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April 2018

The Literary Resource for Teachers, Librarians, and Parents

Jason Reynolds On Reading, Writing, and Whatnot

A Journey

Through Autism Dave Eggers

Inspires Young Writers to Make Their Mark

One to Watch:

Eddie Leavy Literature:

A Secret Weapon Against Bullying

Xolo MaridueĂąa is the Next Karate Kid

Students Hit the Dance Floor in

Conga Kids Arts Program Q&A with

Elizabeth Dale


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Cover photo courtesy of Ben Fractenberg Story Monsters Ink magazine and www.StoryMonsters.com are trademarks of Story Monsters, LLC. Copyright ©2018 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 Contents may not be published in whole or in part without the express written consent of the bylined author and publisher.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.”


April 2018

In this issue 04

22

Jason Reynolds on Reading, Writing, and Whatnot

Literature: A Secret Weapon Against Bullying

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26

A Journey Through Autism

Xolo MaridueĂąa is the Next Karate Kid

14

30

Dave Eggers Inspires Young Writers to Make Their Mark

Students Hit the Dance Floor in Conga Kids Arts Program

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48

One to Watch: Eddie Leavy

Q&A with Elizabeth Dale

StoryMonsters.com April is School Library Month 36 How Does Your Garden Grow? 38 Kids Can Publish

40 Spring Reading List 44 Monsters at the Movies 46 Liv on Life

52 Book Reviews 58 Kids Corner

Tell us what you think of this issue! Email your comments to cristy@storymonsters.com.

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JASON REYNOLDS on Reading, Writing, and Whatnot by Melissa Fales photo by Linda F. Radke

For Jason Reynolds, each new book is an opportunity to forgo the expected and focus on the exceptional. The New York Times bestselling author’s stories tend to feature characters that, much like Reynolds himself, don’t always fit the standard mold. His latest book, Sunny (Simon and Schuster), is the third in his popular Track middle grade series. “Sunny is a kid who doesn’t connect to anything in his world,” says Reynolds. “It’s an exploration of what that looks like and what that feels like. It’s written in diary entries, because that was the best way for me to get his brain on the page for everyone to see.”

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The Track series follows four promising athletes—all members of a middle school track team. Sunny’s mother died while giving birth to him and while he tries to wear a smile, he carries the weight of her death on his shoulders. “My stories are mainly about black children,” says Reynolds. “I like writing about black kids who are strange, like Sunny. The idea that all black kids are cool and have cool dance moves and wear the cool clothes … those are stereotypes. There are so many other kinds of black kids and those are the kids I want to write about.” The final installment in the Track series, titled Lu, will be released in the fall. Reynolds had little interest in reading as a youth and struggled to connect with the stories fed to him in school. As a result, he didn’t develop an appreciation for the power of words until he began listening to rap music. “Rap music spoke my language,” he says. “Those lyrics were poetry, the first type I could relate to.” While attending the University of Maryland, he began reading African American poetry. “I fell in love with it,” he says. “I wanted to be the next Langston Hughes. I learned about the heroes of the Harlem Renaissance and I longed to find my space in that tradition.” After graduating, Reynolds moved to Brooklyn where he and his friend, Jason Griffin, published a poetry collection called My Name Is Jason. Mine Too. Our Story. Our Way. But it was another friend and mentor, writer Christopher Myers, who was

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instrumental in getting Reynolds to give prose a try, convincing him the world needed to hear his voice. “He encouraged me to fill the pages as I see them,” Reynolds says. “He introduced me to the idea that I had permission to be myself. I felt like I needed permission to free my own voice.” The result was Reynolds’s 2014 debut novel When I Was the Greatest. “That’s when everything changed,” says Reynolds. Other books followed, including Long Way Down, For Every One, and The Boy in the Black Suit, as well as the first two books in the Track series, Ghost and Patina. Numerous awards followed as well, including a Kirkus Award, an NAACP Image Award, and multiple Coretta Scott King honors. “I’m working hard,” says Reynolds. “I appreciate the glory, success, and fame, but what weighs heavier is the mere idea that there are young people out there who find something in my writing that they can connect with. I get to fortify their lives with these books and I’m in perpetual gratitude for that. Reynolds says books need to have an entertainment factor in order to appeal to today’s young people. “There are so many stimuli out there,” he says. “There are so many easy ways for young people to be distracted and engaged elsewhere. If books are going to compete with everything going on out there, we have to get creative. We’ve got to step it up.” However, he also believes well-written literature doesn’t have to sacrifice its integrity or authenticity in order to be entertaining. “We need to rethink the


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way we’re writing in terms of who we’re writing for,” he says. “If we’re creative enough, we should be able to engage them with the words on the page.” For Reynolds, getting young people to read is just as relevant and important today as ever. “Books are empathy machines,” he says. “Books can bring you to tears and allow you to imagine what someone else is going through. That helps you do the same thing in real life. That’s so important.” For Reynolds, reading is also the key to lifelong success. “Books are still the

“Reading and writing becomes daunting when you try to force yourself into a box that feels so small. I was a grown man before I realized I didn’t need to do that. I want to help others get to that point earlier in their lives.” greatest form of vocabulary expansion,” he says. “If you can’t use language to express yourself, you’re at a great disadvantage in life. To be able to express a good idea is just as important, if not more important, than being able to have one.” Named the 2018 National Spokesman for School Library Month, Reynolds believes school librarians are unheralded heroes on campuses. “I believe in the power of the school librarian,” he says. “They’re often the most progressive adult in the institution, and usually the most well-read.” With this power, says Reynolds, comes responsibility. “When it comes to getting kids excited about reading, schools are often only as good as the school librarian,” he says. “The books are crucial, but what really makes the

difference is the human in the librarian position, who’s there not just to usher kids to the right books, but to create a space where the kids can have a dialogue about those books.” Reynolds says school librarians are in a crucial role at a time when young people are shaking things up. “What’s exciting about right now is that we’re embarking upon an entirely new way to talk about identity, which leads to more authenticity in life and in literature,” says Reynolds. “When it comes to trying to understand the spectrum of different ways to be, today’s young people have burst it open in a good way, in a healthy way. It’s no longer about binary, about having two choices, this or that. Young people are refusing to fit into those little boxes. Instead, they’re standing up and saying ‘I’m this and that and everything in between.’ Reading and writing becomes daunting when you try to force yourself into a box that feels so small. I was a grown man before I realized I didn’t need to do that. I want to help others get to that point earlier in their lives.” Reynolds acknowledges that his own literary journey reads like fiction, perhaps even a tall tale. “To go from not reading books at all to winning awards for the books I write is amazing and a little overwhelming,” he says. “It’s a strange ending to the story. But it validates the idea that being authentic is always the way out. Being able to own yourself and all the things about you that make up the complicated human being that you are—the good, the bad, and the ugly—is the only choice.” For more information about Jason Reynolds and his books, visit jasonwritesbooks.com.

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Feature Story

A Journey Through

AUTISM by Heather Porazzo

One morning, my three-year-old looked pale and seemed less active than normal. I felt his forehead and was alarmed to find him burning up with a fever of 103 degrees. Desperate to find the cause, I questioned him.


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“Jack, honey, do your ears hurt?” He said, “Ears?” I tried again: “Do they hurt?” “Do they hurt?” I said, “How about your throat?” “How ‘bout your throat?” “Does it hurt, Jack?” “Does it hurt?” “Tell Mommy, does your belly hurt?” “Does your belly hurt?” That’s how I first discovered that my son, Jack, has autism. He spoke in what’s known as echolalia. Echolalia is the repetition of speech, but not used in a way to communicate in a meaningful way. Echolalia is also a common trait among those diagnosed with autism. That morning, Jack couldn’t tell me what was wrong. I felt confused because he only echoed everything I said. I also felt panicked and afraid because I just didn’t know how to best help him. Like so many others with autism, Jack was prevented from expressing his pain and illness by communication difficulties. These difficulties can often lead to a delay in medical treatment as well as create the need for additional medical tests to help physicians diagnose conditions. That day, Jack was diagnosed with a double ear infection. He’d never cried. He’d never tugged at his ears. He’d never tried to tell me in any way that he was in pain. He had simply suffered in silence.

rainbow to help explain autism to others. People with ASD often have challenges in the same areas— communication, social skills, a resistance to change with a strong desire for routine, repetitive behaviors, to name a few—but to varying degrees, according to where they are on the spectrum. So, those with ASD who are more challenged in an area might fall in the darker shade of a certain color while those who are less challenged in that same area would fall into a lighter shade of the same color. Just so you understand, I often explain social skills using the color red. A person with ASD who struggles being around others would be in the deeper red (maroon), whereas a person who has an easier time around others would be higher up in that same color, a brighter shade of red (scarlet). Where a person with ASD falls on the spectrum will often change for the better after receiving therapeutic services. When I explain autism to others, I tell them that every color on the rainbow represents an aspect of autism, and living with autism is like climbing that rainbow. As the mother of a child who has autism, my goal was to understand where my son was on the spectrum so I could help him advance from a darker shade of a color to a brighter, lighter shade, meaning that he would be higher functioning in that particular area.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a “developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges.” The CDC estimates that one in 68 children have ASD, with boys more often diagnosed with the condition than girls. With such a high prevalence, chances are you either have someone in your family with autism or you know someone who does.

People with ASD can also struggle with being very sensitive to and often overwhelmed by external stimuli. If a child with ASD is acting out for what looks to be no apparent reason, parents need to be vigilant about taking a second look at the situation. There is a cause to his/her reaction, likely a sensory trigger that has been overlooked. Jack would hum to himself very loudly to the point that it became distracting to others around him. What he was doing, I later learned, was tuning out all the noises around him. I observed that the louder the volume was in the room, the louder he hummed. The quieter the noises or activities around him, the less need he had to soothe himself by doing things to block out the sounds.

