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December 2017

The Literary Resource for Teachers, Librarians, and Parents

Anthony Kennedy Shriver

Brings Decades of Friendship to the Disabled

Maddie Ziegler

Makes the Leap into Middle Grade Fiction

An Interview with Daniel Handler ‌

or Lemony Snicket

Jan Brett

Tells a New Tale of Goldilocks with an Aquatic Twist

One to Read: Josh Funk

Meet Alina Morse: the 12-year-old Inventor of Zollipops

Tammy Koelling

Introduces Young Readers to Tucker Wilson


with Stacy McAnulty

KELLY CLARKSON Takes the Literary Stage


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 Contents may not be published in whole or in part without the express written consent of the bylined author and publisher.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


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

December 2017

In this issue 04 Kelly Clarkson Takes the Literary Stage


Happy Holidays!

One to Read: Josh Funk



Anthony Kennedy Shriver Brings Decades of Friendship to the Disabled

Meet Alina Morse: The 12-year-old Inventor of Zollipops



Maddie Ziegler Makes the Leap into Middle Grade Fiction

Tammy Koelling Introduces Young Readers to Tucker Wilson




An Interview with Daniel Handler ... or Lemony Snicket

Jan Brett Tells a New Tale of Goldilocks with an Aquatic Twist

Q&A with Stacy McAnulty

36 38 40 42 48

Conrad’s Classroom How Does Your Garden Grow? Kids Can Publish Holiday Gift Guide Monsters at the Movies

50 51 52 58 62

School Bookings Directory Liv on Life Book Reviews Juicy Jack’s Spanish Corner Storytime Pup

Tell us what you think of this issue! Email your comments to cristy@storymonsters.com. StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


Kelly Clarkson Takes the Literary Stage by Melissa Fales

Kelly Clarkson is a musical force. In the 15 years since she was crowned the first American Idol, she has barraged the music world with hit songs and albums, earned a multitude of awards, and captivated audiences on sold-out concert stages all over the world.


Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

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But there’s another side to this sassy songbird. Inspired by her daughter, River Rose, and her own lifelong love of reading, Clarkson has written two children’s books. Her latest, River Rose and the Magical Christmas, was released just in time for the holiday season. “Every parent appreciates a book that their kids both love and learn from and I’m hoping this is that kind of book,” Clarkson says. Books were an important part of Clarkson’s less than idyllic Texas childhood. Her father left when she was six years old, leaving behind emotional and financial wounds. “My mom was a teacher and she pushed me to become an avid reader,” says Clarkson. “Plus, when you’re poor, you have nothing else to do. Reading was a great form of escapism for me.” Thanks to her mother’s influence, Clarkson delights in a broad range of literature. “I read everything from Tolstoy to Harry Potter,” Clarkson says. “I’m all over the place. And I’m always taking recommendations from people about books they liked. I have a long list of books I want to get to.” Now that Clarkson is a parent herself, she appreciates her mother’s efforts even more. Becoming a celebrity may not have changed her much, but becoming a parent has. “Big time,” she says. “That’s when things get real. Even if you’re not a leader, you have to be one. You’re the one they look up to and rely on. It’s the hardest job there is, but I love every minute of it.”

“Let’s be real here, not every book is going to be lifechanging. But at the end of the day, you want to be able to keep up in conversation. You want to be able to stand your ground intellectually. Reading develops your mind. My mom instilled that in me and now I’m trying to instill that in my kids.”

Today, Clarkson is continuing the family tradition and passing her love of reading on to her own children and stepchildren. Her husband, Brandon Blackstock, has two children from his previous marriage, Savannah, 16, and Seth, 10, and Blackstock and Clarkson have two children together, River Rose, 3, and Remington, 1. “They have no choice … they are going to read,” Clarkson says. “I know sometimes our 10-year-old would rather be playing video games or going to the movies, but movies can’t do a story justice the way your mind can. Your creative mind has no budget.” Clarkson says she hopes her kids will find books that resonate with them long after they’ve turned the final page, like Matilda by Roald Dahl did for her. “I fell in love with it,” she says. “I didn’t have a father and my mother was a working mom who put herself through school, so I was left alone a lot. I related to the character. But it was my first bigger book and I relished that feeling of accomplishment when I finished it. I want my kids to know that feeling.” Clarkson wants her children to understand the benefits of reading beyond the pleasure of a good story. “Let’s be real here, not every book is going to be life-changing,” she says. “But at the end of the day, you want to be able to keep up in conversation. You want to be able to stand your ground intellectually. Reading develops your mind. My mom instilled that in me and now I’m trying to instill that in my kids.” Leading by example, Clarkson says she makes sure her children see her with a book in her hand. “Like StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


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all parents, we’re busy,” says Clarkson. “But we always make time to read. It’s important for our kids to see us reading. If you want your kids to find something important, you have to show them that you find it important. They won’t if you don’t.” As much as Clarkson reads, she hadn’t considered writing books until she started working on a special project for River Rose. While on a plane returning home from London, Clarkson reflected on the travels her daughter had already taken at such a young age. “She had five major stamps in her passport by the time she was a year old,” says Clarkson. “It made me sad that she had all these experiences she wouldn’t remember.” Using the plethora of family photos she had on hand, Clarkson started making books about River Rose’s adventures in places like Europe and Australia. “I thought she’d enjoy reading them when she was a little older,” says Clarkson. People who saw the books commented that Clarkson should make them into 6

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children’s books. “That was the first time the idea ever crossed my mind,” she says. Before she knew it, she was in talks with HarperCollins. Clarkson, who co-wrote some of her biggest hits, including “Behind These Hazel Eyes” and “Catch My Breath,” says writing children’s books exercises an entirely separate set of muscles than writing songs. “It’s totally different,” she says. “I felt like I was taking Writing Kids Books 101. You have to keep their interest in a completely different way.” Released in 2016, River Rose and the Magical Lullaby became a New York Times bestseller. In it, River Rose can’t sleep because she’s so excited to go to the zoo the next day. “We decided to make the story more relatable for kids than traveling around the world,” Clarkson says. “I mean, look at me, when I was growing up, we never went anywhere. We never left Texas.” When River Rose eventually falls asleep, she has an incredible dream about playing with all the animals. A highlight of the book is an included link to hear an original lullaby written and sweetly sung by Clarkson.

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Clarkson will also appear as a judge on The Voice this spring. And be on the lookout for more books about River Rose and her adventures. In the meantime, Clarkson, along with her millions of fans, will continue to search for the meaning of life. “I believe doing whatever makes you happy every day brings you closer to discovering what the meaning of life is for you,” she says. “Look, we’re all under construction. We’re all works in progress. I think we’re all trying to find out what gives our life meaning and hope and satisfaction and we’re all trying to do more of that. That’s what I’m focused on right now.” For more information about Kelly Clarkson, visit www.kellyclarkson.com.

When it came time for a second River Rose book, Clarkson had a theme ready. “I said I had to do a Christmas one,” she says. “River Rose loves Christmas so much. Our whole family does.” Christmas is a major production at Clarkson’s Nashville home. “We go big,” she says. “We really get into it. We do Elf on the Shelf, we have three different trees. Yeah, it’s insane.” Clarkson found the second River Rose book easier to write than the first. “I knew exactly what I wanted,” she says. “I included numbers and counting to help kids with math. I knew I wanted to have a big snowball fight, but it needed to be special so we made the snowballs all different flavors.” Released in October, River Rose and the Magical Christmas is set on Christmas Eve. In it, River Rose attempts to stay up all night to deliver a letter to Santa in person. Try as she might to stay awake, she eventually falls asleep and dreams that she visits the North Pole where she meets Mrs. Claus and the elves. Once again, the book is accompanied by a link to hear Clarkson sing, this time a Christmas song she wrote. “It’s such a fun time of year and it’s so exciting for kids to know that Santa’s coming,” says Clarkson. “I wanted the story to capture all of that magic.” Clarkson also has a new album, Meaning of Life, heating up the charts. “It’s still pop, but it’s very urban and very soulful,” she says. It’s her debut album under her new deal with Atlantic Records. “I think it’s the album people expected me to make after I was introduced to the world via Idol,” she says. “It’s my best yet. It’s my favorite ever.”


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Anthony Kennedy Shriver Brings Decades of Friendship to the Disabled by Melissa Fales Following in the footsteps of his compassionate parents, Anthony Kennedy Shriver has spent decades working to make a difference for people society might otherwise disregard or dismiss. The youngest child of Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, responsible for creating the Peace Corps and the Special Olympics, respectively, Shriver is the founder, chairman, and CEO of the Best Buddies program, which seeks to improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) through friendships, 8

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meaningful jobs, and the opportunity to develop leadership skills. “I truly do believe that people with IDD are God’s gift to the world,” says Shriver. “They are so full of genuine love, compassion, and goodwill, and they have the power to share their light and their gifts with everyone they meet.” Shriver may have inherited his altruism and dedication to social service in general from his parents, but his determination to help those with

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IDD in particular was largely formed by his close relationship with his aunt, Rosemary Kennedy. “My aunt Rosemary was one of my biggest inspirations,” Shriver says. “She had intellectual and physical disabilities her entire life but she inspired so many people with her determination and her willpower to succeed. Rosemary was one of my best friends; she moved me to achieve greatness without uttering a single word.” For Shriver, Rosemary was a powerful example of the strength that people with IDD exhibit every day. “All of us at Best Buddies are grateful for Rosemary and her spirit, determination, and smile— which never let up,” he says. In 1987, Shriver started the Best Buddies program while a student at Georgetown University. It took off quickly and was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1989. What began by pairing up volunteer college students and individuals with IDD for friendships and leisure activities has grown into an international movement. Today, there are Best Buddies chapters in all 50 states and nearly 50 countries. Young people needn’t wait until college to get involved with Best Buddies. “In an effort to reach an even greater number of individuals living with IDD, we expanded our friendship programs to reach students at the middle school and high school levels, where having friends and a social life means so much,” says Shriver. “Middle school and high school is such a critical time where students share special moments and build memories with their friends. We wanted to make sure that students with IDD at this level had the opportunity to make friends, go to the movies, and enjoy football games and the mall just like every other teenager.” All ages can volunteer with Best Buddies in an online capacity, too. “We have a program called e-Buddies, that allows our participants to develop the skills necessary to become technology-literate and therefore, able to compete for higher-level employment and communicate using a variety of sources,” Shriver says. The e-Buddies program is an email pen pal program that connects a participant and a volunteer based on their age and common interests. According to Shriver, it’s been especially popular with special education teachers who use it as a classroom learning tool. “This program offers a safe way to make a new friend and connect with someone across the country.”

In addition to helping those with IDD foster friendships, Best Buddies also works to provide them with jobs that might not have been available to them otherwise. “Our Jobs program secures jobs for people with IDD, allowing them to earn an income, pay taxes, and continuously and independently support themselves,” says Shriver. “The great thing about this program is that it goes beyond the typical jobs in which a person with IDD might be placed. Best Buddies focuses on finding work that matches the job seeker’s interests and talents. The Jobs program prides itself on developing jobs in professional environments and focuses on jobs such as office assistants, front desk assistants, and database coordinators.” Best Buddies participants have worked in fields such as healthcare, sports and entertainment, real estate, technology, legal and financial firms, and government. For Shriver, it’s important that people with IDD have a job where they can use their particular skill set. “It is important for our participants to have meaningful jobs because it gives them a sense of purpose for their lives and allows them to contribute to society in a significant way,” he says. “Currently, our two highest paid participants earn $45,800 and $48,700, respectively, at a law firm and a tech company. More than 50 percent of our Jobs participants receive some type of employee benefits, including but not limited to medical and dental benefits, paid vacations/ sick days, and enrollment in company 401K plans.” These types of compensation, job positions, and benefit packages simply didn’t exist for people with StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


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“I truly do believe that people with IDD are God’s gift to the world. They are so full of genuine love, compassion, and goodwill, and they have the power to share their light and their gifts with everyone they meet.” IDD before the Best Buddies program. “These are all amazing accomplishments and a true testament to how far we’ve come as a country when it comes to the disability rights movement,” says Shriver. “People with IDD are thriving in corporate America and proving to the world that they can achieve great success if given the opportunity.” Despite these gains, there’s still a long way to go to bring people with IDD into the mainstream workplace. “Currently, 81 percent of the developmentally disabled do not have a paid job in their community,” says Shriver. “These are individuals who are talented, capable, hard-working, and ready to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Hiring these individuals is a smart business choice and it is my hope that CEOs and business leaders all across the world will step up and hire people with special abilities. They have so much to offer the world. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.” Another important arm within the organization is the Best Buddies Ambassadors program which provides training for people with IDD in writing speeches and public speaking. “Ambassadors develop the skills to share their life stories, promote Best Buddies programs, network, and most importantly, advocate,” says Shriver. By empowering participants in this way, Shriver foresees that they’ll be well-equipped to bring the organization further in the future. “The program prepares people to become informed, compelling advocates for the disability rights movement,” says Shriver. “Best Buddies educates and empowers people with IDD to become leaders, 10

Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

public speakers, and agents of change. These leaders inspire their peers, communities, employers, and the government to join Best Buddies’ mission of friendship and social inclusion.” Best Buddies is always looking for more volunteers. It’s an activity that comes with its own reward. “I often find that people’s lives are transformed for the better when they get involved with our organization,” Shriver says. “They become more grateful and appreciative for the simple things in life that most people take for granted. They experience first-hand the blessings and profound joy that genuine friendships with people who have different abilities bring.” To learn more about the Best Buddies program, visit www.bestbuddies.org. Follow Best Buddies on social media (@BestBuddies).

