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Volume 4, Issue 5

Great Reads for Growing Minds

AME DYCKMAN

ANNE MASON

AUTHOR, ELF, AND UNICORN TRAINER

INVITES YOUNG READERS TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF MR. BIDDLE

TERRELL RANSOM JR.

JOSHUA RUSH

A KID PRODIGY WITH A BRIGHT FUTURE

TALKS ABOUT HIS NEW DISNEY CHANNEL SERIES ANDI MACK

TERESA ANNE POWER

FROM RADIO TO WRITING

IS ON A MISSION TO GET KIDS MOVING

GEORGE GREEN INSTILLS POSITIVE MESSAGES WITH INSPIRING TALES

GREG MCGOON

TELLS US HOW TO TAME THOSE TRICKY TANGLELOWS

INSIDE THE MARVELOUS UNIVERSE OF

STAN LEE

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Cover photo courtesy of POW! Entertainment Story Monsters Ink magazine and www.StoryMonsters.com are trademarks of Story Monsters, LLC. Copyright ©2017 Story Monsters Press, ISSN 2374-4413, ISBN: 9781338199932: All rights reserved. Contents may not be published in whole or in part without the express written consent of the bylined author and publisher. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the individual writers and are not necessarily those of Story Monsters Ink or its advertisers. Story Monsters Ink is published by Story Monsters Press Postal mail may be sent to Story Monsters Ink 4696 W. Tyson St., Chandler, AZ 85226 Phone: 480-940-8182

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Honor Roll Gold Award Recipient, Mom’s Choice Awards. Named among the “great magazines for kids and teens” by School Library Journal. 2016 Irwin Award winner for “Best Publisher of a Literary Magazine” and “Best Editorial Director.”


Volume 4, Issue 5

In this issue 04 Inside the Marvelous Universe of

Be a super reader!

Stan Lee

20 Greg McGoon Tells Us How to Tame Those Tricky Tanglelows

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24

Ame Dyckman

Anne Mason

Author, Elf, and Unicorn Trainer

Invites Young Readers to the Wonderful World of Mr. Biddle

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28

Terrell Ransom Jr.

Joshua Rush

A Kid Prodigy with a Bright Future

Talks About His New Disney Channel Series Andi Mack

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32

Teresa Anne Power

From Radio to Writing

is on a Mission to Get Kids Moving

George Green Instills Positive Messages with Inspiring Tales

36 Monster Munchies

46 School Bookings Directory

53 Kids Corner

38 Conrad’s Classroom

47 Liv on Life

54 Book Reviews

40 How Does Your Garden Grow?

48 Monsters at the Movies

62 Juicy Jack’s Spanish Corner

42 Spring Reading Guide

50 Story Monster Approved! Books

63 Storytime Pup

45 Where in the World is Story Monster?

52 Kids Can Publish

Tell us what you think of this issue! Email your comments to cristy@storymonsters.com. StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 5 | Story Monsters Ink

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STAN LEE INSIDE THE MARVELOUS UNIVERSE OF

The fantastical superheroes Stan Lee created for Marvel Comics have become such a staple of American culture, it’s hard to imagine life without them. A world absent of Spider-Man’s agility, the heft of the Incredible Hulk, and the mechanical armor of Iron Man would certainly be much less exciting.

Stan Lee’s Cosmic Crusaders artwork – SLCC is an animated series that premiered on THR.com during San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Photo Credit: TM & © 2017 Genius Brands International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Among Lee’s legions of fans are subgroups comprised of devotees of a particular Marvel superhero, but Lee claims he doesn’t have a favorite. “Would you ask a father who his favorite kid is?” Lee asks. “I really don’t have any, even though my tendency is to say Spider-Man because he’s the most popular, but I spent so much time working on all of them that I can honestly say I love them all equally.” Lee was born in Manhattan and, as a boy, was a self-described dreamer. “I was heavily influenced by films and books,” he says. “I wanted to be Errol Flynn because I remember watching his movies as a child and wanting to be in his shoes. All I wanted was to find a lady in need of saving and be the superhero who saved the day but, yeah, I spent most of my time dreaming, learning, writing, and aspiring for more.” Even at a young age, Lee displayed a talent for spinning fantastic tales. “As a child, I spent a lot of time reading and telling stories,” he says. “I was quite the storyteller. You wanted to hear a wild, crazy story? I was your man. You could say I spent half of my time in a fantasy world and the other half trying to make that fantasy a reality.” Lee was an avid reader, particularly enjoying mysteries and thrillers. He devoured books by Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jules Verne. “I loved reading stories that challenged me, stories that forced me to think, stories like the one written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes,” says Lee. “As a matter of fact, Sherlock Holmes is probably one of my favorite books and especially inspired me. Actually, one of my favorite presents was a nightstand that I could put my books on and read during dinner. So imagine my reaction when I found out Sherlock Holmes (actor

Benedict Cumberbatch) was going to be playing Doctor Strange.” Lee’s career in comics almost didn’t happen. In 1939, he was hired as an assistant at Timely Comics, run by publisher Martin Goodman. “You could say I started creating superheroes by accident,” Lee says. “I remember being 16 and fresh out of high school since I graduated early, so I applied for this company not knowing they made comics. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll just apply here, be there for a while, then go back to the real world’ and what do you know? I’m still here living the dream.” Timely Comics would eventually become Marvel Comics. During World War II, Lee joined the Army, serving in the Signal Corps. One of his responsibilities was repairing communications equipment, including telegraph poles. “I was pretty much Spider-Man,” he says. “You could find me climbing these poles and establishing wires to help troops communicate until suddenly, this guy poked me on the shoulder and

photo courtesy of POW! Entertainment

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“I can say I’ve drank with Thor, called out Captain America, spotted Spider-Man, was almost smashed by the Hulk, and was even patted on the back by Iron Man. You tell me how many people can say that. It has honestly been an honor.” asked, ‘Didn’t you used to write comics?’ and before I knew it, I was creating these little cartoons to teach troops how to use complicated weapons. Weapons I had no idea how to use, but still somehow made sense to these young and clearly brilliant troops.” Joking

Stan Lee receiving his proclamation in Fall 2016 for Stan Lee Day in Los Angeles annually on every October 28. Photo Credit: Gabriel Olsen

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about his contribution to the war effort, Lee says, “In a way, you could say I single-handedly helped win the war by creating comics.”

During the late 1950s, rival DC Comics was enjoying the popularity of its own superhero stories, bolstered by the newly-released Justice League of America. Tasked by Goodman to produce Marvel’s first superhero team, Lee invented the Fantastic Four. First presented to the public in 1961, the Fantastic Four, made up of Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, the Invisible Woman, and the Thing, was an instant hit with fans. The following year, Lee created two of his most iconic characters, Spider-Man and the Hulk. He says he had a clear goal in mind when developing them. “I wanted to create the ideal hero: one who can exist in real life,” he says. “When it comes to Spider-Man, I remember wanting to create a different kind of superhero,” says Lee. “We already had the strongest guy in the world, we had someone who could fly, and then suddenly, I recall seeing this fly on the wall and that was my ‘Aha!’ moment. Let’s create a hero that can stick to walls! And before I knew it, I was already coming up with all these silly names … and I’m talking silly! I’m talking Insect-Man, Mosquito-Man. Then finally, after thinking about it some more I found the name Spider-Man. It was the right amount of dramatic, mysterious, and legendary, sort of like me.”   With the Hulk, Lee says he wanted to create a lovable monster when he was working with another great artist, Jack Kirby. “We wanted a hero who the reader couldn’t help but to sympathize for and love in spite of his scary side. That’s when I remembered hearing about this mother lifting a car to save her child and that was it. That’s what I wanted to create. A ‘monster’ full of love, a monster whose actions are based on the desire to protect its loved ones. Then the whole gamma ray came into the equation. I had no idea what the gamma ray thing was and to this very day I have no idea what it means, but I remember thinking it sounded cool and I just added it to the mix and the story pretty much wrote itself from that point on.” Lee has created countless other superheroes, including the Avengers, Thor, and the X-Men.


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Due to their tremendous popularity, many have been featured in major motion pictures. Lee says being able to see his creations come to life in a movie is “a dream come true.” Out of all of the Marvel movies, one is simply more memorable for Lee. “My favorite movie would be the first Spider-Man because it was the beginning of a new era,” he says. “Every other movie that came after that came rather naturally.” It’s become a tradition for Lee to make cameo appearances in Marvel films, delighting his fans who are clever enough to spot him. “It’s actually really interesting, you know,” says Lee. “When I first created all these characters, never did I imagine that I would be watching them on the big screen, let alone sharing a screen with them. However, it did happen and now I can say I’ve drank with Thor, called out Captain America, spotted Spider-Man, was almost smashed by the Hulk, and was even patted on the back by Iron Man. You tell me how many people can say that. It has honestly been an honor.” In 2013, Lee launched Stan Lee’s Kids Universe, a multimedia publishing company offering content for children including books, mobile games, apps, and more. The website states that the company is “dedicated to expanding children’s imagination, childhood literacy, and art education.” Lee says the company was formed in response to a dearth of suitable material for children. “I think there aren’t enough comic books created for the young minds and that’s a shame,” he says. “Investing in a child’s imagination is a no-brainer. We should all aspire to spark children’s curiosity … to inspire them to become dreamers! Had I not been a dreamer myself, I don’t know where I would be standing right now. I think that if we create stories for young children, maybe those children will grow wanting to create stories for other children and that’s just a gift that keeps on giving.” One of Lee’s most recent projects involved collaborating with Stuart Moore and Andie Tong on

Stan Lee promoting Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic-Con at Good Day LA. Photo Credit: Mike Danenberg

The Zodiac Legacy, a young adult book series. “Zodiac Legacy is the story of an ordinary kid, Steven, on a school trip in Hong Kong,” says Lee. “He follows his tour guide to this mysterious, restricted area and that’s where he bumps into Maxwell, the evil villain. Steven is given the power of the tiger and from that point, his life changes. He soon joins forces with several other heroes all around the globe who aspire to master the secrets of the Zodiac Legacy and elude the dangerous Vanguard organization.” Lee says he, Moore, and Tong worked closely together through the team at Disney Publishing. “We would constantly touch base on some of the key moments of the story, and, of course, the artwork. They were great.” Lee, who worked his way up from being a teenage assistant at Timely Comics to the president and chairman of Marvel Comics, is currently the Chairman Emeritus of Marvel and a member of Marvel Comic’s Editorial Board. He’s also the Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of POW! Entertainment. POW! Entertainment is currently working with Sky 1 and Carnival Films on Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, a British TV show. “We are currently on our second season and it’s been a delight to see StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 5 | Story Monsters Ink

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families enjoy the story of Detective Harry Clayton as we dive into the origins of the infamous lucky bracelet,” says Lee. “We also have some other great projects up our sleeves and have ventured out internationally to create superheroes in India and China. We’re only getting started.” Taking into consideration everything he’s done and all he’s achieved in his career, Lee believes his biggest accomplishment is the relationship he’s cultivated with his many fans. “In all honesty, I’m proud of the connection I share with the audience,” he says. “Looking back, I remember when I first started getting fan mail and everything was so impersonal. Everyone who wrote was super proper and would call me Mr. Editor. I remember rewriting their letters and changing Mr. Editor to Mr. Stan or Stan. Now I have some of the craziest, most honest, bravest, and loyal fans out there. That’s a connection that is hard to accomplish and can never be replaced.” Lee not only appreciates his fan base, he sincerely wants them to enjoy the fruits of his labor as much

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as he does. “They keep me young,” he says. “They truly inspire me to keep going and keep creating all these new stories. I just want to take a moment to say thank you for the constant support and I’m excited to see everyone’s reaction for what’s to come. Excelsior!”   For more information about Stan Lee, visit stanleeskidsuniverse.com or disneyzodiac.com.


