, The Monday. It is one of my favorite books ever!
“Never put your eggs all in one basket.” How many times have you heard that expression? As a former teacher, this is how I view educational methods. My children are too precious to trust their brains to any one teacher, curriculum, or program.
This is especially true for my child with dyslexia.
If you are a parent of a dyslexic child you’ve probably heard promises before. “Spend $20,000 at our institute and your son will be on grade level!” Or what about that mom in your book club who says, “I heard cranial manipulation can solve dyslexia. Have you found a massage practitioner?” Yikes!
When you are trying to get help for your child with dyslexia it’s hard to know what to do.
My guiding principal is to spend time and money on evidence-based solutions my family can afford. That means no, we will not refinance the house to pay for private dyslexia school, but yes, we will forgo family vacations so we can pay for two hours a week of tutoring with a certified Orton Gillingham and Wired for Reading teacher. No, we will not waste money on some crack-pot theory. Yes, we will flood our child with audio books via our subscription to Learning Ally.
I’m a credentialed teacher, but a lot of the teaching methods I tried with my dyslexic child were not very effective. However, whenever I brought out the All About Spelling and All About Reading materials, they seemed to make a difference. Once I started researching dyslexia I realized why. Marie Rippel is an expert on dyslexia! She’s a member of the International Dyslexia Association, and incorporates a lot of the Orton Gillingham approach into her curriculum.
“Okay, great,” I thought. “All About Learning Press is helping my child but I have no idea how to fit this into our busy lives. We are not homeschoolers. I’m not going to start homeschooling anytime soon, so don’t even suggest it.” Instead of radical life changes, I went for easy modifications instead.
Here’s how to incorporate All About Reading into your everyday lives in a way that has produced real results for my child:
#1: Read the Teacher’s Manual cover to cover and then give yourself permission not to follow it exactly.
What makes All About Reading a fool-proof homeschooling program is that it’s scripted. Marie tells you exactly what to say, word for word. Follow her instructions and you won’t screw up. But my kids are already in school all day. When they come home we have Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, gymnastics, ballet, guitar lessons, and dyslexia tutoring, depending on what day it is. Plus they need to do stuff like eat dinner, walk the poodle, and play.
When I first started incorporating All About Reading into our schedule, I tried to follow the Level 1 manual exactly, just like I do with All About Spelling over the summer. But there was never enough time to finish a lesson, and it was hard to be consistent without stressing the whole family out. So I decided to go off script, and that’s when it became a heck of a lot easier to turn a homeschooling curriculum into something practical for afterschooling.
#2: Smoosh All About Reading into your child’s bedtime rituals.
We read at bedtime no matter what. Generally we have a fun chapter book going, like the “Cupcake Girls.” (Do those girls ever pay taxes? I’ve never been able to figure that one out.) Before we get to the read aloud, we do kid-reading first. There are two possible choices: the primer book or flashcards.
Right now the primer book we are working on is “What Am I?” It’s always there, right on the nightstand, ready to go. Easy! The flashcards live on the nightstand too. The reading glasses are often lost somewhere in the house, but that’s another story…
#3: Repetition is your friend, and stickers make repetition fun.
Every time my child reads one of the short stories, a new sticker pops up in the table of contents. This helps us keep track of progress. We try not to read the same story two nights in a row so that memorization doesn’t remove the need for phonics. When the entire book is finished there is a major reward like a new toy.
Astute All About Reading veterans will probably wonder, “How do you know what lesson you are on in the teaching manual?” The answer is I don’t. Shock! Gasp! Horror! I can kind-of tell from the flashcards, but I don’t pay that much attention.
What I’ve discovered is that the All About Reading materials are so well crafted, that my child can’t progress through the flashcards unless she’s ready. She can’t move up in the short stories unless she’s capable. The two components work together to keep her at the right pace.
#4 Prep the workbook activities and store them in your purse.
My purse is a giant mess of fluency worksheets, flip books, and other scraps of paper I intend to work on that week. We squeeze out time when we can. Waiting during the guitar lesson. Waiting in the car to pick a sibling up. Waiting in line at Costco. If we have five minutes to spare, then we work those five minutes.
For our situation, this means I also have to have a set of my kid’s reading glasses in my purse. I actually bought a cheap pair on Zenni for this exact purpose.
Do we try to do the activities that correspond with the stories and flashcards? Yes. Sort-of. I do the best I can to be consistent, but I give myself permission to not be perfect.
#5 Don’t forget about the spelling board!
