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January 2019

The Literary Resource for Teachers, Librarians, and Parents


Ming Amy Ephron

Adds a Touch of Magic to the Literary Landscape

Samantha Berger Writes a Rockin’ Affirmation for Little Readers

Corinna Luyken Creates a Heartfelt Story of Self-Acceptance

One to Watch

Faithe Herman

Dennis and Wendel Kind

are Making History

Diverse Books

and Bullying

Q&A with

Rebecca Elliott James Patterson

Reading Resolutions

Judy Newman

Fashion Statement

Teaching Toolbox

Snowy Stories

Conrad’s Classroom

For the Birds!

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Linda F. Radke Cristy Bertini

WRITERS Melissa Fales, Nick Spake, Olivia Amiri, Julianne Black, Larissa Juliano

Special ContributorS Judy Newman James Patterson


Jeff Yesh

Science & Nature Editor Conrad J. Storad


Web Management Patti Crane


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Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 |

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January 2019

in this issue ... Features 16 Corinna Luyken

Creates a Heartfelt Story of Self-Acceptance

22 One to Watch: Faithe Herman

Columns 38 James Patterson Reading Resolutions

40 Judy Newman

Fashion Statement


26 Dennis and Wendel Kind

are Making History

46 CONRAD’S CLASSROOM For the Birds!

48 Monsters at the Movies


04 Marvelous Ming

and Bullying

Mary Poppins Returns

50 Liv on Life

If I could Live Inside a Book...

08 Amy Ephron

Adds a Touch of Magic to the Literary Landscape

34 Q&A with Rebecca Elliott


12 Samantha Berger


Writes a Rockin’ Affirmation for Little Readers

52 WINTER Reading GUIDE 56 Book Reviews 60 2018 Royal dragonfly Book AWARD winners

Want to read even more? Check out our Book Briefs page at to keep up with the latest news, interviews, and happenings at Story Monsters!

Tell us what you think of this issue! Email your comments to | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink


Marvelous Ming by Melissa Fales

For actress Ming-Na Wen, one of the most engaging things about portraying master martial artist Melinda May on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the last five years has been the need to continuously adapt to the evolution and growth of the character. “Agent May started off being very mysterious and standoffish,” she says. “Initially, she had a different agenda. But ultimately, the true nature of Agent May is that she’s extremely loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D., and she truly cares for and loves her S.H.I.E.L.D. family.” Born in Macau, Wen moved to the U.S. as a young girl. She made her television debut on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in 1985 and hasn’t stopped acting since. Among her acting achievements are a regular role on the soap As the World Turns, playing Dr. Jing-Mei Chen on the popular medical drama ER, starring in the 1993 film The Joy Luck Club, and voicing Fa Mulan in the animated film Mulan, released in 1998. Last year marked the 20th anniversary of Mulan, based on an ancient Chinese tale about a girl who pretends to be a boy in order to join the army and help to fend off the invading Huns in her father’s place. “Being involved with Mulan was an incredible thrill,” says Wen. “I grew up with the folklore of Fa Mulan. She’s the Joan of Arc of China. It’s a story I’ve loved since I was a little girl.”

Wen says she’s proud of the film’s staying power. “For Mulan to have held up 20 years later and to have such an impact on young girls, and boys, too, is something special,” she says. “It continues to have an impact. It inspires young girls to be brave and strong. It inspires boys to respect them for that. It’s even crossed over into the gay and lesbian community. It’s a wonderful honor to be a part of something that has meant so much to so many people.” Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet gave Wen the chance to reprise her role as the voice of Mulan. “I was thrilled to be a part of it,” she says. “I was an arcade girl. I grew up with all of those arcade characters. I went every single day with my boyfriend. We plunked down a lot of quarters.” Wen says she approaches voice-over work the same way she would approach an on-camera acting job. “For me, it’s about figuring out what the character is doing,” she says. “What is the emotional aspect behind them? How are they feeling? What are they feeling?” Sometimes, she admits she appreciates the opportunity to be hidden. “The great thing about voice-over is that you don’t have to worry about your waistline or if you’re having a bad hair day,” she says. “That’s why I do so many of them. You can work on five or six projects simultaneously and you can do the work for a few episodes in one sitting.”

Ironically, she adds, Mulan actually took five years to make, from start to finish. “We were recording for three years,” she says. Wen says the film was a tremendous achievement in its accurate portrayal of the story beloved by generations. “Disney took a risk with Mulan,” she says. “Pam Coates, Barry Cook, and Tony Bancroft did an amazing amount of research in order to stay true to the Chinese cultural history of the story. All of the time they invested into making sure everything was accurate made all the difference.” Free time isn’t something Wen has a lot of, but when she’s not acting, this busy mom is often working on her lifestyle blog, Wenever. “It’s advice for people who want to find the fountain of youth,” she says. She offers tips on topics such as time management, managing stress, nutrition, and exercise. “It’s about a healthy lifestyle,” she says. “It’s about helping people accomplish their goals and dreams, look their best, feel their best, and discover their best selves in their own way.” Wen’s newest project is Fresh Off the Boat¸ a show about Asian-Americans new to the country. “I’m so happy that the opportunity worked out for me, scheduling-wise, to be a part of this show,” says Wen. “I love doing comedy. One of my first 6

Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 |

“I’ve always been a nerd and a geek. I was president of the science fiction club in high school. It’s funny to me when art imitates life because I feel like this genre was attracted to me as much as I was attracted to it growing up.”

jobs was a sitcom called Single Guy with Ernest Borgnine and Jonathan Silverman and it was a lot of fun.” Wen says she enjoys the change of pace from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “I don’t get to make people laugh on S.H.I.E.L.D.,” she says. “I appreciate any moments when we get to lighten the mood. It’s so rare.”

Marvelous Ming

While she enjoys working in comedy, Wen confesses that comics and science fiction have always held a special place in her heart and that’s why she enjoys playing Agent May so much. “I’ve always been a nerd and a geek,” she says. “I was president of the science fiction club in high school. It’s funny to me when art imitates life because I feel like this genre was attracted to me as much as I was attracted to it growing up.” Despite all of Agent May’s toughness, she’s become the show’s key maternal figure. “I know it’s been a surprise for May’s fans to see how she’s become the protector of her cubs,” says Wen. “It’s so great for me because I get to play this really kick-ass character on the surface who is very stoic and not very pleasant. But we’ve all come to realize that deep down inside, her heart is true and she’s very loving in her own way.” Wen acknowledges that fans of the show are anxiously waiting to learn what really happened in the Season 5 finale, but she was unable to offer up any answers. “One of the things I’m able to say is that Coulson appears to


have died,” Wen says. “The big question is: Did he really die? This is a character who has died many times.” Wen says the show’s writers and executive producers deserve kudos for keeping it so fresh and entertaining for the viewers. “We had some rough spots the first year,” she acknowledges. “We were still figuring out who was supposed to be the target audience. In the beginning, it was geared towards a younger group. In reality, our fan base is more akin to people who relish Marvel and the darker elements of it.” Additionally, says Wen, the show needed to find its place. “It had to tie in with the Marvel Universe, but still stand on its own,” she says. “I don’t know how the writers do it. There’s a very fine line there. They’re also great at surprising our very smart audience. They can keep our fans completely unaware that something’s happening until it happens. I think that’s part of the joy of being a Marvel fan, to be outsmarted and surprised.” For more information about Ming-Na Wen, visit | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink


Amy Ephron

Amy Ephron Adds a Touch of Magic to the Literary Landscape by Melissa Fales photos by Katrina Dickson

Amy Ephron’s first foray into writing children’s books was heavily influenced by the classics she remembers being completely engrossed in as a girl. Ephron, one of a renowned family of writers, is best known for her critically-acclaimed adult works, such as A Cup of Tea and One Sunday Morning. She entered the children’s book field with a very clear idea of how she wanted her stories to feel: otherworldly. The Castle in the Mist (Puffin Books) and Carnival Magic (Philomel Books) are both about children who find themselves in fantastical, almost dreamlike situations. “These books are more like classic literature than they are fantasy books or graphic novels,” says Ephron. “In my mind, they are modernday mash-ups of old-fashioned children’s books. They’re a throwback to A Secret Garden or A Wrinkle in Time. There’s a sense throughout of ‘Is this real or is it all imaginary?’”


Beyond the gate, Tess finds a castle, a fragrant flower garden, and a boy her age named William who warns her about the dangers of the hawthorn trees that surround them. “You don’t know exactly what’s beyond the hawthorn trees, and you don’t want to know,” says Ephron. One night, Max is distracted by a spectacular lunar eclipse. When he accidentally walks into the hawthorn trees, he disappears from sight. William tries to help him and disappears, too. Then Tess realizes that the castle itself is starting to fade from sight. What will she do? Carnival Magic picks up the following summer. “This time, Tess and Max are staying with Aunt Evie in a cottage in Devon by the Sea,” says Ephron. “Aunt Evie has made sure they have Wi-Fi, TV, a zoo, and a beach to entertain them so they couldn’t possibly get into any kind of trouble whatsoever.” Tess and Max get more than they bargained for when they decide to visit a traveling carnival. “Somehow, the entire carnival picks up stakes and runs away with them,” says Ephron. “They have no idea where they are or where they’re going and there is no way out.” During their ordeal, they befriend colorful characters, such as the Baranova twins, aerial ballet stars who take Tess under their wing. Max is fascinated by the carnival’s house of mirrors, but is what’s being reflected by those panes of glass something sinister? Ephron’s third book about Tess and Max, The Other Side of the Wall, will be released in the fall of 2019. She views the three books as companion pieces rather than a series. “You don’t

The Castle in the Mist introduces American siblings, Tess and Max, who are spending the summer with their Aunt Evie in a remote country house in England. “They feel like there’s nothing to do,” says Ephron. “There’s no Wi-Fi, no TV. They’re left to entertain each other. It seems like nothing exciting whatsoever could ever happen there.” But then Tess discovers an invisible wall with an elaborate old-fashioned gate. Then she finds the key. “She’s confronted with an ethical dilemma,” says Ephron. “If you find the key to somebody’s gate, does that give you the right to use it? But before Tess can make that decision, she learns that the key seemingly has a mind of its own. It compels her to use it to open the gate.” | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



Amy Ephron

“I thought the world could use this type of book right now. I wanted to take the contemporary world and make magic accessible.” 1995 Warner Bros. film, A Little Princess, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. “That was an act of love,” says Ephron. I’ve always loved that book and I loved the movie, too.” In addition to writing for numerous publications, Ephron is a contributing editor for Vogue.

have to read the first one to read the second or the third,” Ephron says. Critics are hailing them as standalones. According to Ephron, these books are meant to be an escape. “There aren’t any explosions or things going ‘bang’ in any of these books,” says Ephron. “I think everyone is dealing with enough of that already.” Ephron’s choice to use a third-party, omniscient narrator to tell these tales effectively casts a tinge of the bygone over the stories, adding another layer to the books’ appeal. “It was very important to me for the books to have the right voice,” says Ephron. “The narrator has a voice, too. In fact, she sounds a little like me.” Fun fact: The audiobook versions of The Castle in the Mist and Carnival Magic are narrated by Ephron’s longtime friend, Laraine Newman. Ephron has her own “secret garden” of work. “I have a history with children’s entertainment that most people don’t know about,” she says. “When I was much younger, I worked for Sesame Street and The Electric Company as a non-broadcast editor. I was in charge of products such as books, records, toys, and games.” She was also the executive producer of the 10

Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 |

As to whether or not there will be more books about Tess and Max, Ephron hasn’t yet decided. She’s still reveling in vindication. “When I first concocted the crazy idea to write this type of story, I had people tell me that nobody would want to read it,” she says. “They told me I was out of my mind. But it turns out that I wasn’t crazy at all. I wrote these books because I didn’t feel that anyone was writing anything like this. That’s the point. I thought the world could use this type of book right now. I wanted to take the contemporary world and make magic accessible.” For more information about Amy Ephron and her books, visit | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink


Samantha Berger Writes a Rockin’ Affirmation for Little Readers by Melissa Fales

In her latest book, Rock What Ya Got (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), children’s author Samantha Berger uses an effusive and blithe little girl named Viva to deliver a message that applies to everyone, everywhere. “Too many people think, ‘If only I had this, or if only I had that, then I could love myself,’” Berger says. “If only I was younger or thinner or richer. It’s a fill-in-the-blank situation. But what if we shifted that message of self-loathing to something positive? What if we said, ‘You know what? I’m going to rock what I got and I’m going to rock it a lot!’”


Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 |

Samantha Berger

Berger, who’s been drawing and writing since she could hold a pencil and reading since she could hold a book, credits “an early break” with launching her journey towards becoming the prolific author she is today. “All it takes is one person who believes in you,” Berger says. “For me, that was Claudia Cohl, a high-powered editor at Scholastic.” Cohl hired Berger as an editor of early childhood books. When, at the last minute, there was an emergency and Scholastic needed someone to write a compelling essay to include in a compilation, Berger stayed up all night completing the job and gaining her first published piece. Looking back, Berger says she’s grateful to Cohl for giving her the opportunity, adding that she’s tried to pay it forward in her career. “Once someone believes in you, it’s on you to believe in someone else,” she says. “This isn’t just about you. It’s about helping the next person up.” Having proved her talent, Berger was writing for Scholastic during the day and writing and illustrating her own picture books at home at night. “I was truly living and breathing children’s books,” she says. One assignment was to write a board book about spring. “It was illustrated by someone I had never


heard of named Melissa Sweet,” Berger says. “That’s why I tell kids to always be nice to everyone. First of all, it’s the right thing to do, but also because you never know in life who any of us are going to become.” While Berger loved working at Scholastic and gained invaluable experience in the publishing business, she sometimes wondered if she was a good fit. “I was always the loudest person in the office,” she says. “I have a naturally occurring projecting theater voice with no way to turn it down.” A chance visit to Nickelodeon headquarters led to a major career change for Berger. She was amazed at the boisterous atmosphere, complete with employees circling through the hallways on tricycles. “When I found out they were looking to hire a fulltime writer, I knew I had to go for it,” she says. “I didn’t want to leave publishing, but these were my people.” She got the job at Nickelodeon and it was everything she had hoped. Her job involved writing and doing voice-overs and having fun. “A good quarter of the stuff they put on the air was original programming and I got to work on all of that,” she says. “It was a dream job for me.” Over the 12 years she worked there, Berger was repeatedly promoted

“Rock What Ya Got is the mantra of my life, or at least the mantra I aspire to live by. As people get older, they tend to fall into a pattern of being their own worst critic.”

until she looked around and realized that she wasn’t doing the fun stuff anymore. Eager for a creative outlet she no longer had at work, Berger began to write picture books on the side. In 2009, she released Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry, followed by Martha Doesn’t Share. Other books followed, including Crankenstein, Back to School with Bigfoot, and Monster’s New Undies. The past year was Berger’s most prolific yet, with a total of three new books released: Snail Mail, What If, and Rock What Ya Got.


Samantha Berger

What If (released in April) and Rock What Ya Got (released in September) differ sharply from her other books. “I’ve done books about irreverent otters, monsters, and underwear,” she says. “I’m known for being eternally immature. But these two are real departures from that whimsical, silly style.” What If has special significance to Berger for several reasons. One is that she wrote it with her best friend, illustrator Mike Curato. “We did the book together, literally together, sitting next to each other,” she says. “It was extra phenomenal.” However, Berger’s tie to the book is deeper than that. “What If is the song of my soul,” she says. “In one sentence, it’s about the power of creative triumph over any obstacle.” The book was inspired by Berger’s ordeal when her Brooklyn apartment flooded. “I had to evacuate with nothing,” she recalls. She was out of her apartment for three months, with no art supplies. “I started looking at the whole world as a source of art supplies,” she says. “I found things I could use to create, like pinecones and dog food. 14

I started thinking about people like Nelson Mandela and how he was able to write his book in his cell. He found a way to create, no matter what. Anne Frank was in a similar situation. There’s a long list of people who, despite having nothing, managed to overcome the obstacles that were in their way of creating. And I realized that that’s who I am at the core. No matter what, I will always find a way to honor my true calling and create.”

is unpredictable. The pendulum swings back in the other direction with my next book.” It’s called My Glam-Ma! and it’s about glamorous grandmothers. “I’ve had it with grandmas being represented in picture books as old and feeble,” says Berger. “I hate how women are seen as practically invisible after 50. I wanted representation for all of those women who are fabulous, no matter what their age.”

Berger also has a deep connection with Rock What Ya Got. “It is the mantra of my life, or at least the mantra I aspire to live by,” she says. “As people get older, they tend to fall into a pattern of being their own worst critic. When you ask a kid what they’ve got to rock, they might say, ‘My armpit farts’ or ‘My awesome floss dance’ or ‘The sandcastles I make at the beach.’ But when you ask grown-ups the same question—especially women—they can’t comfortably tell you. To me, that’s very telling. That was how I knew this book needed to exist.”

For more information about Samantha Berger and her work, visit

Fans of Berger’s more juvenile style needn’t worry. “I haven’t turned a corner,” she says. “The muse

Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 | | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink


Corinna Luyken Creates a Heartfelt Story of Self-Acceptance by Melissa Fales

When creating a new book, children’s author and illustrator Corinna Luyken prefers to not have everything perfectly planned out ahead of time. “I really enjoy not knowing where I’m going,” says Luyken. “I love getting in and getting messy and finding something new and exciting and being surprised.” Luyken’s latest book, My Heart (Dial Books), is a perfect example of how well this spontaneous approach has worked for her.



back to it because I knew there was something there, just not fully-formed yet,” says Luyken. Initially, Luyken’s artwork for My Heart was similar to that of The Book of Mistakes. “There was a sweetness and a gentleness to it,” she says. “The text was also quite sweet. Together, the combination just wasn’t working for me.” Feeling the need to make a dramatic change and eager to experiment with different methods, Luyken employed a monotype printmaking process, using a pencil for the finer details. “When I switched to ink rollers and brayers and started applying ink to the paper, it became messier and rougher,” she says. “Once that happened, I had renewed interest in the project. Something about that combination just worked. I love how the rougher art feels with the sweeter text.” Luyken began My Heart many years ago. It won a work-inprogress grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI) in 2015, then remained dormant while Luyken went on to write her award-winning debut book, The Book of Mistakes, released in 2017. Eventually she returned to focus her efforts once again on My Heart. “I came

Luyken says her desire to use this particular printmaking technique harkens back to the improvisational dance classes she enjoyed in college. “Improvisation is about responding in the moment to what’s happening,” Luyken says. “You can’t say no. If you don’t like it, find a way to transform it. There’s so much creative spirit inside of that. Printmaking is very improvisational in some ways. When you’re applying ink


directly to paper, you have so little control. There is so much room for things to just happen. And you have to see what you have and say, ‘Now where can I go with this?’ I love that.” Although creating My Heart was a truly joyful process for Luyken, the book features a whole range of human emotions. “The dark and stormy is definitely in there,” she says. “Making the art for those pages was fun, too. It feels good to put everything down on paper. In some ways, I think that’s what this book is about. When you have an emotion, don’t fight it. Avoiding a feeling isn’t going to make you feel better. What will make you feel better is acknowledging that it’s there and letting it move through you, knowing that nothing lasts forever.”


Inevitably, says Luyken, when she visits elementary schools to talk about The Book of Mistakes, the children want to know if the mistakes in the book are real or made up. “I tell them that they are absolutely real and that I make mistakes quite often,” she says. “I do things like make one eye bigger than the other, or make a neck or other body part too long. It happens all the time.” The book features drawings Luyken uses to demonstrate how to turn a mistake into something that works. When she mistakenly draws an eye too big for its face, she first tries to fix it by making the other eye bigger. When that doesn’t work, she simply adds a pair of glasses and the problem is solved. “I always tell kids, don’t give up on your drawings too

“The ultimate message is that keeping your heart open is not always easy, but it’s a choice we get to make. I think we all need a reminder of that sometimes.”

to mean that your work is ruined. Give it a second chance. You might make something amazing.” Next fall, look for Luyken’s illustrations in Carolyn Crimi’s new middle-grade book, Weird Little Robots. Luyken will be illustrating Kate Hoefler’s upcoming book, Nothing In Common, due out in the fall of 2020. She’ll also be collaborating with author Marcy Campbell again on Something Good, which is set to be released in 2021. The pair released their first book together, Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse in 2018. Her next solo book will be The Arguers, due out in 2022. “I’m finding out it’s fun to draw people arguing about absurd things,” Luyken says. For now, she is savoring the moment with My Heart. “This is a book that I’m so excited to share with the world,” she says. “It’s a celebration and a meditation on the heart and its feelings and emotions and all the different seasons that the heart can feel. The ultimate message is that keeping your heart open is not always easy, but it’s a choice we get to make. I think we all need a reminder of that sometimes.” soon,” she says. “Almost anything can be turned into a bush or a tree.” In fact, says Luyken, sometimes making a mistake helps you to be a better artist. “The worst thing has already happened,” she says. “Somehow that frees you up. It gives you room to play. It’s already messed up. Let’s see if you can save it or transform it into something even cooler. It doesn’t have 20

Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 |

For more information about Corinna Luyken, visit

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One to Watch:

Faithe Herman by Melissa Fales

Ten-year-old Faithe Herman portrays Annie Pearson in the award-winning NBC show This Is Us. This is the first major television role for Herman, and although she’s young, the fact that she’s become a regular on such a widely popular and critically-acclaimed show, now in its third season, is not lost on her. “I know that I’m lucky to have This Is Us to be my first show,” Herman says. “I know that it’s a really big deal.”

Photographer: Birdie Thompson; Hair: Matilde Campos; Make-up: Anton Khachaturian with Mac Cosmetics | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



One to Watch: Faithe Herman

I got really into acting and now I love it. Now I can’t imagine not acting.” When it comes to playing Annie Pearson, Herman says she feels she has a lot in common with the character, so portraying the daughter of Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) doesn’t feel like too much of a stretch for her. “We’re a lot alike,” she says. “We’re both the youngest in our family and we’re both stylish.” This Is Us has been nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe and has won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, a Critics Choice Award, and a People’s Choice Award, among other accolades. Herman says she’s glad the show has been so well-received, adding that the best part of acting on This Is Us is the time she gets to spend with her fellow cast members. “The whole cast is just great,” she says. “I love working with everyone every day. I have so much fun on set.”

Herman with castmates Sterling K. Brown and Eris Baker.

Herman’s mother, Donna, began nudging her, the youngest of her five children, towards the entertainment industry when she was just 5 years old, believing that getting involved in modeling and acting would help her develop confidence and poise and to overcome her natural timidity. “I started off by doing some background work with my sisters,” Herman says. “I never went up to my mom and said 24

I want to do acting or anything like that. It was something she wanted me to try and see if I liked it.” Donna’s hunch paid off. The more Herman learned about acting, and the more auditions she completed, the better she got at it and the more she enjoyed it. “I was really shy at first, when I was little,” Herman says. “It took me some time, but eventually

Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 |

Next up for Herman is her role in the Warner Bros. film Shazam! which is due out in April 2019. The movie stars Zachary Levi (of Chuck fame) as the title character. “It’s about a boy named Billy who can turn into the superhero Shazam just by yelling the magic word, ‘Shazam!,’” Herman explains. Billy happens to be a foster kid, living in a group home, and Herman plays one of the other foster children in the house. For Herman, one of the most exciting things about making Shazam! was traveling to Canada to film it. “Visiting Toronto was an amazing experience,” she says. “I loved seeing the city and it was so exciting being in another country.” Once again, Herman has found she has much in common with the person she

One to Watch: Faithe Herman

is portraying. “My character, Darla Dudley, is funny and sweet and very chatty,” says Herman. Of course, one major difference between the two is that Darla is a member of the Marvel Family and has the Speed of Mercury


as a super power. However, Herman has a super power of sorts when it comes to acting: a gift for learning her lines quickly and accurately. “Usually, when I’m practicing and going over my lines with my mother,

“I was really shy at first, when I was little. It took me some time, but eventually I got really into acting and now I love it. Now I can’t imagine not acting.”