Start Smart in sports and in life! Playing a sport can be fun. Plus, it’s great exercise. Being part of a team or just playing with friends, is more fun for everyone when you know the rules of the game and how to be a good sport.

Available from Amazon.com, BN.com and your local independent bookstore. Or order directly at www.redchairpress.com

StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 5 | Story Monsters Ink

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Ame Dyckman Author, Elf, and Unicorn Trainer by Melissa Fales

Author Ame Dyckman describes herself as “short, loud, and mischievous,” hinting at just how much she has in common with the children she writes for. With her high-energy, colorful personality, and seemingly boundless enthusiasm, Dyckman is truly a kid at heart. “I was going to put ‘Professional 5-year-old’ on my business card, but ‘Children’s Author’ was shorter,” jokes Dyckman. 10

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According to Dyckman, she was the type of child who always had her nose in a book. “And Band-Aids on my knees, ’cause when your nose is always in a book, you run into a lot of stuff,” she adds. Her favorite books from her childhood include Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, the Frog & Toad stories by Arnold Lobel, and the George and Martha stories by James Marshall. “Something about highly-emotional characters and friendships despite differences appealed to me even when I was little,” she says. Although Dyckman was always interested in becoming a children’s author, it wasn’t the first profession she tried. “I had a bunch of pre-author jobs ranging from serious assistant at a world-famous institute of higher education to not-so-serious costumed character,” she says. “I rocked Daffy Duck! I still dreamt of writing books for children, but I didn’t know how or whether I should.” In 2008, she started writing her first book, Boy + Bot. “It took about nine months for the story to progress from concept to solid draft,” she says. “During those nine months, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and went to as many of the New Jersey chapter events as I could. That’s how I learned the ‘how’ of picture book writing and got lots of helpful feedback, and where I met my fabulous agent, Scott Treimel and also met Boy + Bot’s future editor.” Dyckman’s career in children’s literature was bolstered by the support of her family. “I got adamant career advice from my husband and our at-the-time

kindergartener to ‘GO FOR IT,’” she says. “So I did. Boy + Bot sold in the fall of 2009, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be book-making since!” Dyckman has written four other books as well. Her latest, You Don’t Want a Unicorn!, was released in February. “It’s my tongue-in-cheek, careful-what-youwish-for, perfect pet story that started as an April Fool’s Day joke on my agent,” says Dyckman, who wrote the book in response to a “No Unicorn Stories” post on her agent’s website. Despite it being written as a gag, Dyckman was pleasantly surprised at how much she liked the story. Even her agent liked it. “And now, everyone can learn the many reasons (ceiling holes, rainbow burps, piles of cupcakes) why you don’t want a unicorn,” says Dyckman. When it comes to writing, she gleans inspiration from the world around her. “Real life is the best inspiration for my writing life,” she says. “I take something from my real life, spread imagination on it—in my head, imagination looks a lot like a jar of Miracle Whip—and see how it turns out.” For example, Dyckman’s book, Tea Party Rules, was inspired by her daughter’s frequent tea parties. “Tea Party Rules is my compromise-during-playtime story between a rule-focused little girl and the cookiesobsessed bear cub that crashes her backyard tea party by pretending to be her teddy bear,” Dyckman says. “I won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer award for it. And as a huge lifelong fan of his The Snowy Day and his many other beautiful books, I was over the moon!”

“I love when kids are excited about books. When I can help make that happen, whether it’s with my books or by sharing another favorite creator’s books, it’s the best feeling in the universe!” StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 5 | Story Monsters Ink

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Likewise, Wolfie the Bunny was inspired by the howling tantrums Dyckman’s daughter would throw when she was tired. “It was like living with a baby wolf,” she says. “Wolfie the Bunny is my unconditional family love story about bunnies who adopt the baby wolf left on their doorstep.” The book has won several awards, became a New York Times bestseller, and was made into an animated short by Scholastic’s Weston Woods.

always saying I’m a lucky little author to get to create with these super-talented people!”

Dyckman’s Horrible Bear! demonstrates just how far an apology can go. “It’s my story of accidents, outbursts, and the power of a heartfelt ‘I’m sorry,’ even after behaving like … well, like a horrible bear,” she says. “I joke that it’s semi-autobiographical.”

Dyckman relishes her role as a children’s author and basks in the pure, unbridled joy it brings to her life. “I love when kids are excited about books,” she says. “When I can help make that happen, whether it’s with my books or by sharing another favorite creator’s books, it’s the best feeling in the universe! And anytime my writing makes kids (and their big kids) laugh, I’m mentally doing Muppet arms and ‘woohooing’ around the room!”

One of Dyckman’s favorite parts of making a book is collaborating with an illustrator. “All my illustrators— Dan Yaccarino, K.G. Campbell, Zachariah OHora, and now Liz Climo—have brought so much magic and heart and humor to my characters and stories,” she says. “Two heads really are better than one, and I’m

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Her next book, Read the Book, Lemmings!, will be released in November. “It’s my third book illustrated by Zachariah OHora, and I wrote it specifically for Zach’s I-love-it-so art,” she says. “I can’t wait for everyone to meet the crew of the S.S. Cliff and our goofy lemmings.”

For more information about Ame Dyckman, visit amedyckman.com.


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Terrell Ransom Jr. A Kid Prodigy with a Bright Future by Melissa Fales At the tender age of four, Terrell Ransom Jr. landed his first television role on Days of Our Lives. Since then, he’s been in movies, appeared in a number of TV shows, including a lead role in Cartoon Network’s animated hit, The Amazing World of Gumball, and has even launched a promising rap career, all before his 14th birthday. “My rap name is Kid Prodigy and I came up with that because my mom was always telling me that I was a little kid prodigy, her little prodigy, when I was young,” Ransom says. “I actually think of myself as a kid prodigy, because I feel like I do a lot of different things. Teachers say I’m smart and I’m a grade ahead. I’m an actor, I’m a singer, I’m a rapper and musician, so I’m sort of like a quadruple threat.” After watching an episode of Hannah Montana, a 3-year-old Ransom told his mother he wanted to be on TV and in movies and magazines. A short time later, the family packed up and moved to Los Angeles in 14

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order for him to pursue his dream. “I got an agent, and my first audition was for Days of Our Lives.” Ransom got the role and spent the next seven years playing autistic child, Theo Carver, on the popular daytime drama. “Days of Our Lives was a really interesting experience because it was my first television audition and acting role,” he says. “I basically grew up on the show, so the cast and crew were like my second family.” Ransom embraced the opportunity to play a character with autism. “It was such a serious and important role,” he says. “One of the producers set it up so that I could meet with some children who had autism so I could interact with them, which helped make my portrayal more believable. I feel like that experience helped me become a better actor.” The experience of playing Theo influenced Ransom to become a celebrity ambassador for the Jonathan Foundation, which helps children with educational,


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Photographer: Birdie Thompson. Styling: Terrell Ransom Sr. “Darwin” image courtesy of Cartoon Network.

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“What you see from the hilarious Darwin character on TV is what they get from me in the studio. I get to be wild and free and scream as loud as I want, of course with direction.” emotional, and behavioral issues. “The Jonathan Foundation helps these families find the right schools or programs, and gives them the resources that they need,” Ransom says. “And I try to raise awareness through social media and spreading the word about their annual fundraiser gala.” Ransom has since appeared on hit TV shows like The Whispers, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: New York, and The Middle. He likes the variety. “The actors and the sets are all different, so I’m always excited to see what it’s like behind the scenes and work with the different actors, especially the shows that I have worked on with other kids,” he says. “It’s like being a new member of a community.” Among fans his age, Ransom is most well-known for his voice portrayal of goldfish Darwin Watterson in The Amazing World of Gumball. Ransom relishes the freedom that comes with doing voice-over work. “I say this a lot, but it’s so true. Voice acting is easier than acting and can be so much fun, especially when you’re on a show like The Amazing World of Gumball,” he says. “What you see from the hilarious Darwin character on TV is what they get from me in the studio. I get to be wild and free and scream as loud as I want, of course with direction.” Ransom says that there are many similarities between himself and Darwin. “Darwin is really funny, smart, lovable, caring, and mature for his age,” he says. “I’ve heard that about myself. He’s also cute and a ladies’ man.” Ransom’s most recent movie roles were in the Academy Award-winning film, 12 Years a Slave and Finding Dory, the animated sequel to Finding Nemo. 16

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He hopes to do more movies in the future. “I have two dream roles: a lead superhero role in a Marvel film series like The Avengers, and a Jedi role in a Star Wars movie,” he says. For Ransom, the hardest part of being an actor is balancing the many aspects of the job. “Acting is fun,” he says. “Learning lines, auditioning, trying to book roles, and having to juggle school is what’s challenging. I have to make good grades in school in order to be an actor and I love what I do, so I make it work.”  When Ransom isn’t acting, he films for his YouTube channel. “My channel, Terrell’s World, is basically me recording myself telling funny stories about things that happen to me or I make fun of myself or my family by dressing up and acting like them,” he says. “I’ve been getting a lot of love from fans who can relate to my videos, which is super cool and encouraging.” He’s also focusing on his music, which he describes as hip-hop with a little pop mixed in. Like one of his idols, rapper Logic, Ransom writes songs that have deeper meaning. “I definitely want my music to be fun, but talk about important things, like I did in my single, ‘“Where You From,”’ he says. “The idea and lyrics literally came to me in the middle of the night. The meaning of it is basically how we need to open our eyes and be aware of what’s happening in our communities, especially the hate and violence.” Ransom’s song “Where You From” is available for download on Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon, and Spotify. The music video is viewable on his YouTube channel.


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Teresa Anne Power is on a Mission to Get Kids Moving by Melissa Fales In 2016, award-winning author and yoga expert Teresa Anne Power launched a global crusade to introduce children to the practice of yoga and the benefits it provides. Proclaiming the second Friday in April Kids’ Yoga Day, Power instituted an annual event that was successful its inaugural year and only continues to grow. This year, Kids’ Yoga Day was observed in 37 countries and all 50 states in the U.S., with an estimated 40,000 children involved. “I’m trying to start a movement to improve the health of our kids,” says Power. “It’s not just about physical fitness. It’s about their mental and emotional well-being, too. In this fast-paced world, kids today are stressed out. They worry about peer pressure, test taking, cyberbullies, and so many 18

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other things that affect their daily lives. Yoga can help alleviate their stress.” Power has been practicing yoga for 30 years. It’s a love affair that began while she was enrolled in law school at Pepperdine University. “I was living under a lot of stress and a friend suggested I try yoga,” she says. “I couldn’t believe what a difference it made. It helped me so much, I ended up going to yoga five days a week during law school. I even went to yoga the day I got married.” Practicing law wasn’t the career Power had hoped it would be. “I wasn’t fulfilled by the work,” she says. “It wasn’t my life’s calling. I knew I was meant to do something else.” After much soul searching, Power realized that the “something else” she had been


