Monday, October 29, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Recipe for Trouble: The Cupcake Club and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! So glad to have a book to share with you today.  And today is special as I was asked to be a part of the Cupcake and Crushes blog tour for the second book in The Cupcake Club series by Sheryl Berk and her 9-year-old daughter Carrie Berk. And now for the fun part! Sourcebooks Jabberwocky has offered to give away a copy of Recipe for Trouble: The Cupcake Club to one of my readers.  So, let's get started!


By: Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky October 2012

From the Publisher:

The Peace, Love, and Cupcake Girls are ready for a new school year, but are they ready for the, well, drama? When Lexi lands the role of Juliet in the upcoming performance of Romeo and Juliet, she couldn’t be more excited, but when she finds out the leading man opposite her is her secret crush, Jeremy, the PLC gang sets its sights on match-making.

Things go quickly awry, though, when Jeremy throws away the “Bake Me I’m Yours” cupcake Lexi anonymously gives him. That’s not all! It seems that Jeremy has a few odd habits. For one, it turns out he doesn’t eat any desert during lunch period. Then they notice that he keeps a stash of nuts with him at all times. Not to mention his over-frequent visits to the nurse’s office. What could be up with Jeremy?

A little hunch that Jeremy might be diabetic inspires the PLC gang’s hardest cupcake challenge yet: a spaghetti and meatball cupcake. It’s the only way for Lexi to win Jeremy’s stomach (and his heart!) but can they make the perfect diabetes-friendly, hunger-satisfying spaghetti cupcake successfully?

This is the second book in the series and even though I haven't read the first book, I was able to follow the characters just fine. This book is perfect for girls who enjoy reading contemporary fiction.  And girls that love to bake will LOVE it!  The Cupcake Girls really know their cupcakes. Another group that might enjoy reading this series are older reluctant reader girls. Even though Lexie and her friends are in the fifth grade (4th grade in the first book), they act much older, enough so that older girls wouldn't feel the story was talking down to them.

The book also features a few cupcake recipes in the back, as well as Carrie's tips for saying "I Love You" with cupcakes. 

For more with Carrie, check out this link to watch her bake Smurf cupcakes, and here's a link with an interview of Carrie sharing about the first book in the series.

And now for the giveaway! If you would like to be entered to receive a copy of Recipe for Trouble: The Cupcake Club just leave a comment on this post.  Follow my blog via email or blogger and I will give you a bonus entry! Contest will be open until Friday, November 2nd at 11:59 pm. Good luck!

Thanks for stopping by today! For my favorite MMGM links, please check out the list to the left on my blog. Have a great week!

I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for my review. This post is my own opinion.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Being Frank

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday! I hope this post will be a help to those who love picture books and want to share them with their own children or those they teach.


Written by: Donna W. Earnhardt
Illustrated by: Andrea Castellani

Flashlight Press 2012
Fiction for ages 4 to 8

Themes: honesty, perspective, kindness

Opening and brief synopsis:
Frank was always frank. 
“Honesty is the best policy,” he said.

From the jacket flap:  "Honesty is the best policy.” That’s Frank’s motto. He tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing by the truth. But Frank’s overly frank comments tend to annoy his friends, his teachers, and even his mother – and now Frank is honestly unhappy. He decides to visit his confidant and pal, Grandpa Ernest, who has a history of frankness himself.

Why I like this book:
I just love that Frank goes to his grandpa for advice – how cool is that? I don’t want to spill the beans by saying if the advice helps or not, but let me just say that this book makes me chuckle and the illustrations are the perfect wacky fit. The lesson Frank learns is appropriate for kids AND adults!

Flashlight Press has an activity/resource page for BEING FRANK on its website. You can also take a peek inside and check out the wacky illustrations.

I would like to give a big thank you to Flashlight Press for sending me a review copy of BEING FRANK. This entire post is my own opinion.

Perfect Picture Book Friday is a wonderful idea started by Susanna Leonard Hill. For other “Just Right” books and resources listed by theme and title, visit her blog.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Write On, Mom! Guest Post

Today, I'm being featured on author Jenny Lee Sulpizio's website.  She hosts a weekly blog series, "Write On, Mom!" that shares how mothers who are also writers balance motherhood while being an author.  It is a fun interview, and I hope you'll stop by!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Oh, Nuts!

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday! I hope this post will be a help to those who love picture books and want to share them with their own children or those they teach.