I just repeat each line in my head,” she says. “That helps me to remember the words. I have a really good memory.” For one audition, Herman successfully memorized 35 lines, encompassing five different scenes. “And I memorized them in only two days,” she says. Despite her roles on one of television’s most talked-about shows and in what is sure to be a blockbuster film next spring, Herman is very much like other girls her age when she’s not on set. “I love to hang out with my friends and just have fun,” she says. “And if I’m not doing that, I’m probably playing with my dog Maverick.” Keep track of Faithe Herman and all of her upcoming projects by following her on Instagram @faitheherman. | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



Dennis and Wendel Kind

Dennis and Wendel Kind are Making History by Melissa Fales

Dennis and Wendel Kind

Husband and wife writing team Dennis and Wendel Kind met at Amsterdam’s first indoor dance festival 20 years ago. “Since then, we do almost everything together. Life is so much better when you can share it with your best friend,” says Wendel. They also write the hip, new children’s book series, Secret Scouts, an adventure series based on curious historical facts. “The series happens to be the coolest way to learn about history, art, inventions, discoveries, political milestones, and intriguing mysteries,” says Dennis. The first book, The Lost Leonardo, was released in October.


says Dennis. “In a frantic search for answers, they find a mind-blowing clue in a 500-year-old painting in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum!” The Missing President brings in additional mysteries for readers to ponder. “We dove into other intriguing mysteries, like The Roswell incident, the unplanned ‘I Have a Dream’ part of Martin Luther King’s famous speech, and ‘Portrait of an African man’ by Jan Jansz Mostaert, the only known portrait of a black man dating from the Renaissance,” Wendel says.

Given his background in law and hers in art, it might seem unusual that the pair ended up writing children’s books together, but according to Dennis, the seed for the series was planted long ago. “Every time we read about or hear about interesting things, our brains go crazy and we come up with alternative stories,” says Dennis. “One day we went on holiday by car to the south of France, a 16-hour drive, and Wendel started this story about some old worn out houses she saw in the distance. We thought up a whole story during that drive. Later, we realized it was an exceptional story but it had to be the last in a series. From that moment on, we realized we needed to come up with an earlier beginning of that end-story.” A few months later, Dennis began writing the beginning of that end-story on a flight to Brazil. When he returned, he turned the 40 pages he had written over to Wendel for her thoughts. According to Wendel, she was “over the moon” for the story, and spent a considerable amount of time streamlining it. “From that moment on, we really started to write together,” says Dennis. In The Lost Leonardo, the Kinds delve into the mysterious vanishment of Leonardo da Vinci between June 1476 and January 1478. “His disappearance puzzles historians to this day, especially because after this hiatus, Leonardo conceived numerous revolutionary inventions and ideas, including a bridge that could only be built in the 21st century,” says Dennis. “Another was the unique design of a helicopter—450 years before it took flight. How did Leonardo know what the world was capable of centuries before its time?” In the story, a group of kids make an unbelievable discovery that will put their friendships to the test. “Secret Scouts and The Lost Leonardo is today’s version of The Goonies and The Da Vinci Code for the imaginations of young readers and teens to get lost in,” says Wendel. Next fall, the second book, The Missing President, will be released and pick up where The Lost Leonardo left off. Returning to the present after a time-traveling adventure, the group of friends learn that the past has drastically changed. “President Obama has been completely erased from history,”

The Kinds purposely injected a nostalgic feel into the Secret Scouts series. “We have fond memories of the 1980s,” says Wendel. “It was a time when feel-good, friends for life groups were common themes among favorite films and novels. After having children of our own, we realized we missed those feel-good stories, so we decided that had to be our objective: a feel-good adventure series of the 1980s reinvented!” While the Secret Scouts books are an excellent source of historical information, there’s nothing textbook-like about them. To make sure the series would resonate with its intended audience, the Kinds surveyed a bunch of middlegrade American students from several different schools about The Lost Leonardo—its language, pace, and characters. “We | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



Dennis and Wendel Kind

“In our stories, young readers bear witness to key moments in history. By looking over the shoulders of the protagonists, they experience history as it is being made. Learning about history has never been so much fun or so exciting.”

naturally speak with a voice used by the younger generation,” says Wendel. “The best comment we’ve received, hundreds of times, in fact, and both in person and by email, comes from young readers themselves who say that our voice and the way the protagonists behave and talk is exactly like their own.” When those same students suggested that the Secret Scouts series would best be promoted in a visually entertaining way, the Kinds took the unique approach of creating a trailer for their book series. “Plus,” says Dennis, “we hope the series will also be developed into a TV series and the trailer helps to give a spark on what such a series could look like.” The Kinds put much effort into ensuring the historical accuracy of their product and collaborated with experts in specific fields to ensure that all facts that drive their narratives are true. “Each part of the series is inspired by historical and factual events, and young adults and adults are 28

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able to Google everything they read in our stories: locations, routes and directions, the mysteries, works of art, and lots more,” says Dennis. The Secret Scouts books give young people an opportunity to learn about history in a new way. “These are feel-good adventures that revolve around friendship, historical fact, and mystery, set in fascinating cities and time periods across the world, but most of all, stories that kids can effortlessly learn from and lose themselves in,” says Dennis. “In our stories, young readers bear witness to key moments in history. By looking over the shoulders of the protagonists, they experience history as it is being made. Learning about history has never been so much fun or so exciting.” For more information about Secret Scouts (ISBN 9789082875607), or to see the trailer for The Lost Leonardo, visit | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink


Diverse Books and Bullying by Deborah Pope, Executive Director, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

Discussion focused on the problem of bullying is everywhere. This is a good thing. Getting it out in the open, identifying it, and addressing the origin and effects are important steps toward dealing with it. It may not be possible to eliminate bullying, but by calling it out and creating strategies to avoid and confront it, we can contain the damage it causes, especially to our children. Happily, something as simple as reading picture books to your child can help address the problem. Reading books about different kinds of people and cultures, as well as different everyday problems, diffuses the differences that can cause fear or dislike, turning what was foreign and 30

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threatening into something familiar and friendly, and at the very least opening up thought-provoking conversations. Hearing stories that include aspects of bullying can be eye-openers for children inclined to bully, and those often targeted. Ironically, what we can do to make our children stronger than a bully is much the same we would do to make sure our child does not become a bully: to instill in them self-confidence, empathy, and compassion. Being bullied and bullying are two sides of the same coin and to be guarded against equally. Trying to explain why some children are targets and others bullies is very difficult unless you know that child very well.


This is one of the first ways in which reading to your child, and choosing diverse literature, can help. Reading time is quiet, together time when your child or your students can get to know one another better. This is when they can share their thoughts, without calling attention to themselves. It is when a targeted child, identifying with a character in the book, can take pride in overcoming a bully and a bully can reconsider their actions. We know that seeing a character similar to yourself as the heroine or hero of a popular book builds self-esteem and a sense of belonging. Being featured in a popular book— one that many people are reading—is validation that you are embraced by the culture. We also know that seeing a character different than yourself as the heroine or hero of a popular book is essential to building admiration, empathy, and acceptance for all children. The challenge is for parents, caregivers and teachers to take this understanding a step further and use it to counteract the impulse to bully and augment the internal resistance to being bullied. Here are thoughts on how to meet these challenges.


Thank you Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco is the story of a young girl whose immigrant family values education highly but for whom learning to read has been too difficult. This youngster has been able to fool her teachers, but the other students taunt her for her slowness. She feels frightened, alone, and stupid, until Mr. Falker, her new teacher, figures out what is happening. This book was created to tell a compelling story in a captivating way and it succeeds, making it a book any child would want to read just for entertainment. That is what makes it a perfect book to use when discussing taunting or bullying someone different and about extending compassion and understanding to someone who is vulnerable. From reading this book, a child with learning problems would gain strength and pride; and a child who might have been the one taunting gains insight into the effects of their actions, as well as how their actions affect how others see them.

In order for diverse children’s literature to have an impact, it has to be on the shelves readily accessible to our kids. It has to be there in quantity and quality. The books should have beautiful pictures, interesting stories, and comprise as close to 50 percent of the collection as possible. There should be books about people with different skin colors, from different cultures, with different abilities, featuring as many girls as boys as strong protagonists and touching on shared issues, like bullying. You and your children’s teachers don’t have to be held back by the fact that publishers still put out too few diverse children’s books each year. You can balance your home and classroom libraries by doing web searches to find the wonderful books with diverse characters that have been published over the past five decades. There are many lists of diverse books available online, published by institutions like the New York Public Library, the Children’s Book Council, and We Need Diverse Books. Be sure to buy books that you enjoy reading, because hopefully, you’ll be reading each one a few hundred times. Also important is to make sure these books are not all about historical figures, events, or causes. Your children’s libraries should be full of stories of everyday kid experiences and problems, like bullying, trouble with sharing, or playing in the snow. It is in these stories that children see themselves, recognize their friends as having similar problems and feelings, and can build their self-esteem and empathy. Being immersed in this kind of literature makes it harder, but not impossible, for children to use race, class, disability, gender, or nationality to exclude another child.

Stories that are compelling and/or fun, and that can as a side benefit, inspire the reader to think differently about their world are the books to look for. A Friend Like Ed by Karen Wagner, A Best Friend for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban, My Best Friend by Mary Ann Rodman, Rain! by Linda Ashman, Firebird by Misty Copeland and Goggles! by Ezra Jack Keats are only the tip of the iceberg of book suggestions for bringing up the subjects of peer pressure, dishonesty, shunning, racism, and self-confidence in the face of prejudice and bullies. Exposure alone is not enough. These books provide an opportunity for you to interact with your child. It is in the | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink




interaction that a child really learns. Every book needs to be discussed, not just at the end, but throughout the reading experience. The teacher, parent, or caregiver has to stop to examine the illustrations with the child, to discuss the story, solicit opinions and questions, and to offer their own. This will encourage the child to think about what they’ve read, learning the lesson of the story, and also learning that reading is not just about consuming the words. It is about analyzing the meaning of the words and the story; that the world of the story carries weight and importance. It is crucial that children learn that the stories they read are important because books can model appropriate behavior and provide solace and respite when a child is unhappy or feeling alone. It is from books that children can be reminded that there is a world and a way of being beyond the one they are in. Books are a window into a way of feeling better and learning that whatever is happening to them is not their fault. While there are movies and electronic media designed to provide the same kind of comfort and escape, books remain of primary importance because they require the active participation of the child to animate the imagery and world of the story. When the child’s imagination is triggered to form the world of the story, it triggers their sense of power over their own reality. The discussions children have with adults while being read to are especially effective at teaching empathy, compassion, and a sense of belonging because the very nature of the interaction makes the child feel they are receiving empathy, compassion, and a sense that they belong, from the adult. The child learns that the adult is interested in their thinking and they are safe discussing their thoughts, fears and feelings. This makes the adult a trusted ally from whom they can get advice as they face external adversity of any kind, including bullying. An adult with this connection can also be instrumental in steering a child away from bullying. 32

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Spending time with a child and hearing them talk about the book is golden time for getting to know the strengths and vulnerabilities of that child. It is a time to find out what is happening to them at home, at school, or on the Internet because they are not the central subject of the conversation. Very often it is easier for children to deliver information when the child is not in the hot seat. That conversation should be continued in the sharing of information between parents and teachers in the community surrounding your child. This communication is critical to knowing about and dealing with situations, like bullying, before they become toxic. As parents, we sometimes believe we have more control over our children’s lives and who they will become than we really do. Knowing and accepting our children’s strengths and challenges is fundamental to helping them cope in the world. Some children are resilient, some can achieve resilience with effort, and some are more vulnerable. Children are, after all, people. We need to know our children and, accepting their limitations, help them be the strongest they can be. We can celebrate who they are, give them a safe harbor, advisors they can trust, and with the help of books, access to understanding that their world and their strength is much larger than it might appear. Deborah Pope is Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. The EJK Foundation is dedicated to supporting and enriching public education through the EJK MiniGrant and Bookmaking programs; and to promoting quality and diverse literature for children through the Ezra Jack Keats Award, given annually to a writer and illustrator whose work celebrates our multicultural population. The EJK Award list is a great place to start when looking for wonderful and diverse books for your library. For more information visit | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



QA & with

Rebecca Elliott by Julianne Black

Whoooo? Whooooo? Who is Rebecca Elliott? The creative mind behind the wildly famous Owl Diaries, that’s who! If you have a kiddo between the ages of 5 and 10, you are most likely already aware of these gorgeous and highly addictive chapter books. I had to know how it all started, and even more pressing … why owls? Q: I’m so excited to catch up with you! The bestselling Owl Diaries in Scholastic’s Branches series is a favorite in our house! It has so many aspects that make it stand out—the characters are easy to relate to, the town and situations are comfortable and easy to imagine, and the colors and patterns make the pages really pop! I love the amazing (and talented) Eva Wingdale! Can you tell us a bit about how she came to be? And why an owl?

