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Friday, October 17, 2014

"If you thought my finger was fancy..." First Cybils review!

*** This week I was featured on the Bring Joy blog! When you're done here, go check out my four best tips for preschoolers who don't want to read. ***

Here it is! The first of my Cybils reviews for 2014. In case you missed it, I discussed my format for these reviews here.
return of zita the spacegirl review hatke
Photo by Alysa. Heart paper because I loved it.
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
  1. What is it about? This is the third adventure starring Zita, and it concludes the story arc from Zita the Spacegirl (book 1) and Legends of Zita the Spacegirl. In it, Zita has to save the world, of course!
  2. Who would like it? Fans of the first two books. Who would like the first two books? Anyone who likes graphic novels, really! At our house everyone from the 4-year-old on up reads and loves Zita. (Though Levi requires a reader to assist him.)
  3. What is your favorite line from the book? "If you thought my finger was fancy you should see what my toes can do!" -- Femur
  4. Who is your favorite character and why? Well, my favorite new character was Ragpile. But this book did have some Strong-Strong and some Piper and some Pizzicato all of whom I love for different reasons. 
The final word: If you love Zita, you'll love it! (And the bonus material at the back). If you don't know Zita yet, start with the first book, Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke.
Affiliate links: If you purchase through these, I make a small commission. :) Pictures will take you to Barnes and Noble. Text will take you to Amazon.

p.s.Let's talk about Piper's awesome "tools of the trade"for a sec. Door paste? Love. Midas coin? Sooo coool.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

19 Awesome Quotes from Newbery-winning Authors!

Ok guys I got Story Club back from my editor this weekend! Yikes! Crazy times.

Also this weekend I found some notes I had taken back in 2012 that I've been saving all this time. They come from an event at Books of Wonder in NYC, which my brother and I attended right after KidLitCon 2012. This event was an awesome panel featuring Newbery authors Richard Peck, Avi, Rebecca Stead, Ann M. Martin, and Shannon Hale.

After you read these quotes, tell me which one is your favorite.

Photo by Alysa Stewart. L to R: Shannon Hale, Avi, Ann M. Martin, Richard Peck, Rebecca Stead at Books of Wonder.

These are their words as I recorded them, and I'm just going to let them speak for themselves. There are some real gems.

Richard Peck:
I love Grandma Dowdel in his book A Year Down Yonder.*

"I never wrote a line of fiction until I was 37."

"We learn the most from the experience we would have avoided."

"I turned in my attendance book, which was my first work of fiction, and went home to write or die."

"Before television we listened to radio and that is very much part of the narrative."

"For me, a book is a shot fired just over their heads. What language have we learned here? What book does this remind you of?"

 "I followed my readers into younger territory."

"Humor is anger that was sent to finishing school."

"If I could teach young people a lesson about fiction it would be this: Books are not real life with the names changed. Beatrix Potter was never a rabbit. They're more than entertainments."

"My best book is called The River Between Us."
My favorite Avi book is The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

Q: What is your favorite genre to write? Avi: "I prefer writing good books."

Q: What is your first name? Avi: "It's Rumpelstiltskin."

"Focus on the joys of reading."
Rebecca Stead:
Thoroughly enjoyed her Newbery Winner: When You Reach Me.*

"This private space is created by my reading. What makes me want to write is reading."

"I can do anything I want and they're right there with me." - on why she loves writing for children.

"That was the age at which I fell head over heels for books."
Ann M Martin:
The Baby-Sitters Clubbooks had a huge impact on young Alysa.

"My parents made reading and words fun for me. Now, the characters keep me going."
Shannon Hale:
Y'all know I love Shannon Hale.

"You don't find many adults that read a book 25 times." - on why children's authors have to be so rigorous in writing well and double-checking for inconsistencies.

"It's easier to be a bad actor than a bad writer, I think."

"It's so exciting! It's absolutely thrilling that one of my books could be as important as Robin McKinley or Lloyd Alexander's books were to me."

Which of the above quotes is your favorite?
Tell me in the comments, below.

Me, my awesome brother, and Elephant and Piggie, after the event.

