Wallace and Grace Take the Case

My little one loves owls, so she was delighted to read a book about two owl detectives. Wallace and Grace Take the Case is a lovely way for this series to begin.Wallace and GraceWallace and Grace are two owls who run the Night Owl Detective Agency. One night, Edgar the Rabbit asks the two detectives for help. He says there is a ghost in the garden and he wants them to make it go away.

Wallace and Grace are initially not sure they want to take the case. Ghost hunting is not what they do, after all. But they decide that Edgar needs their help, and detectives always help when they are needed.

Once they take the case, Wallace and Grace have two tasks—first, they must find the ghost (if there is one), and then they have to make it go away.

The two owls use teamwork and friendship to try to solve their case. Together, they are brave and search for the ghost in the garden. Wallace and Grace model how partners can work together as a team.

As we read Wallace and Grace Take the Case, my daughter gathered the clues with Wallace and Grace and was proud to solve the mystery before they did. When Wallace and Grace reached the conclusion we had, my daughter happily called out: “See!” The book kept her engaged from beginning to end.

We read Wallace and Grace Take the Case because I received an advance reader copy in exchange for my unbiased review of the book. We will be looking out for the next books in the series because we are excited to see what adventures Wallace and Grace have next!

Wallace and Grace Take the Case has gorgeous illustrations filled with detail. They add another layer to the characters of Wallace, Grace, and Edgar.

The Wallace and Grace series is written by Heather Alexander. Ms. Alexander has written a number of non-fiction and fiction books for children, including books for the Ever After High series and The Amazing Stardust Friends series. She is online at www.heatheralexanderbooks.com.

Wallace and Grace Take the Case is part of the Read and Bloom line “for newly independent readers” from Bloomsbury Publishing. Also in this line are Agnes and Clarabelle by Adele Griffin and Courtney Sheinmel, Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog by Peter Meisel, and The Adventures of Caveboy by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (release date Aug. 29, 2017).

Have you read any great books lately?


fairytale (1)

We’re venturing into a different world with Fairytale, a YA novel by Hope Pennington (only one of us read this one—it’s a little too old for my sous-chef!). I read this book as part of the #FairytaleTheNovel blog tour hosted by Writerly Yours.


Sean is just your everyday teenager—he likes to play video games and antagonize his younger sister. On a day that is starting out like any other, his life changes dramatically when he is pulled through a portal to another world.

Sean finds himself in Glensdore, a world that looks like it is from an old fairytale or video game. There are rustic wooden huts with hay for roofs, and a castle that reminds Sean of the sand castles he used to build at the beach.

Sean is surrounded by burly men carrying swords and axes, engaged in hand-to hand combat. A creature named Monaciello, less than three feet tall with four hands for feet and a round head half as big as its body, becomes his sidekick.

He isn’t sure why, but people keep calling Sean the “Treasure Seeker” or the “Chosen One.” He discovers that the princess of Glensdore is missing and must be rescued to return power to the hands of goodness before darkness falls.

Sean joins in the rescue of the princess. He pairs up with a newly-knighted knight named Hansak, and they set off on an adventure that leads them to elves, mermaids, and other mystic creatures.

The official description of the book is:

A teenage boy’s happy-go-lazy world is turned on it’s head when he’s yanked into an epic fairytale and shocked to discover that his ability to predict the cliche storyline is the only thing that can save their world from destruction!

But it’s more than that. Sean grows and learns about himself as he fights to save Glensdore. And as readers, we cheer and celebrate as he figures out that life is more than the “happy-go-lazy” one he has been living.

To pick up a copy of Fairytale, go to Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. And be prepared to be swept away to a world of chivalry, magic, and adventure!


Hope Pennington is a homeschooled graduate living in Kerrville Texas, author of the young adult novel Fairytale and creator of The Epic Place YouTube channel where she encourages geeks, nerds and fan girls to always remember that #WeAreEpicHeroes every single day of our lives. Coffee is her spirit animal and if she had it her way she’d be living on the TARDIS from Doctor Who going on endless time travel adventures.
Twitter // Instagram // Tumblr  // YouTube // Blog // Wattpad


