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Volume 4, Issue 6

Great Reads for Growing Minds

Michael Fry Releases a Super New Series for Middle Graders

Beth Montgomery Invites Readers to her Back to Front World

Why I Write for Reluctant Readers

Behind the Voice:

Despicable Me Star Dana Gaier

Paige McKenzie Pens a Haunting YA Book Series

Danica McKellar Makes Math Fun for Little Learners

Kevin Coolidge Creates a Totally Awesome Adventure Series for Kids

Patricia McClure-Chessier Shares Her Family’s Struggle with Alzheimer’s in Award-Winning Book


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Cover and interior photos by Cathryn Farnsworth 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 Contents may not be published in whole or in part without the express written consent of the bylined author and publisher.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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Volume 4, Issue 6

In this issue 4

Danica McKellar Makes Math Fun for Little Learners

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Michael Fry Releases a Super New Series for Middle Graders

12

16

24

Paige McKenzie

Why I Write

Pens a Haunting YA Book Series

for Reluctant Readers

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Behind the Voice:

2 x_2_ 4

Despicable Me Star Dana Gaier

Beth Montgomery Invites Readers to her Back to Front World

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Kevin Coolidge Creates a Totally Awesome Adventure Series for Kids

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Patricia McClure-Chessier

Shares Her Family’s Struggle with Alzheimer’s in Award-Winning Book

1+1=2

5-3=2

19 Liv on Life

35 School Bookings Directory

52 Monsters at the Movies

23 Monster Munchies

36 Conrad’s Classroom

54 Book Reviews

27 Storytime Pup

38 How Does Your Garden Grow?

62 Juicy Jack’s Spanish Corner

31 Where in the World is Story Monster?

40 Summer Reading List

63 Kids Corner

51 Kids Can Publish

Tell us what you think of this issue! Email your comments to cristy@storymonsters.com. StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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Danica McKellar Makes Math Fun for Little Learners by Melissa Fales

The early introduction of basic math concepts + regular reinforcement of those concepts = kids with strong math skills and more confidence in life. So says actress, mom, mathematician, and writer Danica McKellar. After wowing TV viewers as Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years, McKellar temporarily left acting behind to study mathematics at UCLA. Since then, she’s written four books encouraging young women to be confident about their math abilities.

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Her latest book, New York Times bestseller Goodnight Numbers (Crown Books for Young Readers), was written for children up to age 5. “Middle school is the age when kids start feeling math insecurity and tend to shy away from it, but it starts much younger,” she says. “My mission is to make sure that kids aren’t afraid of math. I want them to embrace it. And I wanted to also reach the youngest readers.” Born in San Diego, McKellar moved to Los Angeles as a child. Her mother happened to be friends with actress Lesley Anne Warren, who saw potential in young McKellar. “She noticed me making different faces in the mirror and told my mother, ‘Now that’s an actress,’” says McKellar. McKellar landed the role of Winnie on The Wonder Years, a role she played for six years. Later she would appear on shows such as The West Wing, Inspector Mom, How I Met Your Mother, and Dancing with the Stars. After The Wonder Years ended, McKellar enrolled at UCLA. “I remember thinking that college math would be so hard,” she says. Instead, McKellar found she not only understood the material, she actually enjoyed it. In fact, while in college, she was part of a team that discovered a mathematical theorem, now known as the Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem. “I love the beauty and structure of theoretical math,” she says. Like so many other college freshmen, McKellar went through a stage of questioning everything. “I was still a teenager and I was still trying to figure out who I was,” she says. “I think child actors might feel it even more because your identity becomes mixed up with this other character.” McKellar’s newfound math ability came at just the right time. “I really liked the confidence that came with being smart,” she says. “I liked the idea that your value comes from something you can build inside you, not your superficial appearance. I’m not saying that your appearance doesn’t matter, because it does, but it’s the icing on the cake. It’s the decoration.” Looking around, McKellar was shocked at how so many of her peers rejected the idea of being smart, particularly when it came to math. “I was blown away to see how young women would dumb themselves down if they felt they had to in order to fit in with the in-crowd,” she says. “It was as though they believed

they had to choose between being the smart girl and being the cute, fun, popular girl. I decided to do something about it.” After graduating summa cum laude from UCLA with a degree in mathematics, McKellar took to the printed word to take a stand against this false dichotomy. Her first book, targeted towards girls in middle school, is called Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail. Its popularity led to three other books for middle and high school girls, Kiss My Math, Hot X: Algebra Exposed, and Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape, where McKellar demonstrates that it’s okay, even desirable, to be smart. “It starts younger than I would’ve guessed,” she says. “Girls at ages 10 and 11 are afraid to appear smart because they’re afraid they’ll lose their social status. I don’t want them to think that they have to make a choice between being smart and being cool.” Even more alarming to McKellar is how this phenomenon takes place at a key time when students are developing their core math skills. “This is when they’re studying fractions, percentages, and decimals,” she says. “It’s all cumulative. The groundwork laid in terms of math skills during the middle school years is crucial for future success.” McKellar continues to hear from women who read her books and take her words to heart. “Two years ago, a young woman came up to me and said she had StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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“I want kids to see math not as something scary, but as something familiar, something that they’re surrounded by every day.” my books in middle school and high school,” says McKellar. “She said she used to be afraid of math, but now she’s pursuing her dream at NASA. How great is that?” Another woman credited McKellar with changing her life. “She said I helped her understand how cool it is to be smart,” says McKellar. “Stories like that just make my whole year.” For the past ten years, McKellar has been successfully juggling acting and writing. “Sometimes it’s difficult to balance the two, especially when you factor in homeschooling my 6-year-old son, but I like challenges,” she says. “I feel like I trained for it in a way. During The Wonder Years, I attended a school on set, so there was a lot of back and forth. I’d be working on my academics and then I’d be doing an emotional scene and then I’d go back for a math test. I think it taught me how to be present with one activity and then move on to another activity and be present with that.” McKellar has also been in five Hallmark Channel films in two years. “My latest is Campfire Kiss,” she says. “I produced it as well. I play a math teacher in it. It’s one more opportunity to get my message about girls in math out there.” She also appears in the Netflix series Project Mc2. “It’s basically Charlie’s Angels but these teenage girls are solving crimes using science,” she says. “They’re smart and they’re totally fashionable. I’m the main character’s mom who happens to be the head of a covert spy agency. It’s total girl power. There’s definitely a theme here.” 6

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As much as McKellar enjoys acting, she’s made it her mission to write books that promote math skills. She recently launched McKellarMath.com, a website that displays all four of her middle school and high school math books as well as her new eight-book series that will focus on building math skills in children up to grade three. Goodnight Numbers is the first in the line. It’s a bedtime picture book both parents and kids will enjoy. “I’ve snuck in lots of things to count,” says McKellar. Goodnight Numbers shows math in everyday settings. “I show math as it fits in the real world,” McKellar says. “I didn’t want to show five ladybugs or six airplanes, because you don’t see that every day, and the numbers are random. But we do talk about four legs on a cat and six sides on a block because those are things that children encounter on a daily basis, and the numbers are inherently connected to the objects. You interact with these numbers in your room, in your house, in your world. I want kids to see math not as something scary, but as something familiar, relevant, and something that they’re surrounded by every day. I love that kids will also associate math with cuddle time, as this is a bedtime book. I even included ten-frames (a math tool used in elementary schools), disguised as picture frames on the walls of the scene in the book to help with an easier transition into kindergarten. I’m committed to giving kids the best chance at developing strong problem-solving skills and confidence that will serve them in math and in all of life to pursue their dreams someday, whatever they may be.” For more information about Danica McKellar and her books, visit www.mckellarmath.com.


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Michael Fry

Releases a Super New Series for Middle Graders by Melissa Fales After enrolling in college as a pre-med student, Michael Fry later changed his major to business, then philosophy, and ultimately graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in history. After dabbling in those various disciplines, Fry became a successful cartoonist. His interest in cartooning wasn’t inspired by any college course he took, but rather by the accomplished company he kept. “I had some very talented roommates,” says Fry. 8

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“One was a musician, one was a writer, and one was a photographer. And then there was me. I didn’t really have a ‘thing’ I was good at, so I decided to become a cartoonist.” Inspired by comics such as Doonesbury, Fry drew political cartoons for his college newspaper. In the mid-1980s, he began penning comic strips, such as Cheeverwood, for mainstream newspapers. “That didn’t


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work,” says Fry. “Then I did When I Was Short. That did a little better. Then I did Committed and that did a little better. Then I finally got it right with Over the Hedge. That was 21 years ago.” Fry partners with T. Lewis on Over the Hedge. “He draws, I write,” says Fry. Their first collaboration produced a strip called The Secret Life of Pigs. “We thought it was genius,” says Fry. “The acronym spells out ‘slop.’ We thought it was destined to be a hit. How could it miss?” Instead, Fry and Lewis were told that the topic was “too rural” and that the strip would lack mass appeal. “Of course, the very next year Babe came out and was a huge hit,” says Fry. “We missed out on our big pig moment.” The two went back to the drawing board. “At that time, Seinfeld was the top TV show,” says Fry. “Everyone was enamored with the idea of a show about nothing.” The pair studied Seinfeld episodes trying to determine why the series was so successful. “We decided it was the well-developed characters,” says Fry. “We applied that idea to the animals in the backyard.” Over the Hedge was born. The cartoon centers around a raccoon, a squirrel, and a turtle and their response to the humans who are taking over their habitat. Fry recalls receiving a phone call from a Hollywood producer who expressed interest in making Over the Hedge into an animated film. “I thought, Is it that easy?” says Fry. It wasn’t. A film company bought the rights then sat on it for five years. “Then DreamWorks picked it up and it did very well,” says Fry. While the comic strip is intended for an adult audience, the movie—featuring the voices of stars like Bruce Willis and Steve Carell—was aimed at children. “They

stripped away all of the political and serious social satire, but that’s fine,” says Fry. “I understand why they wanted to focus on fun physical comedy.” According to Fry, he turned his skills towards writing children’s books about five years ago out of economic necessity. “Newspapers are going away,” he says. “I wanted to transition my skill set into something that would help me pay the mortgage.” When Fry learned that middle grade, illustrated children’s fiction was a hot market, he was relieved. “I thought, I can do that,” he says. His first foray into writing for children was The Odd Squad series, and several other books followed, including the Christmas-themed The Naughty List, which he co-authored with Bradley Jackson. Fry says he adapted to the new medium very well. “You need to be able to draw a little and write a little, but you don’t have to be an expert at either,” he says. “I was always bumping into the limitations of comic strips. They’re so tiny and there’s not much room to write. With a book, you have more space so you can tell a bigger story.” Fry’s latest book, How to Be a Supervillain (jimmy patterson, Little, Brown & Company), was released in May. The book is about Victor Spoil, a good kid growing up in a family of supervillains. “He’s such a disappointment to his parents,” says Fry. At the end of their rope with Victor’s squeaky-clean behavior, his parents send him off to apprentice with a hasbeen supervillain known as The Smear in hopes that he’ll learn how to be evil. “The Smear is the lamest supervillain on the planet,” says Fry. “His super power is making stains. His slogan is ‘It’ll never wash out.’”

“When people ask why I’m not writing adult books, I explain that my emotional maturity stopped at about age 8, so children’s books are perfect for me.” StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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How to Be a Supervillain has an utterly relatable theme for children at the middle grade reading level. “Basically the book is a funny send-up of the whole superhero thing, but it’s got a fun message,” says Fry. “It’s about parents and kids in a silly super world. They’re dealing with the same kind of issues parents and kids deal with in the real world. Things like that separation stage when a kid wants to do his or her own thing but they still want their parents to be happy and proud of them. This book is anchored in that dynamic.” Fry says he wrote this book to fill a specific niche within the superhero genre. “DC and Marvel certainly seemed to have it all wrapped up, but except for a few stellar examples, like Despicable Me, there’s no kid-appropriate satire out there,” he says. “I know what I was like as a kid. I had questions. I wanted to know how a superhero went to the bathroom in that suit. I wanted to know why the evil villain wanted to take over the world. Some of the more interesting questions were going unanswered.”