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photo by Koury Angelo

Maddie Ziegler

Makes the Leap into Middle Grade Fiction by Melissa Fales

Maddie Ziegler shot to fame as the preeminent young dancer on the reality TV show, Dance Moms. Since then, the talented teen has ventured into acting, modeling, and writing. Her first book, The Maddie Diaries, was a memoir of her young life and a New York Times bestseller. Ziegler’s latest book, The Audition, marks her first foray into writing fiction. “When I can’t be dancing, I like writing about dancing,” says Ziegler. “Dance will always be my passion. I want to dance until I can’t walk anymore.” 12

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Ziegler took her first dance lesson when she was just two years old. “My mom put me in dance because she thought I would look super cute in a tutu,” she says. Her first dance recital performance came a year later. “I don’t remember it, but I’m sure all we did was run around,” she says. “At that age, dancers have a hard time paying attention to what they’re supposed to be doing.” Whatever Ziegler did during the dance recital wasn’t as memorable as what happened afterward. “As soon as I got off stage I started to cry,” says Ziegler. “My mother asked me what was wrong and I said I wanted to go back on stage. My mom says that’s when she knew I was going to stick with dancing.” Despite being the star student on Dance Moms, Ziegler says she didn’t have an innate talent for dance. “I was never the best in the class,” she says. “I had to keep working at it. I did private lessons, whatever it took. I practiced every day. I just wanted it more than anyone else.” While she dedicated herself to dancing early on, the idea of writing has always intrigued Ziegler. “When I was younger, in the third and fourth grade, I was obsessed with writing stories,” she says. “Language Arts was always my favorite subject.” Ziegler was just eight years old in 2011 when a production company showed up at her dance studio to audition families for Dance Moms. “They only saw a 30-second tape of us girls dancing,” she says. “The audition was really for the moms and they ended up picking the craziest ones.” While the show focused heavily on the antics of the dancers’ mothers, it gave Ziegler nationwide exposure. “It was a great experience for me,” she says. “It was weird being on TV at such a young age. I thought it was crazy the first time someone recognized me and knew my name from the show.” Ziegler gained more recognition in 2014 at age 11 when she donned a blonde, Cleopatra-like wig to dance in Sia’s “Chandelier” video, emulating the singer’s famously exaggerated hairstyle. “I knew it would be super cool, but I thought there would be other girls in the video,” says Ziegler. “I wasn’t expecting to be the only dancer. It was scary and exciting because I was all on my own.” The video has had nearly two billion views on YouTube. “I had no idea it was going to blow up like that,” Ziegler says. “I thought it would be cool to show my friends but I never expected it to be so popular.” Ziegler’s partnership with Sia extended to other videos, including “Elastic Heart” in which she danced

with actor Shia LaBeouf. Next, Ziegler is heading to Australia and New Zealand as a dancer for the second leg of Sia’s “Nostalgic for the Present” tour, having completed a tour of North America last year. Ziegler is also a judge on So You Think You Can Dance: the Next Generation and recently made her film debut in The Book of Henry. Many of these experiences are chronicled in The Maddie Diaries. “Writing that book was easy because it was about me and my life,” Ziegler says. When she was approached about writing a fiction book, she was enthusiastic, but also somewhat apprehensive about what she saw as a potentially daunting task. “There are so many details to think about when you’re writing fiction and it all has to make sense by the end,” she says. “I think it’s a very hard craft and I respect talented writers so much.” The Audition is the first in a planned trilogy about dance. It follows the story of 12-year-old Harper, a typical teenage girl. “Like me, she loves to dance more than anything,” says Ziegler. When Harper’s family moves, she has to leave her beloved dance studio behind and start over as the new girl at a new dance studio. “She knows it’s going to be tough, but she doesn’t realize how intense it’s going to be,” says Ziegler. “The girls end up being very snotty to her. All she wants to do is dance and make friends and follow her passion, but it’s a real struggle for her.” StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


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“When I can’t be dancing, I like writing about dancing. Dance will always be my passion. I want to dance until I can’t walk anymore.” Ziegler says she liked the creative freedom that came with writing fiction. “Plus, with The Audition, I had a whole group of dancers to work with as characters, not just me,” she says. “As much as it’s fiction, I’ve taken a lot of the things that have happened to me in dance class, or I’ve seen happen in dance class, and other things that I’ve experienced in my life.”


Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

When it comes to writing, Ziegler says she thinks that catching the reader’s attention within the first few pages of a book is key. “I think a book should have a good beginning,” she says. “You want to get them hooked right away.” Once, Ziegler nearly gave up reading a book that’s now a favorite because the beginning didn’t capture her interest. “My tutor wanted me to read Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick,” says Ziegler. After reading about 10 pages, Ziegler put it down. At her tutor’s insistence, Ziegler reluctantly finished the book. “I found myself crying at the end,” Ziegler says. “It broke my heart. What a great story! But I almost missed out because the beginning didn’t grab me. I think you really have to grasp the audience from the first page. Hopefully I’m doing that with The Audition.” For more information about Maddie Ziegler, visit her YouTube channel.

Encourages Readers to Dream Big.”

—Kirkus Reviews

From Peter H. Reynolds, the New York Times bestselling creator of The Dot.

“[A] love letter to those who take delight in words… Enchanting.” —Kirkus Reviews

Coming January 2018! SCHOLASTIC TM/® Scholastic Inc.

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An Interview with Daniel Handler

… or Lemony Snicket by Melissa Fales When advertisements for A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket first appeared in Barnes and Noble catalogs, author Daniel Handler used to cut them out and save them. “It was so I would never forget that I had written books under that name,” says Handler. “Now it seems unlikely that I will ever forget, even sans the clippings.” Unlikely, indeed, as the woeful tale of the Baudelaire orphans was adopted first for the big screen and now, by Netflix, for the little screen. Plus, Handler continues to produce children’s 16

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stories under the Lemony Snicket moniker, the latest being The Bad Mood and the Stick. For as long as he can remember, Handler had aspirations of becoming a writer. “My parents told me that when I was very young, I said that when I grew up I wanted to be an old man who lived at the top of the mountain giving advice,” he says. “They were not always super reliable, so if that is true, it’s the only other thing I ever wanted to be.”

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Contrary to popular presumption, Handler’s own childhood wasn’t miserable and wretched. It was, however, undeniably affected by the terrifyingly true tales of the Holocaust he heard from his father, a Jewish refugee who arrived in America as a boy fleeing the Nazi regime. “I listened to a lot of desperate and dark stories when I was young,” he says. Handler studied Literature at Wesleyan University, where he worked with his mentor, the late novelist Kit Reed, and began playing the accordion. “I’m not that good, but if you play the accordion, you’re probably the best accordion player that anyone knows,” he says. After diligently taking piano lessons for years, Handler sought to join a band in hopes of attracting female attention. “It happened to be during

“Lemony Snicket is a fictional narrator of various books and we have published the books under that name. I am his legal, literary, and social representative.” a strange little window in American pop music history where no keyboard instruments were cool,” he says. Inexplicably, Handler purchased an accordion. “I often say I’m the first person in history who took up the accordion to meet women,” he jokes. “And now I’m married, so let that be a lesson to you.” Handler’s first book, The Basic Eight, was published in 1998. After that, exactly where Daniel Handler ends and Lemony Snicket begins remains veiled in shadow. When pressed, Handler says, “Lemony Snicket is a fictional narrator of various books and we have published the books under that name. I am his legal, literary, and social representative.” Snicket debuted in 1999 with A Series of Unfortunate Events. The 13-volume set follows the hapless Baudelaire children through numerous trials and tribulations. The idea was born from Handler’s fondness for gothic novels. “I remember reading them at a young age and thinking that it was fascinating when terrible things happen to orphans, over and over and over again,” he says.

When he proposed the first of the Unfortunate Events books, Handler was working with Susan Rich, then a junior editor at HarperCollins. “She took a chance,” says Handler. “I think they basically told her, ‘If you would like to hitch your wagon to his, good luck to you.’ They gave us a very small advance and a limited budget and left us alone. No one was paying much attention and that was the key. No one really worried about it.” As much as Handler enjoyed the subject matter, he never expected that books would be so well-received by the public. “I didn’t think anyone would be interested, but many have been,” he says. “It’s quite bewildering.” The last book in the series was released in 2006. Snicket’s popular All the Wrong Questions series was published from 2012 to 2015. Handler finds inspiration for his books from the things he observes ambling around in San Francisco where he makes his home. “I walk around a lot and notice things,” he says. “That feels like a big part of my job.” He never knows what may inspire him during his daily strolls. One day he may witness an incident with StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


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a distracted pedestrian on a cell phone that leads him to rail against the danger of open manholes, the next day, a grumpy child with a makeshift weapon might catch his eye.


Parts, released in August. The picture book lies in stark contrast to the mature novel about a boy who falls into a relationship with another boy before meeting a girl.

The latter was the case with The Bad Mood and the Stick. “I watched a child with a stick in a bad mood poking another child,” Handler says. “I watched the bad mood move from one child to another and I got interested.” The plot is about the contagious nature of human emotions. “The bad mood starts with a girl named Curly, and Napoleon, her brother,” he says. “From there, things move in an unexpected way. It supports the idea that you never know what’s going to happen.”

Handler’s ability to embrace the amorphous enables him to seamlessly transition from writing books for children, as Snicket, to writing books for adults, under his own name. “The thing about children’s literature is that it’s read by so many adults,” says Handler. “And so-called ‘adult’ literature is read by people who are quite young. We make up these categories. I sympathize with the fact that no one would want a bookstore with a huge pile of uncategorized books, but I often think of Charlie Parker when he was asked, ‘Is it jazz or bop?’ and he said, ‘Let’s just call it music.’”

Snicket’s The Bad Mood and the Stick was published in October, on the heels of Handler’s latest, All the Dirty

For more information about Daniel Handler and Lemony Snicket, visit www.lemonysnicketlibrary.com.

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Jan Brett

Tells a New Tale of Goldilocks with an Aquatic Twist by Melissa Fales

It was only a matter of time before beloved children’s author/illustrator Jan Brett released a book set in Okinawa, Japan. Brett has visited the island over a dozen times and her appreciation for the minutiae of its storied culture shines through in her latest book. Set in the reefs just off the coast, The Mermaid is an aquatic retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, recast with a beautiful mermaid named Kiniro and a trio of octopuses. 20

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“Okinawa is a place very close to my heart,” Brett says. “It’s the perfect place to set this story. There aren’t any mermaids there, but there can be, if you use your imagination.” Brett began visiting Okinawa during the 11 years her daughter was stationed there with the Marine Corps. “There are all kinds of influences on that island,” Brett says. “It was a trade stop for hundreds of years. It’s a perfect combination of a place that was influenced by other cultures, yet maintained a strong culture itself.” The book is stocked with images of the flora and fauna found there. “I did a lot of research on what lives in the water,” Brett says. “I saw baby octopuses when I went snorkeling.” In The Mermaid, Brett highlights the unique aspects of the locale. She based the octopuses’ family home on a typical Okinawan house. “They build with coral the way we use cement,” she says. Brett delights in introducing children to the culture of the island by including basic elements in her drawings. The Shisa that decorates every rooftop on land are also present in Brett’s underwater world. “Kids pick up on things like that,” she says. “When I was a kid, I used to love reading Beatrix Potter and I would wonder what things like ‘wainscoting’ were. I was always intrigued by something slightly foreign. It’s like getting a peek at another world.”