Before I begin, I do have to give a shout-out to the DETROIT TIGERS! They are going to the WORLD SERIES! Much excitement could be found in my household last night!

Now on to today's book pick...

Written by: Tammi Sauer 
Illustrated by: Dan Krall

Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers 2012
Fiction for ages 3 to 8

Themes: be yourself, cause & effect, animals

Opening and brief synopsis:
Cutesy, Blinky, and Bob lived at the zoo.
They whooshed through grass,
darted up trees,
and zipped over branches.  But…

From the jacket flap:  Meet Cutesy, Blinky, and Bob. They live at the zoo, where they dream of stardom. But does anyone pay attention to chipmunks? Nooooo. All the zoo-goers are busy gawking at gorillas and clicking cameras at koalas. Oh, nuts! Something must be done. Something big.

Why I like this book:
First, it is by Tammi Sauer.  Need I say more? Probably not, but I'll give you a few other reasons to check this book out. Chipmunks named Cutesy, Blinky and Bob - the names alone show this is a funny book. These chipmunks are quite the characters and you feel their pain that no one pays any attention to them. The ideas they cook up to get noticed are hilarious, and the lesson they learn once they get the attention they “think” they want is a great one for kids to see, especially in a funny, did I just learn a lesson, context.

Check out the book trailer here:
Get a sneak peek of the book at Dan Krall’s website:
Many facts and pictures of squirrels can be found at the National Geographic website or a variety of coloring pages can be found here.

Have a great weekend! 

Perfect Picture Book Friday is a wonderful idea started by Susanna Leonard Hill. For other “Just Right” books and resources listed by theme and title, visit her blog.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - A Warm Winter Tail

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday! I hope this post will be a help to those who love picture books and want to share them with their own children or those they teach.

Today’s book is by fellow Michigan-SCBWI member and writing friend, Carrie A. Pearson. After my introduction, I have a Q/A with Carrie and will announce the winner of her blog tour giveaway.


Written by: Carrie A. Pearson
Illustrated by: Christina Wald

Sylvan Dell Publishing 2012
Non-fiction for ages 3 to 8

Themes: compare/contrast, migration/hibernation, animals

Opening and brief synopsis:
How do humans keep warm in the winter, Mama?
Do they wrap their tails tight
‘round their bodies just right
as heaters to chase out the chill?

From the jacket flap:  Do you ever wonder how animals stay warm in the winter? Well they wonder how humans do too! In a twist of perspective, wild creatures question if humans use the same winter adaptation strategies that they do. Do they cuddle together in a tree or fly south to Mexico? Take a look through an animal's eyes and discover the interesting ways that animals cope with the cold winter months throughout this rhythmic story.

Why I like this book:
I love the word choices Carrie uses in each refrain. The different animals come to life as they compare what they see as human characteristics to their own. The illustrations are so realistic and really add to the book.

This book is a resource all on its own. The back four pages contain an entire educational section with fun facts, activities and more.
The Sylvan Dell book site showcases the book trailer and even more resources.

Now some time with Carrie!
1. A Warm Winter Tail is your picture book debut. Congratulations! How long did the process from idea to publication take for you?
Thank you! The idea came to me in the long cold winter of 2008. I wrote, revised, wrote, revised and submitted to Sylvan Dell in April 2010. They bought the book in May 2011 and began working on it immediately. The fact that the book is on the shelves now is warp speed in the publishing world!

2. Did you always intend for the book to be non-fiction or did you consider a fictional story?
I've always considered this to be a fictional story because of the anthropomorphic qualities of the animals. But I wanted the adaptation strategies to be accurate and was careful with my research so this would be the case. The book has been fully vetted by people in the natural sciences through Sylvan Dell Publishing and I am happy to say there was only one minor change to make as a result of their review.

3. I read in the author bio in the book that your idea started with an encounter with a whitetail deer. How did you pick the other animals found in the book?
I chose each animal to represent a different adaptation strategy. For instance, gray squirrels' adaptation is to snuggle together in dreys (nests) and borrow the body heat of another to stay warm. I hoped that the images created by my words and Christina's amazing art would resonate with readers and live in their memories after the book had been read.

4. A follow-up. You live in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Are many of the animals found there?
Yes, all of the animals in the book live in the Upper Peninsula and most in the woods near my back door. I am incredibly lucky: I see one whitetail deer a week on average (usually more), hear coyotes howl (which freaks out my dogs!), see bear droppings on the trail (yikes), and even watched a mama and baby moose swim across a pond last spring. The woods are a busy place!