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One of Fry’s favorite parts of How to Be a Supervillain is an interaction Victor has with Octavia, a girl who can empathize with his situation. However, in her case, her parents are superheroes and she is bad to the bone. Eventually, both kids and both sets of parents have to work together to save the day. “I was really proud of that,” says Fry. “You don’t usually see the heroes and villains working together against an even worse villain.” Next year, Fry plans to release a sequel to The Naughty List, called The Nice List. He’s also already working on the second book starring Victor Spoil. He says he feels like he’s a natural at writing for the juvenile mind. “When people ask why I’m not writing adult books, I explain that my emotional maturity stopped at about age 8, so children’s books are perfect for me.” For more information about Michael Fry, visit overthehedgeblog.wordpress.com/michael-fry or find him on Facebook and Twitter @mfryactual.


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Beth Montgomery Invites Readers to her Back to Front World by Melissa Fales

When she was a child, Beth Montgomery’s then-undiagnosed dyslexia made reading nearly impossible for her. Her classmates teased her mercilessly, bullied her, taunted her, and called her “stupid” because of her hidden learning disability. Today, Montgomery is the author and illustrator of The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle, a book about a girl with dyslexia who struggles in school but never gives up.

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“I wanted to try and help children and break the stigma of dyslexia once and for all.” The book is loosely based on Montgomery’s own story, even though she wasn’t identified as dyslexic until she was an adult. “At the ripe old age of 37, I was officially diagnosed with dyslexia,” says Montgomery. “I had the ‘Eureka!’ moment of ‘That’s why things have been the way they have!’” In The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle, Azzie suffers through the majority of her school day because of the amount of reading involved. She knows she isn’t stupid, but she has a hard time deciphering letters and numbers. What she lacks in reading ability, Azzie makes up for with creativity, excelling at painting, drawing, and other artistic tasks. Montgomery says she recalls feeling as Azzie does, misunderstood and different from her peers. She wrote the book in the hopes that it will comfort dyslexic children by letting them know they’re not alone and provide other children a glimpse into what it’s like to live with dyslexia. Since she’s always had an artistic bent, it’s not surprising that Montgomery would write and illustrate a children’s book. “I have always been artistic and loved to create things in my room,” she says. “I used to have piles of journals about art and writing, so it’s been a long-standing passion and a way for me to escape into the world of make-believe.” What is remarkable is the journey Montgomery has taken to get to this point. She was born in Nottingham, England, but spent most of her childhood in Greece and New York. Interested in the field of fashion, she earned a degree in textile and fashion design from De Montfort University. Then, to broaden her horizons, she earned a masters’ degree in creative writing from Nottingham Trent University. Her successful career as a freelance writer and illustrator for magazines belied any hint of

a learning disorder. “I didn’t know at the time I was dyslexic,” she says. Eventually, Montgomery stepped into the world of designing shoes. Her work was so well-received, she was chosen to design a pair of boots for Prime Minister Theresa May. “It was wonderful meeting her and having breakfast with her and David Cameron,” says Montgomery. After that high-profile job, opportunities began pouring in for Montgomery, who went on to design custom boots for other celebrities and for runway shows during London Fashion Week. After spending a few years designing shoes, Montgomery was ready for something with more soul. “Fashion is very intense and very much like Absolutely Fabulous,” she says. “I wanted something different.” She chose to enter the field of nursing. “It’s a big change, but I wanted to do something worthwhile and help people,” she says. Shortly after beginning work as a nurse, Montgomery started to feel as though something was wrong. “I was struggling to remember things and organize my time, and felt overwhelmed by things,” she says. A nurse whose son was dyslexic recognized the signs in Montgomery and suggested that she get tested. Following her diagnosis, Montgomery was saddened that so many of her fellow nurses could only see her through one lens. “I was that dyslexic nurse,” she says. It reminded Montgomery of being back in school and feeling so different from her peers. The idea for The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle sprouted from a conversation Montgomery had with one of her patients. “She told me about her young son who was dyslexic and being bullied at school,” says Montgomery. “It took all my willpower not to break StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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down and cry. And that night, after a grueling 12hour shift, I went home and decided to do something about it. I had been playing with the idea of writing and illustrating a children’s book for a while, and the lady’s story upset me so much as it also brought back my own memories of being called stupid and scatty. I suppose I wanted to try and help children and break the stigma of dyslexia once and for all.” It took Montgomery one day to write the text of The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle. She had the illustrations finished in a year. Then, she was approached by Your Stories Matter, a publishing house that specializes in books about dyslexia, autism, and other conditions that affect learning. “Azzie went from being a small idea to actually being published,” says Montgomery. “It’s the highlight of my life so far.” The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle was released earlier this year and it’s already popular among young readers, both dyslexic and not. Montgomery promises there are more Azzie books on the way as well as a possible animated series and even an interactive app about Azzie and her adventures. Montgomery is doing her best to spread the word about her book to children who can relate to Azzie’s daily challenges. Montgomery says one of her favorite things to do is read her book during school visits. Whether or not the children are challenged with dyslexia, they are quickly taken by Azzie and her courageous, can-do spirit. “The most important thing is to see the joy in the children’s faces when they say, ‘Wow, I can so relate to Azzie,’” says Montgomery. “If she can reach for the stars and make her dreams come true, then so can I.’” For more information about Beth Montgomery, follow Azzie on Twitter @Back2FrontWorld or visit azzieartbuckle.com.

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Why I Write for Reluctant Readers by Max Elliot Anderson As a child, I never liked to read. When I mention this to someone today, I can anticipate the reaction. Their mouth drops open in disbelief, followed by a gasp. “You’re kidding!” often follows. That’s probably because I’m also the author of a number of action-adventures and mysteries especially written for other boys who may be facing similar difficulties. Even as an adult, reading for enjoyment continues to be a problem for me. I find it ironic because my father has published over 70 books. Several of these were children’s books, and I never read any of them. I grew up in a family of seven children. We had avid readers, 16

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nominal readers, and me. Still, I managed to finish high school and graduated from college with a degree in psychology. But I have always been more interested in, or stimulated by, things visual. I do read in order to gather information, but not for pleasure. I used to think that a reluctant reader was simply someone who hadn’t found the right book yet. But the causes may go deeper than that. The word “reluctant” is defined as opposed in mind, unwilling, disinclined, struggling, or resisting. At the outset, it’s important to understand our terms. Parents must be certain that, if facing a struggling, reluctant reader, there aren’t any


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problems with vision, neurological issues, or other medical conditions that might hamper reading. These should be diagnosed by professionals, but there are some things to look for. Difficulty with vision is a big one. The transposing of letters or numbers may indicate a vision problem. You might notice that your child sees 14 when the actual number on the page is 41. The same can happen with small words. Does the child use a finger to keep his place on the page? I always did this as a child. Does he have a short attention span, or hold the book too close to his eyes? Does he have good posture while reading, or does he move his head from side to side during reading, rather than moving his eyes? This may indicate binocular trouble because both eyes aren’t working together. Again, I suffer from this. One of my eyes sees distant objects better, while the other sees closer items with more clarity. A child with this problem may slouch in the chair, or turn his head to one side in order to favor the eye that can see the book best. In addition to vision, a child may suffer from ADD (attention deficit disorder), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dyslexia, or other learning disabilities. It’s only my opinion, but I think many of the hyperactivity problems, found more often in boys today, could be greatly mitigated by allowing them to run off much of that energy for an hour outside, or in some other physical activity. Based on my own background, I expected that reading difficulties came from what I had experienced. Readers would struggle because they were intimidated by large blocks of words on a page. Or they were likely to be more visual than linear, as I am. My research took me through nearly 200 children’s books. I found that some were just silly. Others seemed too unrealistic, while quite a few were simply slow and boring. I wanted exciting, realistic, and very visual things to be happening.  Recently, a study was released which noted that nearly 80 percent of children ages 6 and under read or are read to in an average day. But it went on to say that children spend an average of 49 minutes with books in that same average day, compared with 2 hours and 22 minutes sitting in front of a television or computer screen. My research into reading difficulties began about eight years ago. I truly wanted to understand why it was that I grew up as a reluctant reader. I found some interesting

“I used to think that a reluctant reader was simply someone who hadn’t found the right book yet. But the causes may go deeper than that.” patterns in several of the books I selected for research. In many cases, they defied a person like me to get into them. The style was boring, the dialog was sometimes sparse, or when it was used, seemed too adult. As I looked around for books written especially for boys ages 8 to 13, I found The Hardy Boys, and a few others. My work with reluctant readers often allows me to speak in schools. One of the first questions I like to ask is, “Is there anyone here who doesn’t like to read?” A few hands go up, and then others follow. There may be two or three girls who raise their hands, but predominately it’s the boys who respond. Next I ask, “Why?” One will say, “Books are boring.” Another suggests, “They’re too slow and nothing happens,” or “I’d rather do other things.” And then I ask, “Like What?” The answers always include watching television, playing video games, and spending time on the computer. This is interesting since research by others arrives at the same conclusions. For the purposes of exploring reluctant or struggling readers, let’s say that you’ve had your child tested, and we can rule out vision or medical problems. What is your next step toward getting him interested in reading? This suggestion may seem odd at first, but parents, teachers, and librarians are reporting that they’ve found success by starting with audio books. In some cases, this is used while also holding a copy of the same book. A child is able to both see and hear the words at the same time, and practice following along. Don’t be afraid to select a book that is below grade level. You may also want to experiment with comic books or graphic novels. StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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The most important objective is to find something he’s interested in and wants to read about. This could include the sports page in your local newspaper, or magazines like Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Highlights, and others. Some have found success by using electronic readers like Kindle. Your child is already comfortable with a computer and video games. The e-reader allows him to change the font, make it larger, change colors, and even look up words in some cases. It’s easy for parents to forget the power they have over their children’s behavior. If your child avoids reading in every way possible—choosing video games or the computer over reading, you might set those activities aside as rewards. You can say, “After you’ve read for 30 minutes, then you may spend time doing those other things.” Read aloud with your child, and make sure he sees you model that reading is important in your life. This has

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added influence if the dad is involved. Or, have your child try reading to the family pet, a doll, or some other stuffed animal. In this way, children aren’t intimidated or judged by an adult. At the same time, you can monitor their progress. Also look for high interest, low vocabulary books called Hi-Lo. Not only is it important for books to be constructed in order to be more user-friendly for struggling readers, there should be lots of humor, dialog, and heartpounding action and adventure, plus chapters ending with a cliffhanger. Anytime I’m asked if reading is really all that important, I say that readers are the leaders others follow. Using his extensive experience in dramatic film, video, and TV commercial production, Max Elliot Anderson brings that same heart-pounding, visual excitement to his middle grade adventures and mysteries for readers ages 8 and up. booksandboys.blogspot.com


Liv on Life Drama in the Restroom … by Olivia Amiri Do you have “drama” at your school? At my school the drama happens in the girls’ restroom. I know that’s crazy and if you’re a boy, that’s even crazier. I try to go to the bathroom before coming to school so I don’t get in the crossfire of the girls when it happens. Yesterday, unfortunately, I rushed into the girls’ restroom and walked right into girl drama. It went something like this: Girl 1 said, “You keep staring at me and I don’t like it. Just stop it!” Girl 2 replied, “My desk faces yours.” Girl 1 replies to Girl 2, “Like right now. You’re staring at me again. Stop it!” Girl 2 says, “I’m talking to you so I’m looking at you, that’s all.” Girl 3, who is a tag-along to Girl 1 says, “Yeah, you’re staring at her, I can see it.” Girl 2 started crying. Being that my New Year’s resolution was NOT to interfere with other people’s problems or business, I tried really hard, but couldn’t help myself. “STOP IT,” I said. You all need to be kind and listen to one another. All of you did something to the other that didn’t make them feel good and that might not have been nice. I told each of them to think about what they could have done better and tell the other. And then all say sorry and start fresh!