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searching for was teaching yoga. Soon she was certified and leading classes. Invited into her son’s preschool classroom on Career Day to talk about her job as a yoga instructor, Power took the opportunity to teach a few poses to the children. “They loved it,” says Power. “Until that point, I had only taught adults. I discovered that I have a knack for teaching children.” The response was so great that Power was asked to develop a pilot program to teach yoga to preschool students. “I ended up teaching the whole school,” she says. “I did a class during the school day, then an afterschool yoga program, and then yoga for the faculty.” Soon, Power was leading children’s yoga classes at various sites. While preparing for a children’s yoga program held at a library, she tried to find yoga books to recommend to her young students. “I could only find two, and they weren’t particularly kid-friendly,” she says. Unable to find what she was looking for, she decided to write her own book. In 2009, Power released The ABCs of Yoga, a picture book featuring 56 yoga poses for children. The book has since been translated into Spanish, French, Italian, and Danish. Its popularity led to a companion book, The ABCs of Yoga: A Guide for Parents and Teachers, which in turn, spawned the idea of Kids’ Yoga Day. “I was brainstorming ways to launch the guide book,” Power says. “I was thinking I could launch it on Kids’ Yoga Day. When I discovered there was no such thing as Kids’ Yoga Day, I decided to invent it, and the idea just took off. It became bigger than the launch of the book.” Power promoted the idea of Kids’ Yoga Day by developing an easy yoga routine for the occasion. “The movements are simple,” she says. “They are child-friendly, but anyone can practice them, whether you’re 3 or 100.” On Kids’ Yoga Day, children all over the world begin the yoga routine at 11 a.m. “Moving through each time zone, it’s like having yoga happening continuously over the course of the day,” says Power. “Kids love it. Not only do they have fun doing the various yoga poses, but they also like being a part of something bigger than themselves.” On Kids’ Yoga Day 2017, Power launched her latest book, The ABCs of Yoga for Kids Around the World. In it, Power offers a yoga pose for each of over 30 countries and teaches children how to say hello in each country’s

“It’s not just about physical fitness. It’s about their mental and emotional well-being, too. In this fast-paced world, kids today are stressed out. They worry about peer pressure, test taking, cyberbullies, and so many other things that affect their daily lives. Yoga can help alleviate their stress.” language. “Kids who read this book are not only learning yoga, they’re learning about geography and language,” says Power. In addition to her three books, Power has also developed a complete line of The ABCs of Yoga for Kids products, including a coloring book and poster. Next year, she hopes to branch into a book about yoga for tweens and teens. According to Power, some people are reluctant to let their children try yoga for fear of conflict with their personal beliefs. “A lot of people get scared by the idea that yoga is a religious practice,” says Power. “The way I teach yoga is playful. There’s no mystical element in what I teach. It’s basically just a combination of exercise and movement that can quiet your mind and calm your body. Even five minutes a day can make a big difference.” Power believes that yoga is a good fit for the members of a generation with the reputation of being decidedly more sedentary than their predecessors. “Children aren’t getting the same kind of physical exercise previous generations did,” she says. “They don’t go outside and play as much.” Power says healthy childhood development requires a certain amount of physical activity. “I like yoga for kids because it gets them moving but it’s non-competitive,” she says. “It helps them develop a healthy attitude towards their bodies. I try to make it fluid, I try to make it calming, and most importantly, I try to make it fun.” For more information about Power, visit abcyogaforkids.com or kidsyogaday.com.

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Greg McGoon

Tells Us How to Tame Those Tricky Tanglelows by Melissa Fales

As an actor, artist, and children’s book writer, Greg McGoon employs multiple mediums to convey his messages about creativity, gender identity, and the complexity of human emotions. McGoon’s recently-released fourth book, The Trampling, Trembling Tanglelow Tale (the second in his Tanglelows series), is another fanciful journey inside the mind to help kids understand and manage their feelings. “I don’t see myself as a writer,” McGoon says. “I see myself as more of a storyteller.”

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McGoon was first captivated by the art of storytelling as a child growing up in Claremont, California. “I was fortunate to attend an elementary school that did big theatrical productions,” he says. “We did Annie. We did Alice in Wonderland. I just remember being on stage and loving the idea of entering new worlds and exploring them.” At age 10, McGoon began attending the Claremont School of Theatre Arts summer children’s program at Pomona College. “It solidified my love of theatre and storytelling,” he says. “It was very immersive, and we learned about acting, costume and lighting, and the other side of performance that budding actors often don’t get to see.” McGoon loved the program so much that after aging out, he returned every year during high school and college, first as an intern, then an assistant, an assistant teacher, and eventually the program’s assistant director. “Working with children on acting and movement was challenging but so rewarding,” he says. “It took a

lot of imagination and creativity. I thrived on it.” After graduating from the University of San Diego in 2008, McGoon moved to New York City. “I arrived with two suitcases and that’s it,” he says. “I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t have anything lined up. I took a leap of faith.” Soon, McGoon found that the very qualities of the Big Apple that attracted him occasionally wreaked havoc on his psyche. “Until I was a part of it, I never realized how isolating the big city can be,” says McGoon. “I didn’t understand that a city can feel crowded and empty at the same time. You can be surrounded by people and still feel alone.” Needing a change of scenery, McGoon left for Ghana in 2012 to work on developing an arts program there. “I was fed up with New York,” he says. “Travel has always excited me and renewed me.” McGoon arrived in Ghana with only a few belongings and no resources. “I relied on the kindness of strangers,” he says. “Random people took me in. The first place I

“I hope that giving kids the Tanglelows as something tangible to place their emotions on will make talking about their feelings less daunting or intimidating and help them untangle what’s happening in their minds.”

stayed was in a cinderblock shack on the beach with a garbage moat running next to it. I wanted a change and I got a change.” McGoon spent five months touring the country with the National Drama Troupe of Ghana. “Their theatre style is different,” he says. “Their storytelling is from an external view as opposed to the internal life of a character.” McGoon adapted easily. “Theater has a way of uniting everyone,” he says. “I felt like I was home.” Returning to New York, McGoon spent some time alone readjusting to city life. “That’s when I started writing,” he says. “I wanted to have a creative outlet, but with writing, I didn’t have to throw myself out there with all of the other people.” His first book, Out of the Box, was published in 2014. “It’s a nod to a childhood without technology,” he says. “It’s about childhood and the ability to go on an adventure with nothing more than a cardboard box.” McGoon wrote the book after observing how the prevalence of virtual entertainment has changed the way children participate in other activities. “They’re not as engaged as they were when I was a kid,” he says. “Before things were online, children had more freedom and imagination because they weren’t able to look things up. They had to rely on their creativity.” Much to McGoon’s delight, he found writing children’s books thrilling. “What excited me was not just the story alone, but the possibility of sharing these stories and having another way to engage and connect with kids.” In 2015, McGoon released his second book, The Royal Heart. It’s a modern fairy tale, the first in a collection of fairy tales McGoon

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is planning that just happen to have LGBT characters. The Royal Heart features a transgender protagonist: a prince who transforms into a princess. “It’s not just for transgender children,” says McGoon. “It’s a story for everyone. I’d prefer people to focus on the other themes of the story, like acceptance and leadership and love.” McGoon’s next book in the series will be called The Royal Heart: Golden. “The main character will be a gay prince, although that’s irrelevant to the story,” he says. “It’s an epic adventure and it’s a love story.” McGoon’s third book, Traveling the Twisting Troubling Tanglelows’ Trail was published in 2016. Using colorful characters he calls the Tanglelows—creepy-yetcute creatures who live in our heads and feed on our negative feelings—McGoon explains to children how our thoughts affect our well-being. The idea for the Tanglelows came to McGoon intact. “It was more of a discovery than a creation,” he says. “I was sitting on the subway in a miserable mood. I had a lot going on in my life and it all hit me at once.” McGoon started writing about how he was feeling. “I was feeling tangled and

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low,” he said. “When I saw both of those words on the same page together, they jumped out at me. I put them next to each other and it was like a piercing light on the paper. The minute that word came, the whole thing flew out of me. And it came out in rhyme.” The second Tanglelows book, released this April, has an equally tongue-twisting title, The Trampling, Trembling Tanglelow Tale. In this installment, McGoon takes on the topic of bullying and friendship. “I see the Tanglelows books as tools parents and

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teachers can use to interact and engage with kids,” he says. “They can ask, ‘How are the Tanglelows making you feel today?’ I hope that giving kids the Tanglelows as something tangible to place their emotions on will make talking about their feelings less daunting or intimidating and help them untangle what’s happening in their minds.” For the latest news about Greg McGoon, visit his webpage, gregmcgoon.com or find him on Twitter at @theMcGoonies.


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Feature Story

Anne Mason

Invites Young Readers to the Wonderful World of Mr. Biddle by Melissa Fales Since so many of author Anne Mason’s fondest childhood memories are of times spent in England with her family, it’s no surprise that the star of the children’s books she pens is a very proper, very British bear named Mr. Biddle. “England is my favorite place in the world,” says Mason. “Over the years, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for all things British.” 24

Mason grew up in Michigan, where her father worked as a Ford executive. He brought his family on frequent business trips to Europe, including several trips to England each year. The British culture has a fondness for stuffed bears, a trait Mason and her mother found quite contagious. Mason’s mother collected them, purchasing many at Harrods, and Mason has always had a fondness for them as well.

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She attended Sweet Briar College in Virginia, studying International Relations. “Because of my world travels, I had great aspirations of becoming a delegate at the United Nations,” she says. “I had a very eyeopening experience when someone from the U.N. came to speak and told us we’d have to be fluent in six languages for the job. I’d been studying French and


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Spanish and wasn’t even fluent in those.” Instead of working at the U.N., Mason became a software engineer. She was happily employed and traveling around the country doing software training with auto dealerships until one day, she experienced sharp pain that almost brought her to the floor. She was diagnosed with endometriosis, which would ultimately require five surgical procedures. “It was debilitating,” she says, so much so that she had to quit her job. “That’s when Mr. Biddle was created,” she says. Shortly after her first surgery, the idea of writing a book came to Mason. “I was home at my dining room table with the windows open and I heard an owl hooting,” she says. “I got the idea to write a story about an owl and his squirrel friends. I wrote it to help children learn the importance of forgiveness and sharing.” But as the story progressed, she realized something was missing. “Since I love teddy bears, I thought I’d put one in the story,” she says. But it had to be just the right bear. “He should have brass pincenez glasses,” she thought. “And of course he must be dressed properly. I gave him a vest. And to be a proper English bear, he needed a pocket watch.” Mason struggled to find the perfect name for her character. “This was in 1996, before the Internet,” says Mason. “I went through a British book of names and found the name, Bittle. Mr. Bittle sounded suitable.”

However, when Mason read her book to a group of children, they couldn’t articulate the word Bittle very well. “I changed it to Biddle,” she says. “They made the decision for me.”

ready to go for the big day, Mason rushed to have Mr. Biddle and the Squirrel’s Tale published. “It was a little paperback with black and white illustrations,” she says. “The squirrels looked a little like aliens and the hickory nuts looked more like spaceships, but the book was done.” When the Mr. Biddle balloon made its debut at the Kodak International Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in 1996, Mr. Biddle became an instant celebrity. “The press found me as soon as I got off the plane,” says Mason. People began asking for Mr. Biddle books and bears. To meet the demand, Mason ordered Mr. Biddle bears from a British manufacturer.