Autism is known as a “spectrum” disorder. The first time I heard that, I thought of a rainbow and the many shades within it. Bright red fades into orange, orange blends into yellow, yellow dissolves into green, and so on. I’ve used this image of the

Jack never said the sounds around him were too noisy. He simply hummed. He couldn’t tell anyone that story time at school was too hard for him. Instead, he ran out of the classroom and down the hall. He wasn’t a picky kid who refused to get StoryMonsters.com | April 2018 | Story Monsters Ink 11


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dressed, but instead he was bothered by the feel of the tags in his clothes, which needed to be removed. He wasn’t a child throwing a tantrum in the store; he was really a little boy struggling from sensory overload and overwhelmed beyond his ability to selfsoothe, resulting in a meltdown. Children with ASD cannot always communicate exactly what they are struggling with, but their behavior leaves clues. That’s why it’s so important for parents to remain open to other explanations so they can best help their child. If you suspect your child has autism, please talk to your pediatrician. An early diagnosis is one of the best things you can do for a child with ASD because it allows the child to be provided as soon as possible with the services he/she needs. The more you learn about autism, the better you’ll understand those aspects about your child and the sooner you’ll see the world from a whole new perspective through their eyes. As you engage with them at their level, you will notice details such as smells, lights, and textures that you previously dismissed. As you join their world and immerse yourself in their interests, you’ll smile in awe as you realize how perceptive your child is. The more you learn about autism, the more empowered you’ll be to speak on behalf of your child as their advocate. You’ll watch them struggle, but also make strides. You’ll know they’ll never reach the finish line because autism is not a race, it’s a journey. The journey is a climb through the spectrum called autism, and you will come to celebrate every shade of victory. We enrolled Jack into an early intervention preschool program. Every day on the ride home, I would smile into the rearview mirror and ask, “Jack, what did you do at school today?” And every day, Jack would not respond. Then one day, Jack said, “Yes.” He responded! We moved up to a brighter shade. His response showed me that he knew I was talking to him, and he was trying to answer. But still, I was puzzled. Did he not understand my question? Or maybe he understood my question, but he didn’t know the answer? Or did he understand the question, know the answer, but couldn’t get out the words? Every day, I continued asking Jack what he did at school. Still, he didn’t answer. Then one day, four months later, his small voice answered, “Slide.” Was this a real answer? I turned the car around, 12 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com

“My son has taught me that just because someone doesn’t say something or show something, it doesn’t mean there are no thoughts or emotions there.” drove straight back to the school, and found Jack’s teacher. I told her that he had just said, “slide.” I asked her if that meant anything. The teacher burst into tears. She said, “He spent the entire recess today going up and down the slide. Over and over. He loved it!” We hugged and cried tears of joy. We hugged Jack and praised him for using his words. That was the beginning of his communication breakthrough. He continued to climb through the shades of that color, from adversity to ability. Today, Jack is in high school. He enjoys talking about things that interest him—playing soccer, watching movies, and playing video games with friends. My son has taught me that just because someone doesn’t say something or show something, it doesn’t mean there are no thoughts or emotions there. In some cases, people with autism may not demonstrate love or concern for others in a familiar way, but that doesn’t mean they are unable to experience those feelings or that they lack a desire for closeness and relationships. One day, Jack told me that when he was little, he heard all the times I told him, “I love you.” He said he felt sad that he couldn’t say it back to me. “Even though I couldn’t show it back then, I was responding on the inside. The words were stuck inside me,” he explained. “I was saying, ‘I love you, Mommy.’ I was saying the words inside myself. Tell the other parents of autistic children who can’t talk yet that their children are talking back to them, too. Tell them their children are saying, ‘I love you.’ They are saying the words inside themselves.”

Heather Porazzo is a clinical systems analyst, soccer mom, and author of several books, including The Butterfly’s Journey. For more information, visit heatherporazzo.com.


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Dave Eggers Inspires Young Writers to Make Their Mark by Melissa Fales

Dave Eggers earnestly believes in the power of young people to make a difference in the world. It’s a conviction the award-winning author demonstrates through his commitment to 826 National, the network of tutoring centers he cofounded, and the theme of his latest book, The Lifters (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers).

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Hollows, which is an unseen force that weakens the very ground beneath their feet.”

The Lifters is set in a faded town that’s literally collapsing in on itself. It’s up to a group of kids and their special abilities to save it. “I wanted the kids to be the town’s only hope,” says Eggers. “Kids really love and yearn for responsibility and I’ve found over and over again that if you take them seriously and give them a sober task, they will invariably rise to the occasion.” Eggers says he’s been mulling the middle-grade tale for nearly a decade. It’s about 12-year-old Granite “Gran” Flowerpetal, who moves to a new town with a drastically different landscape. “He grew up on the coast, but this place is inland and very hilly,” says Eggers. “It’s a broken-down old town that’s fallen on hard times, but it has a rich history as a place where world-class carousels were made for many decades.” Eggers says he liked the idea of setting The Lifters in a bleak town that had lost hope. “The general malaise and hopelessness of the place is expressed by the actual physical collapse of their homes and institutions into the earth,” he says “It’s as if they’re being sucked in by something called The 16 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com

photo by Em-J Staples

Survival is in the hands of a secret society of young people, The Lifters, who must travel through the warren of tunnels winding beneath the town and create physical supports to keep their homes in place. The Lifters carry different kinds of handles that give them a special power. “When they stick a handle on the side of

“I believe that if you can make confident writers out of young people, then they become confident young people with empowered voices. We’ve never needed that more than we do today. We should never underestimate what young people can do.”

a hill, they create a door that they can lift up, revealing the tunnels below,” says Eggers. “Gran wants to help, but the Lifters are an exclusive club and Gran must earn his place among their ranks.”

be just right. Eggers says illustrator Aaron Renier was the perfect choice to visually convey the town he had created. “Aaron has created vast worlds on his own,” he says. “I knew he would be able to nail this one very quickly.”

While writing The Lifters, Eggers tried to convey a story that would have intrigued him as a boy. “I was not an avid reader as a kid,” he says. “I read what I had to for class and pretty much nothing else.” Eggers says he still has the few books he did enjoy, mostly books about spaceships and giants and dragons. “I remember looking at them over and over again, mostly for the pictures,” he admits, one of the reasons the illustrations for The Lifters had to

Eggers grew up in Chicago and attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. During college, he lost both of his parents to cancer within the span of one year. He wrote a memoir about the experience, and his subsequent efforts to raise his younger brother. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius became a bestseller and a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Eggers has written many books since, including Heroes of the Frontier, The Circle,


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and A Hologram for the King, and he founded McSweeney’s, an independent San Francisco publishing company. In 2002, he joined with children’s educator Nínive Calegari to start a non-profit tutoring and creative writing center for underprivileged children in San Francisco. They called it 826 Valencia, the address of the site. “We wanted a name that didn’t have a stigma attached,” says Eggers. “The last thing we wanted was a name that would label it, ‘That place for kids who need extra help.’” Sixteen years later, there are a network of tutoring centers operating under what’s become the 826 National organization (826National.org), with seven chapters in the U.S. and others based on the 826 Valencia model in operation around the globe. There’s even 826 Digital, an online resource for those who don’t live near an national site.

The 826 National centers utilize volunteers to work with the children on homework as well as specialized writing projects. “We wanted to figure out a way to use the limitless energy of the writing community to provide help in the public schools, especially for English Language Learners,” Eggers says. “When a young person is not confident as a writer, it affects their entire school experience.” Eggers believes the simplicity of the program is the key to its success. “It’s a calm place where caring adults pay attention to and respect the children’s ideas,” he says. “I’ve found again and again that kids will always choose a listening adult to anything else, including any type of electronic screen.” Each 826 National center exists behind a storefront with a goofy moniker, such as The Greater Boston Bigfoot Institute, or The Brooklyn Superhero Supply

Company. “We’re trying to keep it weird,” says Eggers. “We want to promote the idea that offbeat ideas, imagination, and creativity are encouraged here.” Eggers says he’s encouraged by the fact that many of the thousands of students who participate in the 826 National program go on to thrive as writers. “Some of my former students are writing books now,” he says. “I believe that if you can make confident writers out of young people, then they become confident young people with empowered voices. We’ve never needed that more than we do today. We should never underestimate what young people can do.” For more information about Dave Eggers, visit daveeggers.net.

photos courtesy of 826 National

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One to Watch:

Eddie Leavy by Melissa Fales

The only prerequisite for watching NBC’s new show, A.P. Bio, is an appreciation for comedy. It’s about a disheartened former Harvard professor who reluctantly accepts a position at a high school in Toledo, but instead of teaching the honor students in his charge, he uses them and their smarts in his plan to exact revenge on a rival. Actor Eddie Leavy plays Anthony Lewis, one of the students who quickly realizes he’s in for a very different kind of learning experience. “It’s the ideal project to be a part of,” Leavy says. “The cast is great. And to have the chance to work on a project with major comedy players behind it, like Lorne Michaels, Seth Meyers, and Michael Patrick O’Brien is amazing. You don’t pass up an opportunity like that.”