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

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

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

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

GLITTERTHEUNICORN.COM GLITTERTHEUNICORNBOOK

GLITTERTHEUNICORN

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

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Photographer: Birdie Thompson, Glam: Allison Noelle Mesa

Behind the Voice:

Despicable Me Star Dana Gaier by Melissa Fales

Whether she’s acting or singing, Dana Gaier is a natural performer. Best known for her role as Edith in the animated Despicable Me movies, Gaier is one young star to watch. With so much potential and so much talent, it’s not surprising that Gaier is planning a long career in the entertainment business. “I feel like after I started performing, there really was no choice for me,” she says. “I knew I wanted to do this forever.” 20

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Gaier grew up in New Jersey where she and her older sister, Jillian, took every opportunity to show off their burgeoning acting skills. “We used to put on shows for our parents,” says Gaier. For as long as Gaier can remember, she’s always looked up to her big sister. “She was involved in acting first,” Gaier says. “I definitely started performing because of her, but then I just completely fell in love with it.” At the age of six, Gaier had her first starring role in a day camp production of The Wizard of Oz. “I played the cowardly lion,” she says. “I remember singing ‘If I Only Had the Nerve’ and being so excited that I got to have a solo.” When Gaier started acting professionally, she followed in her here all day to record the role of Edith!’ I couldn’t stop jumping up and down.”

“I feel like after I started performing, there really was no choice for me. I knew I wanted to do this forever.” sister’s footsteps and signed with the same agency. “I thought I’d be going out for commercials and movies because I never really considered voiceover or the fact that I have a unique raspy quality to my voice,” says Gaier. “My agent started sending me out and Despicable Me was one of the first projects I auditioned for.” Gaier missed the original Despicable Me audition due to a camping trip, but it didn’t

matter. None of the people who auditioned had the right voice and the studio kept looking. She traveled to New York to record a few sample lines, then was flown out to California to see how her voice sounded with others from the movie. “After I recorded some lines, someone came out and said ‘I’m so sorry, Dana,’ and I was immediately devastated,” she says. “Except, then he added, ‘You’re going to have to stay

That was two Despicable Me movies ago. Despicable Me 3 will open in theaters on June 30. It follows the adventures of Gru as he faces a new villain in the form of a narcissistic former child star. “I think people are really going to love this one,” says Gaier. Later this year, look for Gaier in the horror movie The Ice Cream Truck. “It was my first onscreen role,” she says. “Some of my favorite movies are the horror movies that are suspenseful and keep you on the edge of your seat,” Gaier says. “I went through a stage in high school where every night my mom would show me an old horror movie. That year we watched The Shining, Silence of the

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Lambs, Fatal Attraction, Psycho, and more. I love the classics.”

and I loved being in a musical written by him.”

Gaier says voice acting is very different from onscreen acting. “With voice acting, there’s really nobody to react to,” she says. “They put the lines in front of you and give you some context to the scene. I’m also asked to do one line in a bunch of different ways, because you never know which direction the scene will go in. One line from Edith can sound really angry, really sassy, or really sad and it’s my job to give them those options. Onscreen acting is different because you obviously have people to talk to and react to.”

Fortunately, Gaier’s adept at balancing her studies with her acting, both on and off campus. “I’ve always had to balance a lot because growing up, I liked sports as well as theater, and I obviously had to do my school work as well,” she says. “On top of all that, I was auditioning and working. I think I’m more focused when I have a lot going on because I don’t have time to procrastinate and watch Friends again for the millionth time (which I would gladly do). I love keeping busy.”

While acting comes easily to Gaier, she’s quick to point out that there is always room for improvement. “Acting, like everything, takes practice,” she says. “It’s something you have to study because there is always something to learn. I still have to make sure my acting comes across truthfully and authentically. Every new role involves new experiences, some that may not have occurred in your real life, so working hard at your craft is definitely necessary.” Currently, Gaier is studying sociology and communications at UCLA with a minor in film studies. She hopes to get a job in the film industry after college. “I am very open to doing anything in the entertainment field,” she says. She continues to refine her acting chops by performing in college theatre. She played Nina in the on-campus production of In the Heights with the Hooligan Theatre Company. “It was probably my favorite experience of college so far,” she says. “Lin-Manuel Miranda is a brilliant composer 22

In addition to acting and studying, Gaier also finds time for community service. “I recently became involved with an organization called Club 21 that helps families with children who are born with Down Syndrome,” she says. “When I moved to California, there was a philanthropic component that had to be completed at my high school. I think it should be a requirement in all schools throughout the country so that everyone understands the value of helping others.” Another passion Gaier makes time for is music. She’s a singer, a songwriter, and has been playing the guitar since third grade. “Music is amazing,” she says. “It can change your mood in an instant. After I sing, I instantly feel better. It can be a really cathartic or therapeutic experience.” Gaier gathers inspiration for a song she writes from everything around her. “My songs come from different places; things that have happened to me, things that I

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want to happen for me, things I’m afraid of ... it can really be anything,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll just be humming in the shower and all of a sudden an idea hits me. You can’t force songwriting, which is a little frustrating, but when you write a song that means something to you, it feels incredible.” For Gaier, being an actress and being a musician are innate parts of her personality. “I think they’re very similar,” she says. “The only difference is one is talking and one is singing. People forget that singing requires emotion. If I am watching a singer sing a painful song, it can bring me to tears. These are their real-life experiences and it can be just as emotional as a scene in a movie. It’s about using that emotion and channeling it into your music.” To find out more about Dana Gaier, visit danagaier.com.


Monster Munchies

Root Beer Float Cupcakes An old-fashioned summer favorite with a fun twist! Ingredients

Directions

1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease or line muffin tins.

1-1/4 cups root beer 1/4 cup vegetable oil 2 eggs 1/2 cup root beer 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar Whipped cream Marshmallows Muffin liners Straws

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, 1-1/4 cups root beer, oil, and eggs. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Allow to cool. To make the Root Beer Glaze: combine the confectioners’ sugar and 3 tablespoons of root beer in a small bowl. Beat until smooth. Spread on top of cupcakes, then add whipped cream and marshmallows. All rights reserved. © 2017 Allrecipes.com StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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Paige McKenzie

Pens a Haunting YA Book Series by Melissa Fales

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Paige McKenzie has been defying expectations since she began starring in paranormal-themed videos on YouTube at age 16. Inspired by the popularity of the videos, she transformed their frightening storylines into a series of young adult books, the New York Times bestselling Haunting of Sunshine Girl trilogy. The final book in the series, The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl, was released this spring. Next up, McKenzie will be starring this fall in a TV series loosely based on her books. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve known that I’ve wanted to be an actress,” says McKenzie. “I’m from a small town. It was as if everyone expected me to go to college and then get married and have kids. I didn’t want to get trapped in that traditional path. I just knew that wasn’t for me.”

partners: filmmaker Nick Hagen and her mother, actress Mercedes Rose. “The three of us did some brainstorming and came up with the idea of a teenage ghost-hunter on YouTube,” she says. “We did some research and found that ghosts were the second most-popular theme on YouTube. The thing was that all of the ghost channels were by older, bald men. We decided it was time to give ghost-hunting a young, fresh take.”

McKenzie started making The Haunting of Sunshine Girl videos in 2010, teaming up with two business

In the videos, McKenzie plays Sunshine, a teenage girl who happens to live in a haunted house. It’s a larger-

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The three work together on the scripts for the videos. “It’s a real team effort between me and my business partners,” McKenzie says. “We are a true team in every sense of the word. It takes all three of us to do what we do. I don’t know how so many YouTubers do it alone. It’s fun but it is a full-time job for each of us. ”


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“It’s funny … I always wanted to get the attention of Hollywood somehow. I never thought it would be through the literary world.”

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than-life, coming-of-age story as Sunshine eventually learns the truth about her purpose and what she is capable of. She uses her fear as motivation to push forward towards her destiny, finally discovering that she’s a luiseach, or light-bringer, a member of an ancient tribe that has protected humans from dark powers since the beginning of time. The Haunting of Sunshine Girl craze started when McKenzie, Hagen, and Rose posted just three videos. “We thought we’d just see what happened with it,” says McKenzie. Their videos have since received over 250 million views. “It’s kind of like The Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity,” says McKenzie. “We didn’t intend for people to think it’s real, but some people certainly did. Whether or not people thought it was real, they seemed to like it.” In recognition of her work on YouTube, McKenzie was named as a finalist in Seventeen magazine’s “Pretty Amazing” contest. “It was to promote the idea of regular girls who are doing awesome things,” McKenzie says. “I was one of five finalists.” One of the other contestants had written a book and her literary agent suggested that McKenzie write one, too. “That was the first time I ever thought of writing a book,” says McKenzie. “It seemed like a really daunting task, so I was lucky to find a great co-author.” She went on to co-write the Haunting of Sunshine Girl trilogy with Alyssa Sheinmel.

about The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is that I started out as an actress and now I can edit,” she says. “I’ve been behind the camera. I know a little about sound and lighting. I’m not going to be winning an Academy Award for those skills, but I think having a basic understanding of all of that makes me a better actress. I see the writing as really a feather in my cap. It’s fun and it’s different.” For McKenzie, the best part of the whole process has been watching the evolution of Sunshine, the character she created. “When we started doing the videos, Sunshine and I were 99 percent the same,” she says. “The only difference was that she’s haunted by ghosts and happens to be a luiseach. But now I’ve plateaued and Sunshine has gotten way cooler than me. It’s been very rewarding to watch her grow in her confidence as she figures out who she is and recognizes what she can do.” For more information about Paige McKenzie and the Haunting of Sunshine Girl series, visit youtube.com/user/hauntedsunshinegirl and thehauntingofsunshinegirl.com.

The first book in the series spent four weeks in the top ten Young Adult paperback category of New York Times bestsellers. The second book, The Awakening of Sunshine Girl, takes readers on a journey to Mexico. The latest book, The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl reveals the terrifying truth about Sunshine and brings her story to a climactic end. The Haunting of Sunshine Girl trilogy was published by Weinstein House and the Weinstein Company purchased the rights to the books with the intention of making them into movies. Instead, the books will be transformed into a television series due out this fall. In the show, McKenzie will reprise her role as Sunshine. “It’s funny … I always wanted to get the attention of Hollywood somehow,” she says. “I never thought it would be through the literary world.” McKenzie says working on the videos with Hagen and Rose has been tremendously helpful in gaining experience about how films are made. “The good thing 26

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photos by Levy Moroshan


Pick of the Litter

Duddley Doo’s Big Fishing Adventure This month’s Storytime Pup Pick of the Litter is Duddley Doo’s Big Fishing Adventure, written by Karyn Jane and illustrated by Dori Berkovic. This is the first book in the Duddley Doo Adventure series. Duddley Doo is a cheerful little mouse who loves adventure. He always seems to get into a spot or two of trouble, but never leaves home without his trusty briefcase to help him along the way. He lives with his mother, Mrs. Doo, in a tree on Fig Tree Farm.

Karyn Jane was born and grew up in Brisbane, Australia. She fondly remembers her father telling stories when she was young. She was inspired by her father to tell stories to the local kids, and it became a love of hers as well. Karyn created Duddley Doo many years ago by sketching a little mouse. She carried this little mouse with her into adulthood and started to tell her daughter all about his adventures. This inspired Duddley Doo’s first book!

Duddley wakes up on a sunny morning and decides that it is a perfect day for an adventure. He finds his mother baking a fish pie. This gives him a great idea. He decides that he is going to go fishing. But not without his trusty briefcase. His briefcase is full of just about anything you would need on an exciting adventure. Duddley sets off to go fishing, whistling as he goes, which he always does. He soon runs into his friend, Bird. He asks Bird if he would like to join him on his fishing adventure. Bird is excited and happy to join Duddley and they are on their way. They arrive at their fishing spot and Duddley casts his line into the sparkling water and they wait … and wait ... and wait. Suddenly, Duddley feels a tugging on his line. Is it a fish? He tugs and reels and pulls with all his might. Just then, the line snaps and sends Duddley and Bird sailing through the sky. Oh no! They end up landing inside the mouth of a yawning whale! Can Duddley and Bird work together and use Duddley’s briefcase to escape from inside the whale? Watch Storytime Pup read this exciting adventure to find out! Duddley Doo’s Big Fishing Adventure is a truly enjoyable book. Parents and children alike will fall in love with Duddley and all the adorable characters in this series and will want to follow him on all his adventures! The illustrations are superbly drawn and bring the story and characters to life. This book is a true joy to read and I look forward to more adventures of Duddley Doo.

