Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Congratulations, Lauren Castillo!

Hooray! Hedgehog is getting her own early chapter book series. I have loved this adorable character ever since Lauren Castillo first tweeted about her a few years ago. Congratulations, Lauren! I am so happy for you and everyone who will go on adventures with Hedgehog, Mutty, and Anika May

Via Publishers Weekly 

Cover Reveal for The Serpent's Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond) by Sayantani DasGupta

Happy Tuesday, Sayantani DasGupta! Thank you for stopping by to reveal the cover for The Serpent’s Secret and to finish my sentences.

Sayantani DasGupta: Thank you so much for having me! What an honor! And I’m beyond delighted to share this amazing cover with the world!

Yes, the cover is AMAZING! I cannot wait to buy multiple copies on February 27, 2018. 

Vivienne To’s cover illustration for The Serpent’s Secret is awesome! (Isn’t it?) (YES!) Seven-headed snake monster? Check. Danger and mayhem and adventure? Double check. Awesome 12-year-old heroine standing on a serpent’s head with bow, arrows, and purple combat boots? All the checks!

The Serpent’s Secret tells the story of interdimensional demon slayer Kiranmala Desi, a girl who thinks she is just a regular sixth grader from Parsippany, New Jersey. That is, until the morning of her 12th birthday, when her parents mysteriously vanish and a drooling rakkhosh demon crashes into her kitchen, determined to eat her alive.  Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ wacky stories, and that she might be a real Indian princess destined to fight demons and serpents and all the other evil in the multiverse!

Explore Sayantani's website.
Did you know Kiranmala has an awesome posse of friends who help her on her demon-slaying adventures? (Because every hero going on interdimensional demon-slaying adventures obviously needs hilarious and only sometimes helpful sidekicks!)  Kiranmala’s friends, including: two winged pakkhiraj horses; an annoying, talking bird; and two handsome, princely brothers, help her fight all sorts of baddies – like the Serpent King of the underworld (who might want to kill her) and a beautiful but evil Rakkhoshi Queen (who definitely does want to kill her). The question is, even with their help, will she be able to save her family, not to mention the multiverse, and still make it back home in time to finish the sixth grade?

Reading is power, joy, magic, the feeling of flying through the sky on the back of a winged pakkhiraj horse! For me, a daughter of Indian immigrants growing up in America, reading helped me find my strength and a sense of my own voice and my own place in the world. The Serpent’s Secret is in fact based on the Bengali folktales I heard and read when I was young. The other dimension that Kiranmala travels to on her adventures, The Kingdom Beyond Seven Oceans and Thirteen Rivers, is actually the world where most traditional Bengali folktales take place. So in a sense, Kiranmala finds herself inside stories in the same way that I did. I imagined myself in the Bengali stories my grandmother used to tell me when I visited India, but Kiranmala actually lives those stories, traveling into their magical and sometimes dangerous worlds!

School libraries are havens, treasure troves, places where adventures happen. When I was young, school libraries helped me find stories that inspired me, challenged me, and lit my imagination on fire. Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and A Ring of Endless Light were some of my favorites, books I read over and over again, in the same way that the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books were some of my children’s absolute favorites. School (and community) librarians are heroes – helping young readers of all backgrounds find stories about kids who look like them, as well as kids whose lives are very different from their own. I still get that fluttery-heart feeling when I go into a library – so many books to read! So little time!

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me why rakkhosh (also called rakshasa or rakshas) are the best monsters ever. Ever heard of Jack’s Giant? The one who wants to grind Englishmen’s bones to make his bread? Well, picture Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, but add a lot of drool, long fangs and horns, and a penchant for speaking in rhyme and you’re close to picturing a rakkhosh. Zombies, vampires, and werewolves have nothing on a rakkhosh – who will snot all over the place, threaten you in poem form, eat you up, and then use your bones as toothpicks! 

Thank you, Sayantani! Congratulations! 

Sayantani DasGupta grew up hearing stories about brave princesses, bloodthirsty rakkhosh, and flying pakkhiraj horses. She is a pediatrician by training but spends most of her time teaching undergraduates and graduate students at Columbia University. When she’s not writing, Sayantani spends time with her family and is a team member of We Need Diverse Books

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Hello, Mr. Sharp,

Happy Saturday! I hope your weekend is going well. I'm looking forward to seeing you next month at the Scholastic Reading Summit in Chicago. :) :) 

Happy reading!


Please click here to visit Mr. Sharp's blog. 

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton; illustrated by Alexandra Boiger | Publication Date: May 30

Egg by Kevin Henkes 

Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds 

My Favorite Food: Mi Comida Favorita 

Miles Morales (Spider-Man) by Jason Reynolds | Cover illustration by Kadir Nelson | Publication date: August 1, 2017 

Zombelina School Days by Kristyn Crow; illustrated by Molly Idle | Publication date: June 6, 2017 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Dear Mr. Sharp,

Happy Saturday! I hope you and your family are settling nicely into your new home. :) 

Happy reading!