As a girl, Brett was shy and nervous around other children. “I wasn’t ready for the hustle and bustle of school,” she says. “I retreated to my drawings and I got good at it. Everyone likes to be good at something. I would feel set up for the day if someone said they liked one of my horse drawings.” Brett loved to read, but felt anxious with each new book. “I would fall into the stories, hook, line and sinker,” she says. “I was constantly worried about what would happen to the characters. I would always read the last page so I would be prepared.” When Brett started writing and illustrating books, she remembered those feelings of apprehension over how a book might end and added borders filled with detailed drawings to each page. “The borders give you a little glimpse of what’s going to happen next or maybe a little side story of something I wanted to spotlight but it wasn’t appropriate in the arc of the story,” she says. “I love to have little conversations that are wordless.” The intricate borders that hug her illustrations so tightly are not only a way for Brett to communicate with her young readers, they’ve also become a way to immediately identify each book as unmistakably hers. The Mermaid marks the third time Brett has published a version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. “My favorite emotion is curiosity, and Goldilocks is all about curiosity,” she says. In one of her previous adaptations of the classic tale, The Three Snow Bears, Aloo-ki, the inquisitive Inuit girl took the baby bear’s boots and never returned them. Brett was surprised when so many readers commented about what they perceived as an outright theft. “It obviously struck a nerve, so I was cautious about that this time,” she says. In The

“I love to touch base with that childhood ability to cross that border between real and imagined. When I work on my books, somehow I’m in touch with that again. It makes me feel energized and young and inspired.” StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


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Mermaid, the octopus parents put an eagle ray on their baby as a hat, but keen-eyed readers will spot the annoyed baby octopus in the border illustrations repeatedly taking it off. In the end, Kiniro gives the baby octopus her own shimmering tiara. “She trespasses on their property, eats their food, wrecks their furniture, but she does give the baby a pretty hat, so I guess that’s ok,” jokes Brett. Brett is a New York Times bestselling author/ illustrator with over 40 million books in print, including The Hat, The Mitten, and Gingerbread Baby. She accredits her popularity to the way her illustrations connect with readers, both young and old. “I’m an artist,” she says. “I try not to speak in English but in the language of art. The colors and the way the shapes are juxtaposed evoke emotions that become a language of their own. The design draws you in and brings you to another place.” It’s a feeling Brett knows well. She recalls being transfixed by art herself as a young child. “My grandmother would always give us a beautiful picture book and fancy pajamas for Christmas,” she says. “She was a woman who loved art, good taste, and the lure and exoticness of other countries.” One year, Brett’s grandmother gave her a book called Arabian Nights. “I could not get enough of it,” she says, calling to mind the lush drawing on the cover of a man with a snowwhite horse wearing a turban with a jeweled feather sticking out of it. “I remember being smitten from first glance,” she says. “If the cover looks like that, what’s the inside going to be like?” Another illustration in the book not only stuck with Brett all these years, but also influenced her artistic style. It was of a man wearing elegant clothes, but upon close inspection, a tiny rip could be seen in his fine garments. “Why, he’s been through a battle, I remember thinking,” she says. “To me, that demonstrated that by doing something subtle, you could tell a story through the picture. I got very excited to try that myself and I’ve been doing that ever since.” Brett says she takes great joy in writing and illustrating books for children and that it all ties back to her appreciation of a healthy curiosity. “Remember when you would wake up on Saturday morning and couldn’t wait to go outside?” she says. “Remember being so excited to see the world and what could be out there waiting for you? I love to touch base with that 22

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childhood ability to cross that border between real and imagined. When I work on my books, somehow I’m in touch with that again. It makes me feel energized and young and inspired.” For more information about Jan Brett and her books, visit www.janbrett.com.


Learn more at AlaneAdams.com

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One to Read:

Josh Funk by Melissa Fales Begin reading Josh Funk’s latest book, It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk, and you’ll soon realize it’s not your typical children’s book, either. In it, Funk bursts through the fourth wall with a main character that refuses to follow the familiar storyline and challenges nearly every action the reader commands him to take. Hilarity ensues for the children being read to, as the reader’s script calls for an ever-growing exasperation at the character’s obstinacy. “My goal was to make the adult reader look silly,” says Funk. “I wanted the parent or librarian or caregiver, or whoever is reading the story to look foolish. It’s all for the entertainment value for the kids.” 24

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Funk, who holds down a full-time job as a software engineer, never intended to write children’s books. “I wasn’t much of a writer or a reader growing up,” Funk admits. “I was in honors math but never honors English. I purchased my share of CliffsNotes.” It wasn’t until Funk became a parent and read to his own two kids that he felt inspired to try writing. “There were some great books for kids and some not so great,” he says. “It got me thinking.” Funk made a major life change in 2011, when his children were ages three and six. “I stopped playing fantasy football and started writing picture books,” he says. “It freed up a tremendous amount of time. I was really, really into fantasy football.”

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To fill those newly empty hours, Funk took a writing class taught by author Jane Sutton at his town’s community center. He became involved with the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), eventually serving as a co-director of the SCBWI New England chapter’s conferences in 2016 and 2017. “It’s a terrible acronym but it’s the best organization,” Funk says. His other works include Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, Pirasaurs!, Dear Dragon, and The Case of the Stinky Stench. The inspiration for It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk came from Funk’s reintroduction to fairy tales as a parent. “Some of the decisions characters make are ridiculous,” he says. “Who would really trade a cow for a handful of beans? And if a huge beanstalk grew in my backyard overnight, I don’t think the first thing I would do would be climb it. My premise for this book was what if we had a main character that actually had some common sense?” It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk marks Funk’s departure from the rhyming style featured in his other works. “I figured that if it’s not going to rhyme, I had to bring some charm to the table,” he says. “For this story, the meta aspect is where the reader of the story gets increasingly flustered as the characters don’t do what they are supposed to do.” Funk hopes his books will entertain adults as much as children. “I want my books to be like Pixar movies,” he says. “The stories are completely meant for kids, but they entertain the adults on a different level. It’s a lofty goal to try to be like Pixar. They are great storytellers. Making a great movie is similar to writing a great picture book in that they are both about storytelling.”

“I want my books to be like Pixar movies. The stories are completely meant for kids, but they entertain the adults on a different level. It’s a lofty goal to try to be like Pixar. They are great storytellers.” Next up for Funk is How to Code a Sandcastle, due out in spring of 2018. In it, Funk puts his software engineering career to good use. “I had to spend a lot of time researching how to teach coding,” he says. “It took a long time to distill it down to a picture book level.” How to Code a Sandcastle is about a girl named Pearl and her robot, Pascale. Those in the know will recognize both names as coding languages, but the book is meant to appeal to even the most non-tech parents. It follows Pearl and Pascale making a sandcastle on the beach and introduces four common coding concepts that apply to this activity: code, loop, sequences, and if, then, else. “The book couldn’t just be a tool to teach coding,” says Funk. “I wanted it to be a good story, whether you care about coding or not. It had to be a good picture book on its own.”

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The book is published by Penguin, which has partnered with the non-profit organization, Girls Who Code, for a series of books to further the Girls Who Code mission: to encourage girls to try their hands at computer science. Funk says that goal resonates with him. “When I look around my office, there are not a lot of women,” he says. “When I was in college at UMASS Amherst, there were very few women in any of my classes. Out of 100 students, if there were three women, that would have been a lot.” How to Code a Sandcastle is the first picture book endorsed by the Girls Who Code program. “I’m thrilled with the idea,” says Funk. “I’m excited to have the Girls Who Code logo on the cover of my book, and hopefully there will be more to come.” Next summer, Funk will release a book called Albie Newton about a well-meaning boy who lacks social skills. “On the first day of school, he breaks toys, takes the glue when someone else is using it, and he even takes the hamster’s wheel,” says Funk. “But he’s doing all of these things to build something he hopes

his classmates will like. He wants to make them happy. He doesn’t realize he’s ruining everyone else’s day.” Funk says he thought the book would strike a chord with kids today. “Children mature at different levels,” he says. “In some ways, Albie is the conflict of the book and the main character is the rest of the class and how they learn to see past his annoying actions to focus on his good intentions.” Funk says he’s glad he took a chance with writing books for kids. “I feel like I’m always improving,” he says. “When I do school visits, which are usually Skype visits on my lunch break from work, I tell the kids to think about how good they were at soccer, or on the piano two years ago compared to now. It takes practice to get better at something.” Funk says he’s often asked which of his books is his favorite. “I always say my next one, because I’m a better writer today than I was yesterday.” For more information about Josh Funk, visit www.joshfunkbooks.com or find him on Twitter at @joshfunkbooks.

BOOK GIVEAWAY Enter to win our 365 Days of Cookies Giveaway!

Email cristy@storymonsters.com and be sure to put “giveaway” in the subject line. Include your name and mailing address. One entry per person. Winner will be notified by email on December 13. (US residents only). Sponsored by Taste of Home.


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photo by Bird + Bird Studio

Meet Alina Morse:

the 12-year-old Inventor of Zollipops by Melissa Fales

It may sound too good to be true, but thanks to 12-year-old Alina Morse, kids and grown-ups alike can now enjoy candy that is actually good for their teeth. Five years ago, Morse came up with the idea for Zollipops, a candy treat designed to help keep teeth clean. “We want Zollipops to be the #1 sugar-free, tooth-friendly candy company in the world and help millions of families smile for years to come,� says Morse.


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Morse was just seven years old when she got the idea for the candy. While at the bank with her father, she was offered a lollipop by the teller. Her father cautioned her that sugar was bad for her teeth. “What do you expect a parent to say?” says Morse. “But I really wanted a candy. So I asked my dad, ‘Why can’t we make a healthy sucker?’” That innocent question got Morse’s father thinking. His background in consumer packaged goods and experience as a business consultant came into play as the father-daughter team explored Morse’s idea. They conducted two years of market research. “We wanted to see if there were any healthy lollipops already out there,” Morse says. The pair learned about the natural substances Xylitol and Erythritol, which fight cavity-causing bacteria. They found that Xylitol mints were already available on the market. “That was it,” says Morse. “There had never been a fruity Xylitol candy that actually tastes good.” Morse has a keen understanding of the science behind Zollipops. “After any meal, our mouths become very acidic,” she says. “The acid breaks down our tooth enamel and feeds the bacteria that cause cavities. I like to call the bacteria little monsters. The acidity gives the little monsters energy and helps them regenerate. When you put a Zollipop in your mouth, the Xylitol helps bring the pH of your mouth into balance and neutralizes the acid level.” While some kids her age might be squeamish talking about mouth bacteria, Morse isn’t. “It doesn’t gross me out,” she says. “I like to learn things. The more you learn, the more you can earn.” Morse and her father decided to offer Zollipops in the most popular candy flavors: strawberry, orange, raspberry, and grape. “But we also wanted to do something a little more exotic so we decided to add my personal favorite fruit flavor, pineapple, and to have cherry as well,” she says. The memorable name, Zollipops, was coined by Morse’s younger sister, Lola. “We tried to come up with a name for a long time,” says Morse. “I asked my sister if she wanted to try a Xylitol lollipop, and she put the two words together and said, ‘You mean a zollipop?’” Right away, Morse knew that name was a hit. “It’s short, sweet, and catchy, plus it’s something that kids would remember and parents would remember,” she says.

Zollipops hit stores in 2014 when Morse was just nine years old. “People loved them right away,” says Morse. Today, they’re available on Amazon.com and at popular national grocery chains like Kroger’s. Buoyed by the success of Zollipops, Morse and her team added to their line with the introduction of ZolliDrops. “Adults were calling us saying that they loved our lollipops but asked if we could make something without a stick,” she says. “ZolliDrops are basically the same formula but in a small, round hard candy. They come in the same flavors as the Zollipops, but also in mint. They don’t only clean your teeth, they help freshen your breath. It’s perfect for adults after a cup of coffee.” The latest product to join the line is Zaffi Taffy. “Taffy is the fastest growing product in the candy category,” says Morse. “We want to keep up with the trend.” Morse says there will be more types of candy coming soon. “We’re always thinking about new items,” she says. “We have some good ideas that are currently in product development. We’re working on special flavors and special editions. Everything is made here in the U.S. in the Midwest.” When Morse isn’t thinking up new candy ideas, the seventh-grader loves to make slime and dances competitively. “I’ve been dancing since I was three years old,” she says, adding that she’s torn when StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


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asked to pick which she likes better: dancing or having a candy business. “It’s a tie,” she says. “They’re both my passions.” A portion of the profits of all Zollipops candies goes towards 250,000 Smiles, a campaign started by Morse and her family to fight America’s most chronic childhood disease: tooth decay. Through the 250,000 Smiles initiative, Morse wants to get free Zollipops and education about oral health into the hands of children through their schools and dental offices. “The goal of 250,000 Smiles is to educate and inspire kids and families to take care of their smiles, because smiles have amazing powers,” Morse says. “A smile is the first thing you see when you look at someone. And if you’re having a bad day and someone smiles at you, it can change your whole outlook and make you feel a lot better.” For more information about Alina Morse and Zollipops, visit www.zollipops.com and facebook. com/Zollicandy and check out Morse’s YouTube channel, Zollicandy.