While working on the book, Mason was on a flight seated next to a hot-air balloon pilot. When Mason mentioned Mr. Biddle, the pilot introduced her to Dick Rudlaff, the president of the North American Balloon Association, seated nearby. After the flight, Rudlaff contacted Mason about making a Mr. Biddle hot-air balloon for an upcoming festival. “He said he could make Mr. Biddle a household name,” says Mason. Mason loved the idea. Eager to have an accompanying story

Unfortunately, Mason’s endometriosis returned as soon as the bears were ready. “It came back with a vengeance,” she says. “I couldn’t even write. Mr. Biddle had to go into hibernation.” Mason spent years battling the disease. “It was all very discouraging, but Mr. Biddle gave me the will to keep going,” she says. “That’s why he means so much to me.” Despite her health struggles, or perhaps because of them, Mason was inspired to climb Mount Everest. She first attempted the feat in 2008, an effort captured in the documentary film, Journey to Everest. On the way to start their trek, Mason and her companions were bumped from a flight that later crashed, killing 18 people. “We narrowly escaped a terrible death.” In 2009, Mason returned to Mount Everest and successfully

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“The message is that we should be thankful for the people who bring love and happiness into our lives and look for ways of spreading that love to others whenever we can.” made the climb. During the painstakingly-slow descent, an exhausted Mason opted for a plane ride. “We never even took off,” she says. “Instead, the plane spun around and crashed into the side of the mountain.” Mason and her fellow passengers were trapped in the plane. “We could smell fuel, but we couldn’t open the doors,” says Mason. “I expected to see flames at any moment. All I could do was pray that it didn’t hurt to be burned alive.” Everyone survived the crash. Mason was deeply affected by her near-death experiences. She did mission work in poor, rural villages of Nepal. Mason says the people she met there, especially the children, continue to inspire her today. “We all came together and I helped them and they helped me,” she says. “Having gone through such struggles, being there was exactly what I needed.” When Mason’s mother passed away two years ago, she decided it was time to bring Mr. Biddle back. “My mother loved him, so it felt like the perfect time to do it,” she says. Last September, Mason introduced her newest book, Mr. Biddle’s Great African Safari. Readers 26

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can learn about the different animals that live in that part of the world right along with Mr. Biddle. “This book combines my love of African wildlife and the fabulous photos of Jim Zuckerman,” Mason says. She’s also re-released Mr. Biddle and the Squirrel’s Tale with new photos by Zuckerman. Later this year, Mason will release The Biddle Royal Family - A Very Good Christmas Indeed. The book, inspired by a Christmas Mason and her family once spent in Castle Combe, England, is a celebration of the best things about the Christmas season and introduces new characters. “There’s now a whole family of Biddles,” says Mason. Like all Mr. Biddle books, this one will have a life lesson for little readers. “The message is that we should be thankful for the people who bring love and happiness into our lives and look for ways of spreading that love to others whenever we can.” Mason’s future plans for Mr. Biddle include making him the ambassador for a worldwide global citizenship effort. “The goal is to build a better world and participate in the development of solutions to the problems we’re facing,” says Mason. “Mr. Biddle has a big job ahead of him.” For more information about Anne Mason and Mr. Biddle, visit mrbiddle.com.

Anne visits with schoolchildren at a village on the outskirts of Kathmandu.


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Photo by Amy Pogue

Joshua Rush

Talks About His New Disney Channel Series Andi Mack by Melissa Fales At just 15 years old, Joshua Rush has already come a long way as an actor. He’s been in the spotlight since his acting debut in a local television special when he was 10 months old. Even without any lines, Rush still managed to steal the show. Currently, he’s playing a lead role as Cyrus in the new Disney Channel 28

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series Andi Mack. “I love being able to transform into another person,” Rush says. “It’s simultaneously liberating and exciting!” Rush lived in Houston, Texas until he was six, when his family moved to Los Angeles in order for him to pursue his acting career. “It’s worked out so far,” he says.


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He’s done voice acting for numerous TV shows, including Family Guy and Clarence, and he provides the voice of Bunga in The Lion Guard on Disney Junior. Earlier this year, he wrapped up recording voice tracks for the Dreamworks/Netflix series The Adventures of Puss in Boots, in which he portrays the giant piglet, Toby. He’s also done voice work for movies such as Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Escape from Planet Earth. Rush is perhaps best known for his work on the TV Series Chuck, in which he played a young Chuck Bartowski. He’s also appeared in other popular shows such as CSI:NY, Criminal Minds, and Medium. In 2012, Rush had a starring role as Turner in the movie Parental Guidance, along with Hollywood heavyweights Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, and Marisa Tomei. “Parental Guidance was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had on a set,” says Rush. “The actors are all incredible and I really felt like we were all family.” He also starred in the movie Break Point. “If Parental Guidance was a marathon, Break Point was a sprint, and I love sprinting,” he says. “Everything Despite being in demand as an actor, Rush says he occasionally gets to live the life of a regular teenage kid, to an extent. “I get to go out with my friends if it works in my calendar, ride my bike around, and go get lunch once in a while,” he says. “So, I guess in general, I get to be a normal teen. But on the other hand, I don’t get to go to school and get that teenager experience.”

“I love being able to transform into another person. It’s simultaneously liberating and exciting!” was bang-bang-bang when we were shooting and I love that kind of energy.” Demonstrating a wide range as an actor, Rush also appears in the horror movie, Emelie, and plays Eli, a boy who wonders what happens to people when they die, in Sex, Death and Bowling with Selma Blair and Adrian Grenier. When it comes to role models for his acting career, Rush says he looks up to Tina Fey. “She is so cool and funny and it’s always been my dream to work with her,” he says. “Her sense of passion and her hard work really inspires me a lot.” When asked about a dream role, Rush says it would be “Bond, James Bond,” hands-down. “The cars, the gadgets, the spying,” says Rush. “I’d probably have to hit the gym a bit, though.”

He may not have a “typical” teenage life, but Rush doesn’t seem to be missing out on anything. “I love my job and it’s my passion,” he says. As much as he’s currently enjoying his acting career, he’s also already starting to think about his future plans. “I want to go into politics,” he says. “I think it’s fascinating how our government works and I want to go to Yale to get a Political Science degree.” In the meantime, Rush is very excited about his new series, Andi Mack. It’s created by Terri Minsky, who was behind the Disney Channel’s smash hit, Lizzie StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 5 | Story Monsters Ink

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McGuire. “Andi Mack is a modern-day, coming-of-age story about Andi, whose life gets turned upside down when her sister comes home and reveals a big family secret,” says Rush. He plays one of Andi’s best friends, the unathletic and slightly awkward Cyrus. “Cyrus is very special,” says Rush. “I really felt a great connection to him that grew over the course of the season, and through the course of the auditioning process! It’s been a joy to give him a voice. My first impression of him was, ‘Wow, this kid sounds a lot like me!’” For Rush, being a part of a show like Andi Mack is not only a great opportunity as an actor, it’s also a ton of fun. “(Acting) requires a lot of focus and hard work, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to put all my practice to work every day,” he says. Expect to see more of Rush, as he says he plans to continue acting “for the foreseeable future. At least until Yale.” For more information about Joshua Rush, visit joshuarush.com.

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AVAILABLE ONLINE:

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From Radio to Writing George Green Instills Positive Messages with Inspiring Tales by Melissa Fales

At 85 years old, George Green is a role model for making the most of one’s golden years. After 38 years at KABC Talk Radio in Los Angeles, Green retired and began a second career in media marketing. Now, he has a third career, writing books for both adults and children.

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“Age is just a number,” Green says. “You’re never too old to be creative. The key is finding something you love to do. Find something that’s going to spark your creativity and do it.” Green grew up in Los Angeles. As a young man, he entered the Air Force Reserves and was stationed in Germany for a time. When he returned to the States, he took advantage of the GI Bill and attended the University of California Los Angeles, majoring in education. “My goal was to be an elementary school teacher because I loved children,” says Green. A change of heart led Green to switch career paths. “I realized that teaching wasn’t my forte,” says Green. “What I was really good at was selling. I had been a salesperson since I was a kid, selling newspapers on the street corner. I went up and down the stands selling peanuts and popcorn at the Coliseum. I sold Coca-Cola at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. I even sold jewelry door-to-door for a time.” Green moved to Palm Springs and took a sales job at a small radio station. “That’s where I cut my teeth,” he says. “I worked for a little 250-watt station selling dollar spot commercials. My biggest customer was Louisa’s Pantry, which bought 20 spots a week for $1 each.” In 1960, Green was hired by the sales department of KABC AM in Los Angeles during a time of transition for the radio station. Ben Hoberman from WABC in New York was the station’s new general manager and

he was introducing a brand-new format. “The station was going to be all talk,” says Green. “All of a sudden, music was out. My first thought was ‘How can I sell commercials with all talk?’ I wasn’t too sure about it at first, but we became the first all-talk radio station in America and it really took off.” Green was a salesperson for KABC Talk Radio until 1965, when he became the station’s general sales manager. The station gained a larger following in 1974 when it became the host radio station for all of the Los Angeles Dodgers games. “That took our station to number one in the market,” says Green. In 1979, he was made KABC’s president and general manager, a position he would hold for 17 years. The talent Green brought to KABC Talk Radio during his tenure includes big names in the industry, such as Dennis Prager and Tavis Smiley. “Those were some of the best times,” recalls Green. “Growing that radio station was my life. The Dodgers were a big part of it. I was at the ball games three days a week.” Two World Championship rings, given to Green by former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley in 1981 and 1988, are among his most prized possessions. When Green retired from KABC in 1996, he started a media marketing consulting company, George Green Enterprises. “Many of the people I had hired at the radio station became my clients,” he says. Newly blessed with a little free time, Green decided to try his hand at writing. The idea for his book, Out

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“Each of the books is about an animal that, for whatever reason, can’t do the one thing they’re expected to be able to do. There’s a character-building aspect to each of them. They’re about overcoming adversity and finding a talent that you didn’t know you had.” of the Spotlight, had been in his head for some time. “It occurred to me right after I left KABC that I was starting a new venture and I was suddenly out of the spotlight,” says Green. “At the radio station, I had been doing editorials three days a week. A million people listened to what I had to say. It felt different for me not to have that in my life and it got me thinking that I bet there are a whole lot of others who are no longer in the spotlight, too. I decided to go out and find them and see how they were getting along.” The book features interviews with 55 successful men and women from the world of entertainment, business, and sports, including Pat Boone, Art Linkletter, Steve Garvey, and Tommy Lasorda. Green’s other adult books include two cartoon-style books: GiGi – If Dogs Could Talk, Reflections, and I Love Loving You which is dedicated to his late wife, Mim, who passed away in 2006. The couple met in 1958. “Our first date was on June 15 and we got married on August 23 of that same year,” Green says. “It was love at first sight.” The couple raised three children. According to Green, the 11 children’s books he’s written are largely based on stories he made up to entertain his own kids. “I’d always told these stories to my children but I’d never written them down before,” Green says. Each of the books is about an animal that, for whatever reason, can’t do the one thing they’re expected to be able to do. For example, there’s Cathy, the Cow Who Couldn’t Moo and Lenny, the Lion Who Couldn’t Roar. “There’s a character-building aspect to each of them,” says Green. They’re about overcoming adversity and finding a talent that you didn’t know you had.” His 12th book, about a zebra without stripes, is currently in the works. Green lives in Palm Springs with his significant other, Myrna, where he plays golf and bridge as often as 34

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he can. Green offers some sage advice for seniors who aren’t sure what to do with themselves in their retirement. “You should keep your mind busy,” he says. “You don’t want to sit back and watch TV all day, waiting to pass away. You’ll get much more enjoyment out of life by staying active and being creative.” Writing comes naturally to Green and his ideas often flow from his subconscious mind. “Sometimes my hands are on my keyboard but I’m not exactly sure where I’m going with my words,” he says. “Suddenly, the words come fluttering into my head and into the computer. I get great enjoyment out of seeing that kind of creativity spring forth. I spent my whole life in management. I was never the talent. Now I’m the talent.” For more information about George Green, visit georgegreen.net.


Glitter for a Cause 6-year-old Callie Chapman is the author of the Mom’s Choice Award Winning book, Glitter the Unicorn. Glitter the Unicorn is about a unicorn named Glitter and her best friend Ellie. The dynamic duo go on a magical adventure to Cotton Candy Land. Callie has also published her second book, Glitter the Unicorn goes to the Beach. In this next story, Glitter and Ellie go to the beach. The two best friends go on a magical adventure through the ocean to find their missing bounce ball. Callie donates all her profits to Children’s Hospital for Art Supplies.

GLITTERTHEUNICORN.COM GLITTERTHEUNICORNBOOK

GLITTERTHEUNICORN

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Monster Munchies

Spring Garden Cookie Puzzle Ready to roll out the cookie dough and create an edible masterpiece? Kids of all ages will love making this fun-to-paint, even-more-fun-toeat cookie puzzle. Who said it’s bad manners to play with your food?