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“I think that the high school experience is such an important time in people’s lives. You’re at such a challenging age. It’s something that everyone can relate to and I think that makes it an amazing vehicle to use for storytelling.” photo by Julia Peltier


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photo courtesy NBCUniversal

Leavy says he can relate to his character’s scholastic ambitions. “Like Anthony, I was very academically driven in high school,” he says. “I took several A.P. classes, but never biology. I was never a science person so that would have been too daunting for me. But Anthony’s ready to go. He’s very concerned about keeping his grades up and he’s really excited to be taking A.P. biology.” Unfortunately for Anthony, his teacher is Jack Griffin (played by Glenn Howerton of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) who’s decidedly un-inclined to teach A.P. biology or anything else. Leavy says he enjoys providing Anthony’s responses to Griffin’s indecorous behavior. “Anthony is not amused by any of Jack’s antics,” he says. “Unlike some of the other kids in the class, he doesn’t suck up to Jack. He doesn’t think what Jack is doing is cute or funny. He’s thinking, Who is this idiot messing with my future?” According to Leavy, playing Anthony gives him a chance to stand up to a teacher in a way he never would have in high school. “Anthony is quite the spitfire,” says Leavy. “He’s not afraid to throw some sass Jack’s way. That’s very unlike the way I was in 20 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com

high school. I was a real rule-follower and kind of a teacher’s pet.” While Anthony and Griffin don’t see eye to eye about what’s going on in the classroom, Leavy hints that the two will warm up to each other over time. “Their rapport, as it evolves, is quite funny,” he says. Leavy says working with such a talented cast and crew, including Patton Oswalt as Principal Durbin, has been a privilege. “We had such an amazing time on set,” he says. “It’s a special group of people and we got along so well. We had fun. I hope that comes across when people tune in and see the show.” Leavy credits the resources within his hometown of Shelton, Connecticut with helping him to develop an interest in the arts and the opportunity to hone his talent. “I really lucked out, he says. “I attended public schools that put money and time into the arts. I got to be involved in an absolutely amazing drama program. I know that in so many other public schools, funding for the arts is often the first thing to go, so I certainly don’t take it for granted. It instilled in me an appreciation of the arts and gave me the foundation to pursue this crazy career.”


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Additionally, Leavy thanks his parents for encouraging his burgeoning interest in acting, allowing him to participate in community theatre and enrolling him in drama camp starting in third grade. “Prior to that, I had tried every sport you can think of,” he says. “I tried baseball, soccer, and swimming, but nothing stuck. Then I went to arts camp and that changed the game for me. That’s when I caught the bug.”

One of the reasons Leavy believes A.P. Bio will resonate with so many people is that, for better or for worse, people tend to have strong feelings about their own high school years. “I think that the high school experience is such an important time in people’s lives,” he says. “You’re at such a challenging age. There’s so much going on. It’s something that everyone can relate to and I think that makes it an amazing vehicle to use for storytelling.”

By the time Leavy was in high school, he knew he wanted to be an actor, but was reluctant to commit to acting as a career. “At first, I convinced myself that it was something I could just do during the summer as a hobby,” he says. “I was afraid to dream big enough to see myself fully as an actor. But now that I’m here and working professionally, it’s a dream come true.” Before A.P. Bio, Leavy appeared in The Neighbors, Bella and the Bulldogs, and Those Who Can’t.

Leavy says he hopes viewers will welcome the opportunity to make a weekly visit to Whitlock High School. “Come escape into our little corner of Toledo, Ohio and just laugh with us for half an hour a week,” he says. “When it feels as though the whole world is messed up, take 30 minutes to be immersed in our world and just laugh.” Episodes of A.P. Bio are also available for viewing on the NBC app and on Hulu.

Out of this world fun for early readers.

The Jupiter Twins The newest Funny Bone Books: First Chapters featuring twins and best friends Trudy and Tina. Each book is 3 to 5 chapters, 850 to 1,200 words, with lively full-color illustrations throughout. First Chapters are a fun and easy transition to chapter books for ages 5 to 7. Find at your favorite bookstore or library. Each book: $4.99 softcover $19.99 hardcover

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Literature:

A Secret Weapon Against Bullying by Stacy Roberts

Do you remember cheering on The Little Engine That Could as it achieved a near impossible feat of pulling the long train over the mountain? I remember sitting with my legs in “criss-cross applesauce” in my elementary school library and almost biting my nails in anticipation, wondering if that little engine would make it. Many children worldwide have screamed, “I think I can!” as they read along with the story of a little engine believing that anything was possible. The lessons of positive thinking and hard work were instilled at a young age and followed millions into adulthood.

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, children take their first critical steps toward learning to read and write very early in life. Reading is one of the ways young children will acquire a basic understanding of the concepts of life. Literature has been found to be one of the most creative and effective methods to teach children valuable lessons, especially with the subject of bullying. Most educators and parents would agree that bullying has become an increasing issue, and being able to understand and interact with others who are different is a crucial seed to plant early in life. Children are bound to encounter people of diverse backgrounds and cultures and unfortunately, bullying and ignorance accompany this at times. Curriculum Connections advises that children’s literature can be an effective tool for addressing 22 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com

the growing concerns about physical, verbal, and relational bullying in schools. Though bullying has been traditionally dismissed by some as “just a part of growing up,” most educators today understand that it is a pervasive problem with damaging effects on all members of the school and community. A story is a critical tool that can help address the different types of bullying to include physical, verbal, and mental. Literature is a secret weapon that authors, educators, and parents can use as a device to inadvertently assist in educating and coaching children to respect others along with sympathizing and empathizing. Being able to understand others and build healthy relationships can be taught with each word in a children’s book. Not only do the stories make a positive impact, but healthy and meaningful


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conversations can be facilitated to help young people understand the impact of bullying from the point of view of the bully or the victim. Many have read or heard a story in which they can identify with a character. I personally could identify with almost every character in The Baby-Sitters Club, which was one of my favorite series to read as a preteen. The characters in literature can help children understand that they’re not alone. It can help convey their emotions, empathize with others, and develop realistic and doable solutions to combat bullying. Not only is reading stories beneficial to anti-bullying, but having children write their own has been found to be very helpful. You find that some children will be more likely to put words on paper before they ever speak them. Writing is not only therapeutic, but helps young people communicate sensitive issues that they might otherwise remain silent about. By projecting stories onto characters instead of oneself, children may find that it is easier to discuss and handle their issues. In addition, parents and educators may discover bullying concerns that they might not have known otherwise. Before choosing anti-bullying literature for your student or child, here are a few questions to ask: »»What problem are we trying to solve? »»Who are we trying to reach?

»»What is age-appropriate for who we’re trying to reach? »»What are some hurdles we’ll have to overcome?

»»What are the positive outcomes of using literature to teach children about bullying? »»How will our attitudes towards bullying impact using literature to address it? By first understanding the answers to these questions, we can effectively address the bullying issues that are impacting the young people we work with. After choosing the literature, be creative with follow-up activities and be open to ideas. Incorporate art, role play, or other relatable activities. Understand that each child will learn differently, so it is important to think outside the box. Most importantly, literature is extremely fun so make sure you’re having a great time using it to combat bullying.

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“Being able to understand others and build healthy relationships can be taught with each word in a children’s book. Not only do the stories make a positive impact, but healthy and meaningful conversations can be facilitated to help young people understand the impact of bullying from the point of view of the bully or the victim.”

The following books can be used to work with children about anti-bullying: The Name Jar (grades Pre K–1); Say Something (grades 2–4); Nothing Wrong with a Three-Legged Dog (grades 3–5); The Revealers (grades 6–8); and The Skin I’m In (grades 8 & up). When choosing literature, be sure to choose stories with a variety of storylines and characters. The stereotypical “nerd vs. jock” story is not always relevant to the type of bullying a child is experiencing. To relate to everyone, it is important that a variety of themes are used. Literature makes a big difference in the lives of many people from different backgrounds and cultures every day. It has a unique way of speaking to us and when effectively used, children will be able to see themselves in the words on the pages. Those are the most valuable lessons they will learn.

Stacy Roberts has had a love for reading and writing stories since an early age. She is the author of Boomer, Be Nice! and Roscoe’s Rescue.


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Xolo Maridueña is the Next Karate Kid by Melissa Fales photo by Art Streiber

It’s a Karate Kid sequel 34 years in the making. Cobra Kai is a new YouTube Red series reuniting 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament rivals Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) in present-day Los Angeles, where Johnny has reopened the karate dojo where he once trained. Sixteen-year-old actor Xolo Maridueña plays Johnny’s promising student, Miguel Diaz. “It’s incredibly weird, in a good way, to go from watching Ralph and Billy acting in The Karate Kid to having lunch with them,” says Maridueña. “Working with them on Cobra Kai has been the most surreal thing.”


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Maridueña says he can relate to the issues his character faces. “Miguel and I are the same age,” he says. “He’s a young adult Latino. I know what it’s like having to figure out where you fit in and trying to find a group of friends. He has a single mother, he lives in poverty, and he has to struggle every day to keep up with his social life and his family life. I’ve experienced these things on some level or another. I think it all combines to make the character of Miguel come off more authentically.” Miguel’s troubles are compounded by being bullied, but things begin to improve when he meets Johnny and is introduced to karate. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Miguel’s plot line somewhat echoes Daniel’s story in The Karate Kid. “When I first heard that they were taking such an iconic movie from the ’80s and making into a TV show, I thought it was interesting,” Maridueña says. “At first, I had no clue that Ralph and Johnny were tied to it at all. When I found out they were, it brought a whole new level of seriousness to the project and interest on my part. The whole cast has been great. I’ve learned so much. This has been an experience like no other.” Maridueña says he wasn’t sure what to expect from Macchio and Zabka. “The stereotype is the bigger you get, the more cocky you are,” he says. “They’re some of the 28 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com

biggest guys from the ’80s, they’re super immensely talented, and yet they’re humble and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.” Maridueña says he works most closely with Zabka, who’s become a true mentor to him. “I feel like he’s there for me,” he says. “Not just advice about the role or the TV show, but just tips on life and how to handle certain situations. And different karate moves, too.” Having taken karate lessons as a young boy, Maridueña says he thought he’d be able to skate

photo by Tim Schaeffer at Cellar Door. grooming by Joseph Adivari

In Cobra Kai, Miguel has just moved and is having some trouble adjusting to his new school. “He’s a high school student really trying to find himself,” says Maridueña. “He struggles a bit trying to see where he fits in and who he gets along with and where he stands. That’s basically every high school kid’s experience.”