A: With Owl Diaries, I really set out to write the kind of books I would have wanted to read when I was a pre-10 year old. I always loved animal stories but equally wanted characters I could relate to, so this is what prompted Eva and her world. It’s escapism (owls that wear berets and attend Treetop Owlementary, etc.) while at the same time, I hope, it’s relatable to a say an 8-year-old as it’s about friendships, 34

family, and being a creative kid. And why owls? Well obviously, with their big eyes and fluffy feathers, they’re pretty adorable, but also their nocturnal living and the fact that we rarely see them in our day-to-day lives, yet we know they live around us gives them this mythical quality. We could almost believe they might just live a secret life in the woods where they speak to each other on their Pinecone phones and have bats as pets! Q: You mention the similarities between you and Eva in your book bios, but do you have a Lucy and Baxter (and Sue Clawson) in your life as well to draw inspiration?

A: Yes, Eva is definitely based on me in that I was always drawing and making things and started the odd club in my time too (and had a cool, if occasionally annoying older brother who was in a band!). Lucy is kind of a bit quieter and a bit more sensible than Eva so is probably a mixture of a few fun but slightly more sensible people than me who I’ve known over the years. Eva’s pet bat, Baxter, is probably a mixture of my pet cat, Bernard, and my two sons—cheeky and lovable but always flying off somewhere they shouldn’t! As for Sue, Eva’s “Meany

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McMeanersson” classmate, well I think we’ve all known a few Sue Clawson’s in our time, haven’t we? Though actually she’s one of my favorite characters. Yes, she’s blunt, but I don’t really think she means to be, she’s just a bit misunderstood! Q: I love the mixed media textures, layers of shapes, and lined paper backgrounds. It’s kind of part graphic novel, part collage, and part sketchbook. It is very different from your illustrations in Just Because, Zoo Girl, and the Cub books. How did the diary style evolve and how does the workflow differ from your more traditional illustrations?

A: I’ve illustrated books for many years now and to keep things interesting, I’m always changing my style to suit the next project (I’m easily bored!). I’ve used the layered patterns digital style in a few picture books and it seemed to really fit the Owl Diaries, almost as if Eva has scrapbooked the illustrations herself. There is also the fact that there are 80 fully illustrated pages in each Owl Diary (and I’m currently working on book 11!), so I knew I needed a quicker style than my painterly one if I was to keep my sanity and keep up with


the workload! I’m proud of how the books look, though, and think the style suits the format well. Q: When you decide on a theme for a book, what is your next step? Are you an outliner or a jump-right-in writer?

A: I’m definitely an outliner, though I like to give the story space to breathe and shoot off in an unexpected direction if it wants to. I let the story grow, starting with a title or concept, then a paragraph or two, then a full chapter by chapter breakdown of the plot and finally the finished manuscript which then goes through many (many!) rounds of edits with Katie, my extraordinary editor at Scholastic, and together we pound and prod the book into shape. Q: Tell us a bit about your awesome pod studio and how that came to be your workspace.

A: Ah, my lovely pod. My “she-shed.” I absolutely love working from home, but it’s with two noisy sons and a husband who plays electric guitar. Loudly. A lot. Well, it was mildly difficult to concentrate on that empty page in the house so I had a hobbit-

esque pod built for me at the bottom of my garden next to my chickens, and it’s now pretty much my favorite place in the world. I also think it’s important to

be able to close the door at 5 p.m. and leave work behind for the evening. It’s a nice short commute to work, too! | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



Q: It looks like you get to do tons of school and library visits! Any surprising comments or questions from Owl Diaries fans that have stuck with you or shaped the evolution of the stories?

A: One of my favorite exchanges was with a 5-year-old boy when I did a school visit, introduced myself and, while holding up some of my illustrations asked the class, “So does anyone know what an ‘illustrator’ is?” The boy shot his hand up and asked, “Does it mean you live in a tree?” I live in the UK where Owl Diaries is not so big, but this summer I did a book tour in the USA and the fans I met were INCREDIBLE! Meeting really enthusiastic kids clinging to their copies of my books was just an absolute 36

joy. It was a fairly big shock, however, to discover that the noise us Brits give to owls is unheard of in the States. When I mentioned that owls go ‘Toowit, too-woo,’ I’ve never seen so many bewildered and open-mouthed faces staring back at me! Q: You have a YA book coming out soon! Can you tell us a bit about that?

A: Writing an actual novel has been my dream for many years but I finally got around to it and after a long search for a new agent, and then two years of re-writes, I am now, amazingly, having my first YA novel published by Penguin Random House in early 2020! It’s a TOTAL dream come true. But I’m not sure I’m allowed to say too much about

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it yet so come back to me in a year or so on that one! I also have a new Unicorn Diaries series coming out at a similar time with Scholastic so 2020 should be a fun year. For more on Rebecca Elliott, visit

Julianne DiBlasi Black has written and illustrated several books, including Sleep Sweet, the multi-award winning Augmented Reality picture book. | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



Reading Resolutions by James Patterson New Year’s resolutions are hard, no doubt about it. Every year, we force ourselves to create resolutions that dictate how we’ll live our lives in the upcoming year. Workout more, eat less sweets, learn a new language, write 100 bestsellers—well, maybe that one’s just for me. But despite all of our best intentions, most resolutions are destined to fail—approximately 80 percent of our resolutions fail by the second week of February. We can’t even make it through two months! The odds are certainly stacked against us, especially when we live in such distracting times. And I’m not immune to the difficulties of keeping a resolution. By the time February rolls around, like 38

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clockwork, I suddenly remember why it’s so hard to keep a resolution: Because it’s a lot easier to stick to one when you have help—when you’re not just doing it for yourself, but for someone else, especially someone you love. Think about our kids. If you have children, most of your life, whether you want to admit it or not, revolves around making sure your children are safe, healthy, and happy. I certainly spend enough time thinking about our son, Jack. And to be honest, most of the time when I make New Year’s resolutions, I’m thinking about my future, for my kid.


Make a trip to the local library a weekly habit.

that give them the confidence to think for themselves, to see the truth in knowledge. But like I mentioned before—it’s pretty easy to make a resolution, but not so easy to keep it. This resolution is no exception. If your child is a reluctant reader, the very prospect of sticking a book in front of them and telling them they’ll enjoy it can sound like pure torture to them. Teaching my son how to love books was a daunting enough prospect. So how do you get a kid to do something they don’t naturally want to do?

Children are the greatest hope we have for the future. This is why I believe so firmly in the power of education. And to that point—what if we made New Year’s resolutions for our kids? It’s no secret that I think one of the more important things we can do for our children is to instill a lifelong love of books and reading. Reading, simply put, is the best way for a child to learn.

Here are my tips: Make a trip to the local library a weekly habit. Surround your kids with books from an early age. Make sure your kids see you reading—for fun. Every time you buy them a toy, buy them a book, too. And eventually, we’ll be able to mold their minds into thinking that reading is a reward, not a chore.

And that’s why I’ve pledged to make a very important New Year’s promise every year since I started my children’s book imprint, JIMMY Patterson Books: A resolution to get our kids reading. As parents, I think this is one of the most vital promises we can make to ourselves. What’s the quickest route to a good education? Books that not only engage readers, but teach them. Books that allow them to access perspectives they’ve never encountered before. Books

Teaching our children to love books is a resolution that I think—I hope—we can all keep. And though change is always hard at first, just remember how important this promise is—not just for the sake of your child or for the sake of your family, but for the sake of the future. In trying times, we all have to remind ourselves that we have the power to change the world. We just have to start small—as small as teaching one child to love books.

The world’s #1 bestselling author has teamed up with the world’s most famous genius to entertain, educate, and inspire a generation of kids with the first and only kids’ book series officially approved by the Albert Einstein Archives. | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



Fashion Statement by Judy Newman At Scholastic Book Clubs, we do everything we can to help teachers and parents help students (and themselves!) discover books they will love to read. So our job is to stay on top of trends in kids’ book publishing and reading. We say we’ll do anything to connect kids to great books and help them see themselves as readers. And for Creative Director David Vozar and me, this includes dressing up like the characters in some of our favorite books. Here’s what’s been trending recently in children’s book fashion—I mean, reading—at Scholastic Book Clubs:

The Wonky Donkey The Wonky Donkey by New Zealand author Craig Smith, illustrated by British illustrator Katz Cowley, was first 40

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published in 2009 by Scholastic New Zealand. Back then, our colleagues in the Scholastic Australia offices told us we had to get on the bandwagon and share this book—and its companion song—with US readers. We offered The Wonky Donkey book and CD in Scholastic Book Clubs, but it didn’t really catch on. So this fall, we were taken by surprise when a video of a Scottish grandma reading The Wonky Donkey to her grandbaby—in paroxysms of laughter—went viral. All of a sudden, The Wonky Donkey was back, and this time it resonated with audiences on this side of the world! It raced to the top of US and Scholastic Book Clubs bestseller lists. David and I dusted off our donkey ears and did our own Watch read-aloud, which you can watch on the Scholastic the readaloud! Book Clubs Facebook and Instagram pages.



Dragon Rider Dragons are a staple in children’s literature, and they are definitely trending now in children’s books for all ages. Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider was first published in Germany in 1997. Then in 2004, the English edition was published by Chicken House (which is now part of the Scholastic family) in the United Kingdom, and by Scholastic in the United States. I remember those early meetings at Scholastic about the American edition and how excited we were to be publishing this internationally bestselling author’s magnificent story about Firedrake, Sorrel, and their adventures to protect the dragon community from humans and “the Golden One.” David and I were again excited to dress up. This time, we wore our dragon-riding costumes to celebrate Cornelia Funke’s long-beloved classic, Dragon Rider, and its long-awaited sequel, Dragon Rider: The Griffin’s Feather, which was just published this past summer.

Giraffes Can’t Dance Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees, was first published in England in 1999 and came to the United States in 2001. It has been a bestseller that celebrates being true to yourself pretty much ever since. This month, we celebrated the 19th anniversary of Giraffes Can’t Dance by featuring it on our Scholastic Book Clubs blog and … putting on our best giraffe outfits, of course! Scholastic Book Clubs’ reading troupe, the Book Boys, also got into the swing of things with an original music video they debuted in front of a live audience just last week at Scholastic Book Clubs’ annual Pajama Drive Celebration Party. (You can watch Watch the Book Boys at the party. More about the the Book Boys Pajama Program in another month’s column.) Boogie!

(Insider Fun Fact: We featured Dragon Rider last month on our Scholastic Book Clubs blog, and it was a runaway hit! We had to pull every string imaginable with our printers to keep the book in stock so that teachers could give Dragon Rider as a gift to their students in time for the holidays. You can check out an interview with Cornelia Funke and some other interesting information about Dragon Rider at:

Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment The first book in this new series by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein stars a not-so-typical kid genius named Max Einstein. After hacking NYU to attend college classes (even though she’s only 11 years old), building inventions to help those who are homeless, and playing speed chess in the park, Max is recruited by a mysterious organization to solve the | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink




world’s biggest problems. She’s a modern heroine whom young readers will love! David and I love pretending to be Max.

on classroom bookshelves, where they are imperatively accessible to all children every day of the school year.

James Patterson himself is also a constant source of inspiration to David and me and to all of us at Scholastic Book Clubs. James is unwavering in his passion and commitment to help all kids find books they will love ... and then ask for another. He delivers on this promise through writing and publishing his own books for kids (such as Max Einstein!) with his ReadKiddoRead website and through many other programs designed to make reading fun and accessible for all children.