*Some links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after visiting them, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Which would be awesome!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

B&N Coupon Code! And My Cybils Review Groove

Part 1:
Woohoo! Who wants 20% off at Barnes and Noble? 
This coupon code  is good until 10/13/14, after which I'll remove it. It has now been removed. And if you choose to shop through my affiliate links (by clicking the banner in this post, or by getting to Barnes and Noble through another of my affiliate links) I can earn a small commission. Thanks in advance for helping to make my passion profitable. ;)

This week I ordered three books from Barnes and Noble: I Kissed the Baby! for a baby shower, The Princess in Black because I'm so stinkin' excited for it (releases Oct 15!), and Levi spent some of his birthday money on We Could Be Heroes (Mameshiba Series) because mameshiba crack us up. Sadly I ordered these before the coupon arrived. *tsk tsk* But it's not too late for you! I would be comforted to know that someone got to use this bad boy.

Part 2:

So. Cybils nominations are open! Already 53 awesome-looking graphic novels have been nominated, and I've checked out my first bag full from the library. I've been thinking: if I'm going to review a whole lot of books between now and Christmas, I'd better make my Cybils reviews easy to write. Unless I feel like I've gotta spend more time talking about a particular book, I'm just going to answer the following 4 questions:

  1. What is it about?
  2. Who would like it?
  3. What is your favorite line from the book?
  4. Who is your favorite character and why?
It's also worth noting that my reviews will be my own opinions and won't necessarily reflect the thoughts of the panel as a whole. I'm only one superhero blogger on the Avengers' Cybils team.

My fave baby shower books here.
This photo made Benjamin laugh
Mameshiba were originally commercials. These totally kill me, you guys.
How to nominate a book for the Cybils here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Finished Again! The Book of Mormon is a perennial favorite.

the book of mormon
My name on the front cover doesn't mean I wrote it
It just means I own it.
Recently I finished reading the Book of Mormon again. I honestly couldn't tell you how many times I've read it; my family has belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for generations. I received my own copy of the book at age eight, and have studied it since. For me to write a critical review of this book would be nearly impossible. However, I can tell you about it. Everead was starting to feel incomplete without my thoughts about it! The place where I write about my favorite books just needed a few words about this one.

Hmm, how could I tell you what the Book of Mormon is about in just a paragraph or two? I feel completely inadequate to the task. Thankfully it has a short introduction of its own.

the book of mormon open

I'd be more than happy to share some of my favorite quotes from the Book of Mormon:

2 Nephi 25:26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (Our family has this one memorized.  View this passage in context.)

Alma 37:37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night, lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; . . .  (view this passage in context)

Helaman 5:12 "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."  (view this passage in context)

the book of mormon with ribbonsI love reading the Book of Mormon. I can honestly say that the prescriptions and stories in the Book of Mormon have brought me immeasurable peace and comfort. I believe the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I love the Old Testament and the New Testament, too, and I also believe the Bible to be the word of God. Scripture study has brought me closer to God than anything else except maybe prayer.

Tell me, do you study scripture? Have you ever read the Book of Mormon? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Also: Did you already know that I belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? I'm curious to know if my being Mormon has come across on this blog in other ways. If you have any questions about the church I'd be happy to share my answers.
p.s. No affiliate links today! The Book of Mormon is available free online, and in the app Gospel Library. You can request a free copy in print, here. If you'd like a copy from me personally, I'd be more than happy to mail you one that I've personalized. Just drop me a line at, subject: Book of Mormon.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A couple bookish things

1. A good book related talk:
Have you seen this TED talk by Mac Barnett? I loved it! I enjoyed it so much I had to share bits of it with the rest of the family. In it he talks about his book Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, which I have not read (but which looks very fun).

Text (above) and this image are affiliate links.

He says that under the dust jacket, the cover is an advertises a free whale for those who send in a self-addressed envelope. In his TED talk, Mac Barnett explains what exactly they send the kids who write in requesting a free whale. :D (Hint: It's not actually a whale . . . unless you've got a good imagination.)

Thanks for sending this my way, mom!