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“Miguel and I are the same age. He’s a young adult Latino. I know what it’s like having to figure out where you fit in and trying to find a group of friends. He has a single mother, he lives in poverty, and he has to struggle every day to keep up with his social life and his family life.” through the martial arts aspect of Cobra Kai. “I went into the audition thinking, I’ve done karate before so this will be a breeze,” he recalls. “I was mistaken. I definitely got a big slap in the face on the first day of training. Training doing kicks and different flips and punches is so much harder at 16. I’m doing much more complex moves than I did at age 6 or 7. It definitely doesn’t come easy.” Relearning karate might not come easy to Maridueña, but acting certainly does. He landed the very first role he ever auditioned for, a Sears commercial, and he’s been acting ever since. His first audition for a TV show was also successful when he was chosen to portray Victor Braverman on the NBC hit Parenthood. “I had super long hair at the time,” Maridueña says. “They told me, ‘If you’re willing to cut your hair, we’d like to offer you the role,’” he says. “I was like, ‘Whatever! Shave it all off! I don’t care.’”

college, etc. Being able to have such close proximity to the people who are working the jobs I want to have someday is great.” Above all, he is focused on getting a good education. “You never know,” he says. “I might never book a role again. That’s why I’m taking all the A.P. classes I can and studying hard so I will score well on the SATs. I love acting, but I think widening my knowledge is the best thing I can do.” Find Xolo Maridueña on Instagram and Twitter @Xolo_Mariduena.

Maridueña has had many other guest-starring roles and earned numerous awards for his work. In 2012, he was named one of the 50 Brightest Stars under age 25 by Latina magazine. He says the best advice he can give to hopeful actors is to not take rejection personally. “The biggest tip I can give anyone is that you’re going to hear “No” a million more times than you’ll hear “Yes,” he says. “Don’t overthink it.” For Maridueña, the best part of acting is getting to meet new people and learning more about the entertainment industry as a whole. “I aspire to be a screenwriter, or to go behind the camera and direct,” he says. “I feel so fortunate being able to start in this business at such a young age because I’m always meeting people who are doing what I want to do. And most of them are very helpful and willing to answer the questions I like to ask about how they got where they are, where they went to StoryMonsters.com | April 2018 | Story Monsters Ink 29


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Students

Hit the Dance Floor in Conga Kids Arts Program by Melissa Fales

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Step by step, over 5,000 fifth-grade students are learning a variety of ballroom dances during the 2017-2018 school year through Los Angeles non-profit organization Conga Kids. The Conga Kids program, presented twice a week for 10 weeks during physical education class, teaches students in underserved school districts not only how to Merengue, Tango, Swing, Salsa, and Foxtrot, but also about teamwork, respect, discipline, leadership, and confidence. “It’s more than an arts program,” says Conga Kids founder Brad Gluckstein. “They’re taking away valuable life skills that will serve them well during their high school years and beyond.”

Twenty years ago, Gluckstein founded the famed Conga Room, located in the L.A. Live complex in downtown Los Angeles. A mecca for those who appreciate live Latin music, the Conga Room was born out of its unlikely founder’s love for dance. “I walked into a country-western bar when I was 30 and they were giving out Salsa lessons,” says Gluckstein. Instantly smitten, his love for Latin dance led him to travel to faraway places, studying the Merengue in the Dominican Republic and learning to Salsa in Cuba. “Twenty years later, I own an esteemed Latin nightclub,” he says. “It’s a pretty incredible story for a Jewish kid from the West Side.” Gluckstein was delighted when his daughter participated in a ballroom dance program through her school several years ago. Perhaps having inherited some of her artistic talent from her father, she was selected to represent her school at a regional dance competition. “Watching her dance was just a magical moment for me,” says Gluckstein. “It was very special.” He began serving on the organization’s board, but soon realized there was a problem. “The program was doing great things,” says Gluckstein. “The trouble was that it wasn’t sustainable.” As the Conga Room sizzled with success, Gluckstein, a third-generation Angeleno, had been feeling compelled to do something to give back to the community, particularly something

for children. He realized that refining the dance program and bringing it into schools in nearby underprivileged communities was the opportunity he’d been waiting for. He legally changed the name of the program to Conga Kids. He joined forces with New York transplant Daniel Ponickly, a protégé of noted ballroom dance instructor Pierre Dulaine, and creator of the classroom dance program, Ballroom Madness. “When Daniel and I aligned, it was a perfect match,” says Gluckstein. “I brought the development and corporate capacity. He brought program and the ability to bring the curriculum to the schools. I don’t think there are too many other people out there I could have found who would have been such a suitable partner.” The pair’s hard work paid off. “We created a more dynamic board and brought in some partnerships,” says Gluckstein. “When we made the conversion in August of 2016, we had 600 kids. Today we have 6,000. That’s a pretty dynamic shift in less than two years. And we’re at 6,000 because we chose not to be at more. We can’t handle more critical mass right now.” According to Gluckstein, Conga Kids would consider expanding into other communities outside of Los Angeles County, but only under the right conditions. “Right now, we can drive to any school,” he says. “It would have to be a significant pivot StoryMonsters.com | April 2018 | Story Monsters Ink 31


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in terms of having enough students participating and enough revenue. It would have to be robust enough.” A non-profit organization, Conga Kids happily accepts donations towards its mission. “We’re always looking for introductions to significant donors, whether that may be individual, corporations, or foundations,” Gluckstein says. When Conga Kids works with a school, the entire fifth grade participates in the program. “There’s a curriculum,” says Gluckstein. “Taught by experienced teaching artists, students learn specific things about the dances and the culture.” When the 10-week course is up, the students have a ceremony where they dress up and demonstrate the dances they’ve learned. As Gluckstein’s daughter once was, select groups of dancers are invited to represent their schools in a regional competition. This year, the competition will take place on the Microsoft Plaza at L.A. Live. “The kids are excited to be

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performing where the Lakers and the Clippers play,” Gluckstein says. In a limited number of school districts, there is an option for the students to continue the Conga Kids program for an additional 10 weeks once they’re in Grade 6. “It offers more geography and history,” says Gluckstein. “It’s a deeper dive. Most of these kids don’t know where the Dominican Republic is, let alone that it’s where the Merengue came from. We want to give them another level of education about the dances they’re learning.” Conga Kids also has an academic partnership with UCLA. “The partnership is focused on research,” says Gluckstein. “We have a graduate student who is studying a particular school in South L.A., Horace Mann Middle School. It’s severely underserved.” Gluckstein says he believes Conga Kids can help students at the school improve their social,


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academic, and emotional well-being. “There are transformative things happening with Conga Kids that lead to positive changes,” he says. “We’ll use the results of the research study to make a more dynamic program.” By the end of next year, Gluckstein estimates that the program will have served 15,000 to 20,000 children and will expand into more school districts. “Because of the demographics in southern California, the students are predominantly Hispanic and African-American children from economically disadvantaged areas,” he says, adding that many are immigrants or children of recent immigrants who are learning to speak English. Gluckstein says he’s excited and inspired when he sees children thrive with the program. “They’re happy,” he says. “Dancing improves their emotional well-being. The idea of collaboration and teamwork that comes from partnership dance is new for these children. They’re gaining social skills. They’re learning how to shake hands. They’re learning these important keys to social interactions. We’re building an important cultural and community connection.”

“Dancing improves their emotional well-being. The idea of collaboration and teamwork that comes from partnership dance is new for these children. They’re gaining social skills. They’re learning how to shake hands. They’re learning these important keys to social interactions. We’re building an important cultural and community connection.”

In today’s technology-driven culture, Gluckstein believes these connections are more important than ever. “I have three kids,” he says. “I’m watching them grow up in a world of so many options in terms of tablets, cell phones, and video games. There’s very little time to explore the emotional and cultural footprints that are found in the arts. It’s critically overlooked. That’s why I’m proud to say Conga Kids is making a difference in how these kids view the arts, their communities, and themselves.” For more information about Conga Kids, visit congakids.com.

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

GARDEN ABC’s by Rita Campbell

Children can learn so much from gardening. It helps them connect with nature, their environment, and most importantly, the source of their food. Gardens are places for kids to build up their confidence while having fun. As I have said many times, children can learn respect for their environment while learning new skills and how to care for their plants. Growing what they eat will teach them to make better choices and be more connected to their food. Using garden themes, as I have discussed before, is a great way to get children involved with gardening. Themed gardens can inspire a child’s imagination and be a place to discover and explore. It can be a place for them to relax and learn to care for their own plants. With a little imagination, gardening can make anything possible and help children develop criticalthinking skills necessary to succeed in life. Storybook gardens, butterfly gardens, and pizza gardens are all good examples of theme gardens. April is a prime month for starting a vegetable/ flower garden. But how could we help children learn to garden and learn the alphabet at the same time? By designing a garden space using the letters of the alphabet! Coming up with plants for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet is a bit ambitious and would 36 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com

require a large amount of space for all the plants. So it might be more practical to let your child choose from a list of 26 plants that match the alphabet letters. For best results, make sure the plants that your child chooses share the same or similar growing conditions. You could personalize this alphabet garden even more by choosing plants whose names start with the letters of your child’s first name. Children like something that they can call their very own, so when this garden is created, have them make a sign to post that says “Jane’s Garden” or the appropriate name. Have them make plant labels that say “Henry’s beans” or “Mary’s corn.” They will love the idea of owning their very own garden. If you don’t have a lot of space, another version of an alphabet garden would be to create a garden in the shape of the first letter of their first name. You could plant only plants in that space that begin with the initial of the first name. Or you could grow various plants that identify many letters of the alphabet. Of course you would need to make sure the plants you choose all have similar growing conditions and can be grown in the same season.


How Does Your Garden Grow?