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photo by Bird + Bird Studio

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Tammy Koelling

Introduces Young Readers to Tucker Wilson by Melissa Fales As an author, Tammy Koelling understands the ambition and emotion writers expend in their efforts to get their work published. Her latest book, Tucker Wilson, is about a boy named Noah, his best friend, Tucker (who happens to be a dog), and how they come together to make a difference when it matters most. Koelling is also the CEO of Words Matter Publishing. With experience on both sides of the field, Koelling offers authors the best of both worlds when it comes to getting their work published. “Most importantly, I provide individual attention,” she says. “I believe that’s what’s needed in order to launch someone’s writing career.” 32

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Koelling has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember. “My family raised me with books,” she says. “That’s why Tucker Wilson is dedicated to my 95-year-old mother, who taught me to love books so much, that now I write them.” Tucker Wilson marks Koelling’s debut into middlegrade fiction. “I love writing for children,” she says. “I’d written some picture books but I wanted to try my hand at writing a middle-grade book.” The story follows 10-year-old Noah Wilson and Tucker, the Shiloh Shepherd pup he adopts. When Noah’s dad goes off to war, Noah befriends his elderly neighbor, Sgt. Duncan, who helps to train Tucker. But when


a blizzard hits town, that’s when the real work for Noah and Tucker begins. Tucker Wilson is available in hardcover, softcover, and eBook. Koelling says this is more than just a cute boy-and-his-dog story. “This book has a message,” she says. “Even when you’re going through hard times, you can always rise above it and do something good for someone else.” It was natural for Koelling to write about a dog. After all, she’s certified as a master dog trainer. However, it wasn’t until she started training service dogs for the disabled nearly 15 years ago that she developed a real appreciation for woman’s best friend. “I was amazed at what dogs can do and how they can help people,” she says. “I’ve taught a dog to cook dinner in a microwave for a quadriplegic. Seeing all they can do helped me realize their true potential and how they can change people’s lives.” Combining her love of dogs with her love of writing for children has been a winning combination for Koelling. She’s created a picture book series all based on dogs. Koelling’s Even When series teaches children that they are loved no matter what. The first book in the series, Rocky, I’m Loved Even When I’m Bad, is based on true events. “Rocky is a real dog and Mrs. S. is a real person,” says Koelling. “Unfortunately, Rocky suffers from a bad case of separation anxiety. Once, Mrs. S. left Rocky in her car while she ran an errand and when she returned, she found that he had totally destroyed it. He ate everything–the steering wheel, the seats, the rug–everything. But she still loved him, and in fact, she still has him.”

In 2016, after working as a ghostwriter for many years, Koelling founded Words Matter Publishing. “I saw how authors were treated by some publishers and I didn’t approve,” she says. “Editors got irritated when authors tried to get in touch with them. I knew that authors had poured their hearts into their manuscripts and were ready and willing to jump through any hoops necessary, only to have the editor gut their manuscripts and rewrite them. I decided to create a publishing house where authors would be treated right.” Koelling has the utmost respect for her clients. “I consider it an amazing opportunity to work with talented authors,” she says. “Whether it’s editing, marketing, branding, or whatever is needed, I can work personally with them. They each have my cell phone number and can call me at any time. I don’t know of another publisher in the United States where you can talk to the editor at 4 a.m. on a Sunday.” For Koelling, being available is one way to demonstrate how much she values her clients. “I take their calls because I’m here to help,” she says. “It must be important to them or they wouldn’t be calling me. If it’s important to them, it’s important to me.” Koelling holds a bachelor’s degree in education and one in theology, a master’s degree in eschatology and paralegal certification. “I have a little bit of knowledge about many different things,” she says. “It’s come in handy working with authors in different

The Heart of a Champion series is about champion show dogs. The first book, A Champion is Born, has a special place in Koelling’s heart. “It’s dedicated to Vanna, a grand champion show dog who died of cancer,” says Koelling. Lastly, Koelling has created the I Can series. “These books are about believing that you can do whatever you set your mind to,” says Koelling. The first in the series, Trudy Can Talk, is about an extraordinary Saluki dog kids will adore. Koelling promises more new children’s series are in the works, including one for young adults. She’s also busy writing a nonfiction book using her investigative journalism skills. “We’re investigating a murder,” she says. “It seems like the wrong person is in prison. We’ve brought in forensic, ballistic, and trajectory experts. It’s fascinating.” StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink



genres.” Words Matter Publishing is currently accepting new clients in all genres. “I have a special interest in fantasy young adult books, historical fiction, and Christian fiction,” Koelling says. “I would also be very interested in a detective series or working with true crime authors.” What truly sets Koelling apart is the way she builds lasting working relationships with each author. “When I started Words Matter Publishing, I thought some authors would use it as a launching pad,” she says. “I envisioned that I would give them a spotlight, grow their fan base and then they would go on to another publisher.” Instead, Koelling has found that to be the exception rather than the rule. “Authors like working with our company because we take that extra step to help them. They stay because they’re not sure that they would get that kind of service somewhere else and they’re not willing to take that jump.” Words Matter Publishing has recently expanded to an international level, but Koelling still strives to

I See the Sun in . . .

maintain those all-important personal interactions with each author. “I know what it’s like to be in their shoes,” she says. “It’s been very rewarding for me to help other authors take their ideas, watch them come to life, and make their dreams a reality.” For more information about Tammy Koelling, her books, or Words Matter Publishing, visit www.wordsmatterpublishing.com.

“It’s a great concept for a book series, and it seems to me that it is one that would be as at-home inside the classroom as it is in a child’s bedroom.” — Education Week “A fine addition to geography and bilingual collections.” — School Library Journal “A gentle, intimate glimpse into the parallels and differences in the lives of children around the world.” — Publishers Weekly “Kids may easily recognize the connections with their own families and with the stories of relatives far away.” — Booklist (American Library Association) “This is more about commonalities of feeling and experience than cultural differences.” — Kirkus Reviews “Providing a learning tool with recognizable characters and surroundings . . . now that’s a true (and useful) gift of education.” — Book Dragon, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program


I See the Sun in Turkey

ISBN: 978-1935874348 • Price: $12.95 Available wherever books are sold.



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aF . Ra dke

Science & Nature




: by

A Wooly Weather Predictor? by Conrad J. Storad

The first day of winter this year officially arrives here in northeast Ohio on Thursday, December 21 at 11:28 a.m. Your official first minute of the winter solstice might differ, depending on the time zone in which you live. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. Yes, the day is still 24 hours long. But on the solstice, the Earth gets the least amount of daylight in 24 hours. It’s also the day when our Sun reaches the southernmost point in the sky. As a result, temperatures drop. The days and nights start to get downright cold, if not freezing. I’m actually writing this column at the end of October. The first hints of winter 2018 are just starting to arrive here where I live. Those hints are late. The first really nasty arctic blasts of cold and snow are still at least a month or two away … we hope. Is there any way we can know for sure? For centuries, humans have looked for ways to predict the weather, especially when it comes to winter. How cold will it get? Will it be wet or dry? Will there be lots of snow and ice, or not so much? Predicting the daily weather has gotten a lot better thanks to science and technology. Dozens of satellites orbiting high above the Earth provide a detailed look at the weather patterns swirling through our atmosphere. Weather scientists are called meteorologists. They use computers to crunch massive amounts of information about temperature, wind speed, air pressure, and other factors. Still, all this technology is only good for giving scientists a short term look into the future. Weather forecasts are pretty accurate for a few days or maybe 36

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A wooly bear caterpillar (photo by Laurie Storad)

a week ahead at the very best. The sparkly high-tech science and computer stuff is fairly new. However, for centuries or even thousands of years, humans have relied on signs from nature to provide a peek ahead at what winter might bring. How high up in the trees are squirrels building their nests? Have you seen a halo around the moon? What about all those geese flying south for the winter? Have they started their journey where you live? And what about those colorful bands on a little fuzzy caterpillar? Can they really tell us what lurks ahead? Some people think so. I like the story of the wooly bear caterpillar. My wife and I saw several wooly bears while taking a hike last week. Some people call them fuzzy bears. In the southern United States, they are known as wooly worms. Wooly bear caterpillars are actually the larval form of a tiger moth. Their bodies have 13 segments. The bands of color are black and reddish-brown. On

Science & Nature

Where are squirrels building their nests? If the nests are closer to the ground, the winter is going to more mild. Nests built up high mean more snow. Bees in the trees? When bees and wasps build their hives inside trees, a bad winter might be on the way. Fog in August? One saying goes: “Every foggy day in August results in one day of snow during winter.” Ring around the Moon? One old rhyme says: “If there’s a halo around the moon, then snow is coming sometime soon.” Isabella Tiger Moth (photo by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren)

the calendar, the winter season is 13 weeks long. According to folklore, the colors on wooly bears in your location can tell you about the coming winter. Long, black bands on a wooly bear mean that the winter ahead will be longer and colder with lots of snow. The longer the black bands, the more severe winter will be. However, a wide reddish-brown band of color in the middle of the wooly bear means the coming winter will be mild. Like all folk tales, there are lots of versions to the story. A second version is focused on the thickness of the wooly bear’s fuzzy coat. If the little caterpillar’s coat is thick and wooly, then winter is going to be cold and rugged. These stories are fun. But scientists say, “Not so fast!” There are actually more than 260 kinds of tiger moths in North America. That means lots and lots of versions of wooly bear caterpillars. The colors we see are actually based on the caterpillar’s age, what type it is, and how long it has been feeding. More food means bigger wooly bears. That usually means narrower reddish-brown bands in their middles. But caterpillars molt. That means they shed their skin. Wooly bears will molt six times before reaching adult size. Each time the caterpillar molts, it becomes less black and more brown. The reddish-brown band in the middle gets longer. I really like science. But I also like the look of the wooly bear seen in the photo taken by my wife. I’m thinking, “Mild winter ahead. Yippee!”

More winter predictors from folklore: How much fat on the deer? Deer and other animals pack on the fat to prepare for a rugged winter. Skinny deer mean milder temperatures ahead.

Resources to learn more: Books: • The Secret Life of the Wooly Bear Caterpillar by Laurence Pringle • Freaks of the Storm: From Flying Cows to Stealing Thunder, The World’s Strangest True Weather Stories by Randy Cerveny

Websites: • National Weather Service – Wooly Bears as weather predictors weather.gov/arx/woollybear • Old Farmer’s Almanac – Winter Outlook 2018 almanac.com/blog/weather/weather-update/ winter-outlook-2017-2018-colder-last-year • You Tube – Science Friday – Myth of the Wooly Bear youtube.com/watch?v=Ca-XZdSAxzo • You Tube – Animal Fact Friday – The Wooly Bear youtube.com/watch?v=CpVx6xm745Q • Wooly Bear Festival 2018 festivalnet.com/43029/Vermilion-Ohio/Festivals/Woollybear-Festival

Conrad J. Storad The award-winning author and editor of more than 50 science and nature books for children and young adults, Conrad J. Storad expertly draws young readers into his imaginative and entertaining “classroom” to help them better understand and appreciate the natural world. StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


Mistletoe: Friend or Foe? by Rita Campbell Leaves of love or destruction? Mistletoe growing in a forest can be a bit of a pest to the trees because it is a parasite and lives off the plant it inhabits. However, when the holidays come around, mistletoe becomes a symbol of love and romance. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe began in the 18th century by the Druids, and became a common practice among British servants. The tradition spread from there. According to tradition, it is bad luck to refuse a kiss under the mistletoe. After the kiss, the couple is to pick one of the berries from the plant. When all the berries are gone, the bough of leaves no longer has the romantic power to demand kisses. So while mistletoe can encourage romance and love throughout the world, it can also bring about destruction. Mistletoe attaches to trees, plants, and shrubs and steals the nutrients and water from the plant it lives on. The plant can weaken and disfigure its host plant and even kill it. Once a tree is infected by mistletoe, it is almost impossible to get rid of it. 38

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In the wild, Mistletoe can be found in North America as well as Europe. North American mistletoe is a woody shrub with green oval leaves about three to four inches long. The flowers are white and produce red, orange, yellow, or white berries. Many types of mistletoe in North America are poisonous. Birds love to eat them and because the birds wipe their beaks on the bark of the trees and leave the seeds, mistletoe is able to spread. Use mistletoe solely for decoration since the berries can be poisonous to humans. European mistletoe also grows in trees and shrubs and can be recognized by white or yellow berries, never red. Unlike North America mistletoe, European mistletoe is used for its healing properties. Mistletoe can also be used as an herb for healing qualities. Studies are in progress to determine this ancient herb as a cancer treatment. European varieties have also been used to treat seizures, headaches, infertility, hypertension, and arthritis. A prescription can be acquired in Europe, but in North America injections are only available through clinical trials.