Please click here to watch Colby's video. 

The Quest for Z by Greg Pizzoli | Publication Date: June 13, 2017 

The War I Finally Won | Publication Date: October 3, 2017 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Guest Post by Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Dear Jennifer Black Reinhardt,

Happy Thursday! I hope you're having a terrific day. Lou Grant, my cat, wanted me to tell you that he thinks Ethel is a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e. 

Thank you for taking over my blog for the day! 


Happy reading!


Making a book is always a very long, winding, frustrating, rewarding, journey, and writing and illustrating Blue Ethel was no exception. Every book journey begins with an idea and that idea came to me several years ago while standing in my in-law’s living room.

It was a typical summer’s day and all the Reinhardts and Borodinskys were gathered together being loud, happy, and lovingly chaotic. The front door banged open and closed as kids sprinted in and out. During one of those door openings, my sister-in-law’s cat, Ethel, trotted in from outside. The square little cat stood like a statue in the center of the hubbub poised for admiration. Her belly hung low and her skinny tail stood straight up like an antenna. Ethel was old and she was fat. She was white and she was black. But on this particular afternoon, Ethel was also blue!

At that time, I didn’t know Ethel very well. But, for the next several years I wondered how Ethel must have felt when she heard our laughter and realized that she had rolled in sidewalk chalk and turned her white fur blue? That sweet cat, whose (important) life’s work was to groom herself, to go outside, and then return to do it all over again. What would Ethel do if she suddenly found herself… colorful?

I hope that readers will discover, as Ethel does, that seeing yourself as beautiful ‘no matter what’ can allow us the opportunity to grow in our own uniqueness, creativity, and self-expression. Blue Ethel is a story about being yourself, and friendship, but it’s also about taking some risks and trying new things.

Perhaps we all need a pink friend named Fluffy to help us be even happier versions of ourselves?

It’s not easy being Ethel, but she’s good at it.

Look for Blue Ethel on May 30, 2017. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Book Trailer Premiere: 7 Ate 9 by Tara Lazar and Ross MacDonald

Happy Tuesday! I am thrilled Tara Lazar dropped by to premiere the book trailer for 7 Ate 9 and to finish my sentences. We chatted about Ross MacDonald, The Bookworm, school libraries, and Mrs. Seamus. I wrote the words in purple, and she wrote the words in black. Many thanks, Tara! 

The book trailer for 7 Ate 9 was so much fun to put together. Ross filmed the character shots and I glued them in place. I had been working in the same room as my daughters and must have viewed the video a hundred times as I was editing it. Every time it finished, I let out a huge guffaw, I couldn’t help it, I found it hilarious. Well, my daughters got tired of hearing my loud laugh. They rolled their eyes and repeated “oh my gawd!” and “mother, please!”…but did I stop? Of course not!

Illustration Credit: Ross MacDonald 
Ross MacDonald’s illustrations are the coolest. (Did you know he makes movie and TV props in his studio, too?) For 7 ATE 9, he used his 19th century printing press to make the characters, painted watercolors, and brought all the pieces into Photoshop to put the scenes together. I love the film-noir detective-movie flair mixed with the bright colors of the characters. And their little hands and feet, how adorable are they?

Illustration Credit: Ross MacDonald
Private I would probably NOT want to be called “adorable.” Clever, pragmatic and perceptive is more his groove.

On May 16, 2017, 7 ATE 9: THE UNTOLD STORY launches into the world! I will be celebrating at my local bookstore, The Bookworm in Bernardsville, NJ. I’m going to bake a 9 cake so everyone can say “we ate 9.”

School libraries are the most amazing places filled with possibilities. Anywhere you want to go, there’s a book to take you there. The only limit is your imagination…well, that, and perhaps library due dates… (but you can always renew, HOORAY!)

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me where I was when I first dreamt of becoming a children’s book author. In my school library! Mrs. Seamus saw me looking at a book titled SHE WAS NICE TO MICE and told me it was written by a 12-year-old girl. I thought if she could do it, I could do it, too. It took me a few years, but now here I am on your blog! Dreams really do come true!

Look for 7 Ate 9 on May 16, 2017. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Trailer Premiere: Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Jabari Jumps is about a little boy conquering his fear of jumping off the diving board, so I thought it would be funny for the trailer to riff on the whole "Wild West" standoff trope. Here you've got Jabari and the diving board staring each other down and it's super dramatic! --What will happen?? Cliff hanger!  

Like most picture book authors, I always want to write stories that kids relate to. I so clearly remember jumping off the diving board for the first time. It is such a big moment. Working on Jabari Jumps I really got to explore the idea of facing your fears and what that feels like for a kid, but also what a supportive adult looks like in that situation. That fine line between giving your child little pushes forward, but also letting them find their own way. I hope kids read Jabari Jumps and realize you can work up to something that feels scary, or big. Just take it one step at a time and know that all those little steps are moving you forward. Which actually is a great way to tackle all sorts of big things in life, diving boards included. 

Look for Jabari Jumps on May 9, 2017.