Another thing that can be done in the garden to help your child identify letters of the alphabet is to have them make their own plant labels. Spelling skills could be practiced when spelling the names of the plants. They could also create letters as markers that could be painted or decorated. Stepping stones decorated with letters could be used along pathways in the garden. Your children can learn their ABC’s through many types of these artistic accessories and simple art projects. Let them use their imagination to create additions to their garden. Once again, a garden journal can be used and this time, your journal could be done in alphabetical order. Have your child name a page for each plant in the alphabet and make some observations and drawings as their garden grows. There are a number of ways to design an alphabet garden and a number of children’s books that coincide with an alphabet garden theme. Now you can use your imagination to come up with some unique designs of your own.

Plant of the Month Clematis is easy to grow with a long season of bloom and some of the plant kingdom’s most beautiful flowers. Clematis vines always want their roots shaded, and the plant growing up into full sun. Just be sure your vine grows into plenty of sunlight, which promotes heavy flowering. Soil is important. Clematis do best in neutral or slightly alkaline soils, but they are somewhat adaptable. If you have very acid soil, try to add some calcium when you plant. Also, be sure to dig the hole deep so you’ll have this plant in place for decades to come.

Rita Campbell is a master gardener. The Moonbeam Award-winning author has combined her love of gardening and teaching to create an educational series of books for children ... with a touch of magic. spritealights.com

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Kids Can Publish!

My Favorite Teacher... M rs . H old m a n n by Shel by Lang er, grade 11

Mrs. family, genus, species.” If I walked into “Domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, what is this ster, seme middle of second Holdmann’s 10th grade biology class in the and molecules from a merely 5’7” sis, meio I would hear. Learning about mitosis, inating. motherly woman is nothing short of fasc mber that metaphase came before The kids (including me) who couldn’t reme properly were never forgotten, faile d, or telophase or how to focus a microsco pe to make those kids succeed. This inclu ded left behind. Mrs. Holdmann foun d ways tice homework. Walking into this class right meeting after class or giving extra prac fresh air when I was being drowned before eighth hour was like coming up for face down the extensive hallway made by math, English, and history. Seeing her ever yone’s day better. I and not even her class made it better. As One spring afternoon, I had a bad day, I lab tables spread around the perimeter, was leaving the cinderblock room, with ?” I never have had a teacher ask me heard her say something. “Shelby? You okay that question before. ?” She repeated herself. “Shelby? You okay I turned around and responde d, “What?” e day around and made me realize how That simple conversation turned my whol much she care d. Holdmann’s class was being assigned a One of my favorite memories from Mrs. ined a biology baby. My “husband” and I comb “husband” or “wife” and slowly creating had I d, y baby. When the project ende our genes and ende d up with a pretty funk nd and myself. This experience in her learned so much about my family backgrou Mrs. Holdmann knew how to make the class class will stay with me for a long time. y, or not telling us to put our phones awa laugh, with her attempts at “teen slang,” she was back in high scho ol. but telling us to “stop Snapchatting” like ening in my life. When I broke my ankle, I love d how she care d about events happ a how it happened, she said with a bit of I walked into her class. After explaining smirk, “Only you, Shelby.” ect is the only teacher I have had for a subj I can honestly say that Mrs. Holdmann a class I absolutely love d. I absolutely loathed who turned it into

Hey Kids! Visit www.StoryMonsters.com and click on “Kids Can Publish” for instructions on how to submit your work! 38 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com


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READING

LIST Change the World Before Bedtime

by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, Karen Good

Once upon a time, fate and magic conspired to introduce three big dreamers: Mark, Karen, and Josh. Together through simple, engaging rhyme and stunning illustrations, they crafted an inspirational tale about how the little things in life—a smile, a kind word, a simple deed—can help change the world. Children will read about everything from cleaning up the Earth to helping the sick. Even an ordinary kid can be a superhero before bedtime!

Sonya Dor: Child Extraordinaire & Dreamer Galore by Saul Stoogenke

There are no limits to what you can dream! Let Sonya Dor take you along for a limitless adventure, discovering her wild and crazy potential. Follow her as she explores a plethora of wacky jobs, like Nacho Cheese Sprayer and Lima Bean Inspector, until she awakens the next morning, realizing that the best job she can have is the job of being herself. Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Benny the Dolphin by Luisa Avila

Benny is a cheerful and friendly dolphin. He spends most of his days exploring the waters around Florida and having fun with his friends. But on this particular day, he wakes up and can’t seem to find his friends anywhere. Join Benny and his friends on a light and breezy day of ocean fun through these colorful illustrations. Includes coloring page and talking points that cover friendship, sharing, and ocean facts. Ages 4-6.

Bubby’s Puddle Pond: A Tortuga’s Tale of the Desert by Carol Hageman

Children who learn how to rely on friends and themselves when they’re young grow up to be happier adults. Bubby’s Puddle Pond tells how Bubby, a tortoise in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, moves outside his solitary shoebox into an unfamiliar world, making friends who band together for safety, comfort, and companionship. Along the way, Bubby realizes that just as he can trust his friends, he can trust himself, too.

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Spring Reading List

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

Gracie Lou

by Larissa Juliano

Gracie Lou is bored. And lonely. What is a little girl to do when there’s nowhere to go and no one to play with? Wish upon a star! As Gracie Lou travels through the starry sky to magical lands, she experiences exciting and whimsical adventures that ignite all her five senses. Readers will delight in the vivacity of Gracie Lou’s imagination (or is it?) as they anticipate where the curly-haired cutie will head to next.

Cody the Pony Goes to Pony Club by Michelle Path

Mimi has a new pony called Cody. He is broken in and now they are about to embark on their learning journey together, starting with a day at Pony Club! This is the second book in the Cody the Pony series and is based on the author’s own pony. Beautifully illustrated by the talented team at Bookwood Illustrators, it would make a perfect gift for a child who loves animals, especially horses. Visit michellepath.com.au. Available from Amazon.com.

The Butterfly’s Journey by Heather Porazzo

The Butterfly’s Journey is an interactive story that explains Autism Spectrum Disorder in an easy-tounderstand manner while highlighting some of the common traits and challenges for those with autism. Children will enjoy a shape/definition matching game and finding the hidden butterfly character on every page while they learn about Baby Butterfly’s journey through the rainbow of challenges to a happy life where he is embraced and accepted into the community of butterflies. heatherporazzo.com

Grandpa? I Wanted to Ask… by Alana Dorrell

Grandpa? I Wanted to Ask… vividly illustrates the admiration that little Alana has for her quiet but intriguing grandpa. When Alana takes a break from playing on the farm with her sisters to help her grandpa out with chores, she learns to further appreciate all the little details that make him who he is. In a story that captures the warmth and importance of family connections, little ones and their caretakers will appreciate the bond that Alana and her grandpa share.

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Spring Reading List

I Am Sheriauna

by Sherylee Honeyghan

Sheriauna is a vibrant, smart, funny little girl with tons of personality! She has a unique story to share with the world and she loves to help others see differences as strengths. Learn about one little girl’s experience with being different and how we can all be kind to each other, while creating a more inclusive world for everybody. www.iamsheriauna.ca

Have You Seen My Egg? by Andrew Fairchild

Red the rooster wakes from a dream that he has often and believes to be true, but roosters don’t have eggs! Convinced that he does, Red goes on a quest to find his egg. This simple tale encourages children to follow their heart and dreams no matter how unreal they may seem. It is an ideal book for a parents to read to their children and explain the true meaning of the story.

Timmy Teacup Transforms by Barbara Daniels

A magical journey to learning to love yourself just the way you are! A five-star review picture book for ages 3-8. Timmy Teacup wants to be a big, strong, hot chocolate mug. One day, he gets his wish! He goes on exciting adventures, but he begins to realize this isn’t what he wants after all. In this delightful story, Timmy learns to appreciate his family, his home, and most of all—himself. timmyteacup.com. Available on Amazon.com.

The Birthright Chronicles: The Wizard’s Tower by Peter Last

Six months after the defeat of Molkekk’s dwarf army, Senndra’s life has returned to normal. Her dragon is nearly full-grown and her relationship with Timothy is blossoming. Magessa struggles to fend off the invasion, though, with Molkekk’s spies. Can they stand against the fury of the wizard when the overwhelming power of his might is brought to bear? Guardian of Magessa ISBN# 978-1934610886; The Wizard’s Tower ISBN# 978-1934610893; The Dragon Warrior ISBN# 9781934610909. Available on Amazon.com.

Give Me the Red Cup: Knowing Joy in Autism by Susan Moore Vosseler

Through heartfelt reflections, Give Me the Red Cup transforms from a teaching tool to a source of inspiration. Susan Moore Vosseler shares ideas, challenges, opportunities, laughter, and tears opening the fundamental values within to reveal a deep knowledge of joy in autism. Know your joy! “I love that it has pages to record what is happening. Highly recommend this for any parent who needs a reminder they are doing a good job!” - Parent review (Teachers, too!)

Click on the book cover to purchase any of the above titles. To advertise your book in our Reading list, contact Cristy Bertini at cristy@storymonsters.com for rate information.

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Award-winning multicultural children’s books I See the Sun in . . .