When I was in college, I thought I was going to law school to become a lawyer. I never guessed I would be dressed as a giraffe or a donkey or riding on a dragon or (and this from someone who spends a lot of time worrying about how her hair looks) ... in a crazy Max Einstein wig.

At Scholastic Book Clubs, we are particularly proud to work with James on the Patterson Partnership—this year, he granted $2 million of his own money (and Scholastic Book Clubs matched with 2 million Bonus Points) directly to classroom teachers to build their classroom libraries. The popularity and enthusiasm for the James Patterson grants with classroom teachers—most of whom have to spend their own personal money on their classroom libraries—is astounding. This year we received 130,000 entries! These funds help teachers put interesting, fun, new, and classic books—on all topics at all reading levels—right


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But nothing is more gratifying to me, David, and our entire team at Scholastic Book Clubs than connecting children to books they will love to read so that they can say, “I am a reader.” Any suggestions for who we should dress up as next? Please send them my way: I’d love to hear from you!

Judy Newman is President and Reader-in-Chief of Scholastic Book Clubs. For more information, visit | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



Teaching Toolbox:

Snowy Stories by Larissa Juliano

Having meaningful discussions with children during read-aloud time is imperative to their comprehension skills and path to becoming thoughtful and engaged readers. This winter season, immerse your readers with some special activities all about the snow!

Future teaching toolbox columns will talk about some fabulous phonics and ABC lessons for our littlest literacy learners, but the comprehension piece of talking about a story and making connections to the characters, plot, setting, and conflict/resolution allows readers to really learn about which literature piques their interest, what genres they gravitate towards, and it allows them to feel drawn to certain books of their own choosing.

and nonfiction, animal characters, human characters, classic stories, and stories packed with recognizable characters (Dora the Explorer, Winnie the Pooh, Paw Patrol, Barbie, etc). Luckily, winter stories have become such a popular topic (and setting) to write about and there are countless books to be shared during this hot cocoa season. Here are some snowy, fun-filled activities to keep your story monsters happy, engaged, and learning all at the same time!

Themes are always a great way to start the schema building and “what books do I like” thinking process, and having a variety of books within that theme is important—fiction

Snowy Day Literature Comparisons


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A quick Internet search or visit to your school/local library will reveal tons of snow adventure books. We all have our


favorites, but there is a plethora of new literature with some fabulous characters just waiting to be discovered! Create an anchor chart in your classroom with the following columns to fill in after you read the book. Title, Characters, Snow Day Setting, Activity during Snow Day, Illustration Style/ Favorite Pictures (this can be a fun discussion as to what the illustrations depict—are they soft and wispy snow pictures? Bold and bright? Lots of color? Muted colors? Children will start to notice some special connections to the stories, including characters’ feelings. Were they surprised on their snow day? Was it planned or just a winter day? Were they with friends or family? I like putting these questions on little paper snowflakes and have my students pull them out of a winter hat as we sit in a circle and discuss.

Teddy Bear Campout Read some fiction and nonfiction stories about polar bears. End with Jan Brett’s beautiful tale The Three Snow Bears. For a classroom incentive, have a teddy bear campout and have children bring a snuggly bear to read with while enjoying hot chocolate that isn’t too hot or too cold, but just right. In the past, I’ve also had polar bear pictures in a ‘bowl’ (like porridge) and children will choose a picture and describe what is happening. Also great for sequencing parts of a story, whether a sentence strip and just text, or a picture from the book!

No Snowflake … or Person is alike! Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Mary Azarian and Snow by Cynthia Rylant and Lauren Stringer are the perfect reading combination to introduce the concept of ‘unique’. Children will be in awe as they discover how truly special and magnificent this fluffy sled-sliding water vapor is!

Discussion can vary depending on your readers’ ages, of course. An introduction to Wilson ‘Snowflake’ Bentley would be wonderful as knowledge is gained about his life, photography, and the snow formation process. Younger readers will love reading and seeing real photos of Mr. Bentley’s snowflakes and then reading about Snow with Cynthia Rylant to make their very own snowflakes with personality! This can be arts and crafts, cutting and gluing galore with each student represented in their snowflake! In years past, I’ve done a classroom chart with each child’s name and talked about something that made them ‘unique’ and then they decorated their snowflakes in their very own way. Hanging up the chart and displaying these special books will showcase to teachers and families where the inspiration came from. No matter what exceptional snow stories you share this winter season, having your child discuss and making personal connections to the text will guide them in becoming reflective and excited readers all the while developing preferences towards books that make their eyes sparkle! Share your snow stories with us at Story Monsters Ink! I would love to feature them in an upcoming column. Use the Twitter hashtag #teachingtoolbox or #storymonsters or contact me through my website

Larissa Juliano is an elementary school teacher, reading specialist, and children’s book author. Follow her on Twitter @larissasjuliano or visit | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



For the Birds! by Conrad J. Storad

Learning to appreciate the beauty of nature requires effort. You have to put all of your senses to work and, most importantly, pay attention. Sometimes you even have to move your body from the sofa and go outside. Try it. You might surprise yourself with how much fun awaits just beyond the door. Are you ready? Take a walk anywhere on Planet Earth. Stop. Look around. Listen. The chances are very good that you will see or hear a bird of some type after only waiting a few minutes. Birds are everywhere. In fact, scientists have identified almost 10,000 different kinds of birds living on Earth today. There used to be lots more. Birds have been around for more than 150 million years. They come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. The smallest of all birds living today is the bee hummingbird. It weighs just a bit more than a dime. The largest bird is the ostrich. It is taller than most people and can weigh more than 300 pounds. Because most birds have the wonderful ability to fly, they are among the most mobile of all animals. Still, some birds spend their entire lives in one small area. Other birds move in cycles from one place to another and back. The cycle is called migration. Lots of birds move to find food and to avoid cold weather. Some birds travel alone. Others migrate in huge flocks. Some travel by day, others by night. Some birds actually migrate hundreds or even thousands of miles from one 46

Grey crowned crane

continent to another. The champion of all migrating birds is the Arctic tern. Every year, the tern flies thousands of miles from its spring nesting grounds in the Arctic and other parts of the far north. They migrate to winter homes on the edge of giant ice sheets in Antarctica at the exact opposite end of the globe.

Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 |

Birds live everywhere. Home can be the dry, icy valleys of Antarctica to the steaming, hot jungles of South America, Africa, and Asia. More than 1,000 different kinds of birds live in the rocky cactus deserts, sweeping grasslands, and rugged mountains of the American Southwest. Hummingbirds and songbirds of many


kinds love the high mountain meadows filled with wildflowers, or the cool forests of pine, spruce, fir, and aspen trees. Other birds make their homes in the broad, sweeping grasslands of the Midwest. Still others prefer the eastern or southern forests of oak, maple, birch, and pine. Water is always a magnet for birds. They inhabit wetlands wherever they occur. Birds of all shapes and sizes will flock to areas near lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers lined with marsh grass and cattails, tall cottonwood, willow, and sycamore trees. Some birds make year-round homes in the southwestern deserts and Rocky Mountains of the far West. You can see hawks and eagles and falcons that swoop and dive and soar thousands of feet into the sky. Brightly colored hummingbirds hover near flowers like tiny helicopters. Roadrunners can run faster along the ground than the fastest human sprinter. Woodpeckers climb trees or dig nest holes inside the arms of giant cactus. Some types of owls even burrow right into parched desert ground. Other species of birds live in certain areas for only part of the year. They arrive in the spring or summer to build nests and raise their young. They move on after the babies leave the nest. Other birds follow the foliage. They arrive when certain flowers bloom during the mild spring or fall months. They move on when the temperature starts to heat up or cool down. Still, other kinds of birds are long-distance travelers. Many kinds of ducks will stop over for a quick bite to eat, something to drink, and a few days of rest as they migrate on long trips to the north or south. Birds can entertain a listener for hours with beautiful songs and calls. Others never make a sound. Be sure to keep your eyes and ears open wherever you live or visit. The kinds of birds you see

and hear often change with the season. A bird’s ability to fly on its own power makes it different from almost all other animals. Birds can fly because they have wings. Bird wings are very special structures. The size and shape of the wings can tell you quite a bit about how a bird lives. Some wings are long and wide. These wings are designed to allow birds to soar high into the sky for long periods of time. Others are slim and sleek. Thin wings allow birds to fly very fast, to perform acrobatic maneuvers, or to zoom in and out of tight spaces at high speed. Some birds have short, stubby wings. Don’t feel sad for these birds. Tiny, stubby wings often allow birds to hover like tiny helicopters, to change directions in mid-air very quickly, or even to fly backwards. When it comes to birds, color is very important. A bird’s plumage—its feathers—can come in all colors of the rainbow, and beyond. Some birds are mottled with black and white spots or stripes. Some are speckled with drab grays and browns. Dull colors allow some birds blend with their habitat. The camouflage is a survival tool. Muted colors protect them from predators. Other birds seem dressed for a gala ball or outfitted for a parade. They almost radiate with blazing reds and yellows, or vibrant shades of blue, green, or orange. For most species, it is male birds that strut their stuff in bright colors. The vivid hues allow males to show off as they try to attract a mate. Want to be a bird watcher? It is a favorite hobby of millions of humans around the world. Colors are an easy way to learn how to identify different types of birds. But there is much more to learn. A good pair of binoculars can help. Some bird watching can be done from the comfort of your recliner. It helps if you have access to big picture window. Better yet, get dressed, put on some comfortable shoes, walk out the door, and start watching.

RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE BOOKS • Bird Watching for Kids: Bitesized Learning & Backyard Projects by George H. Harrison • Fly With Me: A Celebration of Birds through Pictures, Poems, and Stories by Jane Yolen • Flying Colors (Beautiful Birds of the Southwest) by Conrad J. Storad

WEBSITES • Audubon—Easy ways to get kids birding news/easy-ways-get-kidsbirding •—9 tips for bird watching with kids http://goexplorenature. com/2011/02/9-tips-for-birdwatching-with-kids.html • Birding with kids—Resource guide pages/resources-birding

Conrad J. Storad The award-winning author and editor of more than 50 science and nature books for children and young adults, Conrad J. Storad expertly draws young readers into his imaginative and entertaining “classroom” to help them better understand and appreciate the natural world. | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



Mary Poppins Returns reviewed by Nick Spake • grade: A

Much like how the lightsaber was passed from one generation to another in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mary Poppins Returns marks the passing of the umbrella. On paper, this follow-up to the 1964 classic shouldn’t take flight. Having been nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, the original is considered Walt Disney’s magnum opus and its legacy can never be topped. Mary Poppins Returns earns a special place next to its predecessor, though, with the same timing, charm, and magic while also offering something new. Where so many modern sequels bank on nostalgia alone, this one successfully takes us back to our childhoods, making every adult in the audience feel like a kid again. Set a couple decades after the first film, the Banks children are now all grown up. Emily Mortimer’s Jane is still single and Ben Whishaw’s Michael is a widowed father of three. In addition to losing his wife, Michael is also likely to lose the house he grew up in unless he can uncover a certificate for the bank shares his father left behind. When life is at its bleakest for the Banks, Mary Poppins literally descends from the grey skies above and brings the sunshine back into their lives.  Over 50 years after winning Best Actress for playing the practically perfect nanny, Julie Andrews was given a chance to make a cameo in this film. Andrews turned it down, though, as to not distract from Emily Blunt, who inherits the role in riveting fashion. Like Andrews, Blunt is stern but also fun-loving and spontaneous while always being in control. Although she recaptures the enchantment Andrews brought to the table, it never comes off as an impression with Blunt adding her own ingredients to this spoonful of sugar. The same could be said when Matt Smith replaced David Tennant on Doctor Who. Speaking of which, is it possible that the ageless Mary is a Time Lord? Either that, or she’s been spending her holidays in Neverland.  48