Ingredients 1 tube (16-1/2 ounces) refrigerated sugar cookie dough 1/2 cup all-purpose flour Blanched almonds 2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 4 to 5 tablespoons 2% milk Assorted colored sugars and food coloring of your choice

Directions 1. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to soften. In a large bowl, beat cookie dough and flour until blended. On a parchment paper-lined surface, roll dough into a 14 x 11-inch rectangle. With cookie cutters, cut out puzzle shapes. Slide a baking sheet under the parchment paper and dough. Chill 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove shapes and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Place an almond on its side into the center of each shape for a handle. Bake shapes 7-10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. While still warm, recut shapes with the same cookie cutters to form neat edges. (If cookies cool too quickly, warm in oven to soften.) Remove to wire racks; cool completely. 3. Bake large rectangular puzzle on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet 12-16 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Immediately recut the shapes inside the puzzle to form neat edges. Cool completely on a wire rack. 4. In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Frost puzzle and shapes with some of the frosting; decorate with sugars. Tint remaining frosting; pipe as desired. Place puzzle shapes inside puzzle. Yield: 1 cookie puzzle.

www.tasteofhome.com

© 2017 RDA Enthusiast Brands, LLC Photo by Taste of Home

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Brandon (father) has a minor heart attack and it creates a situation for the family to learn the importance of encouraging Brandon to pay attention to his health for the sake of himself and family.

The story begins when two children are awakened by noises in the middle of the night coming from outside the window of their inner-city neighborhood.

Daddy’s Family Tree begins when Brandon receives an unexpectant call from his mother that his estranged father has died.

You are about to eavesdrop on conversations between two brothers, ages 19 and 30, during World War II. Prepare to journey within their family life and experience their frustration, happiness, and sadness. These two brothers have a story to tell.

letterslostthenfound.com Also available on Amazon.com

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Science & Nature

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Tarantulas:

8-legged nightmares or gentle giants? by Conrad J. Storad Writing about animals large and small is plenty of fun. Every writer has a favorite topic. I really enjoy telling stories about creepy crawlers. For today’s column, we stay deep in the dark, dank rainforests of South and Central America. The critter of the day is the tarantula. Tarantulas are large spiders straight out of many a person’s worst dreams. But is the tarantula really a big, 8-legged hairy nightmare? Or is it just a misunderstood gentle giant of the arachnid world? All spiders are scary looking creatures. They look like monsters from outer space. Spiders have fangs. They have eight legs. Most spiders have eight eyes. Some have two, four, or six eyes. But spiders are not from outer space. They live on Earth. In fact, spiders have lived on our planet for hundreds of millions of years. They belong to a group of animals called arachnids. Scorpions, ticks, and mites are also arachnids. Spiders come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Some spiders are smaller than the head of a pin. Others are much larger. Scientists call the biggest, hairiest spiders the theraphosids. Most people call these jumbo spiders tarantulas. Tarantulas have unusual names. The names explain where the tarantulas live and what they look like. Some tarantulas have red knees or orange legs. Some have yellow rumps. Others have pink toes. The biggest spider of all is the Goliath bird-eating tarantula. This spider lives in the jungles of South America. Most tarantulas weigh about 1 ounce. A Goliath weighs up to 4 ounces. That is as heavy as a hard-boiled chicken egg. A Goliath is much bigger than your open hand. The bodies of some Goliaths are 38

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Mexican flameknee tarantula (Brachypelma auratum). Photo by George Chernilevsky

3 inches wide. From leg tip to leg tip, these spiders measure up to 10 inches. That is as wide as your dinner plate! Many people are afraid of spiders. Even more people are afraid of tarantulas, because tarantulas are big and hairy. But people should not be afraid of tarantulas. They are shy creatures. Tarantulas actually spend a big chunk of their lives hiding. All spiders have fangs. Most spiders’ fangs move from side to side, like scissors. A tarantula’s fangs strike downward, like two big hooks. A tarantula uses its fangs for biting. The fangs inject venom. Tarantulas use venom to kill the insects that they eat. A tarantula’s venom is too weak to kill a human. But it makes for a very painful bite.


Science & Nature

Tarantulas are hunters. They do not spin webs to trap insects. They use their eyes to look for food. Most tarantulas have two large eyes that are often surrounded by up to six smaller eyes. A tarantula has no bones. Its skin is its skeleton. The tarantula’s skin is called an exoskeleton, which means “outside skeleton.” The exoskeleton is hard. It does not stretch. As a tarantula grows, it must shed its skin. The shedding of old skin is a process called molting. When a tarantula molts, a new, larger skin replaces the old one. The new skin needs time to dry and harden. While the new skin is still soft, the tarantula cannot walk. A tarantula’s prey includes crickets, cockroaches, beetles, moths, and other insects. Even the biggest tarantulas, called bird eaters, usually eat insects. Most adult tarantulas eat only once a week. The larger tarantulas are always hungry. The 4-ounce Goliath can eat four ounces of insects every day. That’s a lot of bugs! Tarantulas can live for months without eating, but they always need water. Desert tarantulas get water from the insects they eat. They also drink drops of dew from plants and rocks. Tarantulas are smart hunters. A tarantula sits quietly just inside the door to its burrow. It waits for prey to come near. Then the tarantula runs out of its burrow. It uses its front legs to grab the prey. The tarantula’s jaws slam down. Its fangs inject venom into the prey. The venom keeps the prey from moving. Sometimes a tarantula wraps its catch in silk. The tarantula often drags the food inside its burrow and saves it as a snack for later. When suppertime arrives, the tarantula uses its jaws to break the insect into pieces. Then the spider spits strong juices onto the catch. These juices melt parts of the insect into mushy goop. The spider sucks up the goop. All that remains is a pile of hard bits that the spider cannot eat. Life in the wild is hard for all creatures, small and large. Animals must struggle to find food and to avoid being eaten. Tarantulas and other spiders have done well at both jobs. That is why spiders have survived for millions of years.

Hairy, scary facts about tarantulas: Baby tarantulas are called spiderlings. The tarantula’s body has two main parts: the prosoma and the abdomen. A narrow waist called the pedicel connects the prosoma and the abdomen. All spiders can make silk with their bodies. Some spiders use the silk to make webs. Desert tarantulas do not spin webs. They dig holes in the ground called burrows. Tarantulas line their burrows with silk. Male tarantulas live for only one or two years. Wild female tarantulas can live 12 to 14 years. Female pet tarantulas may live as long as 30 years.

Resources to learn more about tarantulas: Books: • Tarantulas by Conrad J. Storad • Fang and Stinger (An Arachnid Tale) by Conrad J. Storad

Websites: • National Geographic Kids kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/tarantula • Animal Planet animalplanet.com/tv-shows/animal-planetpresents/videos/jaws-and-claws-tarantulas/ • Smithsonian.com nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/goliath-bird-eatingtarantula

Conrad J. Storad The award-winning author and editor of more than 50 science and nature books for children and young adults, Conrad J. Storad expertly draws young readers into his imaginative and entertaining “classroom” to help them better understand and appreciate the natural world. StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 5 | Story Monsters Ink

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A Flying Flower for Your Garden by Rita Campbell Did you know there are 24,000 different kinds of butterflies worldwide? Butterflies range in size from a tiny 1/8-inch to almost 12 inches. Watching the transformation of the frequently ugly or strange looking caterpillar into a beautiful elegant butterfly is a time to witness a true miracle in nature. So many lessons can be taught and learned from this scientific and personal project. From a scientific level, one can learn about the lifecycle of a butterfly. From a personal level, it’s amazing to see how something not so beautiful can change into something exquisite and lovely. To build a butterfly garden, you need to establish many kinds of food plants so that you will have many kinds of butterflies visit your garden. Various butterflies are attracted to various kinds of nectars both in color and taste. It is easy to increase the number and variety of butterflies in your yard. Simply grow the plants the caterpillars like to eat, and plants that adult butterflies feed on! You will need to research your desired butterfly guests and find out what kinds of plants they like. This is a good source to see what kinds of butterflies live in your area: http://www.butterflywebsite.com/atlas/ index.cfm. Once you do that, you can begin to design your butterfly garden plan.  There are two types of plants that you will want to consider growing in your butterfly garden. You will need nectar plants, which are the plants that butterflies like to feed on, and host plants, which are plants that butterflies lay their eggs on and their caterpillars like to eat. Baby caterpillars eat quite a lot. If you don’t want to look at these plants half eaten in your garden, plant them towards the back. It is also important when planning, to pay attention to the blooming stages so you will have food for the 40

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butterflies throughout the growing season. Plant your taller plants such as a butterfly bush (buddleia) at the back and then work around that. Research is so important. It will help you to have a successful butterfly garden. There are many sites on the Internet that can help you plan. Some sites actually list the names of butterflies by state and what type of plants are required to feed and attract them. Once you have decided on your plants, print out small pictures of them in bloom to use to plan your garden. By using these pictures, you can see what your garden will look like. Be sure to include a butterfly house, some butterfly feeders, and a few flat stones for the butterflies to rest on in the sun. Butterflies also need water just like we do, so keep a mud puddle damp in a sunny location, or fill a bucket with sand and enough water to make the sand moist. Make sure you do not use pesticides in your butterfly


garden. Butterflies are considered insects and will perish with these chemicals. Here is a short list of plants commonly loved by butterflies: Zinnia, milkweed, parsley, purple coneflower, marigold, viburnum, snapdragon, and sunflowers. But of course, you will want to research the type of plants suited to the type of butterfly visitors you want to welcome to your garden.

Plant of the month: Buddleja, or Buddleia, commonly known as the butterfly bush, is a genus comprising over 140 species of flowering plants endemic to Asia, Africa, and the Americas. This sun-lover comes in hues from pure white to deep purple. From midsummer until frost, the butterfly bush earns its name as hordes of winged beauties flit from flower to flower in search of nectar.

Many states and other countries are known for their butterfly centers, so take a trip to see what kinds of butterflies are in the area where you live. This is another great time to pull out that garden journal and record the types of butterflies that come to your garden and their behaviors. Some words associated with butterfly behaviors are basking, perching, puddling and patrolling. Take some time to learn what these mean and add them to your journal. “Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” – Hans Christian Andersen

Rita Campbell is a passionate teacher and master gardener. She is also a fairyologist and new author. Her love for gardening and interest in fairies has inspired her to marry the two concepts and create a series of books on learning about gardening with the help of fairies. www.spritealights.com

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Spring Reading Guide The Adventures of Mrs. Patropolis by Diana C. Silverman, Ph.D.

New York stories for children (with all New York’s cultural diversity)! What do a dancing bagel, a missing saber tooth, and a disappearing Egyptian statue all have in common? They are part of the magical universe of Mrs. Patropolis, who takes her niece and nephew, Ellie and Daniel, on adventures around New York City. Together they rescue an alphabetfull of stray cats, enjoy the antics of a couple of zany dog friends, attend parties, frequent theaters, and visit museums. Join them for Christmas, Hanukah, interspecies yoga, vegan lasagna, a spiritual choir, a Shakespearean sonnet, Gay Pride beads, and even a helpful ghost! theadventuresofmrspatropolis.blogspot.com

The Amazing Journey of Solomon the Sockeye Salmon by Pamela Cannalte

This story tells of the lifecycle of Solomon, a sockeye salmon. Solomon’s 2,000+ mile journey begins and ends in the headwaters of the Russian River in Alaska. However, Solomon’s amazing journey is not without its perils, as vividly described and illustrated by the creators of this book. Winner of three 2016 Royal Dragonfly First Place awards: Best Cover Design, Interior Design, Other Nonfiction (writing). This children’s picture book was selected as Alaska’s KTUU-TV’s Cover 2 Cover book of the monthly book series August 2016. Available on Amazon.com and www.voyagebooks.com.