. . . China ISBN: 978-0981872056 English/Mandarin Chinese

. . . Nepal ISBN: 978-1935874270 English/Nepalese (Devanagari) . . . Russia ISBN: 978-1935874089 English/Russian . . . Afghanistan ISBN: 978-0981872087 English/Dari (Afghan Farsi) . . . Myanmar/Burma ISBN: 978-1935874201 English/Burmese . . . Mexico ISBN: 978-1935874140 English/Spanish . . . Turkey ISBN: 978-1935874348 English/Turkish

Coming in 2018

I See the Sun in the USA • I See the Sun in India

Softcover • Price: $12.95 For ages 5 and up Available wherever books are sold.

www.satyahouse.com

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Monsters at the Movies

A Wrinkle in Time Reviewed by Nick Spake

GRADE: B Published in 1962, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is a book many have deemed unfilmable. Disney previously tackled the source material in 2003 with a made-for-television movie that was poorly received by virtually everyone, including L’Engle herself. If L’Engle were alive today, it’s hard to say how she would’ve responded to Disney’s latest interpretation of her novel. For my money, though, director Ava DuVernay has delivered a well-produced fantasy with stateof-the-art visuals and an all-star cast. The film isn’t without problems and probably won’t be remembered as a perennial classic years from now. For the time being, however, it’ll do just fine. The ensemble here is not only diverse, but each performer is also tailor-made for their role. Newcomer Storm Reid plays Meg Murry, a bright young girl who has been withdrawn from the world ever since her father (Chris Pine) mysteriously disappeared. She remains close with her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and adoptive brother Charles Wallace, played by the scene-stealing Deric McCabe. The siblings come into contact with three astral travelers named Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) who hold the key to finding their father. Along with a classmate named Calvin (Levi Miller), Meg and Charles Wallace set out on a journey across the universe in order to reunite 44 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com

their family. Along the way, they come across Zach Galifianakis as a Happy Medium being, Michael Peña as a mysterious puppet with red eyes, and an evil entity that can bring out the worst in people. DuVernay isn’t known for making movies heavy on special effects, her previous efforts being the acclaimed Selma and 13th. The art direction, costumes, cinematography, and computer-generated imagery all dazzle here, however. Some landscapes call James Cameron’s Avatar or the firebird suite sequence from Fantasia 2000 to mind. Others earn comparison to the likes of Doctor Strange or Inception. Imagine looking into a kaleidoscope that somehow manages to fit a


Monsters at the Movies

whole world inside. A Wrinkle in Time isn’t all style over substance, though, as it also conveys meaningful themes about family, being yourself, and learning to accept your own faults. There are times in the film where we see potential for a modern masterpiece on par with The Wizard of Oz, The NeverEnding Story, or even 2001: A Space Odyssey. What holds it back is the screenplay, which was actually crafted by two very talented writers, Jennifer Lee of Frozen and Jeff Stockwell of Bridge to Terabithia. Their approach to the story is a bit too convoluted, however, and some of the wordier moments can take away from the incredible atmosphere DuVernay has established. The dialog in particular is a little too self-important and precocious at times. The kids don’t really talk like kids, but instead sound more like adults trying to write for kids. The movie might have benefited if the screenwriting job had been handed over to the folks behind Stranger Things or Stephen King’s It. A studio like Warner Bros.

also likely would’ve allowed the film to have more of an edge and to be a little less on the nose with its message. Being a Disney production, though, we’re still given a film that’s pleasant on the eyes, has its heart in the right place, and never fails to trigger the imagination. Even if the dialogue doesn’t always feel natural, the kid actors do a great job at selling it, particularly Reid and McCabe. For all the things that could’ve been tweaked, the good stuff makes the end product worthy of your time.

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.

StoryMonsters.com | April 2018 | Story Monsters Ink 45


Water is one of Earth’s most important resources. Humans, fish, plants, and other living things cannot survive without water. Without water, our planet would not look, feel, or exist the way we know it. We are so lucky to be able to have water. A world without water would be blank, dry, and lifeless. Everyday there are small efforts we can make to reduce our water use so that our world can thrive. One of the places water is used most often by humans is the bathroom. Here are my favorite ways to reduce how much water you use in the bathroom: When waiting for the shower/bath water to get hot or cold, place a bucket of water under the faucet/shower head to catch that water. You can use that water later for cleaning dishes, watering plants, brushing your teeth, etc. You can also purchase a Low-Flow showerhead as well as Low-Flow faucet heads to further reduce the amount of water that comes out but doesn’t disrupt the pressure. This significantly reduces your household water consumption without a noticeable difference to your shower or faucet. Another way to reduce water use is to not flush the toilet every time you use it. I know this may sound gross but leaving a number 1 in the toilet will not harm anyone … just close the lid! Earth has been good to us. Let’s repay it by doing whatever is in our power to help preserve it and our water resources. Make your list today!

Olivia Amiri 11-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 grown-ups of the simple joys in life. livonlife.com 46 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com

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EARTH DAY APRIL 22

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by Olivia Amiri

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Help the Planet and Conserve Water!

CLE ECY

Liv on Life

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

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.

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.

StoryMonsters.com | April 2018 | Story Monsters Ink 47


Q&A

Q&A with

Elizabeth Dale by Julianne Black

Have you ever wanted to ask a writer, “How did you come up with that?” I had the wonderful opportunity to touch base with Elizabeth Dale, a powerhouse author based in rural West Sussex, United Kingdom, and get some incredible insight into her process, which includes the wild worlds of submissions, rejections, hamsters, and … thinking.

Q: On your SCBWI profile, it mentions that you have 74 children’s books either published or about to be published. Is that count up to date? Can you give a rough idea of how many rejection letters it must take to land that many green-light projects? And how do you cope with rejection?

something out, as then it’s far easier to pick myself up after a rejection. And I always remind myself that rejection is an opportunity for resubmission!

A: Actually, the number has just gone down by two! One publisher has just told me they are having to cut back on their publishing schedule and cannot do further picture books. And I have decided not to accept a contract for another picture book while other publishers have the chance to consider it. It takes more rejection letters than you can ever imagine to land my acceptances! For my sanity, I haven’t counted them all. I have been writing a long time, and there were many years when I sent out 40 or more submissions, including resubmission of rejects, and I didn’t get a single acceptance. I have done talks and articles on coping with rejection, as I think it is really important if you are involved in this crazy but wonderful writing business to have a strategy for coping with the inevitable knockbacks. Mine is: Don’t take it personally. Publishing is subjective, and I start working on something else as soon as I send

A: I write all kinds of books up to middle grade, but I do love my rhyming picture books best! Not all publishers are happy to take rhyming texts because of problems of selling them abroad, but it is so satisfying to get both rhyme and rhythm right and tell a story in just a few words. It is quite a challenge! I also know as a mom who has been asked to read my daughters’ favorite story over and over that it is truly wonderful if that book is light and rhythmic and a joy to read. Then bedtimes are so much more fun all around! Of course, the first book I ever had published, Scrumpy (about coping with the loss of a pet and prompted by the death of our own beloved hamster), is very dear to my heart, but so, always is the last! And I also love to write books that subtly tell an important message, especially as life seems so difficult for kids these days. My rhyming picture book, Off to Market, was inspired by a ride on a very overcrowded taxi minibus (with

48 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com

Q: I hate to ask, but any favorites among the dozens?


Q&A

sheep, hens, and a bed!) when visiting my daughter in Africa and has the message that it’s good to be small. But some favorites are just fun stories with a positive theme. Q: I learned about your work when I picked up Nothing Can Frighten a Bear, beautifully illustrated by Paula Metcalf. Can you tell us a little about where the idea came from and what it was about the story that caught the publisher’s (Nosy Crow/Candlewick Press) eye? A: I started off by thinking about what really worries young children. And monsters were top of the list, especially at night. So I wanted to reassure children that monsters don’t exist and to try to explain why strange noises at night aren’t anything to worry about. And knowing that books are far more fun to read and the message is more memorable if they are funny, I tried to make it funny throughout. So it occurred to me that it would be hilarious if, as Daddy Bear takes his family off on a woodland nighttime monster hunt to prove there aren’t any monsters, and one by one, family members drop out and then the wonderfully oblivious Daddy is faced with very messy bears and he thinks there are monsters after all! Finally, after the scary adventures in the wood, I thought it would be good to end the story in a wonderfully calm, reassuring but funny way. After I’d written it, my family and I went for a hike through a wood in Canada where there had been bears and I was the last in the line. As they walked ahead, I thought of my story and wondered if I might disappear thanks to the bears there—and no one would notice! Fortunately, the scariest thing we saw was a squirrel, but it made us jump!

what that word might be before the page is turned. It really gets them involved in the story. They also love the pictures—well, who wouldn’t?! In bookshops, parents have sat with their children to listen to the story and have encouraged them to talk about their worries about monsters, thus reinforcing this message to offload their fears. Q: There is a beautiful dance between the lighthearted text and images. Obviously, with the wrong illustrator, this book could have turned out much scarier. How much influence did you have over choosing your illustrator and what did you envision for artistic direction as you were writing? A: I am absolutely thrilled with Paula’s beautiful illustrations. As with all my previous picture books, the publisher chose an artist and showed me examples of his/her work and checked that I was happy. I liked the look of Paula’s previous artwork, so she was chosen. I think she has done a brilliant job, with all the extra detail in the pictures that I wouldn’t have thought of, and all the bears’ faces are so wonderfully expressive! As I wrote it, I set out what I thought each page would show, I’m not sure if the publishers passed that onto the artist, and Paula certainly added her own ideas, too, but the best picture books are where the artist comes with his/her own perspective and expands the vision of the book, especially when the author, like me, isn’t the least bit artistic! I also really love the design of the book.