If you want to try growing some mistletoe, you will need a host plant and some seeds. Seeds are best planted when fresh and harvested between March and April. You will need to remove the seed from the berry. Simply squeeze out the seed and then rub off most of the sticky coating. Rinse the seed and then plant them. Most species of mistletoe seed need light for germination but can also be grown in moist seed flats. Use a potting mix with generous amounts of peat in a flat. Sow several seeds and mist the medium until damp. Place a lid or plastic over the flat and place it in a well-lit area with temperatures at least 60 F (16 C). The mistletoe will need to be moved to a host plant to grow on, but rooting can be sporadic. Expect to wait five to six years for a good crop and you may need to use a ladder to pick the fruits of your labor. The Druids believed the plant was neither an herb nor a tree but grew in midair suspended over the sacred oak, and therefore it was a gift from the gods. Because

of this, the gods commanded that all who came under it should exchange a kiss of peace and reconciliation. By Victorian times, the tradition had evolved into the ritual of the Christmas kiss. While it can be destructive, it is also a symbol of peace. Merry Christmas! Plant of the month: Mistletoe (Viscum album) is an evergreen plant that is smothered in white berries from winter to spring. It grows in the branches of trees, such as hawthorn, apple, poplar, lime, and conifers.

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

Frilly & Trilly

Frilly & Trilly are a scholassc series of children's books, about twin girls learning invaluable life lessons that bring the ennre family together for pracccal soluuons.

Find the Frilly & Trilly books at frillyandtrilly.com or amazon.com

StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


Kids Can Publish!

My Favorite Teacher. .. M r. Po la nc ic h by Carly Peterson, grade 11

s of ionate band nerd. Through my three year Ask anyone and they ’ll agree: I am a pass ol bands, as well as marching band and an high school, I have participated in four scho , and am up for a music theory class for next year after-school jazz ensemble. I am signe d uate. for music as a music educator once I grad eagerly planning on following my passion ol not sure I’d continue band through my It’s hard to imagine I started off high scho c cich to thank for awakening my love of musi sophomore year. But I have Mr. Jacob Polan my adult life. and inspiring me to continue music through

man ents affectionately call him, Mr. P) my fresh I was terrified of Mr. Polancich (or, as stud idate d ally only saw him at concerts. I was intim year. I wasn’t in one of his bands, so I typic ult g and his dry sense of humor that’s diffic by his determined expression while conductin ’t until I joine d the wind ensemble and jazz to catch if you don’t know him well. It wasn what a compassionate teacher he is. ensemble my junior year that I realized

, be about a difficult piece, interesting news Mr. P always has time to talk, whether it ol life talking with him before and after or just life. I’ve spent hours of my high scho and a classes. He’s always around to give advice rehearsals, marching band practices, and lenging class to help students work through chal witty remark, even taking time outside of was work with him on a group solo section I sections of music. I was lucky enough to me, I was having, why they were difficult for struggling with. We discussed what issues and He genuinely care d about my learning and what strategies I could use to succeed. but he could help, which is a somewhat rare practicing styles and wanted to know how valuable approach. the truly thrives. His clear passion not only for In an unconventional class like jazz, Mr. P s of his students, is what makes him more music itself, but also for the effort and idea to help es us out of our comfort zones in order than just an educator. He oftentimes push es c and encourages us to improvise. Sometim us grow; he tries increasingly difficult musi the jazz and jam out with us in class, invite us to he’ll bring out his own personal bassoon artists he loves with us. gigs he participates in, or share music and ider him not just a teacher, but a frien d, These personal touches make students cons l. Thanks to Mr. P, the band room feels like father figure, coach, captain, and role mode the chaos of life. That’s why he is, and will home, and I’ll always have an escape from always be, my most inspiring educator.

Hey Kids! Visit www.StoryMonsters.com and click on “Kids Can Publish” for instructions on how to submit your work! 40

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Holiday Gift Guide Willowmena’s Quest by Sandra Rhea

What happens when a motherless girl named Willowmena stumbles over Merloo, a fairy with a broken wing, and the two become unlikely companions in a land where friendship is virtually unknown? Accompanied by a magical rhinoceros with a flashing red eye, a mute prince, and relentlessly pursued by the Miner of the Dark Pass, the stalwart band embarks on a heroic journey through the dusty Land of Bleak. In search of the purple Mountains of Tune, and with occasional aid from some of Bleak’s surprising residents, they each seek something they require to help them return to the world beyond.

Santa’s Rescue Elves: The Plastic Pollution Adventure by Monty J. McClaine

From high above the clouds to the depths of the sea, Santa’s toughest Relves are ready for anything! When they take on their latest mission, they discover a man-made island full of plastic and trash! Follow along with the brave little Relves as they make it their mission to save the animals and the ocean, and get to the bottom of this plastic island. Learn about the dangers of plastic waste and the sad state of the world’s oceans as the Relves explore the effects humans have on our gentle, beautiful world.

Super Speed Sam: Santa’s Rescue Dog by Monty. J. McClaine

The McClaine’s faithful basset hound, Sam, knows how to use his super speed powers, even in a pinch. What he does not know is how these powers started … that’s a big secret to him! Sam knows it’s a family thing, having been passed down through generations, but he doesn’t know why, where, how, or what got these amazing abilities started. Well, hold onto your seats because in this extra special Super Sam episode, you’re about to find out!

Wonder Wheels by Shawnie Clark

Have you ever felt downhearted? That’s how Kobe felt until the day he receives the best gift ever! A gift that changes his life! It gives him the freedom to do things he wasn’t able to do before, such as help others, walk the dog, play at the park, go on adventures, and make friends. Ride with Kobe in his new Wonder Wheels. Zooming along like a superhero to places he never dreamed he could go! booksbyshawnie.webs.com

Cub’s Wish

by Angie Flores

Sitting under a peaceful starlit sky, Cub is offered to wish upon a star. With much thought, he comes to realize his life is pretty full. What else could he ask for but to always be as happy as he was right then? Making wishes for a wishing star is not always as easy as it seems, especially knowing the wish may be granted. Cub’s Wish brings out the sweet moments of conversation between parent and child and the understanding that sometimes we all need a little guidance to achieve our dreams. First Place winner, 2017 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards. angiefloresbooks.com

Box Loader: The Adventures of Cargo & R-Cycle by Carlton Franklin

A fun and adventurous picture book for kids young and old. It’s an inspirational book full of life lessons about teamwork, friendship, overcoming challenges, and saving the planet through good stewardship. Come along with our main characters on this epic journey of courage and magical discovery of the human heart. cnoteenterprises.com. Check out our YouTube channel and download the apps Idea Pitch, Box Loader, and Weather Wiggy for free in the App Store and Google Play. 42

Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

Holiday Gift Guide The Seasons of a Giant by Pamela Hartley

Isabel has never killed anything scarier than a spider, but suddenly her pursuit has thrust her into a fight with an honest-to-goodness, cattle-stealing monster. When Izzy finally finds her monster, she is transported from her family’s farm to the SkyWorld above the clouds. To find her way home, she will have to team up with the very monster she has been hunting. As the two confront terrifying creatures and deadly enemies, Izzy will learn a lot about him … and herself. First place winner, 2017 Purple Dragonfly Awards.

The Mirror of Doom by Bailey Baxter

Stuck in a world where fairy tales are real, Tim Hunter and his siblings get ambushed by enemy soldiers, attacked by dangerous creatures, and nearly fried to crisp by a dragon, all while trying to help defeat a terrifying evil queen! Can three kids with zero sword-fighting skills—and even less ability to get along— accomplish this dangerous mission and find their way home? Find out now! This fun, middle grade fantasy-adventure novel is available on Amazon.com.

Emma Gets Braces! by Baron D. Hall

Finally, an educational book about getting braces written by an expert in the field. Join Emma as she romps through the ABC’s of braces from Appointment to Zigzag! Not only will children love the rhyming charm and fun of Emma Gets Braces!, but parents can also learn about the benefits of proper brushing, fluoride, and … saliva! Use the keyword bracesarethebomb to save 15% when purchasing through the bookstore at mascotbooks.com (offer valid through 12/31/2017).

The Adventures of Hope & Trusty Book 1: Sky Cloud City by archaeologist Maria Kamoulakou-Marangoudakis

Two friends purchase a pair of magical crows and venture into a land where the birds talk and follow democratic procedures. Who is King Hoopoe? Why is a bird assembly summoned? How do the two friends win over a hostile assembly and unite the birds in a common goal? Why do the Olympian Gods get involved? Educate and entertain your kids with a fun adaptation of Aristophanes’ classical Greek play “The Birds.” Winner, 2017 Purple Dragonfly Book Award. For ages 7-10. skycloudcity.com

The Magpie King by M.J. Fahy

A story certain to become a classic, The Magpie King is an enchanting middle-grade story of friendship, loyalty, and magic. Tatty Moon must save the miniature, secret village of Little Upham from a devastating invasion. Thankfully she has friends to help her, including an elf, a talking rat, and a hawk-sized dragonfly. This is the sort of wonderful tale that stays with the reader for a lifetime, with characters that burst from the pages; a beautiful 234-page book also illustrated by the author.

Tripi Takes Flight: The Amazing Adventures of Tripi the Fly by Lori London

A charming story about a fly who can’t fly, but longs for adventure! Tripi is different, and special you see. He can talk, read, and write, and he can even dance and sing! At the library one day, he meets The Great Book! The book talks of tantalizing travel and far-off lands—destinations where Tripi would love to land! Will this chance encounter cause Tripi to hop a jumbo jet to France, and beyond? You’ll have to look inside! A Mom’s Choice Award winner. StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


Holiday Gift Guide The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest: “The Diamond Mine” by Maggie Van Galen

Moms love presents made by their kids! Keeno, a mischievous monkey, learns this lesson in this heartwarming story about two friends navigating life in the jungle. Give the gift of friendship and family values this holiday season! Learn about all of Keeno and Ernest’s adventures in the series and order online at www.KeenoandErnest.com. Use the keyword “StoryMonsters” to save 10% on any order placed through the website! (Offer valid through 12/31/2017)


by Jane Alvey Harris

Triggered by the return of her childhood abuser and unable to cope with reality, 17-year-old Emily slips into the elaborate fantasy world she created as a little girl. But Emily soon discovers her demons have followed her inside her fairy tale. They’re hunting her. With the help of the Fae, she frantically searches for the weapons she needs to defeat her greatest fears and escape back to reality … and time is running out. For readers ages 13+. JaneAlveyHarris.com

Sir Walter Farluba by Donna LeBlanc

Since Sir Walter, the Earl of Karother, is never invited to play in the town band, he assumes that none of his subjects like him. And the townsfolk, never seeing Sir Walter, assume that he doesn’t care about them. Then one day, a horrible noise filters down from the Earl’s castle. And it takes one brave young girl to find out what it is! Story Monster Approved winner! Purple Dragonfly and Royal Dragonfly Book Awards winner. Available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

The Nocturnals: The Moonlight Meeting by Tracey Hecht & Rumur Dowling

In The Moonlight Meeting, the Nocturnal Brigade introduces their nighttime world to early readers who discover the meaning of friendship and sharing. The Grow and Read book program was developed with free online printable storytime activities including coloring pages, animal mask crafts, bookmarks, story and character maps, science cards, and more. We believe the activities help strengthen the understanding of the books for emerging readers while instilling confidence and a lifelong interest in reading. Check out GrowAndRead.com.