Sarafina and the Not-So-Wonderful Day by Carol A. Bacon

Sarafina is a little puppy that is teased and bullied about her name. With the love of her parents and support of her teacher, she quickly learns the secret of how to turn a not-sowonderful day into a great day. This book is a wonderful picture book and is available as a coloring book as well. “Kids receive many lessons from Sarafina’s story; from self-esteem and the differences between parental and peer approval to how to handle conflict and turn bad experiences into good ones.” - D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review. www.carolabacon.com

Max and Bear by Pam Saxelby

Bear is given to Max’s dad at a very special party, but Max isn’t there yet. He is still growing in his mommy’s tummy! When Max is born, Bear is so excited! But when Max’s mommy gives him Sophie the giraffe instead, Bear is disappointed. He decides to wait for Max to grow up a bit. But when his mommy gives Max Turtle to play with instead, he is again disappointed. Will Max ever notice Bear? Max and Bear is a sweet story written with young readers in mind … and teaches them that good things do come to those who wait.

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Spring Reading Guide Super Speed Sam: Lights Out by Monty J. McClaine

Super Speed Sam: Chapter books for kids—with a difference. How do you prepare your child to cope with the life and death situations that may arise from a home emergency? Perhaps this topic can be approached through a book. A book that can be read together as a family, although older children will no doubt enjoy reading it themselves. A book that gives great importance to the subject matter but ensures that the message is delivered with plenty of adventure, humor, and fun. The special message delivered courtesy of Super Speed Sam, the family dog with a secret.

I See the Sun series by Satya House

Explore the world! Life in different countries told from a child’s point of view. I See the Sun books are an award-winning series of bilingual picture books, each focused on one country and one day in the life of one child with a story told from the child’s perspective. Every book introduces the culture, family life, and language of one particular country in a way that is sensitive to each culture. Includes age-appropriate (5+) country facts and a glossary for extended learning. Books include I See the Sun in: Turkey, Nepal, Afghanistan, Russia, China, Mexico, and Myanmar (Burma). www.satyahouse.com

A Buss from Lafayette by Dorothea Jensen

In June, 1825, everyone around spirited 14-year-old Clara Hargraves is thrilled because the world famous American Revolution hero, General Lafayette, is about to visit New Hampshire on his “Farewell Tour.” What Clara learns about her family, her friends, and about Lafayette himself profoundly changes her life. A Buss from Lafayette was awarded the Literary Classics Seal of Approval, named among the top ten MG entries for the Booklife Prize in Fiction, and listed on GratefulAmericanKids.com as one of the best history books for children to read. (Written by the author of the Purple Dragonfly Award winner, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm.) www.abussfromlafayette.com

E.S. Pete: Sixth Grade Sense by Arnold Rudnick

“I know it’s hard to believe that I can read minds. Heck, it’s hard to believe I can even read a book considering how poorly I was doing in English class up until this year....” Pete figured there would be a lot of reading in sixth grade, but he didn’t count on adding the minds of his teachers and classmates to the list. Knowing what they think can be helpful sometimes, but it can also get complicated—ESPecially when Pete discovers the substitute teacher is thinking about a big robbery. www.espete.com

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Spring Reading Guide ESPete in ESPresident by Arnold Rudnick

Oh, the perils of a paranormal preteen. Pete becomes a reluctant candidate for class president in this premiere ESPete comic. Bonus psychic jokes and puzzles! www.espete.com

Little Green

by Arnold Rudnick

A small frog who wants to be special hops around asking other animals if he could be something else. While the little reader learns animal groups, skills, sounds, and traits, Little Green learns an important lesson. Isn’t it possible that a little green frog can change the world? Maybe ... with your help! Order your copy of Little Green today and share this fun and inspirational book with family and friends. www.isntitpossible.com

Alby and the Cat by Leanne Davidson

The cat from 28 Popple Court is not impressed. There is a new four-legged neighbor at Number 26 and it is not feline. So why have all the humans in Popple Court come to see it? Why is it getting so much attention? And what is that ridiculous thing it is wearing? The cat soon learns that Alby is special. He is a guide dog, the eyes for his blind master, Jim. Slowly the two foes become friends as the cat risks one of its nine lives to save Alby from a perilous situation. Available on www.amazon.com and www.bookdepository.com.

Voiceless Whispers by Jane Frances Ruby

Three years since her fateful Grand Canyon field trip, Desiree Sumner is doing well. However, Taqa, the medicine man who helped her, wants to retire. But first he must train a successor. His quest is interrupted by a grandniece, Shedi, stricken with a mysterious illness. None of Taqa’s remedies help, so Shedi’s grandmother breaks tribal rules in search of modern medicine. While searching for Shedi, Taqa and his headstrong son run into Desiree. They discover that only she can cure Shedi. Despite Taqa’s distrust of modern medicine and Naturale’s distrust of Desiree, Shedi’s treatment is permitted, risking tribal secrecy and Taqa’s life. www.TheAzuriteEncounter.com Click on the book cover to purchase any of the above titles. To list your book in our Reading Guide, contact Cristy Bertini at cristy@storymonsters.com. 44

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Where in the World is Story Monster? “Congratulations Conrad!”

Send us a photo from your hometown or as you travel!

Need a Story Monster plush toy? Visit www.StoryMonsters.com.

He’s at Kyrene de la Mariposa Elementary School, celebrating our super science and nature editor Conrad J. Storad’s one millionth student visit! After 23 years and 1,500 schools and library visits in 17 different states, Conrad achieved his personal goal. He truly is one in a million! Photo by Linda F. Radke

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Arizona

Illinois

Jane Ruby: Why should young children have all the fun

Nancy Gee: Nancy Gee’s children’s picture books are

Sharon Wozny: As an educator for Mesa Public Schools for 30 years, I instructed my students to write from their hearts, to write about topics that spoke to them and ignited a passion within them. I followed my own advice. Drawing on my experience volunteering with the Children’s Cancer Network, I have written Jamie’s Journey: Cancer from the Voice of a Sibling especially for siblings of pediatric cancer patients.

Iowa

learning facts from books? Why can’t young adults have the same fun? My award-winning novel, The Azurite Encounter, makes learning fun for the young adult reader. Geology, Meteorology, Herbal and Wilderness Medicine, Arizona History and Folklore are just a few topics wrapped around this high school Grand Canyon field trip gone bad.

Kathy Peach: The tiniest tumbleweed is small for her age.

So is her Sonoran Desert neighbor, a baby sparrow. Through the incorporation of proven concepts in helping children believe in themselves and their capabilities, The Tiniest Tumbleweed shows how the desert companions work together and within their limitations to become their best.

California Teresa Power: Teresa Power’s 16+ years of teaching yoga in schools, yoga studios, and local organizations has helped thousands of kids develop healthy attitudes towards their bodies. She is also a keynote speaker, bestselling author of The ABCs of Yoga for Kids product line, and founder of International Kids’ Yoga Day, an annual event that takes place each April.

Connecticut Kourtney Heintz: My workshops are in-depth explanations of how I create my books. They are designed for audiences in grades 7-12. Using PowerPoint slide shows, I focus on different aspects of the writing process, including: experiencing inspiration, generating ideas, developing concepts, writing rough drafts, revising, and creating final copies with the publisher.

based on true events. She conducts school visits with her works in progress to show children how books go from idea to printed page. In addition to writing for and reading with children, Nancy also teaches a class for writers who want to become children’s authors.

Tim Read: Children’s illustrator and author Tim Read inspires children to discover their creative potential in a fun and engaging character-building program for all kids. This unique program includes live illustrations by Tim Read as well as silly stories and plenty of audience participation. Tim’s brand of humor adds to the overall creative experience.

Nebraska Barbara Freeman: Former educator Barbara Freeman

has turned her passion for writing about American Pit Bulls to educating children about them. With two books in the series so far, Sugar: A Princess Pit Bull Finds Her Family and Super Smart Sugar, Freeman’s books/visits promote love, self-acceptance, and positive self-esteem.

Ohio Meaghan Fisher: A children’s author who has over 10 years experience working with children. She has a BS in psychology and a minor in women’s studies and lives in Ohio with her husband and two children. Her hope is to inspire children through the moral lessons in her books. Meaghan has several published books with five star book reviews and awards.

Visit www.SchoolBookings.com to learn more about these authors and artists and invite them to your school or library!

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Liv on Life YOU are Beautiful! by Olivia Amiri The other day I was at a live makeup and hair demonstration and everyone was talking about finding a picture of “what they want to look like.” Once they found the picture, they would bring it to show the hairdresser and/or makeup artist as an example of what they want to look like. The hairdresser at the demonstration said that most of his clients bring in pictures of famous people and/or models. He said once he’s done with his client’s hair, they are never satisfied because they don’t end up looking like that model or that actress. This made me sad … I wanted to know why so many people, mostly women, wanted to look like someone else? Why wouldn’t they go to a hairdresser or makeup artist and tell them to enhance what they already have? Why didn’t they want to just be the best they could be? At the end of the demonstration, they asked if there were any questions and/or comments. I said, “I would like to tell everyone I meet today and everyday to just be yourself. YOU are beautiful. You don’t need a picture to show someone or yourself who you are or what you need to look like because you are beautiful as you are.

10-year-old Olivia Amiri is a little girl with big advice! Sharing insights and observations on the world around us, her message is clear: kids are still the best teachers to remind grownups of the simple joys in life. livonlife.com

I know it’s not always easy to remember, but I want to shout out to everyone old, young, big, small, tall, boy, girl, mom, or dad that you are uniquely you, which in itself is authentically beautiful. Embrace yourself and know how special and truly one-of-a-kind you are.

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Monsters at

the Movies

The Boss Baby Reviewer: Nick Spake

Grade: B-

The Boss Baby has a pretty basic premise that shouldn’t even be able to fill a feature-length runtime. As thin as the idea is, though, the filmmakers throw in more effort than you might expect. The casting is inspired, the slapstick is energetic, and the familiar moral is conveyed in a creative fashion. Most importantly, the story is brought to life through animation. If this were a live-action family picture, we’d probably get something horrifying like Son of the Mask or Baby Geniuses. As an extended Saturday morning cartoon, however, The Boss Baby is fun for kids with just enough to keep their parents amused.

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The film centers on 7-year-old Tim Templeton (Miles Christopher Bakshi), who has a perfect life with his mother (Lisa Kudrow) and father (Jimmy Kimmel). This all changes when mom and dad bring home Tim’s baby brother. The newborn quickly takes over the household with the parents having little time for their firstborn. Tim suspects that there’s something off about the infant, as he wears a suit and carries around a briefcase. He then makes the shocking discovery that the baby can talk. Even more shocking, the baby has the voice of Alec Baldwin, who knows a thing or two about playing big babies.

CEO (Steve Buscemi) has a dastardly plot to make puppies more beloved than babies. The two siblings thus team up to restore balance and they just might learn the meaning of brotherhood along the way.

The baby is a bit like Jack Donaghy crossed with Stewie Griffin. He’s fast-talking, slick, and has the mindset of a business magnate. Although Tim and the baby start off as competitors, they’re eventually forced to work together. It turns out that the baby is on a secret mission to take down Puppy Co. The company’s

As you can tell, the plot is pretty goofy. What gives the film another level of depth, though, is that it’s told from Tim’s perspective. It’s made clear upfront that Tim has an active imagination, interpreting ordinary tasks as over-the-top adventures. So it’s entirely possible that this entire movie is just a daydream Tim

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cooked up as a coping mechanism. Granted, there are better movies about children using their imagination to deal with reality, such as Where the Wild Things Are, The Little Prince, and A Monster Calls. Nevertheless, the trope is still put to effective use here, often calling Rugrats to mind. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the film follows the same formula as every other animated buddy picture. Of course Tim and the baby will inevitably form a meaningful bond and realize that nothing’s more important than family. While we’ve seen this moral time after time, it’s certainly not a bad message and ultimately works here. The filmmakers even take an occasional break from all the silliness for a quiet, poignant moment. It won’t leave you in tears like the best Disney or Pixar movies, but The Boss Baby certainly isn’t without pathos. The more sincere moments aside, the real focus here is to simply partake in some lighthearted, inoffensive

comedy. The Boss Baby admittedly has more smiles than laugh out loud moments, but we do get quite a few inventive chases and clever one-liners. The animation itself is especially colorful, fast-paced, and vivid. Director Tom McGrath, who’s best known for Megamind and the Madagascar trilogy, gives the film a retro style reminiscent of a ’50s or ’60s cartoon. It’s arguably the most artistic talking baby movie you’re ever going to see, which isn’t half bad for a film based on a picture book.