Click here to watch the video.

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

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Kevin Coolidge Creates a Totally Awesome Adventure Series for Kids by Melissa Fales

Forget foraging through garbage cans for tidbits of food. The raccoons in author Kevin Coolidge’s books have much better things to do with their time. Coolidge has devoted a whole series to the adventures of this trio of masked brothers called The Totally Ninja Raccoons. “They’ve realized that they have the potential to be something special,” says Coolidge. “They’ve chosen to become ninjas. Ninjas for hire.” Coolidge has always been a voracious reader and he amassed a large collection of books over the years. When he and his wife, Kasey, also a bibliophile, first moved in together, their separate collections overwhelmed their apartment. “You can never have too many books, but you can have not enough book shelves,” says Coolidge. 28

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The couple sold some of their books online, but when a choice storefront opened up downtown in their hometown of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania 11 years ago, they decided to use their castoffs to open a used bookstore. “We had 3,000 books for sale to start,” Coolidge says. “At first, a lot of genres were not represented. We didn’t have any romance novels because neither one of us is particularly interested in them, but over time we responded to our customers and began offering what they were looking for.” Coolidge says running From My Shelf Books and Gifts is a dream come true. “Ask any book lover. They’ll know that feeling when you love a book so much you just have to tell someone about it,” says Coolidge. “Well, that’s part of my job. I love to match people up with a book they’ll have a hard time putting down.”


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His experience running the bookstore gave Coolidge the inspiration to write The Totally Ninja Raccoons series. “I love cats and we’ve always had cats at the bookstore,” he says. “My joke is that cats want to take over the world, but they’re lazy. They’d have to hire someone to do the hard work for them.” Coolidge said he envisioned raccoons working as mercenaries for the cats. “They’re even already wearing masks,” he adds. Coolidge asked an artistic friend to draw up some concept art for The Totally Ninja Raccoons. The drawings were great, but Coolidge was busy with the bookstore and the raccoons ended up on the back burner. When Coolidge learned that Nickelodeon was looking for a new animated TV series, he submitted a scene featuring the nocturnal ninjas that had been scampering around in the back of his mind for years. “Ultimately, Nickelodeon passed on the project, but I was having so much fun with it, I kept working on it,” says Coolidge. The Totally Ninja Raccoons are led by Bandit, the eldest. “He’s the brains of the outfit,” says Coolidge. Rascal is the goggle-wearing youngest. “I had to wear glasses growing up,” says Coolidge. “I know a lot of kids do, so I wanted to show that you can still be cool.” And then there’s Kevin, Coolidge’s namesake and the middle, slightly cynical brother. “Each of the raccoons have their certain skills and talents but when they work together, they’re unstoppable,” he says.

him in to feed him and he just kind of moved in. It’s a memoir with meow, written from Hobo’s perspective.” In 2016, Coolidge released an adult novella, Operation Ragnarok. “It’s about a group of middle-aged Dungeons and Dragons players going through a mid-life crisis,” he says. “Instead of a little red Corvette, they go out and pilfer a Viking long ship. It’s somewhat comedic, like The Big Bang Theory meets Night at the Museum with a little Stand By Me vibe.” In an effort to promote children’s literacy, Coolidge is currently focusing on The Totally Ninja Raccoons series and intentionally targeting his books to children in grades two through four. “One thing I’ve learned at the bookstore is that if kids within that age group don’t start embracing reading, they fall behind their peers in terms of reading ability,” he says. “Once they start falling behind, it’s very hard for them to ever catch up. I believe it’s never too late to become a good reader, but I think that’s the age when it’s the most crucial.” Coolidge is keenly aware that the activity of reading has a lot of competition for children’s free time. “There

The scene Coolidge submitted to Nickelodeon eventually became the first chapter of the first book in the series, The Totally Ninja Raccoons Meet Bigfoot. In the book, released in 2015, the raccoons are hired by Gypsy, the head of the Cat Board, a secret international organization bent on world domination. That was just the beginning. “I haven’t stopped yet,” says Coolidge. The sixth book in the series, The Secret of Nessmuk Lake is due out this spring. “I’m starting on the seventh one now and I still have many more in me,” says Coolidge. Coolidge published other books before The Totally Ninja Raccoons series. After attending a seminar on how to write a children’s book, he released Hobo Finds a Home in 2007. “I wrote it about Hobo, our first bookstore cat,” Coolidge explains. “He came to visit me as a stray kitten. When I’d try to feed him outside, the cat next door would chase him off. I started bringing

Photo by: John Eaton

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“Yes, they’re a little goofy. But kids like to read them and that’s my goal: getting kids to read. Getting them reading at a young age gets them on the right path for so many other things in life.” are so many distractions for kids,” he says. “If you want them to read, first you have to entertain them. Yes, you eventually want to educate them, but first you have to draw them in. If you entertain them, you can reach them.” Coolidge says he tries to write The Totally Ninja Raccoons in a way that will appeal to even reluctant readers. “My books are funny,” he says.

“Yes, they’re a little goofy. But kids like to read them and that’s my goal: getting kids to read. Getting them reading at a young age gets them on the right path for so many other things in life.” For more information about Kevin Coolidge and The Totally Ninja Raccoons series, visit wellsborobookstore.com.

BOOK GIVEAWAY Enter to win our Magelica’s Voyage 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 June 13. (US residents only). Sponsored by Louise Courey Nadeau.

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Where in the World is Story Monster? “Read two books and call me in the morning.�

He is getting his check-up with Dr. Hadley! Photo by Laurie Storad

Send us a photo from your hometown or as you travel! Need a Story Monster plush toy? Visit www.StoryMonsters.com.

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Patricia McClure-Chessier

Shares Her Family’s Struggle with Alzheimer’s in Award-Winning Book by Melissa Fales

For nearly 25 years, Patricia M. McClure-Chessier has worked in behavioral healthcare. Currently an associate CEO at a psychiatric hospital in the Streamwood Behavioral Health Care System, McClure-Chessier also teaches behavioral healthcare courses as an adjunct college professor.

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Despite her extensive background in the field, McClure-Chessier had difficulty juggling her emotions and responsibilities when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She writes about her experience in her book, Losing a Hero to Alzheimer’s: The Story of Pearl. “It’s different when it’s your own mother,” says McClure-Chessier. “When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, especially when that person has been the rock of the family, it changes all of the dynamics.” The initial symptoms of the disease were innocuous enough that even McClure-Chessier didn’t suspect Alzheimer’s. McClure-Chessier took her mother’s sudden disinterest in cooking and baking and new habit of layering Post-it notes on the walls to remember to-dos as signs of a very busy life. “She was working full time as an office manager, she was taking care of my uncle, and her marriage was terrible,” says McClure-Chessier. “When I first noticed she was acting differently, I chalked it up to her having a lot on her plate.” A phone call from one of her mother’s co-workers helped McClure-Chessier unearth what was really going on. “My mother was responsible for a lot at work, such as setting up meetings and ordering supplies,” she says. “She was forgetting to do important things and it was starting to negatively affect other people’s jobs.” McClure-Chessier’s mother retired much earlier than planned, resulting in more time at home with her husband. “My father had a hard time accepting the changes in her,” says McClureChessier. “He didn’t make it easy on her.” McClure-Chessier had been married to her husband, Eric, a pastor, for less than a month when her mother unexpectedly moved in with them. “She asked me to pick her up that day and she told me she didn’t want to go back to my father,” says McClure-Chessier. The issue divided the family. McClure-Chessier’s father was upset about his wife’s decision to leave and angry at his daughter for taking her in. Some of McClure-Chessier’s siblings were upset over what they perceived as meddling in their parents’ marriage. Eric, however, not only welcomed his mother-in-law into his home with open arms, he took on the responsibility for her care in McClureChessier’s absence. “If I was working late, he’d feed her,” McClure-Chessier says. “If she was having a bad day, he’d calm her down. He was amazing.”

After two good years in McClure-Chessier’s home, her mother started to decline. “The disease was taking its course,” McClure-Chessier says. “She had no time orientation. I’d find her fully dressed in the middle of the night getting ready to go out.” McClure-Chessier, pregnant with her first child at the time, began having trouble sleeping, fearful that her mother would wander off. “It was getting to be too much,” she says. Only once her mother required round-the-clock care did McClure-Chessier consider putting her into a facility. “I felt a lot of guilt about it,” she says. “I prayed and prayed and prayed. I was at war with myself. The daughter side of me wanted her to stay in my home so I could care for her but the healthcare professional side of me knew I couldn’t do it anymore. It was a matter of her safety.” McClure-Chessier received the answer to her prayers when her mother, in a lucid moment during an increasingly rare good day, told her, “If I have to go to a nursing home, I’ll be okay.” McClureChessier moved her mother into a facility she trusted. McClure-Chessier visited her mother regularly and developed a strong relationship with her caregivers on the facility’s staff. When they observed that her mother was nearing the end of her life, they approached McClure-Chessier with some advice. “They told me she was waiting for me to tell her that it was ok to go, so I did,” says McClure-Chessier. Her mother passed away the next day, December 25, 2004. StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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“When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, especially when that person has been the rock of the family, it changes all of the dynamics.” Losing a Hero to Alzheimer’s: The Story of Pearl was a byproduct of McClure-Chessier’s grieving process. Years after her mother passed away, she still felt stuck. “I knew that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal,” she says. “I wasn’t moving on.” She went to counseling where she contemplated the numerous roles she played in her mother’s life. “It can get complicated with an Alzheimer’s patient,” she says. “In a matter of minutes you can go from being their mother to their daughter to their caregiver to their friend. It gets messy. It gets emotional.” McClure-Chessier only became “unstuck” after grieving each of the different relationships she had with her mother. “Once I worked through that, I thought I should write a book,” she says. “I realized that my experience would probably help someone else in the same situation.” In 2014, a full 10 years after her mother passed away, McClure-Chessier released her book. Using her mother’s story as an example, McClure-Chessier explains the different stages of the disease and the behavior characteristics associated with each stage, offering advice for family members based on her personal experience. In the book, McClure-Chessier openly shares her family’s struggle with the aftermath of Alzheimer’s. “It’s so important for families to be on the same page,” she says. “My father and I didn’t speak for 10 years and it was because of the divisive nature of this disease.” McClure-Chessier and her father did make amends before he died in 2014. “He and I never did get our relationship back to where it was, but we did have a few conversations before his death and I thank God for that,” she says. Another topic McClure-Chessier discusses in the book is learning to accept that people respond to the disease in different ways. “My siblings loved my mother, but they couldn’t deal with it,” she says. “People don’t always know how to handle tough situations. It’s not that they don’t care. They just don’t know what to do. That’s something I had to 34

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learn after being angry for so many years.” The book is also a testament to McClure-Chessier’s strong Christian faith and how it carried her through the ordeal. “I look at how God allowed me to make a very limited support system work,” says McClureChessier. “I have to appreciate the fact that God made me strong. As sad as the story is, I try to look at the blessing in everything.” For more information about Patricia McClure-Chessier and Losing a Hero to Alzheimer’s: The Story of Pearl, visit www.patriciammcclure.com.

MONSTER MANIA Bring a Monster into your classroom or library.

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Arizona

Connecticut

Jane Ruby: Why should young children have all the fun

Kourtney Heintz: My workshops are in-depth explana-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nebraska Barbara Freeman: Former educator Barbara Freeman

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

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

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

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aF . Ra dke

Science & Nature

Li

nd

Photo

: by

Galápagos Tortoises Real Giants Among Us by Conrad J. Storad

The South American rain forests are packed with plants and critters of all sizes and shapes. I could spend my entire career writing about that immense variety of living things. But I’d never come close to documenting even a small portion. Tarantulas and piranhas were weird and fun. Now it’s time to learn about some real giants that live on Earth today. To do so, we must leave the Amazon jungle and move west along the equator. We head to Guayaquil, a city on the western coast of the country of Ecuador. Next, we must cross almost 700 miles of Pacific Ocean to reach the Galápagos Islands. This tiny group of volcanic islands is among the most famous in the world … at least to scientists and nature lovers.

