Giveaway [CLOSED] : The Spaghetti-Slurping Sewer Serpent (signed!)

The Spaghetti-Slurping Sewer Serpent by Laura Ripes, illustrated by Aaron Zenz

So, this is exciting!

Today I have a giveaway for you! A little while back the kids (and dad Aaron Zenz) at Bookie Woogie interviewed Laura Ripes and talked about her book The Spaghetti-Slurping Sewer Serpent, which Aaron Zenz illustrated. It's a very fun interview. At the end of it, they had a giveaway (spoiler: I WON!) of two copies of the book -- one to keep and one to share. I thought that was so clever.

So now YOU can win! But first let me tell you a little about the book.

As you may have guessed from the title, The Spaghetti-Slurping Sewer Serpent is a tongue-twister book with loads of S's. It follows Sammy Sanders as he searches for some way to show that all this suspicious evidence he has collected comes from a spaghetti-slurping sewer serpent.

I love that Sammy grows over the course of the short narrative -- at the beginning of the book, he's got something to prove, literally. By the end, he is a little more relaxed and realizes that knowing the truth for himself is satisfying, whether or not he can prove it.

I love the text -- plenty of S's without overdoing it (though I have to wonder where S's were cut -- in her Bookie Woogie interview Ms. Ripes says they were "reined in a lot.") And I like that it is a complete story delivered in short snippets. (read: Not too much text per picture for my 3- and 1-year-olds.)

The illustrations are charming and simple, realistic with a little bit of exaggeration -- very fitting for the story. Mr. Zenz works in colored pencil and with every project he does, he saves the pencil tips that break over the course of it. I'll have to ask him how many tips this project produced. :)

To enter to win a hardcover copy of The Spaghetti-Slurping Sewer Serpent, signed by the author and illustrator, leave a comment on this post. If you'd like, you can talk about a time when you were gullible, like Ms. Ripes says she was in childhood, or when you "got" someone who was gullible.

The winner will be announced in one week, on Tuesday June 5.
Check out Everead's Giveaway Policy.

Good luck, and I hope that you win! It's a cute one.

p.s. Looking for a good book to give to a baby? Everead's top 5 picks.

UPDATE: Aaron Zenz says, "I busted 141 pencil tips in the making of The Spaghetti-Slurping Sewer Serpent. :)"

Books to Give at Baby Showers

The baby shower invitation comes. 

The happy parents-to-be have got basics covered. 

I want to give a book. 

But not a book that someone else is also going to give them. 

So, I skip past most of the supermodels of infant books (The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, Where's Spot by Eric Hill). 

Instead, I go for one of these overlooked beauties.
(photos will link* you to B&N, titles to Amazon.)

I Kissed the Baby! by Mary Murphy. I adore this book's bold black backgrounds and and simple silhouettes. In it, the whole neighborhood gets to meet a baby chick. "I held the baby, did you hold the baby?" The story culminates with sweet baby kisses.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt. This interactive classic invites readers to complete sensory tasks. Ashley and I like that it's not all rubbing faux fur. Readers are poking, lifting, and looking as well as rubbing. Published in 1940, you could call it the original touch-and-feel book.

Nursery Rhyme Comics by Various Authors, Chris Duffy and Leonard S. Marcus. This is one that parents can enjoy before baby is born, then read in bits and pieces to their child as his attention span grows. With so many different rhymes and styles (fifty!) there's sure to be something that everyone likes. Full review here.

Walk On! by Marla Frazee. I love Marla Frazee's vintage style. In this book she gives babies a handy guide for how to walk -- checklist included. "Are your shoes too tight or too loose? Is your diaper weighing you down? Fix whatever you can before you start over."  It's funny and sweet, and just as applicable to taking the first steps into parenting as it is to babies taking their literal first steps.

Cinnamon Baby by Nicola Winstanley and Janice Nadeau. This book speaks to me in a beautiful way. When I think of it, I know I'm not alone in believing that parenthood can be both unbelievably taxing and the most treasured experience. It tells the story of Miriam the beautiful baker, her loving husband Sebastian, and their beloved, colicky baby. Full review here.