Nick Spake. Arizona native and a graduate of Arizona State University, Nick Spake has been working as a film critic for ten years reviewing movies on his website: nickpicksflicks.com.

Riddles & Giggles Q: What do cows do for fun? A: They go to the moo-vies! StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 5 | Story Monsters Ink

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Story Monster

Approved! Books

Drew Meets Boo (App)

by Charter Road Productions, Inc.

The continued story of the Incredible Children’s Book App “Drew’s Dancing Drum,” where EVERYTHING you touch comes to life! Kids will learn the power of friendship, love, facing bullies, and believing in yourself, while exploring this fun children’s book app!

Journey to Appleville by Veronica Appleton

What can six kids from a local neighborhood do when they have a goal in mind? Embark on a quest to Appleville, of course! Join Liu-Liu, Kenan, Tu-Tu, Lizzy, Pedro, and Cassie as they overcome their fears with the help of the Appleville Fairy. Can you help them earn their golden apples?

My Name is River by Wendy Dunham

It’s 1983, and twelve-year-old River Starling’s life is anything but normal. She was adopted on a whim and came without a birth certificate. Her adoptive parents gave her up to her grandmother when she was only two, but River is certain her parents will come back. River’s hopes fall apart when Gram uproots them from their farmhouse and decides to move to Birdsong, West Virginia, the most miserable town River has ever seen. Discover the unforgettable story of one girl’s search for a place to call home.

Hope Girl

by Wendy Dunham

With the discovery of her birth father, 12-year-old River has definite thoughts about how her life should turn out—and that certainly does not include any of the challenges that keep popping up! When she gets diagnosed with scoliosis, she fears it will impact her hopes and dreams. As this tender-sweet story unfolds, River learns to persevere and stay hopeful that soon she will be part of a real family.

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Story Monster

Approved! Books

Max and Bear by Pam Saxelby

Bear is given to Max’s dad at a very special party, but Max isn’t there yet. He is still growing in his mommy’s tummy! When Max is born, Bear is so excited! But when Max’s mommy gives him Sophie the giraffe instead, Bear is disappointed. He decides to wait for Max to grow up a bit. But when his mommy gives Max Turtle to play with instead, he is again disappointed. Will Max ever notice Bear? Max and Bear is a sweet story written with young readers in mind … and teaches them that good things do come to those who wait.

Josie the Great by Pam Saxelby

So many things are changing for Max and Bear. They’ve moved into a new house in a new neighborhood, and now ... a new baby? Max’s parents keep talking about someone named Josie, but who is that? With his trusty friend Bear by his side, Max navigates the changes in his life and wonders what it all means. Written by Pam Saxelby and illustrated by her daughter, Anne Saxelby, Josie the Great explores how young children come to understand their ever-changing world.

Magelica’s Voyage to the Land of Fairies by Louise Courey Nadeau

Rainbows light up the sky as Magelica and her friends embark on an extraordinary voyage to uncover the mystery of her past. As they follow the secret scroll to the Land of the Fairies, fear gets in the way and their courage is tested. Put on your magical feather and join Magelica and her friends as they discover that fairies are real and that love is the most powerful magic of all.

When a Child Cries by Cassie Edwards

When a child cries is a story that can be used as an educational tool to teach young children about cancer. Utilizing visual aids and a well-told story, the subject matter is easy and fun for the children to learn. The way the story has been organized makes it a must-read for any educational institution that teaches children.

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Kids Can Publish!

Forest

by Olivia Amiri, age 10 I am the forest I am free Come walk the beautiful paths of me. I see birds flying up to the sky. Winter days are cold and harsh When night falls it is dark Whistling winds cradle me For I am the forest and I am free. I see the Eagles, Proud and strong with talons drawn. In spring there are poppy seed flowers that reach the sky. Speckled colors. Blue and green Painted on beautiful butterfly wings The air smells sweet, of flowers all around. I feel a fox’s tail brush against my face. In the fall leaves slowly drift towards my face, Against lines that trace bold shapes of my face. In the evening small winds whistle and gently howl, Swirling and circling around my face. A Hawk glides and circles high above. Mice and rodents run in retreat Of this mighty sharp clawed beast. Night falls A shadow of a wolf appears next to the moon For this is the creature of the night. Tread carefully and you will see the beautiful face of me.

Hey Kids! Visit www.StoryMonsters.com and click on “Kids Can Publish” for instructions on how to submit your work! 52

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  AME  BOSS  MACK  SPRING  TARANTULA 

ANDI BUTTERFLY  MARVEL  STAN  UNICORN 

BIDDLE GEORGE  PRODIGY  TANGLELOWS  YOGA 

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Book Reviews The Adventures of Henry Whiskers by Gigi Priebe Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 

This is a great chapter book for young readers. It’s got action, adventure, and great characters—everything a reader hopes for. It’s perfect for individual or family night reading sessions. The storyline is enjoyable for all ages. There is enough suspense to keep them eager for the next reading, as well as opportunities for discussions on how they may have responded in the same situations. Using anthropomorphism, the author’s creativity makes the animals appear as if they are human, which gives kids a sense of familiarity they can identify with. Centering around a community of mice, the characters are fun and loving, and their interactions and surroundings are relatable, making this an all around good read. The actual setting in England’s Windsor Castle, and more specifically Queen Mary’s grand dollhouse adds such enrichment, and can be researched to further enhance the reading experience.

The Blue Songbird by Vern Kousky Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 

Age-old sayings all emerged out of someone’s travels or experiences. “You can’t see the forest for the trees” must have found its meaning in the blue songbird’s story. Longing for a special song to sing so narrows the little songbird’s vision that she determines to set out upon a great quest to find it. Traveling around the world searching, and speaking with many wise birds, leads her to a land where the most beautiful songs are sung. To her surprise, it’s a land she once called home. Sometimes, the very thing we long for is right in front of us all along.

Cub’s Wish by Angie Flores Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Sitting under a peaceful starlit sky, Cub is offered to wish upon a star. With much thought, he comes to realize his life is pretty full. What else could he ask for but to always be as happy as he was right then? Sometimes, we play the “If Only” game. “If only I were smarter, taller, prettier. If only I had more this and less of that, then I could be happier.” It’s good to have that defining moment when we truly see we have all we really need.

There’s a Bug on My Book! by John Himmelman Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a fun book for outdoor play and imagination. Children are encouraged to plop their book on the grass and discover all the ways common insects and critters creep, slither, and slide across it. The interactive text will stretch their imagination while learning fun facts about the many creatures that share outdoor living space with us. The back pages are full of interests and activities you can use to broaden the experience. 54

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Book Reviews Magelica’s Voyage: The Rescue by Louise Courey Nadeau Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Book 2 of our young readers chapter series opens to the stirring of Magelica’s gift in fitful dreams of a Prince in harm’s way. Searching out its meaning leads her back to the Isle of Dreams and the queen, hoping for a plan of rescue for young Prince William. The story promotes a sense of community and the power of connection. We feel the unity and love as it pulls together for a common cause, and learn the true meaning of belonging.

The Untold Story of the Tooth Fairy by Jose Carlos Andres Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Do you know the REAL story behind the tooth fairy? Whenever a child loses a tooth, a little someone takes it and leaves a small gift in exchange. It is said that the Tooth Fairy, before being a fairy, was an oyster who lived in the deep sea. Everything began when she lost her only pearl. She asked an octopus for help, the octopus asked a sardine for help, and the sardine asked a crab, and finally the crab asked a mouse for help.... Have you ever encountered the tooth fairy? Is it furry like a mouse? Does it have wings like an angel? Do you know the real story behind those missing teeth magically taken up from under our pillows? Jose Carlos Andres says he knows, and he’s willing to share the untold story with us in this delightful new book.

Kohana: A Native American Creation Myth by J.E. Rogers Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The Native Americans always created stories to bring understanding, and to explain the unexplainable. Their stories were then passed down through time. In the story of Kohana, they tell how the wild wolf became man’s best friend—the dog. In the beginning, the Great Spirit created a beautiful world and set its boundaries. Kohana, a young mischievous wolf was part of that world. Filled with curiosity, he pressed against those boundaries. Drawn to a creature that roamed the plains on two legs, he was determined to know. In spite of warnings, he set out and formed a bond that not only lasted their lifetime, but through all time. The relationship between Kohana and the two-legged creature called man is still a powerful bond.

Xalien the Purple Alien: Xalien Goes to the Beach by Michelle Path Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Our friendly little alien is back! Having made the best of a former visit that went bad, Xalien made friends with three Earth children. In a return visit, she arrives on a day planned for the beach. Xalien and the children find lots of laughs together as they learn and share their differences. StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 5 | Story Monsters Ink

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Book Reviews Magelica’s Voyage by Louise Courey Nadeau Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Magelica, with her tiny wings and long green hair, is a mystery to herself. Twelve years ago, gatherers working in a field came across a beautiful sapphire egg. The egg cracked and revealed a mysterious and magical child. She was taken in and deeply loved, and yet she still finds herself full of questions and wonder. We too may find ourselves at times wondering who we are, and why we are here. Magelica’s questions lead her on an amazing journey of discovery. A magical adventure where she finds something very special inside of her, and if she allows it to lead her, she just may find the answers to all her yearning questions, and even a greater sense of belonging. This early chapter book series is a great bridge to lead young readers into novels. It’s short enough to hold their attention, exciting enough to keep their interest, and fun enough to leave them wanting more.

Queen Vernita Journeys on an Old-Fashioned Paddleboat by Dr. Dawn Menge Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Queen Vernita loves to spend her time traveling and discovering new wonders of this great world she lives in. Every year she sets a new plan for its 12 months in fabulous places, and meeting interesting people. The reader follows her journey, learning with her a wide variety of facts and interests. Though we only get a taste of the flavors, the queen opens many topics we can pursue for more information and create our own journey. I personally found delight in the great formations of lava columns called basalt, and there is so much to discover about the salmon’s life cycle. I also enjoyed the beautiful rose gardens, and the tranquil balance of the Oriental gardens. You can just imagine the sweet smells and comfort of their beauty. Queen Vernita shares wonderful facts with us and broadens our awareness of this great world in which we live. Get ready to explore!

The Wackenteach Series by JCM Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

School at Pagic Elementary is definitely a little “wacky” in its delivery, but fun and effective in its intent. The children of Mr. Wackenteach’s class emerge each year, strong in selfesteem, confident in poise and posture, and broadened in a sense of community and teamwork. His wacky antics afford acceptance, inclusion, and a common bond among classmates. He is truly a teacher who would be remembered. The story is easy to read and magically opens wide for you to engage. Mr. Wackenteach carries that delightful Cat in the Hat excitement.

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Book Reviews Henry the Blue Monkey: Being Different Is Good! by Linda Christen Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Henry is faced with some hard decisions. Being the ONLY blue monkey isn’t always fun, and it can often be hard on his feelings. Henry has to decide how he is going to handle those hurt feelings, and decides to concentrate on all the great things about being the only blue monkey. After all, it does have some advantages. We can’t change how other people think or act, but we can choose how we think. Positive thinking brings positive feelings, and positive feelings can bring much happier behavior.