Galápagos tortoise on Santa Cruz Island (Galápagos). Photo by David Adam Kess.

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The Galápagos Islands are considered one of our planet’s very best places for viewing wildlife. There are 13 large islands and lots of tiny islets. Many of the plants and animals that live there are found nowhere else on Earth. Famous British naturalist Charles Darwin visited in 1835. He spent weeks there as part of his scientific voyage around the world. Many of the amazing creatures he observed later inspired ideas about natural selection and his theory of evolution. Darwin saw giants on the Galápagos Islands. These giants still exist today. But there are not many left. Don’t be afraid. These giants are gentle. They are tortoises. Tortoises look a lot like turtles. In fact, they are turtles that have learned how to live on land. Galápagos tortoises are the biggest tortoises in the world. An adult male grows up to 6 feet long. The biggest guys can weigh up to 600 pounds. Female tortoises are smaller. They grow to about 300 pounds. All of the Galápagos tortoises are huge. But each kind looks just a bit different. The colors are different. They are shades of brown and black and gray. The shape and length of their heads and necks are different. So are the shapes of their shells. Explorers from the country of Spain first sailed to the islands hundreds of years ago. They found thousands of giant tortoises living there. Galápago is the Spanish word for tortoise. The sailors named the place Las Islas de los Galápagos. It means Islands of the Tortoises. When you say “Galápagos tortoise,” you are actually saying “tortoises, tortoise.”


Science & Nature

Galápagos tortoises grow to be giants. But they don’t start out large. A giant tortoise starts out as a round egg the size of a tennis ball. It can take four to eight months before the eggs are ready to hatch. The weather is important for tortoise eggs. If the temperature is cool, more male tortoises will hatch from the eggs. If it is hot, more females will hatch. The hatchlings grow slowly. A two-year old Galápagos tortoise is only about the size of a man’s fist. It takes 40 years for the animal to reach full size. The oldest known Galápagos tortoise lived for 157 years. Scientists think these reptiles might be able to live for up to 200 years. For thousands of years, the giant tortoises lived a quiet life on the islands. Food was plentiful. They had little to fear. No large predators lived on the islands. Scientists think there once were 14 different kinds of giant tortoises, or more. Hundreds of thousands of tortoises roamed the Galápagos Islands. That peaceful life changed about 300 years ago. That is when humans first visited the islands. Sailors and fishermen stopped at the islands to get fresh water. They also needed food. They captured lots of giant tortoises and killed them for meat. The humans also brought cows, goats, cats, and dogs with them. Cats and dogs dug up nests and destroyed tortoise eggs. They also ate hatchlings and young tortoises. Cows and goats crushed the soft shells of hatchlings with their hard hooves. They also ate the grass and plants that the tortoises needed to survive. The giant tortoises were almost all gone by 1959. There were fewer than 20,000 left. Some kinds were extinct. An animal is extinct when none can be found living on the Earth. The government of Ecuador stepped in to save the big reptiles. They created Galápagos National Park. The park protects the places where the last giant tortoises still live. Today, most live in the highest, hard to reach places. People have lots of work to do. We must protect interesting animals and plants and the places where they live. The world would not be the same without giant tortoises. Learning more about them is a good way to start.

Tortoise Facts from the Slow Lane: Baby tortoises are called hatchlings. A hatchling is only 3 inches long when it breaks out of its egg. Picture a silver dollar with legs. Tortoises have lived on the Earth for a very long time. Scientists say they have been here for more than 250 million years. Tortoises lived on Earth before the dinosaurs. Giant tortoises are herbivores. They spend most of the day eating plants or looking for plants to eat. Giant tortoises are slow walkers. They are not built for racing or hunting. At top speed, they move about 0.2 miles per hour. That means that in one hour they can walk the length of three football fields.

Resources to Learn More about Galápagos Tortoises: Books: • Galápagos Tortoises by Conrad J. Storad • Galápagos George by Jean Craighead George and Wendell Minor

Websites: • National Geographic Kids kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/galapagos-tortoise/#galapagos-tortoise-large.jpg • Galápagos Conservancy galapagos.org • American Museum of Natural History amnh.org (search Galápagos giant tortoise) • San Diego Zoo for Kids kids.sandiegozoo.org/animals/reptiles/galapagos-tortoise

Conrad J. Storad The award-winning author and editor of more than 50 science and nature books for children and young adults, Conrad J. Storad expertly draws young readers into his imaginative and entertaining “classroom” to help them better understand and appreciate the natural world. StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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A Plant Named Herb by Rita Campbell

Meet Herb! He can spice up your life or cure the common cold! Herb is actually a plant. Herb is pronounced “erb” in most areas of the world. There is a whole family of plants that can be categorized as herbs, each with its own name, such as cinnamon, parsley, chamomile, and many, many others. Mama Rosemary is a great source on the Internet for introducing herbs to children: mamarosemary. com/herbs-for-kids.

them or any plastic containers that would break down in the sun. Large containers or multiple small ones are best, since they’ll allow the plants room to grow. Make holes in the bottom for drainage and you’re ready to plant. Allow your children to be creative by decorating or painting your containers.

What is an Herb? In general, herbs are any plants that are used for food, flavoring, medicine, or fragrances. Herbs basically have two uses: culinary herbs for cooking and medicinal herbs for healing. The herb garden is an excellent tool for learning about history, cooking, crafts, and more, which gives you another opportunity to use your garden journal. Drawing or photographing the different plants, describing their smell and taste, and discussing ways you plan to use them along with recording the plants’ growth can be a wonderful addition to your journal. Have some fun designing your herb garden. Choose a sunny spot and make a 15’ x 15’ circle. Surround the garden by the planting of sunflower seeds. Crawling through the sunflower stalks, children can sit and enjoy the smells of various herbs like an aroma therapy. Even adults might enjoy a quiet little place with an array of plants with therapeutic fragrances. If you don’t have a space in your garden, any container with drainage holes could also become an herb garden. You can purchase planters at a garden center or make them from colanders or coffee cans. Even old boots might also be used! Make sure not to use containers that might have lead paint on 38

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Herbs can be easily grown from seeds or you can visit your local nursery to buy small plants. Small children like to put both dirt and plants in their mouths, so be certain to select plants that are safe for children to eat, since some herbs can be used as medicines and might not be good to be ingested. You might want to make sure your child does not have a sensitivity to these by performing a scratch test under the arm to make sure they do not have an allergic reaction. Many herbal remedies were once used for curing anything from common colds and other illnesses to treating wounds and rashes. In many cultures, these herbal practices still exist.


A fun way to enjoy an herb garden without ingesting them is to simply smell the different aromas from the plants. The best way to enjoy their fragrance is to rub two leaves between your fingers and then share the fragrance with your child. Herb plants are like a scratch-and-sniff sticker and so much fun to smell, but you could also enjoy an herb garden in your kitchen. Plan some opportunities for kids to harvest the herbs to make spaghetti sauce, pesto, mint tea, or a sachet using lavender flowers.

Plant of the month: Lemon Balm. Like other plants in the mint family, lemon balm is easy to use and grow. It often makes itself right at home in the garden and attracts helpful pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. A medicinal herb and a delicious addition to tea, lemon balm has a wide array of time-tested applications.

•

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

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

letterslostthenfound.com Also available on Amazon.com

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Get Ready for Summer Reading! The Adventures of Piratess Tilly: Easter Island by Elizabeth Lorayne

New this spring is The Adventures of Piratess Tilly: Easter Island, where haiku meets girlempowerment, science, and exploration! Come adventuring with budding naturalist “Piratess Tilly—the refreshingly bold, smart heroine” (Kirkus Reviews), her rescued koala friend, Yuki, and her crew of orphaned international boys on their expedition to Easter Island, where Piratess Tilly will dive to study the local fish. While exploring the monolithic statues and ruins, they happen upon a smuggling of sooty tern eggs by pirates! Can Piratess Tilly and her crew safely save the eggs? Be sure to check out their first adventure in the Galápagos Islands! PiratessTilly.com

It’s Just So … Little!

by Brenda Faatz and Peter Trimarco

It’s just so … adventurous for a little girl named Lizzy as she faces challenges of growth and change. She and her faithful puppy adopt a frail little sapling tree, taking on the job of protecting and nurturing their new, well-rooted “friend” throughout the seasons. In the meantime, Lizzy is outgrowing all of her favorite clothes and watching as Mom seems to be outgrowing her clothes as well. Lizzy’s biggest change comes in welcoming a new baby as her family tree seems to be growing, too.

Daddy’s Family Tree: Introducing the Applewhites by Kenneth Braswell

The story begins when Brandon receives an unexpected call from his mother that his estranged father has died. He now finds himself having to reconcile his own feelings. In addition, he has to talk to his family about a man he has never known. Daddy’s Family Tree is a journey down the process of filling the emptiness in your life created by an absent parent. The story attempts to help children understand the importance of family and creates a teaching moment for children who will have a lot of questions. The book allows for a loving and personal conversation about a topic that far too often, parents avoid. fathersincorporated.com

Annie Aardvark, Mathematician

by Suzie Olsen, illustrated by Davina “Viv” Kinney

The story follows Annie, an Aardvark who loves math, on her daily foraging. As Annie sets out on her forage, she decides to count everything she encounters. She zigs and zags through the landscape, stopping to use her nose and tongue to count objects. The effect is amusing sounds as she counts and forages. “Parents will enjoy reading this book to their child, and will like that the book is both fun and educational. Children will enjoy reading this book and learning how to count. I would definitely recommend this book to all young readers.”- Kristen Van Kampen, Readers’ Favorite

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Get Ready for Summer Reading! The Mirror of Doom by Bailey Baxter

When Tim Hunter saw the mirror, he should have run. But, he didn’t suspect it was a doorway to another world. And he certainly didn’t expect his uncle to PUSH him through it! So, there he was—stuck in a medieval land with his siblings. And the only way home was to steal the one item that gives the evil queen her power. The problem is … she’ll do anything to stop them. Do they have what it takes to make it home alive? There’s one way to find out! This fun, fantasy-adventure for middle grade readers is available on Amazon.com.

Planet A: A Mother’s Memoir of Autism Spectrum Disorder by Diane Christiansen

Planet A is a book of stories, true stories of what high functioning autism spectrum looks like behind the scenes. It is the journey of one mother and her son, Jackie, as they try to navigate life from early diagnosis through middle school. It is real and raw, dealing with issues of explosive anger, social ineptness, and low maturity, all of which can cause complete confusion and low self-esteem. Parenting can be extremely exhausting and getting the outside world to understand can be challenging. Planet A is a book to create awareness both in the ASD community as well as the typical world. It is a book to help us learn to celebrate those things that make us truly unique. DianeMayerChristiansen.com

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. She has no magic powers or special skills, and she’s a rotten shot with a bow and arrow, but she’s braver than anyone and that, in her opinion, makes her the best girl for the job. 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.

The Magpie King by M.J. Fahy

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.

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Get Ready for Summer Reading! Barley Soup and Slug Spit by Susan Manzke

Greg Harper is starting eighth grade in the fall of 1988 when his life hits rock bottom. In his small town’s combined junior/senior high school, he accidentally trips Doug Ryan, the varsity quarterback, on the stairs, causing him to sprain his ankle. Greg moves to the top of Doug’s revenge list, and to prove it, the football star ships Greg a shoebox by UPS that contains a very dead gift. Available on Amazon.com.

The Buddy Bench by Angela Peterson 

Rosie, an empathetic second-grader, consoles her classmates on their elementary school playground buddy bench over the course of one week. She meets with friends Emma, Frankie, and Mia during the week and helps them resolve social and economic conflicts. By the end of the week, she comes up with a fun solution which reduces the isolation and exclusion her classmates have experienced. The Buddy Bench eBook is available now at flowermixology.com. Author Angela Peterson believes positive thinking increases self-esteem and builds confidence in young people, raising optimism and hope in children. 