Barnyard Dance! by Sandra Boynton. Ashley and I think it is so fun to introduce new moms to Sandra Boynton. Barnyard Dance was one that I received as a shower gift and I've shared that love a couple times. There's something irresistible about Boynton's rhymes  -- they just fall out of your mouth as if you've known them your whole life. And her pen-and-watercolor illustrations are completely unique. Somehow her farm animals, monsters, penguins, and dinosaurs are incredibly cute.

Happy Birthday to babies everywhere! These are all tried-and-true (meaning it's bearable to read each one more than three times in a row).

What are some of your favorite books to give at baby showers? 

What is a favorite you've received?
*This post was updated with affiliate links on 10/9/2014 If you make a purchase after clicking, I will earn a small commission. Thanks for helping to make my passion (sharing books!) profitable. 

I Want My Hat Back

I first saw this book in an email from Amazon.com. I could see in the thumbnail photo that it had a couple of awards stuck to the cover, so I hopped on my library's website and reserved it. And what a treat we were in for!

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen = awesomeness. I loved another reviewer's summary: "The plot is a classic whodunit; a likable yet slightly daft bear investigates the loss of his beloved hat." I can't say much more, since it's a pretty straightforward book. But the things we love about it are the totally understated illustrations and character expressions and text, the author's clever use of punctuation and ALL CAPS instead of exclamation points, and the unexpectedly hilarious ending. It's won the NYT Best Illustrated Children's Book Award and is a Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor Book. To quote the book jacket:

A bear has lost his hat. What if he never sees it again? WAIT! He has seen his hat ...

My husband took me to a bookstore for Mother's Day and instructed me to get any book I wanted. I chose this one. :) It'll definitely be a classic in my family.

Here's the Youtube book trailer, for your viewing enjoyment.

update by Alysa 7/8/15: If you want to go one better than the book trailer and buy this book, here is our affiliate link!

Everead, featured!

Hello there! I am having a lovely morning. Let me tell you about it!

Today I have a guest post on Janae's blog! She asked me to highlight some children's literature and I sent her a "Top 5 Children's Lit Picks" list. Let's be real though, who can choose a top five? For me it's constantly evolving. What would be in yours?

Janae runs a great blog about mothering, eating healthy and exercising. She's vegan, and I like to joke that with my toddler's allergies to milk and egg, "we're vegans who eat meat." Anyway we've had fun getting to know each other and I feel honored to be on her blog!

Today brought another honor, a surprise! This morning Nie Nie (Stephanie Nielson) posted a link to my review of her book Heaven is Here on her blog, nieniedialogues.com. I'm so excited! I was, quite literally, squealing into the phone about it as soon as I found out. A friend called to let me know about it, to see if I had seen it, and I was on the other line with my mom. It is so, so fun to have an author point to your review!
Thanks Janae and Nie Nie!

We have an About page!

After almost four years in existence, Everead has an About page!

Not gonna lie, it was kind of hard to write. I've been spoiled by all these social media sites with their fill-in-the-blank forms and character limits. It was tough figuring out what I wanted to say and how. I had to peek at my neighbors' papers get inspiration from some friends' blogs

I hope you check out the about page. I hope you learn something new. I hope it makes you smile. 

Is there anything else you want to know?

Heaven is Here

Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson

This is a fascinating memoir.  Stephanie Nielson tells the story of her life, including the plane crash that burned over 80% of her body.

I was curious. I had heard of Stephanie Nielson, or Nie Nie, before I read this book -- Amy (our fab logo designer) has followed her blog for a long time. Like myself, Stephanie is Mormon, and we Mormons know that not everyone is Mormon, so we're naturally curious about what other Mormons are up to. My friend Rachel (you guessed it, she's Mormon) offered to lend me the book, and I jumped at the chance. I had wanted to know Nie Nie's story in her own words (not second hand, not in a news article or magazine) but I didn't want to read the vast archive of her blog. So the book was perfect for me.