5. Do you have any future projects you're working on?
I'm working on a companion title about how animals stay cool in the summer (equally fascinating and even less written about this topic). I've written a MG historical novel that I am querying now and have several picture book manuscripts in various stages of development. I have more ideas than I can ever hope to finish! Blurbs about my manuscripts can be found on my website at

Thank you, Carrie, for sharing with us! Now I'm happy to announce the winner of a signed copy of A Warm Winter Tail and a stuffed animal featured in the book.  The winner is


Congratulations!  Please email Carrie at carrieapear (at) aol (dot) com for details on receiving your prize.

Last but not least, be sure to stop at Debra Diesen's blog on Monday, October 15th for the final interview of the blog tour.

Perfect Picture Book Friday is a wonderful idea started by Susanna Leonard Hill. For other “Just Right” books, visit her blog.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Bear Has a Story to Tell

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday! I hope this post will be a help to those who love picture books and want to share them with their own children or those they teach.
Written by: Philip C. Stead 
Illustrated by: Erin E. Stead

Roaring Book Press 2012
Fiction for ages 3 to 8

Themes: patience, friendship, animals

Opening and brief synopsis:
It was almost winter and Bear was getting sleepy.

Bear is getting sleepy, but before he falls asleep, he has a story to tell. He tries to tell his friends Mouse, Duck and Frog, but they are all too busy preparing for winter. Will Bear be patient enough to wait until Spring? And if he does, will he remember his story that he wants to share?

Why I like this book:
In the same vein as A Sick Day for Amos McGee (see my post from last fall), Philip and Erin Stead have created another wonderfully quiet book with characters children will love. Last fall I attended an evening with the Steads and learned about their creative process, especially how Erin illustrated Amos McGee. The time and effort she puts into her illustrations just amazes me!

A book trailer can be found here
Lesson plans and activities involving hibernation can be found here and here.

Perfect Picture Book Friday is a wonderful idea started by Susanna Leonard Hill. For other “Just Right” books, visit her blog.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Warm Winter Tail Blog Tour

My fellow SCBWI-MI children's writer, Carrie Pearson, and her debut picture book, A Warm Winter Tail, are going on tour.  You, are invited to come along on a tour of some great kidlit blogs and help celebrate the launch of this wonderful, fun-u-cational picture book. Like any good road trip, you'll meet some new people and catch up with old friends. And what's a road trip without a souvenir? If you visit each blog and leave a comment, you'll be entered to win a signed book and a plush animal featured in the story. 

The talented hosts and itinerary follows:

Monday October 1st: Robin McCoy at 

2nd: Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre at

3rd: Sue Heavenrich at

4th: Tiffany at

5th: Anastasia Suen at 

Monday 8th: Nancy Shaw at (just a rest stop here -- no comments)

11th: Wendy Lawrence at

12th: My stop on the tour as part of Perfect Picture Book Friday. I'm excited to announce the winner of the signed book and a plush animal!

15th: Debra Diesen at 

So put on your travelin' pants and let's go. Hope you can join us!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Baseball Great

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! Today I'm featuring a book I haven't read, but my middle grade son has.  I will be sharing his thoughts.

by: Tim Green
Harper 2010

Baseball Great is the first in a three-book baseball series.  The next two books are entitled Rivals and Best of the Best.

From the back cover:
When the school paper calls him "Grant Middle's best hope for its first-ever city-wide championship," Josh feels like he's starting to get noticed-in good and bad ways. Seeing Josh's talent, his father drags him out of the school baseball tryouts and gets him in the running for the Titans, the local youth championship team coached by Rocky Valentine.

All Josh really wants to do is play ball, but now Rocky wants him to gulp down protein shakes and other supplements. Suspicious, Josh and his new friend, Jaden, uncover a dangerous secret-and catch the attention of one many who will do anything to keep them from exposing it.

Now, let me say that my son is a very picky reader. Finding a book that keeps his attention and keeps him reading can be a challenge. Here are a few of his thoughts.

What did you like about the book?
Book about baseball
Kind of like a mystery

What kept you reading?
I wanted to find out if they would catch the person that was supplying the baseball team with steroids.

How many stars would you rate this book? (5 is highest)
5 stars

Any final thoughts?
I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Thanks for stopping by! For my favorite Marvelous Middle Grade Monday links, please check out the list on the right.