The Elephant Picture Book

by Jack L. Roberts with photography by Michael Owens

The Elephant Picture Book takes young readers (age 4 to 8) and their parents on a delightful photographic adventure into the fascinating world of some amazing elephants at Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand—a home for formerly overworked and abused elephants who now live out their lives in peace and harmony. The full-color, kid-friendly photos capture the majesty, elegance, and humor of these gentle and intelligent animals, while the accompanying, easy-to-read text introduces young readers to some fun facts about Asian and African elephants—the biggest land mammals in the world. Available at www.amazon.com/ dp/1544241224.

The Whizbang Machine: Tunney’s Curse by Danielle A. Vann

The second installment in the epic award-winning series, The Whizbang Machine: Tunney’s Curse finds 15-year-old Elizabeth Yale clinging to life. Her plan to save the Whizbang machine has backfired. As her grandfather Jack feverishly works to save her, the Whizbang factory begins to topple down around them. Narrowly escaping, the pair realizes the Whizbang machine is missing. As Tunney’s curse rages out of control, no one in the quaint Dutch town of Leiden is safe. No one is free from suspicion, either. An epic game of telephone where a family’s haunted past is brought to light by an enchanted typewriter. Coming August 1, 2017!

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Get Ready for Summer Reading! 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. The story is interwoven with the living creatures that exist on the island. Celebrates the 50th birthday of Assateague Island National Seashore and the 100th anniversary of the National Park System! Educational activities included! Recipient of the Mom’s Choice Award and 2017 Green Earth Book Award “Long List” Honoree for environmental stewardship. 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.

Seven Days to Goodbye by Sheri S. Levy

The award-winning novel, Seven Days to Goodbye, is the first in the Trina Ryan’s Dogs in Training series. Thirteen-year-old Trina is a puppy raiser for service dogs. In seven days, Sydney, her first trained service dog, will be matched to his forever companion. During their first beach day, Sydney makes a magical connection with Logan, a young boy with autism. Logan’s two older brothers cause intense friction between Trina and her best friend. Add in loggerhead turtles, pelicans, and boating on Edisto Island with conflicting teen issues, and the adventure grows. The story has humor and plenty of puppy-love in both varieties. The sequel, Starting Over, is due this summer. A coming-of-age YA, for ages 10 and up. sherislevy.com

Ruth Law: The Queen of the Air by Billie Holladay Skelley

Travel back to 1916 with Ruth Bancroft Law to learn more about the early days of aviation in America. A remarkable pioneer, Law was one of the most daring, courageous, and successful aviators of her time. She set several records and inspired the nation with a bold and historic flight. In the process, she showed the world that women could be influential leaders and superb pilots. Part of the Goldminds Time Traveler series, Ruth Law’s story is available from Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, and Barnes and Noble.

My Name is River by Wendy Dunham

It’s 1983, and 12-year-old River Starling’s life is anything but normal. She was adopted on a whim and came without a birth certificate. Her adoptive parents gave her up to her grandmother when she was only two, but River is certain her parents will come back. River’s hopes fall apart when Gram uproots them from their farmhouse and decides to move to Birdsong, West Virginia, the most miserable town River has ever seen. There, she makes an unlikely friendship with an unusual boy and learns about acceptance, hard work, forgiveness, and the love of Jesus. Discover the unforgettable story of one girl’s search for a place to call home. StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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Get Ready for Summer Reading! Hope Girl

by Wendy Dunham

With the discovery of her birth father, 12-year-old River has definite thoughts about how her life should turn out—and that certainly does not include any of the challenges that keep popping up! It’s not easy to decide if she should live with Gram, who has been her family for the past 10 years, or with her father, who she’s over-the-moon to have just met but knows little about. River decides to ask God for help. As this tender-sweet story unfolds, River learns to persevere and stay hopeful that soon she will be part of a real family. Yes, her dream does come true ... but not in the way she had planned!

Grammy Do… by Sandy Richards

“Who teaches me to sing and sway? Who tells me she loves me forever and a day?” Whether you are a Grammy, Nana, YiaYia, or MeMaw, grandmothers share special memories with their grandchildren. Grammy Do... is a rhyming story with whimsical illustrations that portray the special bond between a grandmother and her grandchildren. Purchase a personalized copy directly from the author’s website. Sandy-Richards.com. Also available on Amazon.com.

Aimee and Divine Inspiration: On a Journey by Diane Bourgeois

Follow Aimee on the river of change as she goes into a forest of dreams and ventures through the cave of shadows. Will Aimee be brave enough to find her rainbow? This book is about a child on a quest to discover her true self. The divine river of life takes her on a journey of great change through magical forests of strength and love. On her voyage, the cave of shadows challenges her. If she can pass through the cave, she will discover the greatest treasure of her life! www.aimeeonajourney.com Available on Amazon, Balboa Press, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters.Indigo.

Kaitlyn Wants to See Ducks/Kaitlyn quiere ver patos by Jo Meserve Mach, Vera Lynne Stroup-Rentier, Mary Birdsell

Kaitlyn loves ducks. Her family loves all the animals. Seeing those apes and lions and elephants and goats and giraffes and bears just isn’t what Kaitlyn wants to do. What’s a girl to do, when it’s family day at the zoo? This nonfiction picture book is from the Finding My Way series. All books honor children with disabilities by sharing their stories. Kaitlyn has Down syndrome. Interest level by grade: Pre-K-3 GRL: F findingmywaybooks.net

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Get Ready for Summer Reading! Sophie and Scottie’s Adventures of the Monarch Mystery by Cindy C. Murray

Sophie and Scottie receive a crystal picture frame from their globetrotting Auntie Jill. Once activated, the frame acts as a portal to amazing adventures! Upon walking through the frame, the courageous 11-year-old fraternal twin sisters find themselves in Mexico. They must empower themselves to make decisions while encountering a mischievous map, a talking toucan, a cat-like creature, and an evil professor as they solve why the monarch butterflies have vanished! This award-winning chapter book is the first in The Adventures of Sophie and Scottie Series and is available on Amazon.com and www.cindycmurray.com. For readers ages 8-12.

Queen Vernita series by Dawn Menge

Follow Queen Vernita on her educational adventures! Each year, Queen Vernita and her 12 wonderful friends learn about the days of the week, months of the year, and seasons. Queen Vernita and her friends explore the Oceaneer’s kingdom, the Blue Ice mountains, Islands of Enchantment, the coastline, Baja Quails, and Gator Country, and they meet Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer! There are seven books in the Queen Vernita series (Outskirts Press, $9.95 to $19.95, paperback, children’s fiction/action & adventure). For more information, visit www. queenvernita.com.

Pigs & Strawberries: The Adventures of Laurence & Hamilton by Jenni Garrick

Pigs & Strawberries is an engaging story of an unforgettable journey! Laurence and Hamilton enjoy eating strawberries on their farm, but when their strawberries disappear during the winter, the determined pigs take an adventure of a lifetime. Laurence and Hamilton visit exotic places around the world on their quest to find fresh strawberries, making some great friends along the way. Join them on their exciting adventure! For more information, contact Jenni at Jahworldtraveler@yahoo.com. Keep up with all the fun and adventure! Adventurepigsbooks.com, Facebook.com/PigsandStrawberries 

Dugan: The Dog Who Said, “Mom” by Joanne Russo Insull

A little dog lives in a shelter waiting for a home. He is cute and friendly, but he barks—a lot, and that has kept people from adopting him. Finally, a woman is willing to take a chance on him. She adopts Dugan and gives him a loving home. His new mom also helps him find the special talent he has always wished for. Dugan, The Dog Who Said, “Mom” is a story children of all ages will enjoy. It shows what wonderful things can happen with love and persistence. Archway Publishing, archwaypublishing.com ISBN 978-1-4808-4049-2

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Get Ready for Summer Reading! Grandma’s Face Tells her Story by Elaine McKay

Grandma is singing her grandchild to sleep. Her grandchild watches her very closely so that the story of Grandma is told through the child’s eyes. Grandma’s facial features and expressions, like her cartwheeling eyes, twitchy nose, and the useful gap in her front teeth, become the real bedtime tale. Grandma is a cool soccer referee and a tough opponent when playing on a computer. She’s useful to have at the dentist office, too! This picture book is a celebration of the special bond between grandchild and grandparent. An endearing story full of fun rhymes that are great for sharing. Illustrated by Lynne Bendoly. Available on Amazon.com.

Bug off Big Bully by Shawnie Clark

Have you ever felt like you had the weight of the world on your shoulders? That’s exactly how Peter feels when his family moves to a new town. Things get even heavier when the school bully comes calling. What will Peter do? Life will never be the same due to one of the ugliest bugs inching onto the scene and one simple act of kindness that will help him to overcome his fear and build a lasting friendship.

The Tinker and The Fold: Problem with Solaris 3 by Evan and Scott Gordon

They have been watching … and because of him, they are coming. Jett Joseph Javelin Junior is enjoying eighth grade until his scientific tinkering goes dangerously wrong and attracts the attention of The Fold, an extraterrestrial force tasked with keeping peace in the galaxy. When The Fold comes to collect him, Jett’s life is thrown into disarray. From alien abduction, to life in Tower 100, to flooding the White House with living alien pom-poms that eat everything in sight, Jett’s adventure to save Earth from The Neutralization Protocol and integrate it into The Fold is fraught with peril and will keep you guessing all the way to the end! thetinkerandthefold.com

Letters Lost Then Found by Amy L. Johnson

Eavesdrop on conversations between two brothers from 1942 to 1945. The highlyacclaimed Letters Lost Then Found features letters exchanged between 19-year-old Freddie, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces who flew over 120 combat missions, and his 30-year-old brother Willie, circulation manager of the Michigan-based Saginaw News. The letters reveal the drama of battle, the daily life that goes on for both brothers, and the vital importance of family connections. Includes a “Day in History” section on each page that provides a glimpse of what was happening in World War II at the time each letter was written. letterslostthenfound.com 46

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Get Ready for Summer Reading! Super Speed Sam: Come Fly with Me by Monty J. McClaine

Super Speed Sam—chapter books for kids—with a difference. Can you imagine a world where Sam, the ever faithful basset hound, and Molly, the youngest member of the McClaine family who is just on the verge of discovering how to walk are somehow transformed out of their usual bodies and into much, much smaller ones? Bodies that have wings and can fly? More like two pesky flies! Full of humor, thrills, and a few twists and turns, this wacky Super Speed Sam episode will keep you and your little ones glued to your seats.

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

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

ESPete in ESPresident by Arnold Rudnick

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

Journey to Appleville by Veronica Appleton

What can six kids from a local neighborhood do when they have a goal in mind? Embark on a quest to Appleville, of course! Join Liu-Liu, Kenan, Tu-Tu, Lizzy, Pedro, and Cassie as they overcome their fears with the help of the Appleville Fairy. Can you help them earn their golden apples? Join Author Veronica Appleton on a mission to share stories reflecting the everyday lives of multicultural families! It will be a bushel of fun! A 2017 Story Monster Approved book! www.applevillebooks.com

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Get Ready for Summer Reading! Bailey and the Magic Cupcake Truck by Pamela Cannalte

A love of cupcakes sends Bailey all over the world in her magical dreams, searching for that elusive cupcake truck. Day after day goes by and Bailey is still waiting. This beautifully written, illustrated and designed children’s picture book will delight the reader. It playfully mocks the traditional fairy tale, but still keeps the attraction of the “happily ever after.” Full of imaginative fantasy, if offers a surprising but lovely ending that will delight both parents and children. Available on Amazon.com

Sky Cloud City (Adventures of Hope & Trusty) 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? Cornered by hostile birds, how do the two friends win over the 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.” Sky Cloud City is a story that celebrates brotherhood, friendship, and peace. Find out more about the play with the accompanying Activity Book. Color, trace, design, learn… For ages 7-10. www.Amazon.com, www.skycloudcity.com

Jet Lee Dragon Warrior by Pamela K. Witte

Born in the year, month, day, and hour of the dragon, Jet Lee is destined for karate-kicking greatness. Too bad he’s such a loser. Bullied on a daily basis and working in the Wu’s fish shop to earn his allowance, 12-year-old Jet thinks things can’t get any worse. He learns how wrong he is when a beast-man attacks his mom and vows to take over New York City. Saving the city is tough for anybody, but it’s nearly impossible when you’re in sixth grade. It’s a whirlwind week of subway chases, demon spit, and samurai swords. And time is running out!