I reached out to Hope a few days ago to see if she would agree to an interview for my blog, and she said yes! I *hope* you enjoy getting to know her just a little more…
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi!  I’m Hope!  I was homeschooled for my whole life and pretty much since a toddler I’ve been in love with books!  As soon as I could get my schoolwork done each day I’d rush up to the attic to grab a book to delve into.  Fantasy was always my favorite and my older sister Grace was writing from an early age so at about age eight I had decided I wanted to be an author and started writing mystery novels.  By age nine I was writing scifi.  In my teen years I was introduced to OYAN (an epic homeschooled writing curriculum) and my writing got 99% better!  The days after that were full of fantasy noveling including the first draft of Fairytale. ^_^
Where did the idea for Fairytale come from? What inspired you to write it?
It’s a funny story actually!  Being an avid reader I was getting really annoyed at the lack of good fantasy novels and somewhere around the hundredth boring fantasy novel I tried to read my sister and I started making jokes about what if a modern teen boy got yanked into one of these cliché fairytales and could predict the whole thing…and the rest is history!
Are you working on any projects right now?
Right now I’m working on publishing a children’s book series called “Brad the Puppy” that I wrote with my Grandpa and a Middle Grade novel called “There’s A Werewolf at My School” that I wrote with my younger brother Adam!  The Werewolf one is definitely exciting because it’s my second mix of modern and myth now with a whole new cast of characters to explore it with!  I won’t say too much but it includes a teenage werewolf, elf, dwarf, mermaid, troll, goblin and more all in modern day middle school.
Will we see Sean in any future books?
Yes!  I’m working on Fairytale 2 now!  It’s called “Fairytale 2: Sean’s Squire” aaannndddd it involves a girl…from his school who goes in with him.  Their banter is way too fun to write!  I can’t wait to write all the fun parts I have planned!
What is the hardest part about being an author?
Probably promotion actually.  Being an author these days you have to be good and writing AND marketing cause most authors don’t have the money to pay someone to promote for them.  Thankfully social media leaves a nice space for authors to grow a following and maybe generate interest in their book, which has actually been super fun but I’m not that good at it just yet. 😛
What is the best piece of advice you have been given about writing?
I must’ve heard this from a hundred different people but it’s honestly “Just Write”  Everyone’s path to writing, everyone’s method and everyone’s style is so different you can really only discover your way by doing it.  The other awesome piece of advice is write for you.  If you don’t enjoy it no one will.  So entertain yourself, captivate and mystify yourself with your writing and someone is liable to feel the same way.
Which authors inspire you?
Dickens for SURE!  He’s my writing hero.  He wasn’t afraid to write real, raw, authentic darkness mixed with humor…uggg I can’t get enough of his work but in the scifi/fantasy realm my writing heroes are definitely C.S. Lewis, E. Nesbit, J.R.R. Tolkien and Joss Wheaten.  They all wrote their way, and they wrote magical and mystical lands full of fun and heart and courage and enthusiasm and freedom.  They never cease to inspire me
What are your three favorite books?
A Tale of Two Cities
The Hobbit
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Thanks for joining us, Hope!
Have you read any great books lately?

How To Tame A Triceratops (& Giveaway)

Will Dare’s How To Tame A Triceratops takes us into a world where it’s common for kids to ride dinosaurs. Sounds fun, right? Not if your dinosaur is aptly named “Plodder.”how to tame a triceratopsJosh Sanders lives in the Lost Plains, where his family has an iguanodon ranch. He rides his slow, but reliable, gallimimus Plodder to round up the iguanodons in the morning and to get to school. But he would really love a faster dinosaur!

Josh’s friends are sympathetic to his dino troubles, but bully Amos Wilks takes great joy in teasing Josh about Plodder. Amos rides a fast, mean, club-tailed ankylosaurus named Clubber.

At school, Josh is daydreaming about faster dinosaurs when his teacher announces the one-hundredth anniversary celebration of the Trihorn settlement in the Lost Plains. To Josh’s great interest, as part of the celebration, the town is going to have a dino race. The first prize trophy will be presented by Josh’s hero, the wildest dino rider in the Lost Plains, Terrordactyl Bill!

Josh has to win the race, but he knows he can’t win on Plodder. In fact, the Deputy Mayor won’t even let him sign up with Plodder as his ride. Josh must find another dino to ride if he wants to win the race.

A few days later, Josh’s parents send him to trade a couple of iguanodons for a new “roundup horse” like Plodder. Josh decides he is going to buy a racing dino instead. But, like Jack and the cow he traded for a few magic beans, Josh never makes it to market. On the path to market, Josh runs into a man with a strange accent who claims to be looking for some iguanodons and is willing to trade his triceratops for Josh’s dinos.

Even though he is suspicious (a triceratops is worth more iguanodons than he has for sale), Josh makes the trade. He soon discovers why the man was willing to part with his “fine” triceratops, Charge, at such a bargain.

When Josh tries to lead Charge home, the triceratops just puts his head down and starts eating grass. He flops down on the ground and yawns. Josh learns that Charge is considered untrainable—and he has less than a week to figure out how to train him so he is ready for the race.