The book has three parts: the first gives background, the second takes us through her dark days of early recovery, and the third shows us life after the hospital. The crash happened in August 2008, and the book ends with some good closure; but Stephanie's story (and surgeries) are far from over.

It has solid writing and pacing. Stephanie conveys her experience with a delicate balance of detail and distance. I never felt like I was prying into her personal life, and somehow still got all the information I wanted. Though at first I wasn't sure that we needed so much background about her life before the crash, as I read on I was convinced. Her recovery was more moving to me because of the context that the first section gives.

Stephanie had really put all of herself toward fulfilling her dreams -- dreams of motherhood and domestic bliss. She pursued her goals ferociously. It seemed to be working out for her, until after the crash --  all of her lovely eggs had been in one basket and upon awaking from a medically induced coma of three months, she felt wholly incapable of living. It is gratifying to see her slowly and steadily overcome depression and regain physical strength.

The book changed the way I look at Stephanie, literally. "I hate to say it, but it's hard for me to look at pictures of her" said my (Mormon) friend Kate. I knew exactly what she meant. But after reading this book I can look at photos of her. Probably because I know why she looks the way she does. To look at her is not as confusing as it was before. Hearing her explain her appearance to her kids helped me comprehend. And I know that pictures of her now look much better than they would have in her early recovery days. She's looking great! And by the end of the book you can tell she thinks so, too. She's not in denial, she says in so many words that she is disfigured. She has felt discouraged about her appearance, but the bottom line is she knows where she has been.

This book was powerful for me because Stephanie and I share the same faith. (We're members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Also I know the settings of the book well -- Mesa and St. Johns, AZ. Salt Lake City and Provo, UT.  I definitely felt a personal connection. I can't speak for anyone else, because, simply put, I am me. That said, I think this book would work as well for someone who doesn't share our faith or geography.


p.s. Stephanie's popular blog can be found at nieniedialogues.com
Her sister Courtney blogged Nie updates while she was asleep
My favorite Nie Nie video: A New Life
My Thank You to Nie Nie!
An affiliate link, if you want to buy Heaven Is Here from Amazon.

Discuss: Reading Aloud

Today we're taking a family car trip -- all in all the four of us will be in corolla together for about 7 hours. To pass the time Jacob and I are planning to read to each other from Wildwood, by Colin Meloy. It is a book we're both interested in reading, written by the lead singer in a favorite band we discovered not too long ago (The Decemberists). It is illustrated by his wife, who secured a place in my heart with her fantastic work on the first Mysterious Benedict Society book.

Do you enjoy reading aloud? It's one of my favorite pastimes. It took a while, but I've finally convinced Jacob to listen to me while I'm doing it. Usually.

Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman

Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity

This is a fun book. Fun and silly.

It begins with an introduction to the academy -- almost a pamphlet for prospective students and their parents ("Only Astronaut Academy is tops with the learning!"). We quickly find out that the school floats in space and is the academic home of many quirky kids. None is so mysterious as Hakata Soy . . .

Rather than being one long comic, the book is made up of loads of short comic scenes from different perspectives -- some as short as a page, others more chapter length. This made me wonder if it was originally published serially, and lo and behold, the answer is yes.  This is a webcomic compilation.

Over the course of the book we learn more and more about Hakata Soy and his past. Though Hakata is the main character, we also learn a lot about Maribelle Mellonbelly (rich girl extraordinaire) and her nemesis Miyumi San, and (my personal favorite) loner Doug Hiro.

High wacky factor is going to make it a big hit with some kids -- the dinosaur racing was a highlight for me. But all sorts of fun shenanigans go down: watches that can freeze time, androids programmed for revenge, fireball fists, the giving away of literal hearts as a token of affection. Yes I can see this one really taking off with the middle school crowd.

I first saw Dave Roman's work in the anthology Nursery Rhyme Comics. Don't tell the other cartoonists who contributed, but Roman's rhyme is my favorite.  Completely original.

Give this one to those who like their chicken nuggets with a side of random-sauce. Fans of Bone might like it. Recommended.
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