The Adventures of Henry the Squirrel: In Search of the Golden Heart by Eric S. Roth

The Adventures of Henry the Squirrel: In Search of the Golden Heart is an epic adventure story where two friends come together to search for an ancient lost treasure. On their path, they make new acquaintances, overcome obstacles, and discover the value in helping others. Join Henry and Austin as they follow the clues to the Golden Heart! A percentage of proceeds is donated to a children’s hospital and a dog rescue organization.

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Get Ready for Summer Reading! The Purple-Door Cottage Mysteries: Gabriana and Jane Super Sleuths by Maria Grace Tegan

This exciting tale of mystery highlights a small waterfront town on Boston Harbor which has for many years, inspired and drawn to its shores some of the best known writers, going way back to the 1800s. Gabriana and Jane embark on a journey no one has ever attempted before and find true friendship as they unravel mysterious fables connected with an old cottage known as “The Purple Door Cottage.” Friendship, mystery, and adventure are waiting to be explored as you come along with the Super Sleuths! Available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.com.

Little Green

by Arnold Rudnick

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

A to Z Character Education for the Classroom by Sherry Hoffman, B.S., M.Ed.

A valuable resource for parents and educators! A to Z Character Education for the Classroom is an award-winning activity book that teaches key social skills through fun activities and poetry while developing positive character traits. Written by Sherry Hoffman, K-12 reading specialist and author of other classroom stories, this book can be used to encourage readers to be the best version of themselves. 2014 Mom’s Choice Award: Gold, 2014 Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Honorable Mention, 2014 Story Monster Approved (Grades 4 - 6), 2014 Purple Dragonfly Awards: Honorable Mention, Second Place. www.bucketfillers101.com

The Seeds of Injustice by Micheal Jimerson

Caleb Philips returns from the carnage of the Civil War to find his wife dead, his teenage son rebelling, and his native East Texas in turmoil. Before he can begin to rebuild, another returned veteran, ex-Confederate General turned Judge Matthew Ector deputizes him to hunt down the cold-blooded killers of several newly freed slaves. Stretching from the Piney Woods of East Texas to the barren desert of the Comancheria in New Mexico, author Micheal Jimerson weaves a powerful tale of love, loss, vengeance, and forgiveness. First Place winner, Historical Fiction category, 2016 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards. StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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Get Ready for Summer Reading! I See the Sun series by Satya House

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

Max and Bear by Pam Saxelby

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

Josie the Great by Pam Saxelby

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

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. Larissa Juliano delivers a captivating, imaginative, and thought-provoking story inspired by a childhood favorite: The Little Prince. 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. Click on the book cover to purchase any of the above titles. To list your book in our Reading Guide, contact Cristy Bertini at cristy@storymonsters.com. 50

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Kids Can Publish!

Awake

by Kristin Maggio, age 10 The trees are awake when springtime’s in bloom Flowers glisten under a sparkling moon During the day or during the night The flowers give us an enchanting sight

Hey Kids! Visit www.StoryMonsters.com and click on “Kids Can Publish” for instructions on how to submit your work! StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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Monsters at

the Movies

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Reviewer: Nick Spake

Grade: A-

After Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, it seemed like Marvel had plowed through all of their A-list superheroes. With Guardians of the Galaxy, though, audiences got the Marvel movie they never knew they wanted. In a pleasant turn of events, the sci-fi comedy ended up being one of Marvel’s biggest financial and critical successes ever. All of a sudden, obscure characters that most people had never even heard of were becoming overnight household names. Based on the current state of superhero movies, today’s youth will grow up with fonder memories of Star-Lord and Groot than Batman and Superman. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a rare sequel that doesn’t run out of gas. The film lacks the fresh factor of its predecessor and doesn’t necessarily evolve the franchise to a whole new level like Captain America: Civil War did. As with any quality sequel, however, it continues to up the action, the humor, and the drama. It has echoes of The Empire Strikes Back and The Wrath of Khan, but still maintains the unique flair that made the first movie stand out from the crowd. At the center of everything are characters we genuinely care about, as bizarre as most of them might be. The whole gang is back for another adventure and another awesome mix tape. The guardians of the galaxy have essentially evolved into a family with Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) acting as the father and mother, although they maintain a Sam and Diane relationship. Drax (Dave Bautista) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) nab one great one-liner 52

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after another, but it’s Vin Diesel’s baby Groot that often steals the show. Literally. Baby Groot steals the


opening credits sequence as he takes center stage while his fellow guardians fight a monster in the background. Much like Star-Lord’s opening dance from the original film, this scene perfectly sets the mood for the entire movie. While the main five players work off each other masterfully, this sequel also makes better use of its supporting players. Karen Gillan returns as Gamora’s sister, Nebula, while Michael Rooker is also back as Peter’s mentor, Yondu. While both of these characters had prominent roles in the first film, this one gives them a little more depth and further explores their family dynamics, resulting in several poignant moments that might catch you off guard. We also get a slew of fun new characters, including Pom Klementieff as an alien named Mantis, Sylvester Stallone as a Ravager named Stakar Ogord, and Elizabeth Debicki as a high priestess named Ayesha. Director James Gunn even gives his brother, Sean Gunn (aka Kirk from Gilmore Girls), an expanded role as Yondu’s second-in-command.

or Pac-Man, but on an epic scale. Of course, if Zack Snyder has taught us anything, it’s that visuals hardly matter if the story is a mess. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 keeps us guessing as its story unfolds and ultimately takes us to some surprisingly meaningful places. All the while, it gives each character an appropriate amount of screen time and at least one defining moment. The only real downside is that Russell and Stallone never cross paths, missing the opportunity to bring Tango and Cash back together. If that’s the biggest problem with a movie, however, it’s hard to complain.

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.

The most significant new player here is Kurt Russell as Ego, Peter’s long-lost papa. It turns out that Ego is a planet that can manifest into human form. After reuniting with his son, Peter naturally has a few questions. Namely, is Ego a good guy or a bad guy? I won’t spoil the answer here, but let’s just say that Peter’s relationship with his father amounts to a wide range of funny, touching, shocking, heartbreaking, and applaud-worthy moments. It also makes leeway for some of the best visuals the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced to date. The action sequences are as colorful and explosive as ever with the filmmakers injecting an extra layer of ’80s nostalgia. The set pieces here feel like something out of an old school arcade game, such as Asteroids

Riddles & Giggles Q: What do sharks like to eat with peanut butter? A: Jellyfish! StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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Book Reviews Selah’s Sweet Dream by Susan Count Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Grab a box of tissues and find a cozy spot when you read this second title of the Dream Horse Adventure series, because it will completely consume you to its end. Anyone from the horse world, as I once was, will live each page, taste the desire, feel the heaviness of disappointment and frustration, and the pull of inner grit and tenacity. And all readers will exclaim with jubilance the beauty of this magnificent horse and its rider. Wildness captured, can it really be tamed? This is truly a story of heart, struggle, and victory. A powerful impact and encouragement to anyone facing such odds. Read this story. You won’t be disappointed.

If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don’t! by Elise Parsley Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This New York Times bestselling series will surely tickle your funny bone. Little Magnolia sees a poster saying, “You can do ANYTHING at the library,” and her great gusto and showmanship bursts through as she sets up her own circus. Yep, that’s right! Right there in the library! If your not chuckling yet, you surely will be as you read this lively story. The illustrations are as bold and endearing as Magnolia herself. So remember, if you ever see that poster saying you can do anything at the library, think of Magnolia, and don’t ever bring a circus!

Escape from Nettle Farm by Justin Davis Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Can bad starts turn out well? In this enjoyable novel for young readers, a runt of the litter named Harvey is challenged to find out. The story is written well, and paced perfectly to keep young readers engaged and following along. It’s filled with emotion, and incites moral conscience. It rings with the sound of hope, and proves the power of unity. The family relationship provides an ideal backdrop for the story, and a pleasant reminder of what we can accomplish when we have the support of those we love.

Bucky Triceratops Takes the Bus by Patty Davidson Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 

Patty Davidson relays a child’s heart with a smile in all her stories. Bringing to adults a different perspective we may accidentally overlook in our grown-up world. Her stories are short and carry a simple point, but a point worth looking at from a much shorter perspective. The world is a large place to a child and can be intimidating. How they learn to view, act and react to it will carry lasting habits throughout their lives. Bucky is five years old and getting ready to start Kindergarten. There will be lots of new things, and he is a bit nervous. Mom understands the importance of a smooth transition, and helps him find his personal confidence to adapt and be prepared for the changes. 54

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Book Reviews Bucky Triceratops Loves Baseball by Patty Davidson Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil 

Once again, Davidson brings that youthful excitement and openness of a child into view. Team sports provide strong and lasting effects on our children. Teamwork, fair play, respect, and kindness develop as we learn to merge from home life where we often shine in a single light, into a broader social circle where we become a single piece of a whole.

Boomer, Be Nice! by Stacy Roberts Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Bullying is a major issue of our day, one with far-reaching damages. Stories like Boomer’s help children at an early age to see the outcome that awaits such behavior. Boomer finds his actions isolate him from everyone, leaving him lonely. Can he make things right again? His mother shows him how. It’s never too early for children to learn that their actions carry serious consequences, and to learn the importance of being nice.

Jilly’s Terrible Temper Tantrums and How She Outgrew Them by Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Tantrums! We’ve all had our run-ins with them. Whether as participants or observers, we have felt the heat of its embarrassment and frustration. As parents, it can leave us feeling as helpless as the child, and desperate for answers. Jilly must learn there are more enjoyable ways to control her emotions, instead of letting them control her and her surroundings. Pieper’s 35 years of counseling parents and children brings gentle guidance to a very stressful situation. Illustrations by Jo Gershman are warm and surely to help children relate to the story.

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh Funk Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This is truly a fun read. The lighthearted banter between Jack and the narrator is sure to create chuckles along the way. Jack is NOT happy with the way this story is going, and grabbles about for a more productive outcome. Illustrations by Edwardian Taylor add to the entertainment wonderfully, making this an all around good time!

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Book Reviews Things to Do with Dad by Sam Zuppardi Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

Sam Zuppardi, like a master mime, can relay a detailed story without a single word, or at least with only a few. This tender story of a busy dad, and the creative longing of his little boy will touch the heart and bring a smile to your face. We can all get lost in our To Do lists, and this gentle reminder carries great rewards. Lifelong bonds are often forged in casual moments shared.

Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market by Michelle Schaub Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

What a fun and fresh look at the community excitement and involvement of a local farmers’ market! The poetry is as luscious as the goods gathered and sold, and just as enjoyable. A website is also provided so you can find the local farmers’ markets in your area, and join in on the fun.

The Legend of the Colombian Mermaid by Janet Balletta Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This award-winning rendition of Colombian folklore centers around the 1917 legend of La Sirena De Hurtado. The story tells of the young girl’s defiance of parents and custom as she went swimming in the river on Good Friday. Legend has it she was cursed for her disobedience and turned into a mermaid. Trapped there, the young mermaid tries to lure other children into the river and into her eternal disobedience. Hundreds of tourists flock to the river every summer to see the monument of the mermaid located on the edge of the Guatapuri River and swim in its crystal blue waters.