How To Tame A Triceratops opens with an exciting first chapter and hooks kids right away (as if dinosaurs weren’t enough!). The writing is fast-paced and full of laughter and adventure.

Josh and his enemy Amos are a great pair, antagonizing each other but not becoming so negative as to spoil the book. They and the other kids in the book are realistically-written (for kids who ride dinos, that is) and a pleasure to read.

As part of this blog tour, the publisher is giving away two bundles of the first two Dino Riders books – How To Tame A Triceratops and How To Rope A Giganotosaurus! Enter here.

Enjoy what the publisher has to say about the book:

Welcome to The Lost Plains!

A wild west frontier where dinosaurs never went extinct.

Josh Sanders wants to be the next great dinosaur cowboy! Ropin’ raptors and ridin’ bucking brontosauruses just like his hero Terrordactyl Bill.

Too bad he’s stuck working on his family’s Iguanodon ranch, riding his ancient dino, Plodder. The closest Josh has ever been to a T-Rex is reading about them in his Dino Cowboy Handbook.

To prove he has what it takes, Josh is determined to win the annual Settlement Race. But he’s gonna need one fast dino to stand a chance. With the help of his friends Sam and Abi, Josh will need to tame a wild Triceratops!

This wildly entertaining new chapter book series for ages 7 and up features exciting illustrations and real dino facts! A great way to get kids reading. And don’t miss the next book in the series: How to Rope a Giganotosaurus.

Have you read any great books lately?


How to Get Published in Kid’s Imagination Train

Guest post by Randi Lynn Mrvos, editor of Kid’s Imagination Train.


Liz kindly invited me to blog about the types of stories Kid’s Imagination Train publishes. Before we explore submissions, allow me to introduce you to our little magazine. KIT is a free online magazine for kids five to twelve. It was created to encourage children to read and to learn.  We also wanted to give children the opportunity to illustrate our features and have their work published online.  By drawing pictures kids have the chance to be creative while reflecting on what they’ve read.

The second reason KIT was developed was to help writers get their stories and articles published.  Since the children’s magazine market had been shrinking for years, writers had fewer choices to place their work.  With KIT, writers can earn credits to build their bios.

KIT accepts nonfiction, poetry, and fiction, but let’s focus on fiction. If you are thinking about submitting a story we would like to see the six structural elements of a story: Character, quest, complications, climax, conclusion, change. In addition, we are looking for light-hearted tone and voice. We like to see whimsical stories with illustration potential.

Here are some tips to help you write a story for KIT:

Introduce the main character in the first paragraph.
Make the protagonist likable even though she may have faults. Readers should care about this character.
Establish place or setting in the first or second paragraph.
Create conflict in the first third of the story.
Have the protagonist solve the dilemma by herself and without any help from an adult.
Use “said” for dialogue tags. Avoid using fancy tags like she promised, she cried, she shouted.
Try to incorporate the senses into the story.
Drive the story with action. Balance action with dialogue.
Keep the story under 500 words.
Have the protagonist grow or change by the end of the story.

We encourage you to read back copies. This will help you get a feel for the kinds of stories we publish. It may even spark your imagination.   Kid’s Imagination Train loves publishing stories for children. So now that you know what we’re looking for, do you have a story that you can share with KIT?

You can find Kid’s Imagination Train at www.kidsimaginationtrain.com. Read more by Randi at www.childrenswritersworld.blogspot.com. Thanks for joining us today, Randi!

Guest Post on Children’s Writer’s World

Many thanks to Randi Lynn Mvros for inviting me to write a guest post on Children’s Writer’s World! Visit her blog for my discussion of how I review books, and to read my review of BOB, NOT BOB! by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick. While you are on the blog, enjoy some of the other posts that are there to inspire children’s writers!

Visit my guest post here – Writing A Review: BOB, NOT BOB!

Thanks Children’s Writer’s World!

The Green Umbrella

When is an umbrella not an umbrella? When it is a boat, or a tent, or a flying machine, of course! Jackie Azúa Kramer turns an umbrella into all of these things and more in The Green Umbrella.
The Green UmbrellaElephant is out for a walk with his green umbrella when he is stopped by a Hedgehog. The Hedgehog insists that the Elephant is carrying his boat. The Elephant tells him that he is mistaken, but offers to share his umbrella to keep the Hedgehog dry.

They meet a Cat, who declares that the umbrella is his tent. Again, the Elephant informs the Cat that he is mistaken, but offers to share his umbrella to keep the Cat dry.

The Elephant, the Hedgehog, and the Cat meet a Bear. The Bear claims the umbrella is his flying machine. Elephant replies that Bear is mistaken. But this time, instead of simply offering to share his umbrella, he shares all of the things that he imagined the umbrella to be when he was a child:

When I was a child I imagined I was a pirate and my umbrella was my sword.