It Starts with a Raindrop/Comienza con una gota lluvia by Michael Smith Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is science at its best! Uncluttered, it flows as simply and freely as its subject. The illustrations and lyrical text open the wonder of the water cycle with such ease. Children will follow with marveling interest as technical concepts transform into everyday realities they can understand. The book’s structure is solid, the artwork memorable, and the content important to us all. It would make for good discussion on family night, as you read it together and think of helpful ways we can all conserve our precious water supply. Teaching our children about the Earth’s bounty and giving them a part in preserving it will nurture respect for their surroundings and a sense of appreciation of our natural resources. English/Spanish edition.

The Giddlywumps by Sue Ann Kunberger Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Are you fighting that endless war just to see a clean bedroom floor? Battling each and every day just to try and keep it that way? If you’ve bribed, cajoled, or threatened far more, this just might be the book you’re looking for. The Giddlywumps come out at night, sneaking about looking for a mess. The messier the room, the better they like it. So, if you want to keep these creepy critters away, there is only one surefire way! This story just might end the Clean Your Room war.

Boris and the Worrisome Wakies by Helen Lester Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Everyone has shared a night with the Worrisome Wakies, so this story will relate to a wide audience. Boris, an adorable badger captured so delightfully by illustrator Lynn Munsinger, can’t seem to fall asleep. He’s too itchy, too thirsty, too hungry. His PJs are tangled, his cuddle bunny is hogging the bed, and on goes the hours, leaving Boris a very sleepy badger the next day. So sleepy, he misses out on all the fun his classmates share while he naps here and there. Can he overcome his worrisome ways and enjoy all the fun the next day? StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 5 | Story Monsters Ink

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Book Reviews David and Rusty’s Pirate Adventure by Maggie Grinnell Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Everyone follows the open path in their heart as they read, and this one led me to a story of letting go. David and his pirate teddy bear Rusty were great buddies, and no doubt shared many adventures together. However, the course of this adventure may be a separating of their ways. Finding themselves stowaways on a pirate ship at sea, David’s only way back home may be to leave Rusty behind. The captain of this pirate vessel seems to have a great need for Rusty to remain. Can David let him go? Or I should properly say, can he let him stay? Personal growth and healing play a faint and tender tune in the background of this story that my heart heard loud and clear.

I Lost My Sock!: A Matching Mystery by P.J. Roberts Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman

I Lost My Sock! is a delightful tale that enables readers to join in on the missing sock mystery. Readers will take in Elio’s illustrations of various patterns and shades of unpaired socks and other objects to help fox find his other blue sock with polka dots. Along with practicing to identify similarities and differences among shapes and patterns, readers will also learn the irony of misinterpretation and friendship. The two main characters fox and ox will likely keep readers’ attention as they encounter wrong sock after wrong sock. Ox continues to stick by fox’s side to help offer solutions to the mystery. Will they ever find the match? Readers will need to follow along to discover the ending to the mystery. Teachers and parents shouldn’t lose sight of the ability of this book to open up dialogue about matching, sequencing of events, and friendship. 

A Gefilte Fishy Tale by Allison and Wayne Marks Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman

As readers open A Gefilte Fishy Tale, they’ll find a beautiful glossary of Yiddish terms. These words serve as a backbone of the book as they help to give the story a cultural flair. Renee Andriani helps the story along by adding colorful illustrations that seem to welcome readers right into the family and comical situation of how to open a jar of gefilte fish. Why gefilte fish? Well, Bubbe Judy knows that her grandson Jack happens to love eating it for the Shabbos meal. As you read along, you’ll find that everyone seems to have difficulty turning that stubborn lid. Readers will most likely find themselves saying, “Oy! How hard could it be to twist open a jar?” Well, Bubbe Judy (grandmother), Zayde (grandfather), a bodybuilder, an inventor, a mechanic, a doctor, a dentist, a fisherman, a plumber, and numerous family members try their hand at the lid, but no one succeeds, and this makes everyone feel farklempt! As readers follow along in the story and witness each character try out their own hypothesis on this problem, they may find themselves giggling out loud. What was the solution? Well, you’ll have to read this fishy tale to find out!

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Book Reviews Nancy Knows by Cybèle Young Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Author and artist Cybele Young creates an ingenious story of Nancy, a little elephant who tries to remember something important. As she does, her mind fills with pictures of other ideas and objects. Things that go forwards, backwards, have wheels, fly, line up in a row, and other artistic combinations. But what Ms. Young creates are Nancy’s thoughts and memories masterfully presented in the form of paper sculptures. This book is an absolute must for an art study with children and a mentor text for writers … the possibilities are endless for how this delightful and heartwarming story can be used to inspire us in our own creations, all through a sweet little elephant named Nancy.

The Want Monsters: And How They Stopped Ruling My World by Chelo Manchego Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Stories about monsters always give me a little pre-reading anxiety because I wonder how my children will react to them before bedtime. Not this story! It is an adorable and relatable story about how our inner desires and compulsions can take hold and bring out the ugly in us (yes, adults included). Children will appreciate the “wants” the little boy has: sweet treats, video games, popularity, and other valid childhood frustrations. Unfortunately, these frustrations take hold of him in consequential ways through a want monster named Oskar. As the story progresses, it is clear that differentiating between your needs and wants (and recognizing your impulses and managing them) will result in a much happier you. Great story to read and discuss with children and the adorable illustrations will keep them engaged from beginning to end!

Bee & Me by Alison Jay Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

A bee flying through a city landscape pollinating the town with future flowers and colors galore captures the title of this wordless picture book perfectly. I love wordless picture books. For so many reasons, but mostly because the reader can interpret the message in ways that make sense to them, depending on their background knowledge, family life, and experiences. This of course enriches literature discussions (or bedtime snuggle talks) and allows us to just immerse ourselves in gorgeous illustrations, like the ones in Bee and Me. This story is a journey between a girl and a bee that shows up on her windowsill. Naturally, the bee is greeted with fear and apprehension but soon welcomed and nurtured to a plentiful, happy and purposeful life—all depicted through stunning and precious illustrations that can only be summed up with one word: friendship. The author’s note at the end reminds us of the importance of respecting our ecosystem and nature’s gifts.

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Book Reviews The Friendship Bracelet by Arlene Stewart Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

The Friendship Bracelet is a fun, engaging, and heartfelt book. The life of Olivia Jones suddenly starts to go downhill the moment her BFF and next door neighbor, Alex announces she’s moving to Paris. Olivia feels sad that evening when she watches Alex’s car drive away. How will Olivia spend her summer without her bestie? The good news is they do stay connected … by a bracelet! And more good news is Olivia makes some new friends. Read about Olivia’s crazy and fun summer!

Star Scouts by Mike Lawrence Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

Star Scouts is adventurous and entertaining. The illustrations are creative and fun. This friendship story is about being courageous and true to who YOU are. Being a new kid in town and starting a new school is not always easy and it’s worse when kids label you “weird.” We all face struggles of being different and not always fitting in. Luckily Avani finds a friend in Mabel! 

The Wizard’s Dog by Eric Kahn Gale Reviewer: Diana Perry

This is a delightful tale told from the point of view of Nosewise, a white dog who is taken in by the great sorcerer Merlin. Merlin also takes in an orphan girl, Morgana, who shows promise of having great magical powers. Nosewise feels left out when the two of them are behind the locked door where they practice their magic, and manages to wiggle through to this secret room before Merlin can close the door, changing his life forever. This story is so very entertaining that adults and children both will enjoy being whisked away to Old World England with these larger-than-life characters. This book engages readers right from the first page and takes them on a journey with whirlwind dangers, seemingly unsolvable dilemmas, and endearing relationships, all presented by brilliant writing. This is a must-read if you want to be entertained from start to end and escape into a world of old world magic.

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Juicy Jack’s Spanish Corner

¡Hola, Amigo!

Se vende (For sale) 1. la pelota de fútbol: the soccer ball, diez centavos (ten cents) 2. el libro: the book, veinticinco centavos (twenty-five cents) 3. la película: the movie, cincuenta centavos (fifty cents)

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Juicy Jack’s Spanish Corner! ¡Bienvenidos! Juicy Jack and his family are having a yard sale. Help Juicy Jack practice some new phrases so he’s prepared to work at the kids’ table when someone asks him for the price of an item. ¿Cuánto cuesta [item]? (How much does _______ cost?) [Item] cuesta [amount]. (_______costs _____.) Use this short conversation as a guide to practice having a yard sale with your friends: You: Buenos días. Jack: Hola. You: ¿Cuánto cuesta la bicicleta? Jack: Cuesta cinco dólares. You: Gracias Jack. Jack: Adiós amigo.

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4. la muñeca: the doll, un dólar (one dollar) 5. el juego: the game, dos dólares (two dollars) 6. la raqueta de tenís: the tennis racket, tres dólares (three dollars) 7. el jugete: the toy, cuatro dólares (four dollars) 8. la bicicleta: the bicycle, cinco dólares (five dollars) 9. el monopatín: the skateboard, seis dólares (six dollars) 10. la computadora: the computer, quince dólares (fifteen dollars)

Leigh Carrasco is an educator and author of the wildly popular Juicy Jack Adventures series about a spunky guinea pig who travels to Peru with his human. www.juicyjackadventures.com


Pick of the Litter

ADDO This month’s Storytime Pup Pick of the Litter is ADDO, written and illustrated by David Marshall. This is just one of many wonderful children’s books written by this author. For a child, the frightening feelings of abandonment and loss are not easily explained. Today, these experiences are labeled with clinical words that are just too clinical for a child to understand or make the connection to the meaning of life. It’s time for a different way of imagining this common experience, and therefore a different way of helping children deal with it.

learns that these moments are actually treasured ones of transformation. ADDO learns that he has within himself the ability and strength to overcome his deepest concerns and the rewards can be beyond our wildest imaginations.

David Marshall is one of the most prolific children’s book authors and illustrators in America today. With eight books to his name and more on the way, David’s children’s stories carry life-giving, inspirational, and meaningful messages that we can all learn from.

When a child is small, it is important to teach in symbolic imagery that also reassures him/her that there is a happy ending to most problems. Being reassured about happy endings is the first step because it gives them the courage to face the inevitable challenges of difficult situations. When we have achieved confidence and self-esteem, we can then face difficult struggles with an inner strength. The children’s story offers the child the realization that one day the castle will be his/hers, that the prince/ princess will end up with him/her, and since the child cannot settle for less, he learns he cannot achieve all this on his own. In ADDO, the story teaches children that tremendous forces will come to their aid. It teaches more than hope. Hope is also a weak place to be. To feel hope is to still feel helpless in many situations. That feeling that the winds of fate could possibly change and that you could possibly be better off is not enough. It requires faith to feel certainty. It requires certainty to feel faith. That is what faith is, the unshakable belief in something without any proof. In ADDO, this fantastical story plays out the way the child hopes and it is psychologically convincing—it delivers certainty and it delivers the example of the power of faith. And life lessons do not stop there in this story. ADDO is a wonderfully illustrated book with life lessons on faith, compromise, and perseverance. The baby elephant experiences challenging situations where he

Click here to watch the video.

WIN a Story Monsters Ink Reading Buddy! Every month, Storytime Pup has a drawing for a Story Monsters Ink plush reading buddy. Click www.storytimepup.com/giveaways.html to enter. If you are a children’s book author interested in having your book(s) considered for the Storytime Pup Channel, you can contact the Storytime Pup Staff at: storytimepup@gmail.com. Bill McManus is a children’s book author and creator of the Storytime Pup Children’s Book Channel. www.StorytimePup.com

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Profile for Story Monsters Ink

Story Monsters Ink magazine May 2017  

Our marvelous May issue is packed with spunky authors, inspiring interviews, budding actors – and even Marvel creator Stan Lee! Also feature...

Story Monsters Ink magazine May 2017  

Our marvelous May issue is packed with spunky authors, inspiring interviews, budding actors – and even Marvel creator Stan Lee! Also feature...