E-book Giveaway: Childhood Favorites

Hello there! Which of these three lovely e-books would you like to win? All three of these are childhood favorites of mine.

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
I remember reading Strawberry Girl with my mother in early elementary school, and loving it! The funny thing is, I don't remember anything about the book. I just remember that I loved it. I'd enter to win this one just so I could refresh my memory (and so I could read it aloud to my kids when they got to elementary school)!

Apparently, it is the story of Birdie and her family on the Florida frontier. They are trying to start a strawberry farm despite droughts, cold snaps and dastardly neighbors. It won the Newbery medal.

Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
I read this one a couple of years ago, as an adult. I couldn't remember if I'd read it as a child or not, so I decided to give it a try. It was utterly charming. It's the sweet story of unassuming Mr. Popper and how he accidentally ends up with a set of performing penguins that make life grand.

Not long after I read Mr. Popper's Penguins, I heard a movie version was coming out starring Jim Carey. After seeing the trailer, I decided I'd pass on seeing it. So, if you saw the movie (or it's trailer) and were underwhelmed, you might try the book.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
The Paper Bag Princess is one of my very favorite picture books. I loved it as a kid and I love it now. It was one of the first picture books I bought when I moved away from home.  It is the story of Elizabeth, a lovely princess who cleverly rescues her handsome prince, Ronald. The story ends with an intriguing twist, and is beautifully illustrated.

This happy little giveaway will have three winners. It is sponsored by Open Road Media, as part of their summer reading campaign, "Avoid the Summer Slide!" Check out their video -- it made me smile.

To enter the contest:
Giveaway Closed! Leave a comment telling me which of the above-featured e-books you'd like to win, and what book brings back happy childhood memories for you. I'm looking forward to your answers! Winners will be announced on July 5th, 2012.


2012 ALA Award Winners!

Right. So the Newbery Banquet was last night, I guess. Some people were tweeting about it, and I was like, "I should see who won!" Then I looked it up and figured out that the announcement was made back in January! Pffsh. I knew that. I was only joking when I said I wasn't going to stay up last night to find out the winners!


As it turns out, I have not mentioned said winners here before. And so, without further ado, here is the information:

The 2012 Newbery, Caldecott and other exciting American Library Association awards have been announced!

The Newbery went to Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, which I have heard good things about. I'll definitely read that one.

Leila Roy thinks fans of  Richard Peck's
Grandma Dowdel stories will like it.
Newbery Honors go to Inside Out and Back Again, which somebody was saying was good, and ohit's a novel in verse. Breaking Stalin's Nose is the other Newbery Honor, and I don't know much about that one.

I find I either love or hate most novels in verse.

The Caldecott medal went to A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka.  Our family quite liked another one of his titles, Charlie Parker Played Be Bop. Jacob's a big fan of jazz music, so he could sing right along with the book. Anyway, we'll definitely check out this latest book of his!

Who here has a dog? Any dog lovers?

Caldecott honors went to Blackout by John Rocco, which I enjoyed a lot; and Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell, which I also read and enjoyed (and which won the Cybils award this year!). Grandpa Green is the third honor book and I haven't read that one, though I've seen favorable opinions around the Internet. :)

A topiary! I will have to read this one.

If you're looking for books for beginning readers, the Geisel award winners are worth checking out (you know Ashley and I, and our families, loved I Want My Hat Back).

It really is a very funny book, and lovely for beginning readers.
I'm so pleased it got a Geisel Honor! 

If you're into audiobooks, check out the Odyssey award winners.

Rotters, written by Daniel Kraus and read by Kirby Heybourne
won the 2012 Odyssey award.

Anyway, this is by no means a comprehensive list; and, on top of that, it is six months later than one might expect it. But I think it's fair to celebrate the 2012 winners all throughout 2012, don't you? Which one are you most likely to read?

How do I make reading fun?

In January 2011, we got on a kick with Yoko by Rosemary Wells. At least twice a day I would read this frankly adorable book to Benjamin. In it, a little cat named Yoko is new to her kindergarten class. She isn't fast friends with Sophie or Olive or the Franks. She does "weird" things like bringing sushi instead of sandwiches for lunch and red bean ice cream for dessert. I love that Rosemary Wells doesn't shy away from the really emotional experiences kids have in early elementary school. This is true, by the way, in all her books, not just her books about Yoko. 