When I Carried You in My Belly by Thrity Umrigar Reviewer: Julianne Black

This is such a beautiful book! When I Carried You in My Belly has an intimacy and sweetness that radiates from the pages—a perfect harmony between illustrator and author that envelopes like a warm blanket. From mother, to father, to extended family, with each family member introduced into the book, the blanket of love is woven larger, and the connection between all individuals is solidified with a grace and softness that needs to be read and shared. The child forms the centerpiece of the mother’s experiences while pregnant as well as the family’s contributions, bringing the baby into their world with love and anticipation. The color scheme, level of playfulness, and depth and connection is so incredibly paired that as a reader, I felt part of the family’s experiences and the bond they share. A true gift to any family. 56

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Book Reviews Barnyard Boogie! by Tim McCanna Reviewer: Julianne Black

Barnyard Boogie! is a fun and fast read involving all your favorite barnyard animals in their awesome Barnyard Band! Kids will love checking out which instruments each animal takes up—but what will Cow do? Tim McCanna’s use of rhyme throughout the book is played out in how the instrument sounds, making it a very interesting way to communicate a description of the vibration of the notes. That twist alone makes this book especially fun to read out loud! Allison Black’s illustrations have a sharp and bright, almost pop-art feel to them which leads the eye to dance around the pages, taking it all in like a puzzle. Barnyard Boogie! is definitely a winner for the Pre-K to Kindergarten age group! Get up and get ready to Mooooove!

Priscilla Gorilla  by Barbara Bottner Reviewer: Julianne Black

Fantastic fun! Priscilla Gorilla is one of those children’s books that has a truly timeless feel. While brand new to 2017, it could have easily been your favorite as a child. Six-yearold Priscilla is obsessed with gorillas. She talks about them, draws pictures of them, and dresses like them, which is LOTS of fun … unless you end up in the Thinking Corner. And in Mr. Todd’s class, the Thinking Corner was getting crowded. Illustrator Michael Emberley’s expressive line quality and effortless facial expressions allow the story to tell itself through a fabulously kid-friendly visual language that gives plenty of fun eyeexploration and attention-keeping details from page to page. Barbara Bottner’s storyline, rhythm, and insight into a child’s perspective is positively delightful. Priscilla Gorilla is a true page turner, even for the squirmiest gorillas.

Cody and the Rules of Life by Tricia Springstubb Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

What I like most about Cody and the Rules of Life is that people actually speak to one another. They try to understand each other, even though that doesn’t always work out. Cody is a thoughtful, sensitive girl trying to cope with events and issues that come up in life including communicating to family, friends, and teachers. This is not always easy but the best way to learn is to dive in and Cody does just that.

That Curious Sign on Aisle Nine by Kyle Morey and Laren Bright Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil

This story will tickle, and make you gasp and giggle. It’s rhyming text leads with an increasing upbeat pace that children will enjoy following. A curious boy has become bored with the everyday typical pet, and is drawn by an even more curious sign on Aisle Nine of his local pet store. What is locked behind the door? Could it be just what the curious boy is looking for? StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

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Book Reviews Sweet Child Born in Texas by Whitney Strauss, Susan Giles, Dr. Kathleen Cooter, PhD Reviewer: Julianne Black

Sweet Child Born in Texas is an adorable primer to Texas pride. Set to a cheerful rolling poem, the book explores some of the state’s heritage, pastimes, and contributions to life in the USA. With humor that will appeal to parents and light-hearted graphics that will engage young audiences, each page is an experience. The book’s exploration of Texan culture alongside the endearing armadillo guide was exceptionally well thoughtout, as the armadillo creates a constant throughout the fast-paced topic changes and successfully grounds the storyline. The authors and illustrator of Sweet Child Born in Texas have created a brilliant keepsake and/or beautiful Texas baby shower gift that holds treasures for any personality.

The Queen is Coming to Tea by Linda Ravin Lodding Reviewer: Jenna Grodzicki

The Queen is Coming to Tea is a fresh take on the classic childhood ritual of planning a tea party. The Queen is coming for tea, so Ellie must prepare. With her trusty elephant, Langley, she flies around the world, gathering the most delicious cakes, the finest tea leaves, the loveliest lemons, and the fanciest tutu. Unfortunately, Ellie and her friends can’t resist sampling the treats while they wait for the Queen to arrive. Will the tea party be ruined? The Queen is Coming to Tea is a sweet story filled with imagination and heart. Constanze von Kitzing’s brightly colored illustrations truly bring the story to life. Young readers will enjoy following Ellie on her journey and sharing the final moments between mother and daughter as they share a tea party for two.

I Don’t Draw, I Color! by Adam Lehrhaupt Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman

Author Adam Lehrhaupt and illustrator Felicita Sala take readers on a journey through I Don’t Draw, I Color!. While it’s clear from the title that readers are going to be opening the book to see various shades of color, the philosophical side of the color wheel is also interweaved into the tale. Some shades of colors are bright and cheerful and other colors can be melancholy and gloomy. Others may represent anger while another color may show serenity. This book helps readers understand that everyone can be creative and we are all like pieces of art. Every one of us has special qualities and character traits that make us special and unique, and those differences should be celebrated. So take the time to read the colorful tale I Don’t Draw, I Color! and allow it to help paint a picture of what makes you special. After all, no one is better at being you than you. 

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Book Reviews Round by Joyce Sidman Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman

Round feels poetic as the words are read. Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman allows readers to almost feel and see the round objects found in nature and all around us, while Taeeun Yoo’s beautiful illustrations complete the mental image. Whether it is the round, smooth oranges hanging from the fruit tree or the round seeds that begin the journey for plants to grow, readers will become cognizant of the shapes found in the world around them. This book would be a perfect companion to math lessons about circles or spheres or science lessons about circular objects found in nature. Round opens up many opportunities for exploration and discovery. Whether it is through math, writing, science, or art, this book will surely help to shape the minds of young readers.

Letters Lost Then Found by Amy L. Johnson Reviewer: Joseph Murkette

Letters Lost Then Found offers us a glimpse through the window of another time, when communication was a physical act that required time, effort, and an investment in focused thought and emotion. Each letter written and received comprised a small, significant fraction of the writer’s thoughts, emotions, and persona. The book is author Amy L. Johnson’s compilation of letters written by her grandfather and great-uncle, William and Fred Raubinger, from November 1942 to February 1945. These two brothers tell us the story of life, death, and love as viewed through the lens of the tragedy of WWII. This book is a beautifully designed and powerful creation. We are offered the options of viewing it as an historical text, a powerful biographical work detailing the lives of two loving brothers, as well as a nostalgic, realistic view of communication in a computerless world. We learn about the brothers’ lives, their world, and their family. All of these factors are seamlessly woven together to create a powerfully compelling work that richly deserves its place in modern American literature.

Stick Puppet Party! by Tigercandy Arts Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

The perfect ingredients for a craft? Sticks, cardstock, colorful patterned paper, cardboard, and glue! Put these all together and you come up with an adorable Stick Puppet Party by Tigercandy Arts. Kids will delight in gluing, cutting, and creating puppets with the foundation materials in this kit. Materials are nicely packaged, organized, and easy to understand/manipulate. Pushpins? Yes please! The puppets arms and legs can be moved with each having its one unique look. Throw in some old (or new) photos, magazine pictures, or your own artistic creations/faces to finish it off. Puppet shows are a classic childhood pastime and this craft will allow them to indulge in creating, and performing!

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Book Reviews We are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner Reviewer: Kristin Maggio, age 10

We are the Dinosaurs is a fun-filled, easy-to-read book for children. The colorful illustrations and sing song words make it extra special. I found myself singing the song long after I was done reading the book. A good read and overall excellent dinosaur book for kids to enjoy.

A Good Day for a Hat by T. Nat Fuller Reviewer: Kristin Maggio, age 10

A cute and delightful book. We join Mr. Brown as he tries to find the right hat for every occasion. Sure to bring a smile to your day as he shows us that it’s good to be prepared. Pointing out and talking about his hats can be as much fun as reading the book!

I Am (Not) Scared by Anna Kang Reviewer: Larissa Juliano

Childhood is such a precious, fleeting, beautiful, and vulnerable time for little ones (parents included!). Having stories that address our anxieties, name them, encapsulate them, and hopefully calm them is incredibly important, not to mention comforting! I Am (Not) Scared by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant shares a day in the life of two animal creatures having a conversation about being brave … and scared. Told completely in large, easy-to-read dialogue, the furry friends debate what is scary and what is not scary (a tub of hairy spiders or a pit of hot lava is DEFNITELY scary.) The reader then discovers the setting of the story and root of their cute exchange. The ending is a sweet reminder that having friends makes us feel A LOT better in scary situations … and talking about our feelings is absolutely okay!

Materbeampater by Honey R. Adewole Reviewer: Diana Perry

Meet the Naughties, the Gritties, and the Notables! This is a humorous book of poetry based on the lessons of life. There are poems about naughty girls, a boy who eats peanuts and peanut butter non-stop, and all sorts of strange but normal young people. Young readers will laugh out loud when reading this book.

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Book Reviews The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate by Eric Bower Reviewer: Diana Perry

It’s 1891 and Waldo Baron lives in the nothing-ever-happens town of Pitchfork in the middle of the desert. He constantly has to tolerate the wild and crazy inventions both of his parents create and is embarrassed when anyone comes to their house. One day he gets out of bed to find his parents’ latest scientific project is to make the house fly, way up in the sky. Their plan is to win the Inventors’ Contest in which inventors enter their flying vehicles in a race across the country. Waldo wishes at first that he was back on dry desert land but soon learns that he is about to embark on the greatest adventure of his life. Kids will want to come along for this action-packed flight as Waldo defines his true character and learns how to be his best self.

April Fools’, Mr. Todd! (Judy Moody and Friends) by Megan McDonald Reviewer: Tessa Grodzicki, age 9

This Judy Moody book is about to make you laugh your pants off because it is filled with jokes and laughter! Judy and her classmates are about to have so much fun because April Fools’ Day is coming up! Judy is so happy because not only is April Fools’ Day on April 1 but her birthday is on April 1, too! And with the birthday present her little brother gives her, she has the perfect prank to play on Mr. Todd! But has her classmates and teacher forgot her birthday? Judy Moody and Friends is a great series for grades kindergarten to first grade because it makes you laugh out loud. Also I really enjoyed this book because it made me laugh out loud, too. I hope you get a chance to read this book!

Double or Nothing with the Two and Only Kelly Twins by Johanna Hurwitz Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 10

Double or Nothing with the Two and Only Kelly Twins is a sweet, easy read. Not only do you learn what it could be like to be an identical twin, but you understand that we are all individuals, special and different. Just because someone wears the same clothes, has the same hair style, or comes from the same family, they still want to find their own identity. Even if you’re not a twin, you can relate to this book.

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Juicy Jack’s Spanish Corner

¡Hola, Amigo!

1. el jardín = garden 2. el césped = grass 3. árbol grande = big tree 4. árbol pequeño = small tree 5. el pino = pine tree 6. el manzano = apple tree

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Juicy Jack’s Spanish Corner! ¡Bienvenidos! Juicy Jack’s favorite place to be during the month of June is in Abuela’s (Grandma’s) deliciously green and fragrant jardín (garden). Tú jardín secreto (Your Secret Garden)

7. flores = flowers 8. huerta = vegetable garden 9. arbustos verdes = green bushes 10. el cactus = cactus 11. girasoles = sunflowers 12. muro de piedra = stone wall/fence 13. camino de piedra = stone path 14. banco de madera = wood bench

Draw, color, and label your ideal secret garden using all of the words on the right. If you want to add something special that isn’t on the list, look up the word in a Spanish dictionary. This is how Jack learns new words. Don’t forget to draw a picture of Juicy Jack hiding somewhere!

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15. la regadera = watering can

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


Kids Corner

WORD

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StoryMonsters.com | Volume 4, Issue 6 | Story Monsters Ink

63


rom the very first Kindergarten book, hints are given that point to a seer mystery which gradually builds through the years at Pagic Elementary School under the guidance of a mysterious teacher, Mr. Wackenteach. As the years seem to quickly pass, the slowly brewing mystery grows and grows, and everyone has a secret feeling that finally, in sixth grade, the mystery will be revealed! R.WACKENTtACH TEACHES SECOND GRADE

"Wackenteach carries that delightful Cat in the Hat excitement." -Darleen Wohlfeil, Story Monsters Ink magazine

"JCM has written a modern classic series. I'd highly recommend Mr. Wackenteach to anyone with children about to start school or currently in elementary school."

"Spoiler alert: be forewarned. The series, from start to finish, is a tour de force. As a parent of an elementary school child, I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone." -Educator Michael Elia

-James Magnus, Readers' Favorite

www.wackenteach.com

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