2. Perhaps you like theater, as well as books?
Another little thing you might be interested in: one of my friends is a professor these days and he asked me to spread the word about this research project. The survey is really short (took me 5 minutes or less), and you can opt in to a $30 cash prize drawing if you complete it. Quick, potentially lucrative, and for good causes! (Namely: nerdiness and theater) Take the survey here, and tell 'em Alysa Stewart sent you.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Big 5 Questions about Story Club, Answered!

Let's have some fun together.

Who is Story Club for?
Story Club is for parents and children, especially. Grown-ups and kids of all kinds will enjoy it and be able to use it together. Preschool teachers are going to love Story Club. Grandparents? Yes. You name it! But I couldn't help designing Story Club with parents and their children in mind.  

What is Story Club, exactly?
Story Club is an e-book. It contains instructions and tips for storytelling with children, and more than 20 stories (and story ideas) you can use and adapt for your own storytelling time ("Story Club") with kids. 
When will Story Club be released?
At this point I think a December 2014 release would be both achievable and awesome! This is my first e-book, though, and I feel like I can only see around the next bend in the road, so to speak. So I'm shooting for December, but I'll keep you posted. ;)

Where can I use Story Club?
Marie and her little guy have enjoyed Story Club at the lunch table. Lindsay and her daughter do Story Club in the evenings. Kate and Anna don't call it Story Club, but their storytelling time together has been more enjoyable lately. You can (and probably do) use Story Club stories and principles at home, at school, and in other settings with kids. It's good stuff.

Why should I tell my friends about Story Club?
When I first started thinking about making Story Club, I didn't know if other people would be interested. Since then, I've been completely convinced. Even if you don't think Story Club will be your jam, there are others who are kind of dying for something like this! Share! Help them! See some evidence below:

It can be "shockingly difficult" to come up with story ideas.

"Storytelling is a chore," but I want to work on it. I know my child will love it.
"Even I could tell a story," if you put it that way.

Even when kids are less than enthusiastic, these principles work!

So. Who do you know that would like to know about Story Club? Send them over! I have created a Story Club page on Everead: This page highlights some of the best posts about Story Club, and links to the complete archive. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Comics Squad: Recess!

This was such a fun book! I've been hearing a lot about it, so I was thrilled to get my grubby hands on it at the library. I literally snatched it up with glee, then looked around to make sure no young people were going to give me puppy dog eyes.

comic squad recess review kids graphic novel
photo by Alysa
It has eight little comics in it, unrelated to one another (well, there is a little Lunch Lady cameo in the Babymouse short!) Each short comes from different creators -- some of the best-known names on the children's graphic novel scene.

{This image is an affiliate link*!}
I read Comics Squad: Recess! in one sitting. It was such fun and so easy that I thought, "why stop reading?" Hopefully kids feel the same way. Levi, for one, was right next to me and insisted I read out loud. He loved the stories, though some of them were definitely over his 4-year-old head. I would put this book in the hands of strong 1st grade readers, on up through middle school. Levi particularly liked the Dav Pilkey's back-and-forth animation page, and exclaimed "Oh! That's how that works!" Benjamin is taking a peek at it as I type.

Comics Squad: Recess! would be fantastic for teaching about art style, because it has eight different, unique styles. The collection showcases pencil work, pen work, watercolor, and digital art (and I might be missing something)! It would be *great* for compare/contrast activities.

{So is this* one!}
You can read my review of other works from Comics Squad: Recess! authors: Jennifer and Matthew Holm (Babymouse), Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), and Raina Telgemeier (Smile), and Gene Luen Yang (Boxers and Saints).

These guys also contributed, and I've read and loved their work, too, but haven't reviewed it personally:
Eric Wight (Frankie Pickle books), Ursula Vernon (Dragonbreath books), Dan Santat (Sidekicks), and Jarrett Krosoczka (Lunch Lady books).

The bottom line: So fun for kids, so perfect for educators. Sequels planned, I believe!
*If you make a purchase after clicking through one of my affiliate links, I get a small commission. That's just one way I can get a return on the effort I put into this blog. And my commission comes at no extra cost to you. ;)
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