Anyway, we were reading Yoko constantly and Benjamin, being two-and-a-half, would ask me all the time what red bean ice cream was. Yoko brings hers to school in a Thermos cup. Well in early 2011 I got a new Thermos brand water bottle and Jacob mentioned the word "Thermos." So Benjamin immediately started pretending to eat red bean ice cream. I thought "Hey, I bet an Asian grocery would have some real red bean ice cream." So he and I went on a date to our local Asian food store. They not only had it, but there were lots of options! Apparently Adzuki is a popular flavor for treats of all kinds. We bought a pint of the ice cream and gave it a try. Jacob didn't like the texture, and Benjamin pronounced it "too cold." But that just meant there was more for meI like it! 
I also like red bean mochi.
This is the brand my neighbor gave me once and
I've since bought more for myself.

I had so much fun bringing this little piece of the book to life that later I made some sushi for us to eat as well. 

When teachers do this sort of thing in the classroom, they call it "making connections," and it actually improves children's reading comprehension and enjoyment. It is easier to relate to the characters and the story once you've done something written about in the book. And when you relate, you care enough to readeven if the book has some hard words. Text-to-self connections: they're fun and they're good for you!

So, if you're wondering how to make reading more fun for someone in your life, or if you're just looking for something to do on one of these long summer days, try a day themed around a book.  I was inspired to write this post because I loved reading about my friend Lindsey's ideas for just such a day centered on Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

How do you make reading fun? Comment below and share your story.

Read along with Shannon Hale

Hi! Can I just tell you how excited I am about the Squeetus Summer Book Club? Soooo excited.

Basically, starting on July 2, Shannon Hale is going to read and chat about a chapter of Princess Academy each day.

The new cover for Princess Academy in  paperback.
Also, over on her site, Shannon has published a prologue to Palace of Stone that won't be in the book, and the letter to readers that can be found in the front of the advance copies of the book.

Anyway, I will definitely be participating! Anyone else think it sounds fun?

Dragon Puncher

Dragon Puncher by James Kochalka

I first heard of this book on Laini Taylor's blog. Apparently her toddler loves it. Next, I saw it on the library shelf, and it really jumps out, rather. So I picked it up, and then I remembered having seen it on her blog before.

I read it on the spotstanding there in the library.  It's not long at all. I sort of snorted and thought it was silly. I didn't check it out, since I already had my two items (it's kind of a horrible tragedy that I'm only permitted to check out two items at one of the libraries in our community, but that is another story).

As time went on, Dragon Puncher popped back into my thoughts, and I eventually decided to check the book out so I could read it to Benjamin. Re-reading it, I just got more and more impressed.

I started to notice details the second, third, and following times I read it. The backgrounds are flawless! The expressions on the photo faces just crack me up*! Despite being silly, this book wasn't thrown together, it was crafted. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, too, because it is so obviously a labor of love for the author's son. It is a little bit of family history preserved for years to come. A book they can read together and remember the imaginary game they used to play.

The end-papers at the back of the book invite those who enjoyed Dragon Puncher to write Kochalka a letter. Benjamin took that invitation with my help. He dictated to me, and I helped keep him on the subject at hand. We included a return address, and one evening after Benjamin was asleep I checked the mail. We got a letter back! Super exciting! Both Jacob and I wanted to open it, but we waited until Benjamin woke up the next morning.
He is enchanted.
Here is the (handwritten) letterit came with some fun swag!
I heartily recommend writing a letter to James Kochalka. 
Sidenote: Having this book in my house has definitely made me more popular. We read it at a picnic and now all the four-year-olds want to read it when they come over. Okay, maybe just Alaster, the only one at the picnic. But still, "Can we read Dragon Puncher?" was the first thing he said when he walked in the door.

The Graphic Novel Book Club that I attend discussed some pretty heavy books in April, and the call came for something completely happy and fun for May. So I suggested Dragon Puncher and we universally agreed that it was indeed happy and fun! We also read Squish by Matt and Jenny Holm (Which is more substantive, but less colorful. Peggy is my favorite!) and Giants Beware by Jorge Aguirre (which I didn't actually get to yet).

If you read Dragon Puncher, let me know how you like it! We'll definitely be checking out the sequel, Dragon Puncher Island.


*At first I was like, "What's up that they don't have mouths?" but then I was like, "It just makes the dragon teeth that much more impressive."

More Graphic Novel reviews, for babies, kids, teens, and grown-ups!

Winner! The Spaghetti-Slurping Sewer Serpent

Man, just typing the title of the book is tricky! It's a tongue twister for sure. Without further ado, congratulate Kate! She is the lucky winner!

Sidenote: I loved Kate's comment. She said
at one point, i really believed that if i ate a watermelon seed, a watermelon plant would grow in my stomach. i was really careful about seeding my watermelon!
This is the part where I would usually say "Kate, email me your address so that I can ship the book to you." But Kate and I are friends in real life! And, happily, Kate just moved in across the street from me. So this is one package that will be hand delivered.
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