I was a circus acrobat and my umbrella was the balancing pole.

I was a home run hitter and my umbrella was my bat.

The Green Umbrella is a book about imagination, but it is also about kindness. The Elephant shares his umbrella with each animal that stakes a claim on it, offering to keep them dry.

Even after the rain stops and the sun comes out, the Elephant’s kindness shines through. The animals run into an old Rabbit who believes the umbrella is his cane.

“I’m sure you’re mistaken,” sighed the Elephant. “This isn’t your cane. It’s my umbrella which has sheltered me from the rain and the sun.”

The Elephant noticed the old Rabbit wiping his brow from the sun’s heat.

“However, you’re welcome to share it and stay cool,” offered the Elephant opening his umbrella.

“That would be nice,” smiled the old Rabbit.

From these acts of kindness from the Elephant grows a friendship among all five animals—the Elephant, the Hedgehog, the Cat, the Bear, and the old Rabbit.

The Green Umbrella is a delightful tale starring my favorite animal (an elephant) and celebrating the beauty of imagination. I am always thrilled when I see my children using their imagination to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary in their daily play. This book is a charming example of that in storybook form.

The Green Umbrella is the first picture book for both author Jackie Azúa Kramer and illustrator Maral Sassouni. Ms. Sassouni used cut paper collage and painting to create the fun pictures throughout The Green Umbrella. An amazing inside look at how Ms. Sassouni created the pictures can be found in “A Chat With The Creators of the Green Umbrella” on Librarian’s Quest.

Ms. Kramer is online at www.jackieazuakramer.com. On her website, you can find information about her latest tour stops, as well as an activity sheet for The Green Umbrella.

Have you read any great books lately?

Maggie and the Wish Fish

Another new chapter book series has come my way, and I’m delighted to share it with everyone! The Magic Animal Rescue series introduces us to a little girl named Maggie. In Book 2 of the series, Maggie and the Wish Fish, readers will enjoy a cute Cinderella-like tale about Maggie.maggieMaggie lives with her mean stepmother and step-siblings (her father has been away for some time). Her stepmother makes her help with the laundry and other chores, and routinely sends Maggie to bed without meals as punishments. The stepmother has taken Maggie’s bed away to give to her favorite child (Peter), and is, to put it bluntly, simply not nice.

Maggie lives in a forest full of magic animals, including flying pigs (who keep getting mud on the clean laundry!). So she is not all that surprised when a fish that Peter catches begins to talk to her. Peter has sent her to put the fish in their basket. While she is walking to the basket, the fish asks her to let it go, and promises to give her one wish in exchange.

Maggie can’t imagine eating a talking fish, and she releases it back into the lake. She is disappointed when the fish disappears without waiting to hear her wish. She whispers her wish anyway—to be part of a nicer family—and is sure the wish won’t come true. But will it come true after all?

When her stepmother hears that Maggie let the fish go (and didn’t even steal a golden goose on the walk home), she declares that Maggie is no longer welcome in their house. She locks her out just as a big storm is approaching. Maggie doesn’t know what to do, and heads out looking for shelter. Fortunately, her search in the storm leads to happy results!

The Magic Animal Rescue series is a charming new chapter book series that will capture the young reader’s heart. Maggie is a darling little main character, who has a pure heart and a desire to help others. Young readers will enjoy reading about Maggie’s adventures, and will cheer when she overcomes the cruel desires of her step-family. Maggie leans on her friends at the magic animal stable—a talking horse named Leonard, and Bob, the kindly stableman with a journal full of facts about magic animals—for guidance about the magic animals and other creatures around the forest.

The Magic Animal Rescue series is written by E.D. Baker. Ms. Baker can be found online at www.talesofedbaker.com. Ms. Baker is also the author of the Tales of the Frog Princes series, the Wide Awake Princess series, the Fairy Tale Matchmaker series, and a number of other children’s books.

I received an advance reader copy of this book so that I could provide my unbiased review. My family truly enjoyed Maggie and the Wish Fish and are looking forward to reading Book 1 of this series (which will be released tomorrow, April 11, 2017, along with Book 2). We will be keeping an eye out for future books in the Magic Animal Rescue series too!

Have you read any great books lately?

The Castaways (it’s giveaway time again!)

the castaways jessika fleck

Okay, I guess I can’t just say “you had me at Olive McGaggy.” I need to give you a little more about The Castaways…  But man, I wish I had thought to write a book with Olive McGaggy as the name of my main character before Jessika Fleck did it!TheCastaways1600

Sixteen year-old Olive Gagmuehler has been tormented by her name for years – a smelly food plus the word “gag” was an easy source of jokes. And kids came up with Olive McGaggy as a cruel nickname.