Q: Your reviews on Amazon really drive home the underlying message of Nothing Can Frighten a Bear— that fears are usually imagined! The story gives an awesome sense of family unity to work out those fears. What reaction have you had personally from parents and children to your book? A: I’ve read my book to children in bookshops and schools, and they love that it is funny. The idea of an adult getting things wrong and even being scared for no reason and then being put right by the formerly terrified baby is very amusing to them. They also love that the very last word of a rhyme is over the page in many cases and they can anticipate and shout out StoryMonsters.com | April 2018 | Story Monsters Ink 49


Q: I know you have at least two new publications on the horizon, Scary Mary and The Great Santa MixUp. Can you give us a few quick hints about those and any others you wish to mention due out soon, and when to look for them? A: The Great Santa Mix-Up is a funny (hopefully!) rhyming picture book about how Santa gets it wrong! All the animals know exactly what they want for Christmas and have asked Santa for the perfect thing for them. But poor Santa has a bad cold, and he keeps sneezing great big sneezes that blow the labels off the presents. And even though the reader is encouraged to shout out and the reindeer try to tell him, he gives the wrong present to every animal! When they wake up the following morning, the animals are very upset that they didn’t get what they asked for, but a magical wind blows—maybe Santa has given them a far better present than the one they wanted. It will be published by Parragon in August, 2018. Scary Mary is a rhyming picture book about a little girl preparing to dress up for a party. Her mom wants to make her look pretty and dainty, but Mary wants to be a feisty, scary character. Only at the end does the reader discover that Mary is actually disabled and in a wheelchair, but she doesn’t let that stand in her way of who she wants to be. Indeed, with Mom’s help, she ends up winning the fancy dress competition as the scariest creature of all. This inspiring story of living your dreams will be published by Serenity Press in February, 2019. I also have a new picture book that will be published in March, 2019 in the UK by a brand new children’s fiction imprint called Willow Tree Books. The title and details are currently under wraps—let me just say it is a funny, interactive story of things going disastrously wrong! Q: And the big question: Why do you write and how do you get ideas? A: I write because I love to write, because it is the most wonderful fun to create stories and work out plots and have everything satisfactorily resolved at the end, with lots of humor and adventure all the way through. It can be hard, frustrating work, but there is nothing more satisfying than to finish a story and finally be happy with it—apart from reading it to children—to hear their laughter and see their faces as they are gripped by a tale, my tale. I write because I love to read. It is an escape, a pathway to excitement and new ideas and knowledge and if I can write a 50 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com

book that encourages a child to read, to realize the joy of words, to help to build a life-long love of books and reading, then I honestly think there is nothing better to do. To get an idea for a story, I sit with a pen and paper in hand and think and think and think ... then I make a cup of tea. Then I think some more. I know lots of authors who get ideas while going for a walk or cooking or doing something totally different, and I sometimes get them in the bath, but I generally find I have to sit and think hard, with my eyes closed, totally focused, trying to revisit the child that is still within me and I ask myself “What if?” and try to go off on a flight of fancy. Once I get an idea, I just take off with it, I may have an idea of where I am going, but I never do a detailed plot because often my characters will take over and take it in the direction they want, or else new ideas occur to me as I write. For my next project, I would like to write a picture book with an underlying theme of spreading kindness. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone was more kind to each other?

Elizabeth Dale is an author of 74 books published/ due for publication, ranging from picture books to middle grade and has had many children’s stories featured in collections. She has also written over 1,800 short stories (teenage and adult) published all over the world. For more information, visit elizabethdaleuk.blogspot.com. Julianne Black is an internationally recognized graphic artist, fine artist, and author. She has illustrated several books, including Sleep Sweet, the multi-award-winning augmented reality picture book. julianneblack.com


C E L E B R AT I N G 20 YEARS of EXCELLENCE in CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING

Celebrate

School Library Month and

America’s

Diverse Heritage!

Think More. Work Hard. Dream Big. W is for Welcome: A Celebration of America’s Diversity showcases the achievements and contributions from the many people who have chosen to make the United States their home. “Young readers who also feel unspecial will be inspired to find their true talents and all the other things that make them shine. This is a most encouraging and uplifting story and is sure to give new confidence to any child.” - Story Monsters Ink

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StoryMonsters.com | April 2018 | Story Monsters Ink 51


Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEWS

Wanted: Bronco Charlie Rides the Pony Express

by Alexandra Parsons, Beatrice Favereau. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

In this fast-paced world of technology, we count on electronics to keep the flow. But long ago, young men rode fast horses day and night across the vast land to deliver mail. From Missouri to California, the Pony Express risked danger and exhaustion to get your letters to you, and for a mere $50 a month. Bronco Charlie was only 11 years old, the youngest rider in the Pony Express to brave the journey through every kind of weather, and even with howls of mountain lions and wolves. A great adventure!

If You Don’t Take a Bath

by Sally Hutchins Willett. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This delightful family endeavor will lead you with chuckles and laughter through its playful text and illustrations. Though it deals with a true and serious lesson, it will be impossible to get through it with a straight face, and will surely be remembered and quoted with very little coaxing. Truly a great way to build foundations.

The Adventures of Camellia N.: Under the Sea

by Debra L. Wideroe, Daniela Frongia. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a bright and lively educational series. Today, Camellia N. takes us under the amazing sea to learn of all its treasures and inspire us to respect the wonders of our world. Illustrations by Daniela Frongia are a perfect accent to the heart of the stories.

The Art Garden: Sowing the Seeds of Creativity by Penny Harrison, Penelope Pratley. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 

The quality, production, and expression of anything beautiful and appealing is considered art. Whether it’s a watery flow of color upon a porous page, or the delicate silky petal of a flower that dances in a breeze, we all perceive art by the magical wheel that turns the focus of our eyes. Creativity flourishes in every person who takes a moment to capture a vision that quickly fluttered by. This is a perfect example that some become masterful at catching it, and bringing life to it for all to see.

The Jupiter Twins: Party on Pluto

by Jeff Dinardo, Dave Clegg. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Who doesn’t love a party? This is an adorable series about kindness and friendship. Each new adventure finds sisters Tina and Trudy tested and found true. The illustrations are fun and engaging. The stories are short for easy reading, and each one points to the benefits of letting kindness lead our lives. Other great titles in the series include Field Trip to Mars, Lost on Earth, and Scout Trip to Saturn.

52 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com


Book Reviews

Let the Children March

by Monica Clark-Robinson, Frank Morrison. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

History is a record of events that led us to where we are today. Not all accounts are favorable, because it’s a record of imperfect beings. Through men, women, and even children of vision and fortitude, we became a mighty nation. It’s not about sides and organizations, it’s about people reaching beyond the now and forging a new tomorrow, together. In May of 1963, Birmingham, Alabama made just such a move. Children and teens marched for their civil rights, and brought us into a greater today. These amazing people and their courage are recorded for all time to remind us what we can accomplish when we believe in a better tomorrow.

I Can Be

by Felicia Lee. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Have you ever wanted to be a teacher? Or maybe a dancer? How about an engineer? I Can Be shows all different jobs for little ones to explore. This is an adorable book that offers great value in helping our children find their potential. It’s a top 10 in interest and purpose, and a constructive tool for building healthy self-esteem.

Sam: The Cat Without a Tail

by Gloria Lintermans, Kristina Tosic. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The meaning of being special is to be distinguished, or different from what is common or ordinary. To be extraordinary! Sam was different from the other pets in his neighborhood because he didn’t have a tail. That difference made him feel he was lacking what everyone else had, and that made him sad. But, one day they discovered it wasn’t that he was lacking at all. He was a rare kind of cat, unlike any other, and that didn’t make him just different, it made him special! This story shows that we all have basic structures that identify us in common ways, but these common traits should never define who we are.

Be a Good Dragon

by Kurt Cyrus. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

When Enzo the dragon has a cold, it’s no mere sniffle. No indeed! His coughs and sneezes set fields aflame and barns on fire. The villagers are fleeing their farms and the townsfolk are up in arms. What’s a poor fire-sneezing dragon to do? It’s a great book that’s fun and entertaining, and at the same time leaves us with lifelong lessons. The lighthearted rhyming text romps carefree through the eye-catching illustrations, making it truly a fun read!

Mela and the Elephant

by Dow Phumiruk, Ziyue Chen. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This story brings us face to face with that dreaded word: karma. We may hear someone say, “What goes around comes around,” and that is exactly what happened to Mela. When her younger brother wanted to accompany her on her adventure, she asked what it would gain her. Mela forgot the joy a simple kindness could bring to another. She was quickly reminded when she finds herself lost and in need of that kindness to get home. This is a great way to teach our children that true kindness needs no reward.

The Tiptoeing Tiger

by Philippa Leathers. Reviewer: Jessica Reino

In this charming story, Little Tiger tiptoes through the forest determined to find others who will see him as sleek, silent, and totally terrifying. But no one is afraid of Little Tiger. He’s just too small and clumsy to frighten anyone. With Leathers’ fun text and beautiful illustrations, readers will enjoy tiptoeing along with Little Tiger on his journey and surprise ending.

StoryMonsters.com | April 2018 | Story Monsters Ink 53


Book Reviews

Fiona’s Little Accident

by Rosemary Wells. Reviewer: Jessica Reino

From the creator of Max and Ruby comes another wonderful book to add to the shelf. Learning that everyone makes mistakes and to take it in stride is a central theme to the book. However, the story also shines a light on making choices and taking responsibility with the help of friends, even if that responsibility is only for “forty-nine and a half seconds” according to Fiona.

No Hugs for Porcupine

by Zoe Waring. Reviewer: Jessica Reino

The need to feel loved and be acknowledged is universal, and through Waring’s story of Porcupine with adorable illustrations, the reader can see that there are many different ways to show love and affection. Although Porcupine cannot give hugs, he is able to give small kisses and always asks before giving a kiss to a friend. This is a great way to not only show that kindness and love is necessary in the world, but it can also serve as a conversation starter with children about boundaries and personal space.

All Aboard: Let’s Ride a Train

by Nichole Mar, Andrew Kolb. Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Board books are becoming more innovative and special as authors dream and execute clever ways to keep readers’ hands moving and minds thinking. All Aboard: Let’s Ride a Train does exactly this as it embraces train passenger companionship and the beautiful views whizzing by the windows. As readers flip each page, they can open the top flap to reveal the fun happenings and details inside each passenger car. Having read this book several times to my three little ones, we kept noticing funny details and also enjoyed searching for things that the text mentions. A wonderful, interactive read that will delight train lovers of all ages!