Ace, King of My Heart: An Assateague Pony’s Tale of Strength and Survival by Lea Herrick

Ace, a tiny, wild colt born on Assateague Island, struggles to survive (with a little help from his animal friends) as he grows into a magnificent stallion. Educational activities included! Recipient of the Mom’s Choice Award, 2017 Green Earth Book Award “Long List” Honoree, 2017 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards first place winner. Teaches children life lessons of perseverance, optimism, and hope, with a larger message for all ages: the need to preserve our beautiful natural habitats and ecosystems. Available on Amazon.com.

Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation by Susan Elizabeth Hale

With the Great Mother Tree dying in the Shining Land, 11-year-old Emma Oliver must sing the Song of Creation before it’s too late. Emma doesn’t know that she comes from generations of tree singers. Nor does she believe she can sing. But she soon discovers that the oak tree in her garden is part of a network of tree spirits that have come to Peachtree City to help Emma on a dangerous mission to save the Great Mother Tree. But will she be in time? www.ourstreet-books.com ISBN: 978-1-78535-386-4 44

Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

Holiday Gift Guide The Bath of Least Resistance by Gregory E. Bray

Bogie’s investigation of a strange smell leads him to a tray of paint in the living room. His brother finds a paint-soaked Bogie and tries to get him into the bath. His brother uses Bogie’s favorite toys and food to lure him into the bath with no luck. Will he find what it takes to get Bogie into the bath? Or is Bogie destined to remain a colorful pooch forever?

Hold On, Toby

by Janet Bierbower-Boucher

A magical story of a little maple leaf bud on a very big tree! As he grows and matures, he encounters the wonder and forces of nature and various critters and people of all sizes. Throughout his journey Toby is often told to hold on, although he has no idea what that means. Hold On, Toby presents an opportunity to experience the joy of each season and to glimpse an understanding of the cycle of life as expressed through the seasons of Toby’s life.

Max and Bear by Pam Saxelby

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

Josie the Great by Pam Saxelby

So many things are changing for Max and Bear. They’ve moved into a new house in a new neighborhood and now ... a new baby? Max’s parents keep talking about someone named Josie, but who is that? With his trusty friend Bear by his side, Max navigates the changes in his life and wonders what it all means. Josie the Great is a sequel to the author’s Max and Bear. Young readers and those who have yet to learn to read will enjoy the further adventures of these two characters.

A Buss from Lafayette by Dorothea Jensen

Purple Dragonfly Book Awards: First Place (Historical Fiction) In June, 1825, everyone around spirited 14-year-old Clara Hargraves is thrilled because the world-famous American Revolution hero, General Lafayette, is about to visit New Hampshire on his “Farewell Tour.” In one event-filled week, what Clara learns about her family, her friends, and Lafayette himself, profoundly changes her life. “Clara carries the story with the strength of her personality, humorous observations, and seemingly timeless adolescent woes … will entertain readers as young as 4th grade while older students will appreciate a teenager’s perspective” - KidStuff Magazine. ABussfromLafayette.com

Mr. Owliver’s Magic at the Museum by Carolyn Bracken

Mr. Owliver is responsible for guarding the masterpieces at the Animaltown Art Museum. One night he makes a horrifying discovery that makes him worry about his job and leads to a night of surprises. This is a whimsical introduction for young readers to become familiar with some of the art masterpieces of the world. Written and illustrated by Carolyn Bracken. 978-0-7643-5427-4 $16.99 StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


Holiday Gift Guide Gracie Lou

by Larissa Juliano

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

Unraveling Rose by Brian Wray

Rose is a stuffed bunny who loves having fun with the little boy she lives with, until she discovers a loose thread dangling from her arm, and it’s all she can think about. The story will help parents and teachers talk to children about what to do with obsessive thoughts. Written by Brian Wray, illustrated by Shiloh Penfield. 978-0-7643-5393-2 $16.99

How the Trees Got Their Voices by Susan Andra Lion

Seventeen national awards and honors! Sue Lion’s highly visual storybook not only presents a fascinating story that children ages 3 and older will enjoy, but also tells a second story about animals, plants, birds, and the Earth itself. This unique and marvelous book helps its readers to regard their world as a complex tapestry of life and living things. Children will be delighted by the thumbnail descriptions which surround the outside of each page, inviting them in and helping them learn about the world of the forest and greater ecosystem of Mother Earth.

The Festive Frolics of Panda and Owl by Frank Lewis

Panda and Owl are a hoot! Birthday parties, ice cream, and river games can be fantastic fun—especially when you’re with your best friend! Join spontaneous, cheerful Panda and wise but disoriented Owl as they live and laugh together in the Bamboo Forest. Whether they’re discovering the bestest activity for the bestest outside day possible or planning surprises for each other, the thing they enjoy more than anything else is spending time together. Five fun-to-read stories that will have readers of all ages shouting “Hoo-Hoo-Doo-Loo!” FrankLewisBooks.com

Jeannie’s Crab Lake Christmas by David Mulford

All the animals in the forest are abuzz. Jeannie, the kindest and most beautiful lady they know, is coming to Crab Lake for Christmas! The animals love to watch Jeannie from a distance when she visits in the summer, but they have never had a chance to talk to her before now for, as everyone knows, animals can only talk in the winter. This time, however, they can finally say a proper hello. Meet Jeannie and her forest friends: bear cub Pudgey, kindly Mr. Woodchuck, distinguished Bellknap Beaver, and more! A new holiday classic to treasure. DavidMulfordBooks.com


Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

Holiday Gift Guide Luisita Rides Her Bike/Luisita monta en bicicleta by Dora Przybylek

Luisita gets a big surprise from her dad. He has an enormous box waiting for her. It’s a box all wrapped up in pretty paper of many colors. And inside is something that will make Luisita very happy: a bike! Her dad is going to teach her how to ride it. She’s so excited and learns very quickly.

Luisita Cooks/Luisita cocina by Dora Przybylek

Luisita asks her mom to teach her how to make fruit salad. Together, they choose different fruits, wash them, peel them, cut them, and mix them all together in a bowl. Luisita’s mom tells her exactly what to do and Luisita follows every direction. She is very proud and happy because now she knows how to cook!

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

StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


Monsters at



Thor: Ragnarok Reviewer: Nick Spake

Grade: B+

It’s interesting. Thor: The Dark World was arguably the worst entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Incredible Hulk (2008) wasn’t exactly necessary, especially considering that Mark Ruffalo would later replace Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. The two Avengers are brought together in Thor: Ragnarok, however, and they make for a highly endearing duo. This is a blockbuster that throws a lot at the screen, mixing elements of epic fantasy, hardcore science fiction, and slapstick comedy. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, though, it’s a bizarre combination that pays off despite all the odds. The result is not only the finest Thor movie to date, but also one of the MCU’s most entertaining outings yet. Ragnarok almost feels like a reboot of the series, ditching everything that didn’t work in the previous films and keeping what fans really want to see. Gone are Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, and Kat Dennings, but Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki are back and better than ever. The brothers are forced to put their differences aside when Asgard is taken over by the deliciously evil Hela (Cate Blanchett). After shattering the God of Thunder’s hammer, the Goddess of Death banishes him to the planet of Sakaar. Taken prisoner by a ruler known as the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), Thor must duke it out in the gladiator ring to win his freedom. Unfortunately, his opponent is a mean, green, fighting machine that somehow ended up in outer space. Where the imagery in Thor: The Dark World was very bleak and hard to make out, Ragnarok is booming with color and personality. Sakaar in particular earns comparison to the city from The Fifth Element, looking trashy while also being whimsical. When it comes to the action sequences, director Taika Waititi is a force to be reckoned with. A notable highlight is the match between Thor and Hulk, which nails everything from the creative choreography, to the eye-popping visuals, to the downto-earth humor. 48

Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

The comedy is actually what makes Ragnarok such a pleasant surprise, seeing how its predecessors mostly played it with straight faces. Although the stakes are higher than ever for our heroes, the film is never afraid to work in a self-aware joke or sight gag. Some may argue that this leaves the film with an uneven tone, but let’s be honest here. Our leads are a deity from Norse mythological and a green giant. This material doesn’t need to be taken that seriously. At the end of the day, audiences just want a fun road movie with the characters they’ve come to love and that’s precisely what the filmmakers deliver. The chemistry between Thor, Hulk, and Loki makes for some of the best character moments in the whole franchise. Tessa Thompson also turns in a strong debut as Valkyrie, who’s kind of like Xena Warrior Princess if you crossed her with Han Solo. Karl Urban is also memorable as Skurge, an Asgardian torn between fighting for his realm and saving his own skin. Waititi additionally makes an appearance in his film via motion capture as Korg, a rock-like creature who resembles The Thing. The Fantastic

Four won’t be joining the MCU anytime soon, but the soft-spoken Korg will do fine for now.  As with most Marvel movies, the weakest link in Thor: Ragnarok would have to be its villains. That’s not to say they’re boring. If anything, they’re all well written and well cast, which is more than can be said about Malekith. Between Hela, Grandmaster, and a fire demon named Surtur, though, the movie can feel overstuffed as each baddie fights for screen time. The filmmakers more than make up for this with our heroes, however, who are all given just the right amount of depth, wit, and cool moments. While some of these characters will return in Avengers: Infinity War, Ragnarok will more than likely be Thor’s final solo adventure. If that is indeed the case, Marvel saved the best for last.

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

StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink




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

Barbara Freeman: Former educator Barbara Freeman

Carol Hageman: Children who learn how to rely on

friends and themselves become happier adults. Bubby’s Puddle Pond tells how Bubby, a desert tortoise, moves outside his shoebox into an unfamiliar world, making friends who band together for safety and companionship. Along the way, Bubby learns to trust his friends and himself.

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

New Jersey Mary Ann Castagnetta: Mary Ann Castagnetta’s

colorfully illustrated children’s books are warm and humorous stories to delight children ages 3 to 10. Her presentations are 30 to 40 minutes in length, depending on the age of the group, and include a reading, followed by a discussion of the importance of perseverance and the process of writing and publishing her books.

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


Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

Liv on Life Do What Makes You Happy! by Olivia Amiri

There are many invisible “supposed to” rules, and some that are not so invisible and practiced daily in our world. I gave a furry stuffed animal to an adult. I told her that this stuffed animal would be great to snuggle with at night. She just laughed at me and said, “Adults don’t sleep with stuffed animals!” I thought to myself, why not? Why should being a certain age dictate what you can and cannot do? Who makes up all of these “supposed to” rules and why do we all follow them? Everyone should do what he or she wants and what makes him or her feel good providing they are not hurting anyone else by doing so.

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

I asked her to promise me that just for tonight she would sleep with this soft, cute stuffed animal. She reported to me the next day that she did sleep with my gift ... and named that stuffed animal Fuzz Buzz! And that Fuzz Buzz was very comforting and calming. Now she is thinking of getting furry stuffed animals for all of her adult friends. Don’t let these rules talk you into thinking you’re too old to watch a kids’ movie or too young to read books by Ayn Rand or Agatha Christie. I believe that no matter what age you are, you can enjoy anything you want. Do not let what anyone says keep you from doing things that make you happy!.

Riddles & Giggles Q: What do Santa’s helpers learn at school? A: The elf-abet! StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


Book Reviews Christmas with Snowman Paul

by Yossi Lapid, Joanna Pasek. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This sweet depiction of childhood whimsy flows across the pages with warmth and happiness in soft, endearing watercolor images. The text flows as freely as the imagination in this loving tale of Christmas joys, and the heart of sharing. Holidays are a great time to remember, and when we come together with openness and heart, anything is possible. Snowman Paul will vouch for that!

We Wish for a Monster Christmas

by Sue Fliess, Claudia Ranucci. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a fun-loving, brightly-colored, and greatly-illustrated story about two siblings who want something just a little more special than the usual toys for their Christmas gift, to the happy tune of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Its lighthearted beat is sure to bring giggles and the lyrics will make this a favorite sing-along for the holiday.

Magic Fish Dreaming

by June Perkins, Helene Magisson. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Poetry can whisper in the wind and carry the imagination softly with it, or beat loudly like a drum and stir the heart’s complacence. Rhyme and rhythm have encouraged awareness and learning in our children from a very early age, and it’s great to see poetry books like this leading them to an appreciation for this great art of expression. The words, layout, font, and color palette, as well as the illustrations by Helene Magisson are truly a wonderful visual experience in themselves.