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Mary naturally has a series of musical misadventures with Michael’s children, Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh), and Georgie (Joel Dawson). Also along for the ride is the charismatic Lin-Manuel Miranda as a lamplighter named Jack, who was an apprentice of Bert back in the day. The great Marc Shaiman’s songs are not only brilliantly choreographed and staged, but also among the catchiest tunes Disney has delivered in recent years. Mary takes the children under the sea in “Can You Imagine That?,” paying homage to “The Beautiful Briny” number from Bedknobs and Broomsticks, which was ironically intended for the

original Mary Poppins. Blunt and Miranda are every bit as animated as their cartoon co-stars in the stunning “A Cover is Not the Book” number. Meryl Streep literally flips the world upside down in “Turning Turtle,” and “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” might be Disney’s most energized live-action number since “Step in Time.” The film’s most touching song is “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” which reminds us that even in death, our loved ones are never truly gone. As was the case with the first film, Mary’s goal is to mend a broken family by saving Mr. Banks. It would’ve been easy to make Michael a copy of his father, but there are some notable differences. Michael is affectionate towards his children and is quick to apologize whenever he crosses a line. He’s simply overwhelmed with grief and isn’t sure how to keep things together without his wife. The film not only tenderly tackles the loss of a family member, but also the loss of childhood innocence and how to get it back. While the film wisely never turns Michael into an antagonist, there is a villain in the form of Colin Firth’s greedy banker. On one hand, a villain could have come off as unnecessary in a story where the inner struggle is already enough. The villain is carefully woven into the story, though, amounting to one of the most inventive climaxes you’ll ever see. Although Mary Poppins Returns isn’t necessarily better than its predecessor, the film is every bit as timeless. The filmmakers don’t try to make a 21stcentury Mary Poppins with lots of in-jokes and pop culture references. The performances, David Magee’s screenplay, director Rob Marshall’s visual eye, and Marc Shaiman’s musical score all feel as if they could’ve come out of the 1960s. Granted, the effects are more up to modern standards, but the filmmakers don’t constantly rely on CGI either, leaving room for gorgeous practical sets and effects. Even the animated segments remain true to the franchise’s roots with lovely hand-drawn artistry. Just as Mary looks like she hasn’t aged a day, this sequel shouldn’t show any wrinkles 50 years from now. 

Nick Spake has been working as a film critic for ten years reviewing movies on his website: | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink


Liv on Life

If I Could Live Inside a Book...

If I could live inside a book for a day, it would be one of the books from the Harry Potter series. I have been reading this magical series ever since I was in 2nd grade, (almost five years). I love this book series because it has created my second home. Sometimes I feel that I really do know these characters and after a while they become my role models. The stories are whimsical, with crazy characters that are out of this world, but are actual real-life situations that aren’t that much different from the world today. They are layered with symbolism that might not be directly what we know today, but very relatable. Sure, when I was younger I mainly focused on all the spells, creatures, and broomsticks, but as I read the story over and over and over again (I have read the series over 12 times), I began to notice that nobody is perfect—good, bad or evil—the characters, just like in real life, have layers. The Harry Potter series is not like a lot of children’s books, but more like people and situations in real life. 


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by Olivia Amiri

Find a book that you can call home and figure out why. What is it about the book that makes you want to step inside and live there? Maybe that it takes place in a faraway place, or you love the main character, or the story makes you feel a certain way. Just maybe you can take something from that book and create that here in real life. And have fun doing so!

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.


Mrs. Supple

by Megan Morrow, age 17 I have never been comfortable within the walls of a classroom. A constant fear of embarrassment in front of my classmates, and the never-ending terrified feeling of being called on by the teacher never goes away. I couldn’t remember basic math, I struggled to read, and I had zero reading comprehension. I learned fast never to make eye contact with the teacher and lived by this rule for years. But after entering sixth grade, things quickly changed. My class was assigned a teacher’s aid. This was how I met Mrs. Supple. She is no ordinary teacher, and focuses completely on her students. Mrs. Supple is selfless and open-minded. She has showed me how to succeed in school, guided me to be a better person, and helped lead me in my faith during my time with her at St. Charles Catholic School. At first glance, she is just another teacher. She is short with dark hair and walks the halls like she is six foot five. Spend five minutes with her and you’d think she’s entertaining. Spend an hour with her and you’ll never want to leave her side. I spent three years with her and she is still my biggest fan to this day. Every day, I would hear “Hi, Megs!” ringing in my ear, instantly bringing a smile to my face. Later she would pull me out of class to go over math, reading, and to take tests. We would march our way into the teachers’ lounge and without hesitation go right for the treats left on the table. We would talk about her kids, sports, and of course, the class gossip. She has a way of making you feel like you’re the most important thing in the world and there’s nothing else she would rather be doing than talking to you. I really struggled in school. I lost motivation during middle school to succeed and just came to the conclusion I am dumb. But my failing was not an option for Mrs. Supple. She was always looking out for me and by her request, I was tested for dyslexia. If it weren’t for her entering my life, I would still be asking the same question, “What’s wrong with me?” I would still be grade levels behind in math and reading. Because of her, I am no longer uncomfortable within the walls of a classroom. Mrs. Supple has changed my life forever.

Hey Kids! Visit for instructions on how to submit your work! | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink




GUIDE Grandparents’ Day by Pamela Traynor, Tanja Russita A must-read for sleepovers with the grandparents! Grandparents’ Day captures the joy of a grandparent and grandchild making memories together. With lyrical verses and enchanting watercolor illustrations, this book will be read again and again. Teachers and librarians will find it to be a wonderful way to recognize grandparents or use with multigenerational units of study. A wonderful gift for grandparents or soon-to-be grandparents. “This book is a gem.” (Amazon Reviewer) Winner, 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

Bacon’s Big Smooching Adventure by Olivia Johnson Bacon’s Big Smooching Adventure is a whimsical story about a smooching pig with a huge heart for his animal friends. He smooches all kinds of furry and not-so-furry animal friends to raise money for animals in need. Bacon knows that everyone is unique and special in their own way and that everyone needs to be loved. We hope you will enjoy Bacon’s Big Smooching Adventure.

Santa Claus Clause: The Christmas Story by Nancy Dick In Santa Claus Clause: The Christmas Story, Santa decides that in modern times, he can do Christmas by email so he and everyone at the North Pole can go on vacation. However, Santa is made to return back home when he hears that people think he canceled Christmas. Santa says he was “pooped” but, Christmas is still on as usual since he is still loved! Smiled! Purchase online at and


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Dinosaurs Living in My Hair Holiday Bundle by Jayne M. Rose-Vallee Dinosaurs Living in My Hair 1 & 2 offers the Holiday Bundle! Both books for $30. Add our educational DLIMH Coloring Book to the Mix for $45. Great gift for kids 9 years and younger. Bundles only available at DinosaursLivinginMyHair. com. Single books are available on Amazon and B&N Online. Kids love the imaginative play with dinosaurs living in curly hair, Anni Matsick’s amazing watercolor illustrations, and fun rhymes.

Hair in My Brush by LaTesha Young and Taylor Ellis Hair In My Brush focuses on a young girl named Briana receiving the rare, yet difficult diagnosis of alopecia, where patches of hair continuously fall out. Briana has to learn how to redefine her own identity, as she no longer has the hair she once knew. Through love, patience, and understanding, Briana and her mother embark together on a journey to show others who Briana truly is and can be: smart, beautiful, and capable of anything. No hair needed. First place winner, 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

Tex the Explorer: Journey to Mars by Ellie Smith, Eyen Johnson Tex is a young T-Rex. He loves to explore. For his birthday, his parents gave him a rocket ship. Tex is off to explore Mars! Full of facts, this book engages young children while teaching them about Mars. 2018 Story Monsters Approved Book, 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards Winner, 2018 Mom’s Choice Awards® Silver Recipient, 2018 Chanticleer International Book Awards Shortlist.


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: USA, Turkey, Nepal, Afghanistan, Russia, China, Mexico, and Myanmar (Burma).

Emmojean’s Tale by Margaret Rose MacLellan Emmojean’s Tale begins with a trip to spend the summer with her grandma. She loves her grandma, but Emmojean is quite troubled. Things haven’t gone well for her, especially at school. They say some things happen for a reason, even magical things. Something magical does happen when Emmojean encounters a faerie-tale creature deep in grandma’s garden down by the pond. Will the encounter change her feelings? Step inside and with her, learn to love yourself. Winner, 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

Mystery Horse at Oak Lane Stable by Kerri Lukasavitz With Shady Creek’s schooling show only two months away, 12-year-old Cassie wonders if she can convince her dad in time to buy the new rescued horse at Oak Lane Stable for her very own or face showing George the old school horse— again. Cassie’s summer before 8th grade is filled with adventure, heartache, and unexpected danger. A middle grade novel that will keep the reader turning pages until the very end. Winner, 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

Love Over Lattes by Diana A. Hicks When recent college graduate Valentina loses the deal on her dream home and the chance to bring her son home to live with her, she has no choice but to accept the help of the intimidating stranger she’s admired from her coffee shop seat for the last six months. Wealthy businessman Derek Cole has one focus: to save his company. But when he offers to help Valentina, he begins to reevaluate what’s really important to him. First place winner, 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

Kayla Wayman, Junior Time Traveler: Lost in the Stream by Nutschell Anne Windsor, Alana Garrigues, Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles Desperate to prove that she’s grown up, Kayla breaks the rules and time jumps alone. But a simple misstep throws her miles and decades away from her intended destination. Now she’s tumbling from city to city, through different time periods, directionless and afraid. Kayla must learn to master time and believe in herself, or she may never find her way home. Included in this volume are valuable extras for young writers and classroom discussions. Grand Prize Winner, 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

Vivir el Dream by Allison K. García Linda Palacios crossed the border at age three with her mother to escape their traumatic life in Mexico and pursue the American dream. Years later, Linda nears college graduation. With little hope for the future as an undocumented immigrant, she wonders where her life is going. The fates of Linda and her mother soon intertwine with an unemployed businessman, who has given up on life. As circumstances worsen, will their faith carry them through or will their fears drag them down? First place winner, 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

Purgatorium by J.H. Carnathan When his watch resets to zero, his morning starts again. Every day lasts an hour with the time always ending right at 60 minutes. As his body lies in a coma, his mind has been living a lavish lifestyle at a price. After finding out his life support is coming to an end in eight hours, he must rely on seven strangers to get him to the finish line on time. The clock is ticking, and if he is going to survive, he’ll have to face his demons and outthink the clock that has constrained him for so long. First place winner, 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards. | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



Healer by Susan Miura 17-year-old Shilo possesses the The Gift that set her family tree on fire. Now she’s losing her boyfriend, dodging a gang, and struggling with a power she can’t control. 18-yearold Misty is battling the demons of her past to give her child a future. They’ll need a miracle to keep The Gift a secret, have faith in the face of danger, and protect the ones they love. Winner: Story Monsters Approved, Royal Dragonfly, and Readers’ Favorite book awards.

Fountain of Revenge by Richard Dodge Davidson This mystery for both adult and young adult readers follows the adventures of two novice attorneys from a New York law firm who join their senior partner on a trip to Georgia to investigate a Cherokee Nation legend, which tells a tale of a special potion that can extend human life. Unfortunately, they soon learn that several others are looking for the same potion, and the competitors are willing to stop at nothing, including murder. First place winner, 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

The Hard Way by Selma P. Verde Before starting his freshman year of high school, Paul Jones’ best friend moves away. He meets Anik Hatcher and starts hanging out with his friends who like to cause trouble around the city. What they do at the Homecoming football game, pressures Paul to become a key player in their most harmful prank yet. He learns the hard way that choosing friends and making decisions, good or bad, have consequences that could change his life. Winner, 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

Story Sprouts: CBW-LA Writing Day Exercises and Anthology by Nutschell Anne Windsor, Alana Garrigues Brave and talented, the writers featured in this anthology took on the challenge of dedicating one day to the raw and creative process of writing. Story Sprouts is made up of nearly 40 works of poetry and prose from 19 published and aspiring children’s book authors. This compilation includes all of the anthology writing exercises and prompts, along with tips, techniques and free online writing resources to help writers improve their craft.

Story Sprouts: Voice: CBWLA Writing Day Resource and Anthology by Nutschell Anne Windsor, Alana Garrigues Story Sprouts: Voice features the fearless adventures of 25 aspiring and published children’s book authors who spent one day exploring the mysteries and nuanced expression of Authorial, Narrative and Character Voice. Readers will be inspired by original pieces, but Story Sprouts is also a rich reference tool for teachers and writers. The book offers prompts and tips, details the specific workshop techniques used, includes handouts and other materials, and cites a wealth of free online resources.