I am such a horrible speller (with a potentially undiagnosed spelling learning disability) that there’s no way I would risk going off scrip when it comes to All About Spelling. I keep that teacher’s manual right by our white board. The trick is fitting in spelling lessons each week. Generally we save these for the weekends.
Summer is when we hit All About Spelling hard. Whenever I feel like I’m failing as an Afterschooling mom, I remember that in summer we’ll rack up major learning hours when other families are watching TV.
#6 Bring out the big bucks because bribery works!
The best way I’ve found to keep our schedule chugging along is by posting a new bingo board on the wall every week. Complete a row and earn a prize, it’s that simple.
Notice how our bingo chart mixes in All About Learning Press materials with the Handwriting Without Tears App, Learning Ally audio books, Dreambox Math, and Nessy. Margaret the tutor is also on the chart! This is a reflection of my guiding principle, don’t put all my trust in any one solution. All About Learning Press is wonderful and I love it so much I’ve been an affiliate for years, but it’s not the only method I’m using to seek help for my child.
Conclusion: Is All About Reading making a difference?
Yes! A resounding Yes!
I’ve been saying “my child” instead of “my son” or “my daughter” because over the years I’ve become more conservative about what I reveal publicly about my children. I write a weekly newspaper column so I need to be extra careful about their privacy.
But…I have some pretty astonishing before and after pictures of writing samples I could share, as well as Dibels results, and sight words assessments.
My child is at grade level and does well at school. My child is achieving so much that the school district will not offer any special education services, only a 504 plan for disability. All of this success is directly related to help that happens afterschool.
Grandparents are also noticing a huge difference. Last summer they listened to my child painfully read from “Run, Bug, Run.” Now “What Am I?” is a comfortable reading level. That’s flippin’ awesome!
Finally, my child’s confidence is huge, and that’s a worth that is difficult to measure but the foundation for a happy life. Believe and achieve.
As I mentioned before I am an All About Learning Press affiliate, but I didn’t share any of this out of a desire to earn money. I typed it up because I know how scary it is when you desperately want to help your child overcome dyslexia, and you don’t even know where to start. If you’d like more information about the specifics of my Afterschooling plan, please click here. To find out more about All About Reading or All About Spelling, click on the links below.
In The Last Boy at St. Edith’s Jeremy Miner is the only boy at St. Edith’s Institution, a formerly all-girls school. It used to be an all-girls school, but as that it was doing poorly, it switched to co-ed. But, enrollment was still low. A bunch of boys were there but all of them ended up leaving but one–Jeremy Miner. Jeremy and his friend Claudia engage in a series of pranks meant to get Jeremy expelled. What happens next is a series of comical incidents including a giant snowman and whole bunch of lawn gnomes.
As a ten-year-old boy myself, being at an all-girls school sounds pretty sweet, but after all, I’m not Jeremy Miner. This book will appeal to a variety of kids, from fourth grade on up. I thought it was a rollercoaster of a read, and definitely worth my time.
All year my ten-year-old son has been reading advanced review copies of middle grade books we borrow via my membership as a debut author in The Sweet Sixteens. Here’s his review of Sticks & Stones by Abby Cooper.
Sticks & Stones by Abby Cooper is a middle grade read that comes out in July of 2016. The hook is that Elyse is a middle grade girl with a special affliction called CAV which makes everything she calls herself and other people call her show up on her skin. So if somebody gives her a compliment, it feels great, but if someone insults her, it’s super itchy. Most people don’t know about Elyse’s CAV. On top of all that Elyse is dealing with her first break up and her best friend leaving her for the popular crowd.
I thought this was a great book, even though as a fifth grade boy I wasn’t exactly the target audience. It had more romance than I was used to. The hook was really clever. “Sticks and stones can break your bones but words will never hurt you.” Or … do they!
Two cousins and one mysterious adventure make for a suspenseful story that middle grade readers will love. The Eye of Midnight, by Andrew Brumbach, is a book my ten-year-old son finished in 24 hours. This book comes out March 8th. Here’s my son’s review:
William and Maxine are practically strangers, even though they share the same grandfather. Will is brave and likes living on the edge. Maxine is clever and tends to be cautious. Their grandfather, Colonel Battersea is always getting into one scrape or another.
Will and Maxine have to work together to save their grandfather — and the world.
Secret passages, dark mysteries, exotic taxidermy, a wooden genie that speaks Arabic; step into Battersea Manor and prepare for adventure. The Eye of Midnight will not disappoint!