Mice Skating

by Annie Silvestro, Teagan White. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This book pleases from start to finish. The illustrations of Teagan White, along with the colors and texture, bring this warm and endearing story to life. Friendship and the joy of sharing bring any favored activity to its greatest heights. At a time when most mice are burrowing underground, Lucy and her friends find heartwarming delights.

Jeannie’s Crab Lake Christmas

by David Mulford, Christine Cathers Donohue. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The story carries a sentimental and wistful yearning for happier times, when harmony and peace existed between people and the creatures that lived among them. In a fun flight of imagination, Jeannie is reminded of the joy and affections that this harmony can provide, and determines to be more intentional in lending her life and her environment to it. Illustrations by Christine Cathers Donohue are warm and inviting, giving visual affirmation to the heart of the story.

Have You Seen My Tail?

by Kaitlin Puccio. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Ever find yourself on a wild goose chase for something you thought you lost, only to find you never had it at all? When Corky, a happy Corgi pup, is told by other dogs at the park that he is missing his tail, it sends him on a quest to figure out where he lost it. His travels lead him to a wise peacock that settles his journey and gives him peace of mind. This adorable little story holds a big impact.


Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

Book Reviews A New Song for Herman

by Paul McAllister, Emily Brown. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

These lovable monsters will win your heart in this story of fear, friendship, and bravery. Fear can cause us some sleepless nights, and the only way to get back to normal may be to come face to face with it. The adorable artwork by Emily Brown is a heartwarming touch to this all-around winning tale.

The Nocturnals: The Moonlight Meeting

by Tracey Hecht, Rumur Dowling, Waymond Singleton. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

The Nocturnals is a Level 2 reader in the Grow & Read program. It is an entertaining story of friendship and sharing, and educates us about those who are different from us. Tobin, a sweet pangolin; Bismark, a loud-mouthed sugar glider; and Dawn, a serious fox, introduce their nighttime world to early readers. Children will love to learn about new creatures and their habits. This level 2 reader is aimed for grades 1-2, and encourages reading aloud with longer sentences, problem-solving skills, and a growing vocabulary. I’m eager to experience more readers in all three levels of this great program!

Grandma Forgets

by Paul Russell and Nicky Johnston. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is such a sweet outlook. I wish I’d read it sooner. When loved ones start to forget, we want to pull them back into our memories. Not wanting to let go when we feel them slipping from our reality. This touching story brings us such a sweetness of the joys that can still be found when we are willing to visit their world, instead of the struggle of trying to hold them in ours. The illustrations are as tender and loving as the subject they express. This is truly an honor to the forgetting, who are never forgotten.

Emma Gets Braces!

by Baron D. Hall, Omar Hechtenkopf. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Our appearance is the first thing that meets another’s attention and when it takes on flaws, we can feel bad about ourselves and seek for helpful ways to remedy our concerns. A visit to the dentist can be scary for children and adults alike, but Emma is excited to correct and enhance her appearance by getting braces. The book’s simple, straightforward approach will help ease, and understand the process for those who may be facing it with dread. It’s rhythmic text and upbeat illustrations by Omar Hechtenkopf will surely shine a positive light on the process.

Gregory and the Gargoyles

by Denis-Pierre Filippi, J Etienne, Silvio Camboni. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

In this new comic book style series, we find a sulky, smart-aleck kid who gets in over his head and finds quite an adventure. Though we find ourselves thrown back in time with magic, dragons, and gargoyles, we still find family issues and child routines, making personal connections easy for its readers. This fun fantasy, with its engaging illustrations, is a great way to encourage reluctant readers. The comic book layout makes reading light, spurring the reader’s interest to keep its pace. It’s reading for fun!

Leo’s Gift

by Susan Blackaby, Joellyn Cicciarelli, Carrie Schuler. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Oh, the gift. That special thing that flows with ease and fills all the cracks and crevices of our lives with joy! For Meredith, it’s basketball that fills her mind and interest while she hammers out her tunes in piano practice. But, for Leo, it’s the sweet sound of music that fills his heart as he quietly sits in the shadows listening to his sister play. The piano soon gives him a voice, helps his confidence soar, and propels him to embrace the treasure inside him and share it with the world. A true gift.

StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


Book Reviews A World of Cookies for Santa

by M.E. Furman, Susan Gal. Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Sure to become a treasured favorite during the holidays. Every page describes holiday cookie treats that children make for Santa all across the globe. Not only is this book packed with fascinating facts and beautifully written paragraphs that describe countries and their cookie making traditions, it tugs at readers’ heartstrings as they imagine these young children eagerly waiting for Santa as they carefully craft their Christmas cookies. I would love a sample of each recipe included in the back of the book! This stunningly illustrated book is perfect for holiday season read-alouds, cookie exchanges, and even a geography aroundthe-world classroom unit!

Inky’s Great Escape

by Casey Lyall, Sebastià Serra. Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Octopus stories might be the next big thing because this underwater delight will elicit many giggles from readers of all ages. This delightful tale begins with Inky coming out of retirement from his local aquarium to dip his tentacles into one last great escape … to the ocean! Readers will love Inky’s planning process as he plots the perfect escape. I love the pages that give us a peek into aquarium life, and the conversations between sea creatures are incredibly clever. Readers will be fascinated by this unique tale, especially when they realize it is based on a true story!

I Saw Anaconda

by Jane Clarke, Emma Dodd. Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

A lift-the-flap book? Yes, please! Hungry anacondas in a cumulative story format? Even better. This brightly-colored picture book will not only elicit giggles, but full-blown belly laughs as the reader keeps up with the anaconda’s insatiable appetite. Swallowing a tick, then a skink, along with frogs, piranhas, and even a gator, this anaconda has a full tummy and is still not stopping! The tried and true cumulative storyline has a fresh twist with these swampy characters only to have a huge pop-out explosion at the end that will surely make you s-s-smile.

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat. Reviewer: Julianne Black

This book is absolutely beautiful. We follow Humpty Dumpty’s rest and recovery after his fall, his transition back to the wall, and the strength it took to get back on top. Includes the added bonus of an unexpected ending that will surely tweak your view of Mr. Dumpty from this point forward. Deliciously textured illustrations, emotionally impactful layout, and design choices paired with a fresh view of the nursery rhyme bring it all home. Older children will especially adore it due to its graphic novel-style story telling and behind-the-scenes feel on the character. Great gift book full of everything we have come to expect from the fantastic Dan Santat.

The Wise Animal Handbook

by Kate B. Jerome. Reviewer: Julianne Black

If you combined Old McDonald’s Farm, the Chicken Soup books, and the motivational poster people together to make a book, it would turn out like this! Adorable short clips of advice on everything from eating healthy, to how to treat friends, to adjusting perspective—The Wise Animal Handbook uses vivid animal photography to impart wisdom on young animal lovers. It makes a great storytime book on particularly chaotic school days as the subject matter, rhythmic text, and beautiful images give off a refocus vibe that settles and calms. This book has a wonderful feel-good finish to it, the picture book equivalent to a warm cup of tea.


Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

Book Reviews The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange. Reviewer: Diana Perry

It’s 1919. Mama is ill, father has taken a job abroad, and Nanny Jane is too busy to pay any attention to Henrietta and the things she sees—or thinks she sees—in the shadows of their new home, Hope House. All alone, with only stories for company, Henrietta discovers that Hope House is full of strange secrets: a forgotten attic, ghostly figures, mysterious firelight that flickers in the trees beyond the garden. One night she ventures into the darkness of Nightingale Wood and what she finds there will change her whole world. I think this is the perfect book for any young reader who is coping with a tragedy. Henry finds the courage to maneuver through the problems to come out with a most lovely ending.

Best Buds Under Frogs

by Leslie Patricelli. Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11

Best Buds Under Frogs is a funny and beautifully descriptive story of fourth-grade life. Lily’s insight into her life is very engaging. She just moved with her family and started a new school. Her first day is disastrous, which I can relate to ... my first time at sleep-away camp I had a similar experience. Kids do not react to that lightly. I wasn’t as lucky as Lily to find a friend like Darby to come to my rescue. Darby and Lily form their own club called the Rizzelrunk Club. But can Lily and Darby’s friendship survive when Darbys’ BFF moves back unexpectedly? Read the book to find out!

Karma Khullar’s Mustache

by Kristi Wientge. Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11

Karma Khullar’s Mustache is a heartfelt story. It’s about a girl who is about to start middle school and the growing pains she faces. Her home life has been turned upside down including moving, the death of her grandma, her BFF finding another new blonder BFF and basically leaving her in the dust. Not to mention things changing with Karmas’ body hair, including facial hairs on her upper lip! I can completely relate to this story and tell you firsthand it’s not so easy being a kid and growing up, especially if you think you don’t have anyone to really run things by. I can especially relate to the death of a grandma, who is your best friend and loves you unconditionally. The great thing about Karma Khullar is she’s willing to grow and figure it out.

Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset by Sarah Ashwood. Reviewer: Diana Perry

The mystery of other worlds is not one Hannah Winters ever thought she’d solve. However, the day she spots a brown-robed stranger with a magical staff in a neighbor’s field is the day she also discovers Aerisia, a magical land beyond Earth’s sunset. Here in Aerisia, Hannah is believed to be the Artan, a legendary heroine prophesied to deliver Aerisia from the Dark Powers. She tries in vain to tell everyone that she is not the Artan, just plain old Hannah from Earth. But events come into place and she begins to question everything she knows. A fast and furious read that even adults will enjoy.

Voiceless Whispers (The Azurite Encounter, Volume 2) by Jane Frances Ruby. Reviewer: Diana Perry

Grateful for their help, Desiree has kept secret an ancient tribe living in remote areas of the Grand Canyon. During a visit to the Canyon’s South Rim Village she encounters the tribe’s medicine man in search of an ill tribal youth. Desiree discovers that only she can help cure the youth, but it risks exposing her secret and sacrificing her life. This story is very visual, both with the mastery of creative words and also with the great illustrations of the Grand Canyon. Young readers will learn much about Native American tribal life and customs as Ms. Ruby describes the characters and locations so vividly, you almost feel like you’re right there with them.

StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


Book Reviews The Way to Bea

by Kat Yeh. Reviewer: Diana Perry

Seventh-grader Beatrix Lee feels like nothing important. Her only talent is writing Haiku poems. Bea struggles with normal teen life as she tries to find her place in the world. This book is packed with adventures: a crumbling wall that is supposedly a portal to the land of the Goblin King, a labyrinth that is really not a labyrinth, and her secret poems that she writes in invisible ink and hides away until one day … someone writes back! What a great mystery venue to teach self-confidence to young readers. A book to put anyone in a great mood just by reading it.

Code 7: Cracking the Code for an Epic Life by Bryan R. Johnson. Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11

Code 7 is an engaging, entertaining story with important life insights. The story takes place at Flint Hill Elementary School and follows the lives of seven different children who go to this school. In each of the seven children’s stories, we learn big life lessons of courage, self-esteem, choice, responsibility, etc. I don’t want to give all the lessons away, but the story’s “codes to live by” strive to make the world a better place. Code 7 is an inspirational book that can inspire both kids and adults to live an epic life!

Have Sword, Will Travel

by Garth Nix and Sean Williams. Reviewer: Diana Perry

It is strange enough that Odo and Eleanor have stumbled upon a sword in a dried-up river outside their village. It is even stranger that Odo is able to remove it from where it’s buried. And it’s remarkably strange when the sword starts to talk. A real page-turner, all young readers will love this tale and not want to put it down until the end. This book will pull children into the story as they travel along with Odo and Eleanor and share in the fantastic adventure and dangers while remaining safe at home.

Dinosaur Empire

by Abby Howard. Reviewer: Diana Perry

Fifth-grader Ronnie studies for her class quiz on the history of dinosaurs. Her neighbor, Miss Lernin, is a retired paleontologist and together, they travel back in time as Miss Lernin explains the different ages when dinosaurs ruled the earth. I loved the educational value of this book all wrapped up in a fun-toread story format. This is the ultimate educational dinosaur book in a time-travel venue with relatable characters. Everyone who reads this book will love it, even the grown-ups!

StarPassage: Book 1, The Relic

by Clark Rich Burbidge. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This new young adult series from award-winning author Clark Burbidge blends fantasy and heart into an entertaining saga. These young teenagers bind together in hope, and the unseen powers of life unite to help them on a quest to set right what war has terribly upset. In bringing a gentle awakening to a very harsh reality, PTSD is looked at from a broader spectrum, and we are emotionally left with the whisper of truth: being a casualty of war is not limited to those who fight. StarPassage offers hope to believe there is a passage out of darkness, and to be whole again. It’s a great adventure.