The Work at Home Training Program by Bethany Mooradian With nearly 20 years of selfemployment experience, Bethany Mooradian offers over 700 ideas, resources, and legitimate work-athome companies that can help you bridge the income gap. You’ll learn how to identify real job offers from scams, earn extra income based on your own skills, find legitimate work-at-home jobs, and develop an entrepreneurial mindset. You’ll be completely prepared to enter the “work at home” world, never again asking “Is this job real… or a scam?” First place winner, 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

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


Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 | | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



Sleep, My Bunny    by Rosemary Wells (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil  Patterns and habits fill our lives. Silently, they lead and guide. Whether morning rituals as we begin our day, or evening activities to end it. In this little story, nature follows along as little bunny winds down. Children learn by repetition, and these wonderful stories help to reinforce their own special habits and patterns. (Ages 2-5)

A Piglet Named Mercy by Kate DiCamillo, Chris Van Dusen (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano The superbly talented Kate DiCamillo has taken her middle grade series about a precocious pig named Mercy Watson and brought it into the laps of younger readers in Mercy’s picture book debut! Mr. and Mrs. Watson are very low-key “predictable” people who start to wonder if there might be something more exciting out in the world. Lo and behold, a tiny, pink (and very unpredictable) pig finds her way to the Watsons’ doorstep and captures their hearts from their first snuggle in her piggie blanket. (Ages 2-5)

Oliver Elephant by Lou Peacock, Helen Stephens (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano  This sweet-toned rhyme gathers together all the heartwarming feelings of the holiday. Loving regards, planning, and sharing. Gift giving is a joy on both sides, and regaining treasures thought lost is such a happy time. The book is delightful, and the illustrations by Stephens are truly a treat. (Ages 2-5)


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Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley (Little, Brown and Company) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge This is a die-cut book which creates a monster as you turn the pages. It is an excellent way to teach young readers about facing their fears in the dark. First you see his yellow eyes, then his big green nose and sharp white teeth. When the scary monster reaches completion, the reader then turns the pages and each piece of the monster disappears. This groundbreaking book about mastering fear and emotion through play and imagination has been a bestselling favorite for decades and feels as fresh and innovative today as it did 25 years ago. (Ages 2-5)

Peep and Ducky: It’s Snowing! by David Martin, David Walker (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman Peep and Ducky: It’s Snowing! is a rhyming story that will appeal to younger readers. David Martin chooses predictable rhyming to entice the reader while telling a story about the simplicity and joys of playing in the snow with a friend. David Walker’s use of color and mixed media brings the story to life on each page. Children will be sure to enjoy this delightful story about friendship. Find a comfy chair and some warm cocoa—this book is perfect for reading and snuggling with your little one as the snow begins to fall. (Ages 3+)

We Are (Not) Friends by Anna Kang, Christopher Weyant (Two Lions) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil  Navigating friendships can sometimes make for a tricky ride. Just when you think you got things figured out, something or (someone) comes along and forces change. These adorable friends show us it really is possible to work out those awkward and uncomfortable bumps along the way. (Ages 3-7)


Great Dog by Davide Cali, Miguel Tanco (Tundra Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil Some of us may be thrust into situations beyond our control, and totally contrary to anything we know. Whether adoption into a new family, or a whole new cultural relocation, the new side has opened itself widely to you. In this story, a loving father shares the family lineage. In response to questions of doubt, he repeatedly assures his little one he will be a perfect fit, as all of those before him were. (Ages 3-7)

Invisible Jerry by Adam Wallace, Giuseppe Poli (EK Books) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano Beautiful, soft, and poignant illustrations showcase a story that will be imprinted on children’s hearts long after the story has been shared. Invisible Jerry reminds readers of all ages what it feels like to be powerless, invisible, and irrelevant. Sweet Jerry wasn’t targeted or picked on, he was just ignored every single day of his school age life. Until Molly came along. So many discussion points for children to ask/ answer questions about themselves and their own friendships. A thought-provoking tale that will surely inspire readers. (Ages 4-7)

Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters by Michael Mahin, Evan Turk (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman As the story goes, Muddy was never one to follow directions, whether it was when his grandma told him to stay out of the mud or when he played his own music despite requests from a record producer. Muddy listened to the beat in his own heart and shared his love and talent for a powerful jazzy sound created with his gift of guitar playing and singing about life with authenticity, vivid words, and emotion. Looking for a book to inspire others to be themselves and strive to reach their lifelong goals? This one is ready to change the world, one reader at a time. (Ages 4-8) 

The 5 O’Clock Band by Troy Andrews, Bryan Collier (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil Shorty lives in New Orleans, where the streets breathe with life, and magic fills the air with music. The culture captures his heart, and the music fills his soul. Finding an old discarded trombone, his life begins to take shape. Forming a band with his friends teaches him commitment, and falling short of that commitment teaches him the importance of faithfulness to it. The wonderful streets of his lively hometown once again lead his heart to understand the value of a man, and what it takes for him to be a leader. The story is lively and full of heart, and holds the magic of childhood in the streets of New Orleans. (Ages 4-8)

Everything is Connected by Jason Gruhl, Ignasi Font (Bala Kids) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil  This powerful and healing concept that everything is interconnected is written by an accomplished educator and family psychologist. Gruhl believes in children, and desires that every child who has felt isolated or different discovers the unexpected and delightful ways we are all connected, so they never feel alone. (Ages 4-8)

If You Give the Puffin a Muffin by Timothy Young (Schiffer) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano This is a hilarious and surprising story about a moody little puffin who encounters a lot of unpleasant and irritating situations in “his” book. Yes, he realizes we are reading about him and he is not happy about it! Puffin wishes we would just focus our attention on penguins and stop asking him to eat silly things just because they rhyme with his name. This would be a fun fiction and non-fiction book lesson and who knows, maybe this little Puffin wouldn’t mind that pairing! (Ages 5-6)

Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrara, Lauren Castillo (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge What is it that you dream about? Imagine what you could do. This young son of a migrant family learned how hard it was to pick up and move each year. His childhood began in the fields, helping his mama pick flowers and feed the chickens. In school, he learned to spell words in English by pronouncing them in Spanish. His words became songs and poems … and he became the Poet Laureate of the United States of America and stood at the podium at the Library of Congress in front of his proud family and friends. This is a story about building your dreams, working hard, and reaching for the stars. (Ages 5-9)

Fergus and Zeke at the Science Fair by Kate Messner, Heather Ross (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil These adorable mice take their place as class pets very seriously. Always observing and participating in classroom activities, they become very excited about the school’s science fair. Zeke quickly becomes very disappointed when he learns he IS the experiment. But these two incredible mice not only find a way to enter, but to win! A fun early chapter book that will encourage young readers. I loved it! (Ages 6-9) | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



Eddie Motion and the Tangible Magik by Suzanne de Malplaquet (Think Success Ltd) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil What a great adventure of empowerment! Everyone can glean from this amazing journey. These two insightful kids are led on a path of discovery by creative creatures and newfound friends, bringing light, balance, and harmony to their lives. Self helps and formulas are provided, along with depths of insight that can help any of us on our own personal journey. (Ages 6-12)

Winnie’s Great War by Lindsay Mattick, Josh Greenhut, Sophie Blackall (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Diana Perry Here is a heartwarming imagining of the real journey undertaken by the extraordinary bear who inspired Winnie the Pooh. From her early days with her mama in the Canadian forest, to her remarkable travels with the Veterinary Corps across the country and overseas, and all the way to the London Zoo where she met Christopher Robin Milne and inspired the creation of the world’s most famous bear. Any child who loves Winnie the Pooh will enjoy learning about the real bear that inspired all the books. I bonded with Winnie as, through all her terrible ordeals, she holds onto hope and finds the courage within her to face the next adventure. (Ages 8-11)

Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights by Malala Yousafzai, Sarah J. Robbins (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11 Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights is a book about courage, standing up for what we believe, and the power of the human spirit. Malala Yousafzai is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a true role model for all human beings. When a terrorist took over the region in Pakistan where Malala lived and declared that girls could no longer go to school, Malala challenged that and went to school anyhow at the risk of her life. She feels a girl should have as much right as a boy to go to school and I agree. She is an hero and an inspiration. Thank you, Malala for leading the way! (Ages 8-12)


Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 |

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around The World by Vashti Harrison (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil  This is truly an inspiring book. To single out any one achievement would be an injustice to the remaining, for each one is amazing in her own right. These women pressed beyond being viewed as odd, impractical, or idealistic, and dared to dream! They saw their world differently, and asked questions no one else was asking. They were trailblazers, innovators, and visionaries who not only made astounding discoveries in their day, but many that impact the world as we know it. (Ages 8-12)

Beauty and Bernice by Nancy Viau, Timothy Young (Schiffer) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11 Beauty and Bernice is a fun story about middle schoolers fitting in and finding their place and who they are. There’s Bernice, who loves skateboarding, and there’s Odelia, the pink “princess” who lives across the street. An unlikely pairing, however, they both learn and grow from each other once they let go of their obvious differences. (Ages 8-12)

Bah! Humbug! by Michael Rosen, Tony Ross (Walker Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry An unforgettable retelling of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic. Harry Gruber plays the role of Scrooge in his school’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” and he is extra nervous about the evening’s performance because his father is in the audience — not away for business, as usual. Will the story’s message of Christmas cheer and the redemptive power of love reach his father’s distracted Scrooge heart? A wonderful story with a heartfelt message. (Ages 8-12)

Strays Like Us by Cecilia Galante (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry From the moment Fred (never Winifred!) spots a scruffy little mutt with sad eyes, she knows she’s in big trouble. Toby’s in bad shape, and Fred longs to rescue him from the old man with the mile-long mean streak who lives next door. But Margery— the straight-talking woman who is fostering Fred—says going over to their house is against the rules. This story opens the world of addiction and dementia for young readers and proves that a young teen can find the courage to overcome every obstacle in her way to happiness. (Ages 8-12)


The Spirit of Cattail County by Victoria Piontek (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry Sparrow doesn’t have many friends. Some kids believe her house near the swamp is haunted. Others think there’s something “unusual” about her. But Sparrow’s not lonely—she has a best friend who’s always with her. He sits with Sparrow on her porch swing. He makes her smile by playing pranks in church. Yet Sparrow is the only one who can see him ... because the boy is a ghost. This is a magical tale that weaves like a magic spell in and out of reality. There are so many twists and turns and surprises. A great bedtime book! (Ages 8-12)

The Hotel Between by Sean Easley (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil  This is a great novel and the writing is fabulous! It carries a soft tone that quickly feels familiar, and leads safely through the uncertainty of mystery and magic. Cameron, driven by images of a lost past, fears his present and is blinded to the future, hopelessly wishing and yearning for what once was. In Cameron’s desperate search to find answers, he tries to uncover the past and comes face to face with the true power within himself. This story has heart, adventure, and wonder! (Ages 9-12)

Everything Else in the Universe by Tracy Holczer (Puffin Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry When her dad is sent to Vietnam to serve as an Army doctor, Lucy and her mother are forced to move to San Jose, California, to be near their gregarious, quirky Rossi relatives. Then her father is injured, and Lucy’s mother has her move in with the Rossis to give her father some space to adjust and heal. Lucy feels pushed aside and left out of everything. Until a curious boy named Milo—whose own father is still in Vietnam— along with a mysterious packet of photographs and an eye-opening mission make Lucy see there’s more to life, and helps to heal her broken family. Young readers will learn the point of view and mindset of returning vets and will become engrossed in following the clues to solve the mystery. A feel-good book if ever there was one. (Ages 10+)

One Chance by Sarah Frank (Bealu Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry Being an orphan is tough and not knowing why makes it that much harder for Sandy. But now she’s being sent to a new orphanage and middle school and needs to look forward, not back. Before moving, Sandy meets Brian at school, and he reveals the existence of the magical Stone of Discedo that allows whoever has it to time travel. Maybe this is her one chance to go back in time and find out what happened to her parents. However, the stone has its own history and its own rules. Readers won’t be able to put this one down until the last page. (Ages 10-12)

Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry When Zora Neale Hurston and her best friend, Carrie Brown, discover that the town mute can speak after all, they think they’ve uncovered a big secret. But Mr. Polk’s silence is just one piece of a larger puzzle that stretches back half a century to the tragic story of an enslaved girl named Lucia. As Zora’s curiosity leads a reluctant Carrie deeper into the mystery, the story unfolds through alternating narratives. In this riveting coming-of-age tale, awardwinning author T.R. Simon champions the strength of a people to stand up for justice. (Ages 10-14)

The Turnaway Girls by Hayley Chewins (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, 12-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. But she would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn’t act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it’s a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Freedom—to sing, to change, to live—is precisely what’s at stake. Brilliantly written! Every page seems to reveal a secret. I hope to read another book about Delphernia and all the unforgettable characters in this wonderful book. (Ages 10-14)

To submit your book for review, email Cristy Bertini at for submission guidelines. | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Award Winners

Grand Prize Winner

Kayla Wayman, Junior Time Traveler: Lost in the Stream (A Story Sprouts Collaborative Novel) by The Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles (Alana Garrigues and Nutschell Anne Windsor with Cassie Gustafson, Tiffani Barth, Angie Flores, Lucy Ravitch, Peleise Smith, V.V. Cadieux, Bryan Caldwell, Inna Chon, Audrey A. Criss, Abi Estrin Cunningham, Scott Cunningham, Cacy Duncan, J.J. Gow, Glenn Jason Hanna, Caitlin Hernandez, Michelle Marchand, Donna Marie Robb, Judy Rubin, Mollie Silver, Amy Terranova, Bernadette Windsor)


Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 |


$100 drawing Winner

Little Diva on Wheels ... Growing up Differently-abled by Jennifer Kuhns

1st place Winners Bronson has a Toothache by Cynthia Ng

Enchanting Mandala Mazes: Puzzles to Ponder and Solve by Elizabeth Carpenter

Davy’s Ride Down by Michele Gibeau Cronin, illustrated by Ben F. Taylor

Hair In My Brush by LaTesha Young, illustrated by Taylor Ellis

What’s Funny About Dementia? Laugh to Keep From Crying by Jataun J. Rollins, LCSW

I Am Worthy by Cachet Allen Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief by Diamante Lavendar

An Adolescent’s Guide to ME/CFS by Vidhima Shetty

Nothando’s Journey by Jill Apperson Manly, illustrated by Alyssa Casey

Katie the Elephant by Anna Grob

The International Family Guide to US University Admissions by Jennifer Ann Aquino

Celia and the Little Boy by Irene Applebaum Buchine

More Tales from the Enchanted Wood by Jonathan Schork The Curse of the Bailey Women by Zenora Knight

Elephantasy by Eva Palatova

Healer by Susan Miura

How to Rate a Soulmate: A Romantic Comedy by D.L. Fisher

Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Wired by Caytlyn Brooke

An Ill Wind Blows by Lori R. Lopez

Tinsel in a Tangle by Laurie Germaine

Little Diva on Wheels ... Growing up Differently-abled by Jennifer Kuhns

The Work at Home Training Program by Bethany Mooradian

A Journey from Sadness to Hope by Robert H. Smith

Dinosaurs Living in My Hair series by Jayne Rose-Vallee, illustrated by Anni Matsick

The Strange Tail Of Oddzilla by Lori R. Lopez

Dinosaurs Living in My Hair!2 by Jayne Rose-Vallee, illustrated by Anni Matsick

Draco: The Assemblage of the Stars by Eily Quinn Spirit of Prophecy by J.J. Hughes

The Jaguar’s Story by Kosa Ely, illustrated by Radhe Gendron

You Can’t Buy Love Like That: Growing Up Gay in the Sixties by Carol E. Anderson

The Gad Nail by Anthony Spaeth, illustrated by Oly R.

The Silly Adventures of Petunia and Herman The Worm by Sam Baker & Sally Baker, illustrated by Ann Hess

Making a Mystery with Annie Tillery: The Madonna Ghost by Linda Maria Frank, illustrated by Marianne Savage

Felix is Curious About His Body by Dr. Nicole Audet, illustrated by Mylène Villeneuve

Vivir el Dream by Allison Garcia | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



A Different Kind of Lovely: A Novel by Petra March

the Evolution of Forensics in the FBI by R. Scott Decker

Special Food for Sam by Dr. Nicole Audet, illustrated by Mylène Villeneuve

My First High School Musical: From Auditions to Opening Night and Everything in Between by Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz

Fountain of Revenge by Richard Dodge Davidson Pigeon by Daniel Zadow Recounting the Anthrax Attacks: Terror, the Amerithrax Task Force, and

Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons by Sheri Poe-Pape Theseus by Simon Spence

Love Over Lattes by Diana A. Hicks Physician: How Science Transformed the Art of Medicine by Rajeev Kurapati, M.D. Purgatorium by J.H. Carnathan Achieving Superpersonhood: Three East African Lives by William Peace Breaking Free by Caleb Monroe

2nd place Winners Play Ball, Have Fun: Read, Imagine, Draw by Sandy Hill Bacon’s Big Smooching Adventure by Olivia Johnson Tex the Explorer: Journey to Mars by Ellie Smith, illustrated by Eyen Johnson

Emmojean’s Tale by Margaret Rose MacLellan, illustrated by Margaret MacLellan and Jessica Schaaf Dancing Dragon Magic: Dialogues in Clay by Susan Smith James Eva Meets Dr Mac by Tracy Hughes

Shackled: A Journey from Political Imprisonment to Freedom by Adam Siddiq

Man with the Sand Dollar Face by Sharon CassanoLochman

Moonlight and Molly series by Maureen Harris

Elves on the Naughty List by David Smith, illustrated by Marilyn Jacobson, Kaylee Smith

Code 7: Cracking the Code to an Epic Life by Bryan R. Johnson The Fly with One Eye by R.M. Halterman Read, Read, and Read by Elizabeth Gorcey & Liv, illustrated by Kajiah Jacobs Grandparents’ Day by Pamela Traynor, illustrated by Tanja Russita

Wordwings by Sydelle Pearl

Space Zombies! by Regan W. H. Macaulay Dark Curses, Faerie Dreams by Tom Xavier Aldo by Betty Jean Craige Walk Until Sunrise by J.J. Maze

The Language Of Life by Rafael Lopez The Last Odinian by Alec Arbogast Buckets, Dippers, and Lids: Secrets to Your Happiness by Carol McCloud, illustrated by Glenn Zimmer Lost on the Water: A Ghost Story by D.G. Driver The Uncontrolled by Zachary Astrowsky Achieving Superpersonhood: Three East African Lives by William Peace Theo and the Forbidden Language by Melanie Ansley Picture! Picture! by Jackie Ferrell, illustrated by Scott Ferrell The Universe a Work of Art by Eva and Line Newermann The Dreaming Tree: Imagination Dragon by Lindsay McBride

Immigration Essays by Sybil Baker

Honorable Mention Winners Mother of Souls by Adena Astrowsky Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 by B. Lynn Goodwin Friends at the Pond series by Susan Wolff, illustrated by Justin Currie Hare ‘n’ There by Jenny Morris, illustrated by Sarah Hardy Lindie Lou Adventure Series: Flying High by Jeanne Bender, illustrated by Kate Willows 62

To Dance with Angels by Arthur C. Morton, illustrated by Lisa Maria Green

Thiago the Tiger and the Light Within by Vanessa Caraveo

Where I Live by Rick Grant, illustrated by Galih Sakti

Unwind. Up, Up, and Away! by Christopher Gates, illustrated by Javier Ratti

The Big Bad Whaaaat???? by Eileen R. Malora, illustrated by Alycia Pace Freddy Follows by Melanie Quinn, illustrated by Andrew McIntosh Animal Mash-Up by Jean Kingston, illustrated by Benjamin Schipper

Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 |

How Christmas Got Its Colors by Jim Melko, illustrated by Sammi Davis Mirror, Mirror by Barbara J. Freeman, illustrated by Ruth Araceli Rodriguez


Odonata: The Flying Jewel of Maiden Grass Pond by Barbara Gervais Ciancimino, illustrated by Steve McGinnis How Do You Catch A Horned Mangru? by Michael Tenniswood Amber’s Seeing Heart by Joseph Drumheller, illustrated by Nataly Simmons The THING on Mount Spring by Jenny Morris, illustrated by Sara Hayat Being a Good Friend by Miselle Goffman, illustrated by Paul Yanque Woman, Running Late, in a Dress by Dallas Woodburn The Season of Silver Linings by Christine Nolfi Running to Graceland by John Slayton From Behind by David Jerome The Adventures of Camellia N. The Rainforest by Debra L. Wideroe, illustrated by Daniela Frongia Brother Daniel’s Good News Revival by Bruce Brittain

Rosie and Mr. Spooks by Alexa Tuttle, illustrated by Carlie Tuttle Forcing Change by Judy Lindquist Stranded on Thin Ice by Sharon CassanoLochman

Dark Flowers by Caytlyn Brooke The Haunting of Dylan Klaypool: Whispers in Black Willow by James Alan Ross Armed Men and Armadillos by John Sharp

The Tukor’s Journey by Jeannine Kellogg, illustrated by Jim Madsen The Crystilleries of Echoland by Dew Pellucid Mike and Patty’s Adventure by Ania Zaroda, illustrated by Katerina Zagore Mystery Horse at Oak Lane Stable by Kerri Lukasavitz Saint John Lennon by Daniel Hartwell and Roseanne Bottone Cryptocurrencies, Self-Driving Cars & Murder! by Gene Hill

Trauma: A Collection of Short Stories by Elizabeth Jaikaran The Great & the Small by A.T. Balsara Curses of Scale by S.D. Reeves Crossing the Line by Ellen Wolfson Valladares The Hard Way by Selma P. Verde Remeon’s Destiny by J.W. Garrett; Picture! Picture! by Jackie Ferrell, illustrated by Scott Ferrell

In the Briar by Cynthia Morrison

Birdie! Birdie! by Jackie Ferrell, illustrated by Scott Ferrell

The Doctor Next Door by Elaine Holt, M.D.

Grimseeker 1 - book three of the dead path chronicles by Richard A. Valicek

A Penny for Your Thoughts by Sherrill S. Cannon, illustrated by Kalpart

You Can’t Force Love by Marie Drake

Quiet Insurrections by Daniel Klawitter

Rumpelstiltskin: the Untold Story by Michael Brandt | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink



Story Monsters Ink | January 2019 |

Meet The Animals That Teach Values Pair books and matching decals for a perfect gift Baxter’s Corner is committed to presenting values and essential life skills to create a positive change for future generations. Baxter’s Corner books are for every child from birth to eight years old. Entertaining, yet purposeful, the books can be used in a multitude of ways. The welcoming community of animals and the obstacles they face are reflective of our current society. The goal is to encourage caregivers and children to discuss some of the social struggles they face in today’s world, such as an absent parent in Ally Alone.

Baxter’s Corner products are designed to work together: Illustrations from each of the books are also available as removable wall decals. As your child becomes familiar with the books, the decals will reinforce conversations about the stories. Paintings of puppet animals, also available, are great for developing a child’s imagination and encouraging embellishment of the stories with his or her own details.

For the parent or caregiver: Baxter’s Corner books are used to encourage intentional discussion of responsible choices and ethical behavior. Each book focuses on a value and the consequences when that value is not embraced. The books are not typical schoolbooks for early readers. They offer an opportunity for the caregiver to teach or reinforce crucial values and essential skills. The books’ unique GoBeyond section offers discussion questions and other activities to highlight what matters most from the story.

For the child: Baxter’s Corner books are lovable and inviting. Children are naturally attracted to the rhymes, vibrant colors, and engaging story. Readers under the age of eight years old will receive the maximum benefit when guided by an adult reader.

Baxter’s Corner Collection I: Ally Alone What a Tree it Will Be! Oakley in Knots Sideways Fred Ellema Sneezes Gerome Sticks His Neck Out

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Building Character is Childs Play® | January 2019 | Story Monsters Ink


Story Monsters Ink - January 2019