For six years, Olive has been bullied by three girls she calls the “Trio.” The Trio has moved from merely teasing to physical harm as well.

One weekend, the Castaway Carnival comes to town. It’s a pirate-themed carnival with a corn maze. Unfortunately, there have been two incidents – two teenagers in the sixties, and a nine year-old last year – where kids have not come out of the maze. The kids simply vanished.

Olive bumps into the Trio at the Carnival. They attack her, but she manages to get free and runs into the corn maze to escape. One of the Trio members, Lesley, chases her, and Olive crawls into a tunnel made of cornstalks.

When she emerges from tunnel on the other side, she is in a forest. There is no more cornfield, and no more carnival. Even the moon is different.

Olive discovers she is on an island. There are twelve other kids on the island, living in two separate groups. The groups are at war, and Olive is dragged into the war before she even has a chance to pick sides.

Now Olive must fight to stay alive in the war and learn to live on a deserted island, while also trying to find a way home.

I had a lot of trouble putting The Castaways down. I was very quickly drawn into Olive’s life (maybe I have a little Olive McGaggy in me?), and cheered for her when she fought back against the Trio, even when she knew it meant Lesley was going to find worse ways to hurt her.

Once Olive was on the island, it was all over for me. I needed to know what would happen next. This is one of those books where you can’t wait to get to the end even though you know you’ll be sad that it’s finished.

In case you need a little more persuading (as if my review were not enough!), here’s the publisher’s teaser:

The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous. Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing. Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.

Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home. But victory may require more betrayal, sacrifice, and heartbreak than she’s ready for.

As part of this Blog Tour, Ms. Fleck is giving away a Prize Pack, including a copy of The Castaways plus swag! (International winner will receive an Amazon gift card in place of the Prize Pack.) Enter here.

If you don’t win the Prize Pack, you can pick up your copy of The Castaways at Barnes & NobleiBooksKoboAmazon.com,  Amazon.co.ukAmazon.ca, or directly from the publisher, Entangled Publishing.

Have you read any great books today?



There are few things more exciting to a ten year-old boy than aliens, so a story about Roswell in 1947 was a big hit in our house! Combine that with non-stop pursuit, and you have a sure winner!foiledIn Foiled, by Carey Fessler, good friends Kate and Billy live on a U.S. Army Base near Roswell, New Mexico. One afternoon, Billy shows Kate his “big secret” – pieces of foil that his dad collected at an alien crash site.

Agents from the CIA show up at Billy’s house that same evening, demanding that Billy’s dad turn over the souvenirs, and informing Billy’s family that they are being transferred to Germany immediately. Billy’s dad signals to Billy not to give all of the foil to the agent, and Billy asks Kate for help. The two friends escape through a window with one of the pieces of foil. They find themselves on the run from Military Police and the CIA!

Kate and Billy leave the base and begin a journey to Kate’s grandfather’s house more than 200 miles away, searching for a safe place to hide. As they continue their trek, they discover that the foil might have special powers. Their journey places them in situations they had never been in before, from stealing rides in the back of pickup trucks, to hitchhiking, to blackmailing a State Trooper so they can keep away from the CIA agent who is chasing them. When it seems like things can’t get any worse, trouble finds them again!

Foiled is a compelling read for middle graders. It combines historical facts about life on a military base and the crash in Roswell with a dramatic adventure by two eleven year-olds trying to outwit the CIA. The chase is thrilling and action-packed, perfect for the middle-grade reader.

Mr. Fessler has a fascinating website full of interesting facts: www.careyfessler.com. He fills in some details about Foiled (Kate’s father was a pilot in the 509th Bomber group, who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan in August 1945). He also shares much information in his media kit. His official “short bio” is:

The author was a ‘military brat,’ growing up on Air Force bases. He planted roots in Albuquerque, New Mexico before dropping out of college to travel the world. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy’s ‘silent service’—submarine duty and finally unpacked his sea bag in the ‘Land Down Under’—Sydney, Australia.

Mr. Fessler is the author of two other adventure books, one of which was just released and the other will be released next year. Shanghaied: Escape from the Blackwolf and Shipwrecked: Dragon Island both feature twelve year-olds Emma and Scott who are forced to join the crew of a submarine and have to find a way to escape. My son can’t wait to read them!

I received an advanced reader copy of this book so that I could provide an unbiased review of Foiled. Many thanks to the publisher and to Cary Fessler for the opportunity to read this book!

Have you read any great books lately?