The Gifted Storyteller

by Gregg Korrol. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Great story! What starts as casual and free-flowing, begins to pick up speed and totally catches you up in the momentum. It challenges with an irresistible effect, bringing you face to face with a deeper reflection of self and a greater appreciation for the world around us. If we let the story carry us through its pages with an open mind, we can’t help but come out a little wiser, fuller, and maybe even a little happier, than when we went in. It truly should grace an end cap in every bookstore. 56

Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


Juicy Jack’s Spanish Corner

¡Hola, Amigo!

Paso 4: ____________ el regalo encima del papel regalo. (the gift over the wrapping paper.) Paso 5: ____________ los lados del papel regalo y poner cinta. (the sides of the wrapping paper and place the tape.)

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Juicy Jack’s Spanish Corner! ¡Bienvenidos! Juicy Jack wants you to help him wrap gifts for his friends. Tell him how using the phrases below, but first you will have to fill in some blanks by choosing appropriate commands from the list. (Hint: There may be more than one option.) Paso 1: ____________ el papel regalo, la cinta y las tijeras. (wrapping paper, tape, and scissors.) Paso 2: ____________ tu papel regalo favorito. (your favorite wrapping paper.) Paso 3: ____________ el papel regalo al tamaño necesario. (the wrapping paper to the necessary size.)


Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

Practice with Juicy Jack After you have finished filling in the blanks, write the above sentences on separate strips of paper and see if you can put them back into order without looking! Envolver un regalo = Wrap a gift 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Dobla = Fold Pon = Put Busca = Look for Saca = Take out Escoge = Choose Corta = Cut Envuelve = Wrap Cierra = Close

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

Bring Home A N New ew Holiday Classic All the animals in the forest are abuzz! Come to Crab Lake for Christmas and spend the evening with Jeannie and her forest friends as they come to life in this charming winter tale of friendship, family and fun. “A fun flight of imagination . . . Illustrations are warm and inviting, giving visual affirmation to the heart of the story.” —Story Monsters Ink

Available at www.DavidMulfordBooks.com or wherever books are sold.

Panda and Owl are a Hoot! Birthday parties, ice cream, and river games can be fantastic fun—especially when you’re with your best friend. Join spontaneous, cheerful Panda and wise but disoriented Owl as they live and laugh together in the Bamboo Forest.

“The five stand-alone stories provide lots of fun time to spend with these delightfully quirky buddies.” —Story Monsters Ink

Readers of all ages will love Panda and Owl and shout Hoo-Hoo-Doo-Loo! Available at www.FrankLewisBooks.com or wherever books are sold.

StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink



Q&A with

Stacy McAnulty by Julianne Black

Stacy McAnulty is BRAVE. The kind of Brave that leads the team! The kind of Brave that never gives up! The kind of Brave that fights the toughest battles, and even faces—gasp!—kindergarten school groups! I reached out to her after reading her latest release, Brave, and I had to ask how it all came about. And also, I just had to ask, how does one have 2.5 dogs? These are the burning questions that keep me up at night, you know.

on Brave, I wanted to do the same thing. Now, my definition is not of Merriam-Webster caliber. This is simply what it means to me, and what I was trying to show in the book. Brave: listening to your heart and doing the right thing, especially when nervous or afraid. I used this definition along with superhero language to create the text.

Q: Stacy, I loved Brave! It is just the kind of book you want to share with all the kids of the world! On your website you mention you are a mom of three. Was there an incident or event that sparked the idea?

A: What a yummy analogy! Joanne’s art is delicious. She’s done a fabulous job bringing Brave and Beautiful to life. In the manuscript, I did make a suggestion for every page. I had to do this for me, to help me visualize the book. I’m not certain how many of my illustration notes were shared with Joanne. Some scenes match what I’d pictured, and some are completely different (and better!) than I imagined. Brave is a collaboration of writer, illustrator, editor, and art director.

A: Thank you! I love sharing my book with readers. I can’t say that there was one specific incident that sparked Brave. But as a mom of three, I get to see almost daily how bravery is different for every kid. My one daughter gets very nervous speaking in front of the class. My other daughter hates heights. I wanted to show how being brave is different for each of us but also kind of the same. We will all be faced with challenges and choices. No one is exempt. Q: Brave is so beautifully distilled into bite-sized concepts of kindness and self-esteem. What was your process in creating your recipe? A: Brave is a follow-up to my 2016 title, Beautiful. The editor for Beautiful asked me to create my own definition of beauty. So when we started working 60

Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

Q: The text and illustration go together like cake and ice cream. How much say did you have in choosing the scene for each page?

Q: I noticed you worked with the same illustrator (Joanne Lew-Vriethoff) on Beautiful. Are there additional collaborations in the works? A: The final book in this definition series is Love. That will be out in late 2018. In Beautiful, the text sounds like an old-fashioned etiquette guide for girls, and then we twist it to give it a modern meaning. Brave uses superhero lingo but shows kids stepping up. In Love, we tap into Valentine’s Day language and redefine what love means.


Q: Your website does a great job of showcasing your work as well as providing resources, but I have to admit, I got tripped up. Do you have 2.5 dogs (as mentioned in your bio) or 3 dogs (as mentioned in your About Me)? Might one have been halved in some hopefully painless fashion or is it just half the size of the other two? Is the dog okay? Your fans need to know! A: You’re right! Readers do want to know. When I go to schools, I’m always asked what I mean by 2.5 dogs. The half refers to our new puppy. When Munchkin joined the family in January, she was only four pounds. Now, she’s 22 pounds, but since my other two dogs are over 70 pounds, she’s still half a dog by our household standard. Rest assured, each dog has a head, four legs, and a tail. And each is ridiculously spoiled.

Q: What kinds of reactions are you getting from schools about Brave? It is so perfectly timed with the anti-bullying movement gaining awareness. A: It is fun and interesting to talk about Brave with students. I share the book and my definition, and then we dig deep into what it all means. Because each art spread stands alone, I ask the students what they think is happening. How are the kids in the art being brave? What choices are being made? How do we think that kid is feeling? There’s so much to discuss and think about. There is one scene that deals directly with bullying, and it has several kids in it. We can dissect this picture and look at the roles each character is playing. It can bring up many tough questions.

Q: Your school visits look like so much fun. Do you have any favorite questions you have been asked by students? A: There are two questions students always ask me. How old are you? (Answer: 42) Which is your favorite book that you wrote? (Answer: I don’t have a favorite. Read Mr. Fuzzbuster for more on that issue.) Then I get the funny questions. Did you know my grandmother writes books? (Answer: No, I didn’t know your grandmother writes books.) Why are your teeth so big? (Answer: Ummm ... the better to eat you with. Kidding! I’ve never threatened to eat a student.) But the best question was asked last month, and it was posed by a kindergartner. Do you ever get frustrated with your job? (Answer: YES! But I wouldn’t want any other job. Being an author of kids’ books is simply the best!)

Stacy McAnulty is the 2017 Ezra Jack Keats Book New Writer Honor Recipient for her picture book Excellent Ed and lives in Kernersville, NC with her 3 kids, 2.5 dogs, and 1 husband. In addition to her latest book, Brave, she is the author of Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, Beautiful, Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite, 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, The Dino Files, and the Goldie Blox series. stacymcanulty.com. Julianne Black is an internationally recognized graphic artist, fine artist, and author. She has illustrated several books, including Sleep Sweet, the multi-award-winning augmented reality picture book. julianneblack.com

GET YOUR COPY TODAY!! Story Monsters Ink readers will receive a 20% discount. Use the Storymonsters20 at checkout.





Mom’s Choice Award Winning book, Glitter the Unicorn. Glitter the Unicorn is about a unicorn named Glitter and her best friend Ellie. The dynamic duo go on a magical adventure to Cotton Candy Land. Glitter the Unicorn Goes to the Beach, is a story about two best friends that go on a magical adventure through the ocean to find their missing bounce ball.

StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


Pick of the Litter

Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four This month’s Storytime Pup pick of the litter is Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four, written by Maria Ashworth and illustrated by Andreea Chele. Before it became a book, it was a finalist in the (NAESP) National Association of Elementary School Principals Contest. Ms. Ashworth has been featured on Fox News Houston, in The Houston Chronicle and podcast with NPR. This book will also be performed by children ages 10 to 12 at the Katy Visual Performing Arts Center in Katy, Texas in 2018. Ms. Ashworth decided to write this book when her daughter had a difficult time accepting her new stepbrothers. She attempted to find picture books in the library and bookstore that dealt with transitioning from two families into one. There was nothing available on the market. She wrote the manuscript to help her own family, never thinking it could be published and received so well by readers. The little girl in the story loves her life with her mother. She learns that her family will grow by having stepsiblings. She worries about not spending quality time with her mother and believes new children will bring nothing good to her existing family. Throughout the book, she keeps the boys at a distance by calling them Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four. She warns the boys to stay away from everything she owns. Even the fish she says, is trained to bite. Throughout the book, she sees having stepsiblings as nothing but trouble and will only disturb her perfect life. She tries to rid them by making her room a “no-boy zone, to remain princess of her throne.” She has a change of heart when her stepbrothers come to her rescue, saving her from a mean bully. The girl no longer keeps them at a distance. She realizes her life is “better with a house of seven, with her brothers Rob, Tom, Bob, and Kevin.” Ms. Ashworth said, “Having the book around helped her see what she was feeling. One day it just clicked for my daughter. She realized having stepsiblings had its advantages. She was older than them, so she became boss.” 62

Story Monsters Ink | December 2017 | StoryMonsters.com

Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four has taken a serious situation and made it relatable. Kids will enjoy the Seussical flair in its rhyme that will get kids to chuckle. Not only is this book great for the blended family, but it also provides a good lesson to brothers and sisters on acceptance. Maria Ashworth is an award-winning author who spends her free time doing speaking engagements and volunteering at a local Barnes & Noble for story time.

Click here to watch the video.

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

The PERFECT BOOK for the Holidays–and All Year Long Meet Leo—creative, shy, and in search of a special talent he can share with the world. Leo’s Gift beautifully illustrates the importance of discovering, nurturing, and celebrating the unique gifts that all children possess.

Are you like Leo? SUSAN BLACKABY & JOELLYN CICCIARELLI Illustrations by CARRIE SCHULER HARDCOVER | 978-0-8294-4600-5 | $19.95

Mr. Alonzo smiled at Leo. “Meredith has a gift for basketball, a treasure to share. You have one too. You don’t have to worry about what it is. Just pay attention. You’ll know it when you find it.” Leo thought about what his treasure might be.

“How will I know?” asked Leo. Mr. Alonzo put his hand on his heart. “You get a feeling. A feeling that makes you want to share your gift.” Leo made a face that he hoped looked as if he understood. “Do you mind if I stay in here during practice?” “Not at all.” Mr. Alonzo winked. “I’m with the club every day anyway. I’ll tell the elbowjabbing hoopster where to find you.”

Visit www.leosgift.com or call 800-621-1008 StoryMonsters.com | December 2017 | Story Monsters Ink


Cozy Up for Some

Christmas Reading

Interactive Board Book 9781684121366

Pop-up Book 9781626861978

Lift-the-flap Board Book 9780794440282

Scratch-and-sniff Board Book 9780794440220

Hardcover Storybook 9781684120789

Interactive Board Book 9781626867703

Book Giveaway Join our mailing list by 12/11/17 for a chance to win the Christmas book of your choice. Visit our website for details! http://bit.ly/ChristmasReading

Available wherever books are sold.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer © & ®/™ The Rudolph Co., L.P. All elements under license to Character Arts LLC. All rights reserved. Based on the Railway Series by the Reverend W Awdry © 2017 Gullane (Thomas) LLC. Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends and Thomas & Friends are trademarks of Gullane (Thomas) Limited. Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends and Design is Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. © 2017 HIT Entertainment Limited. © 2017 Sesame Workshop®, Sesame Street®, and associated characters, trademarks, and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved. Nickelodeon © 2017 Viacom International, Inc. PAW Patrol © 2017 Spin Master PAW Productions Inc.

Shaped Board Book 9781684121373

Lift-the-flap Board Book 9780794438005

Profile for Story Monsters Ink

Story Monsters Ink magazine December 2017  

This month's features include: Kelly Clarkson Takes the Literary Stage; Anthony Kennedy Shriver Brings Decades of Friendship to the Disabled...

Story Monsters Ink magazine December 2017  

This month's features include: Kelly Clarkson Takes the Literary Stage; Anthony Kennedy Shriver Brings Decades of Friendship to the Disabled...