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

by Kim Smith. Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

A sweet spin on the beloved classic. Readers will develop a love for this story, regardless if they are familiar with the precocious alien from the ’80s. While the premise may sound a bit sinister or strange, the dialogue and illustrations are very child-friendly, appealing, and innocuous. This is a story about friendship and will inspire conversations about those who may look or act different than what we may be accustomed to. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial is a must-read for all ages!

Petra

by Marianna Coppo. Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

This is a book that will be long-remembered once the pages are closed. Children will want to reminisce about this story over and over again as they imagine all the adventures rocks can take. Petra is a rock … or is she? She is also a mountain, an egg, and an island depending on her ever-changing locations! The white backdrop allows author/illustrator Marianna Coppo to showcase Petra’s shifting identities and this lends itself nicely to a mentor text: What can children imagine their rock to be? And what kinds of adventures will they take? Books transport us to so many places, and Petra is one of the best tour guides we could have.

Hedge Hog!

by Ashlyn Anstee. Reviewer: Tynea Lewis

This is a great story with themes of greed and generosity. Hedgehog becomes a “hedge hog” and doesn’t want to share his home with any other animals during winter, but he comes to find the importance of generosity and hospitality. The play on words with the hedgehog hogging the hedge adds a fun dimension. The speech bubbles for the characters make for a great read-aloud, and the lessons the characters learn set the stage for a discussion with young children about how to treat one another.

54 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com


Book Reviews

Too Much! Not Enough!

by Gina Perry. Reviewer: Tynea Lewis

This book captures the essence of how everyone has different personalities and interests. But we can still get along with people different from us. We find that we are not complete without each other. There are a couple pages that do not have any text, so children can take a moment to become the author at this point. This book lends itself nicely to discussing being considerate of other people.

Unplugged

by Steve Antony. Reviewer: Julianne Black

Blip finds herself unplugged and outdoors during a blackout! For screen families like ours, Unplugged is a wonderful reminder to build more outdoor time into our busy schedules. Author/illustrator Steve Antony uses a fantastic combination of illustration materials to express the world of computers vs. the world outside. The fun animal friends are an adorable touch. We could all use a bit more “Blip-ology” in our life!

I Am A Cat

by Galia Bernstein. Reviewer: Julianne Black

A story about a small house cat comparing itself to various jungle cats. While some are stronger, brighter, bigger, and faster than the house cat, they do all share many feline qualities. The story not only does a great job of highlighting differences, it brings it all back around to recognize similarities. For the intended age group, it provides a double-dose of awesome. The text is perfect for beginning readers, while the concepts are so important for an early grade-school audience already preoccupied with where they fit in compared to their peers. A fun read, important concept, and beautifully illustrated book. This one merits two paws up!

Jacky Ha-Ha: My Life is a Joke

by James Patterson, Chris Grabenstein. Book Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11

Jacky Ha-Ha: My Life is a Joke is a humorous book with fun characters and great black and white illustrations. Jacky’s summer plan to only act and sing in summer stock theatre completely changes when her parents insist that she get a job, as well as help babysit her little sister and do chores around the house. Will Jacky be able to hold her job as a carnival game worker, and babysit, and do chores, and perform in Midsummer Night’s Dream and still have fun? Read the book to find out!

Ernestine, Catastrophe Queen

by Merrill Wyatt. Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11

What I liked most about this book is how strong and smart Ernestine is. We need more role models like Ernestine in today’s society. Ernestine is a kid who is willing to help and lend a hand and make discoveries. She helps solve the mystery at the MacGillicuddie House for Elderly and Retired Artists. This is the place where her parents work. I really like the theme, “Cleopatra Queen of Nile” birthday party they throw for Ernestine at the end of the book. It’s fun and she deserves it!

Buttheads from Outer Space by Jerry Mahoney. Reviewer: Diana Perry

Eleven-year-old best friends, Lloyd and Josh, create a blog inviting aliens from outer space to come for a visit. And they get a response! They meet the aliens and everything goes perfect at first even though the body parts of the aliens are in much different places than you’d expect. And their names are even stranger. It doesn’t take long for Lloyd and Josh to grow weary of their weird new friends and wonder when they’re going to leave, but when the two aliens decide to stay and invite 70 billion other alien friends to join them, the boys realize they’ve caused a huge problem for planet earth. This book was just pure fun to read.

StoryMonsters.com | April 2018 | Story Monsters Ink 55


Book Reviews

Dork Diaries 12: Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe by Rachel Renee Russell. Reviewer: Diana Perry

Nikki Maxwell is a pretty normal kid. She has a crush on a boy and a dog that seems untrainable. Readers can go along with her on her daily adventures, struggles, successes and most embarrassing moments in this series of books written in diary format just as if it is happening one day at a time. Preteens and teens will relate to the characters and events. Boys get jealous, girls feel insecure, and worst of all, a way-too-beautiful exchange student shows up out of thin air to make Nikki’s life almost unbearable. Kids will relate to the daily ups and downs of typical school life. Lots of fun for kids to read.

Elizabeth and Zenobia

by Jessica Miller, Yelena Bryksenkova. Reviewer: Diana Perry

Elizabeth Murmur moves into her new home at Witheringe House, a creepy old mansion where her father grew up. Zenobia comes, too, as she has been Elizabeth’s constant companion since Elizabeth’s mother abandoned the family. Her dad is depressed and doesn’t talk much. Soon they realize there is something most strange about this house and learn there is an old family secret. There is a lot of mystery, danger, and adventure in this other-world fantasy. A wonderfully compelling middle-grade story about friendship, courage, and the power of the imagination.

Spin the Golden Light Bulb

by Jackie Yeager. Reviewer: Diana Perry

Sixth-grader Kia Krumpet feels so unspecial; she is number 718 at school. In schools all across the country, hopeful students will compete in the Piedmont Challenge. In this futuristic story, winners will be able to choose their futures; the rest will be assigned jobs for the rest of their lives. Kia knows the odds are against her but all she can think of is winning the trophy. Then, something unbelievable happens: she is chosen. An adventure right from the start, the action never slows down. Young readers who also feel unspecial will be inspired to find their true talents and all the other things that make them shine. This is a most encouraging and uplifting story and is sure to give new confidence to any child.

A Drop of Blue

by Isa Briarwood. Reviewer: Diana Perry

Sixteen-year-old Cate McAuliffe and her boyfriend experience an earthquake. They part in different directions to their own homes but on her way home, a window made of pure light appears in the air. She approaches for a closer look and gets sucked in—not just to another world, but another time. This adventurous tale of danger and mystery also has a good dose of futuristic science, technology, and terminology that any young techie will find thrilling. The perfect book to get your nonreader to become an avid one.

Howling Yowling Growling with the Lost River Wolf Pack by Joanna Dymond. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

If you happen to be among those who admire the majestic look of the wolf, you will surely enjoy this peek into their pack life. Wolves communicate using their entire body, expressions of the eyes and mouth, the set of their ears and tail, all to relay their intent and purpose. The storyline follows a particular pack and gives us insight into the joys and hardships of the wolf family life.

56 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com


Book Reviews

Good Dog

by Dan Gemeinhart. Reviewer: Diana Perry

Brodie was a good dog. And good dogs go to heaven. Except Brodie can’t move on. Not just yet. As wonderful as his glimpse of the afterlife is, he can’t forget the boy he left behind. The boy he loved, and who loved him in return. The boy who’s still in danger. So Brodie breaks the rules. He returns to Earth as a spirit. With the help of two other lost souls—a lovable pitbull Tuck and surly housecat Patsy—he is determined to find his boy and to save him. This is an endearing and sweet story about the love between a boy and his dog and gives proof to why we say a dog is man’s best friend.

W is for Welcome: A Celebration of America’s Diversity by Brad Herzog, Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 

Following the alphabet, this book uses poetry and expository text to celebrate America’s diverse population and the contributions of those who call it home. A beautifully illustrated and delightfully educational walk down memory lane, reminding us of the true pride of America. Of a time when freedom beckoned and refuge healed. A time of hardship, but a stronger time of hope, faith, and unity that merged, grew, and became a great nation. A nation of inclusion.

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    ARCHIVES  CARD  DESK  MAGAZINES  REFERENCE      58 Story Monsters Ink | April 2018 | StoryMonsters.com

BOOKS CATALOG  INDEX  PERIODICAL  STACKS 

BORROW CIRCULATION  LIBRARIAN  QUIET  STUDY 


Riddles & Giggles Q: How does a bee brush its hair? A: It uses a honeycomb!

StoryMonsters.com | April 2018 | Story Monsters Ink 59


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Building Character is Child’s Play ®

A Valuable Resource For Parents, Educators & Young Children! Stories That Build Character to Impact Choices Baxter’s Corner® mission is to use creativity and storytelling to affect behavior choices through open discussion between children and adults about values and ethical topics that challenge us in today’s world, because Building Character is Child’s Play®.

What is a shy giraffe to do when a friend is being bullied? “Parents and educators both share responsibility to engender in children empathy and a sense of responsibility. Baxter’s Corner provides a unique series of children’s books that help adults teach these essential skills while telling children delightful stories. The Go Beyond section makes sharing these tales opportunities for lessons about the impact of choices we make. Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ, Independent School Administrator – Miami, Florida

Meet The Animals That Teach Kids About Making Good Choices

Other Baxter’s Corner titles include: Ally Alone, What a Tree it Will Be!, Oakley in Knots, Sideways Fred, and Ellema Sneezes. Available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and BaxtersCorner.com. www.BaxtersCorner.com PlayMaster@BaxtersCorner.com

Story Monsters Ink April 2018  

This month's features include: Jason Reynolds on Reading, Writing, and Whatnot; A Journey Through Autism; Dave Eggers Inspires Young Writers...

Story Monsters Ink April 2018  

This month's features include: Jason Reynolds on Reading, Writing, and Whatnot; A Journey Through Autism; Dave Eggers Inspires Young Writers...