Hubble Bubble: The Great Granny Cake Contest!

What do you do when your Granny is a witch and won’t stop using her magic? Sometimes you just have to follow her around and clean up her messes! Hubble Bubble: The Great Granny Contest is a humorous collection of three stories about Pandora and her witchy Granny, Araminta Violet Crow.Hubble BubbleThe Great Granny Contest begins with a family trip to Creakington Hall, a “stately home” full of dungeons and treasures. Pandora, Granny, and Pandora’s parents visit Creakington Hall for an afternoon tour of the old house.

They haven’t even made it inside before Granny starts making magic. While they are waiting in line to buy tickets, Granny’s pet frog, Croak, jumps onto the head of the man in front of them! Granny waves her wand and Croak disappears (but leaves some froggy poop behind).

During the tour, Pandora’s parents read every information card. Granny is quickly bored, and begins making magic to keep herself interested. Soon, portraits are winking at guests, mannequins start a food fight, and a suit of armor is moving around the room. Pandora has to get everything back to normal, make sure people don’t suspect Granny of causing the trouble, and stop Granny from creating any more chaos!

The other two stories in the book are equally amusing. In one, Granny and Pandora compete in the Great Granny Cake Contest, and the rules expressly prohibit using magic. But Pandora quickly discovers (on live TV) that Granny is not much of a baker when she can’t use magic to help her! How will they make it through the contest?

In the last story, Granny helps Pandora and her school gardening club when the garden starts looking a little wilted. The garden doesn’t exactly look like it should when Granny is done with it!

The Great Granny Contest is a chapter book by the creators of the Hubble Bubble picture books: author Tracey Corderoy and illustrator Joe Berger. Ms. Corderoy and Mr. Berger have joined together to publish five chapter books and three picture books starring Pandora and Granny.

The Great Granny Contest is written in language that is easy for young readers to read. The stories are fun, the pacing is quick and keeps kids entertained, and the characters are lovable.

Tracey Corderoy can be found online at She is the author of a number of children’s books, including Little Penguin Lost, and the Shifty McGifty series. Joe Berger’s website is Check out all of the books and cartoons he has worked on!

I received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. Thank-you to Ms. Corderoy, Mr. Berger, and Candlewick Press for giving me this introduction to Pandora and Granny and the Hubble Bubble series!

Have you read any great books lately?

The Frog Princess Returns

For some of us, the thought of kissing a frog holds no appeal whatsoever. But in both the Brothers Grimm tale and Princess Emma’s story in E.D. Baker’s Tales of the Frog Princess series, a frog somehow manages to convince a princess to kiss him. Astonishing!

Unlike in the original tale, when E.D. Baker tells the story, Princess Emma turns into a frog instead of breaking the spell for the Frog Prince. (Sound familiar? Disney optioned the first book in the series for an animated movie, and eventually released The Princess and the Frog! You can read a little about this process in the F.A.Q. section of Ms. Baker’s website.)

The Frog Princess Returns is Book 9 of Ms. Baker’s series and was published yesterday – approximately fifteen years after Book 1 was released. We have never read any of the other books in the series, but we have read and enjoyed some of Ms. Baker’s other books, such as the Magic Animal Rescue Series.Frog PrincessJumping into the series at Book 9 was no problem. The book worked very well as a stand-alone story, and we did not ever feel lost or wish we had read the other books first. When Ms. Baker felt background was needed to explain (or remind readers) how Princess Emma met certain characters, she gave it in just a few sentences.

In The Frog Princess Returns, Princess Emma and the Frog Prince, Prince Eadric, are human again. They are engaged to be married and are very happy. Then one day, a princess from another land arrives in Prince Eadric’s family’s carriage. She claims to be Princess Emma’s long-lost cousin, but soon, she won’t leave Prince Eadric’s side.

Princess Emma hardly has time to react to this strange arrival when fairies begin appearing and asking for her help. Did I mention that Princess Emma is also a witch who cares for the humans and fairies of her land? She has a big responsibility!

With a little investigation, Princess Emma discovers that the Fairy Queen has disappeared. The fairies believe she has “faded away” (the fairy version of died), so three new fairies are competing to take her place. After listening to the campaign speeches of the three politician-fairies, Princess Emma realizes that none of the three would be a good choice to lead the fairies.

So Princess Emma, Prince Eadric, the “long-lost cousin,” and a handful of fairies, set off on a search for the Fairy Queen. While she is interviewing dragons, flying a magic carpet, and outsmarting fairy magic to find the Fairy Queen, Princess Emma must still figure out what the “long-lost cousin” is really up to. It’s a busy couple of days. The book flew by (no pun intended) and was engaging and enjoyable from start to finish.

I received an advance reader copy of The Frog Princess Returns in exchange for my unbiased review of the book.

E.D. Baker’s website is She has information about all of her series and individual books, as well as many writing tips for aspiring writers. Ms. Baker is also active on Facebook @edbakerauthor.

Have you read any great books lately?

Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog

Sailing the high seas has never been more fun than with Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog by Peter Meisel. Stinky Spike is an easy chapter book aimed at “newly independent readers” as part of the Read and Bloom books.Stinky SpikeSpike does not begin his life as a Pirate Dog, nor is he always “Stinky Spike.” Instead, Spike is a shipyard dog with a “super sniffer.” He has the world’s most powerful nose. Spike loves the nastiest, ickiest, foulest stinks he can sniff.

Spike and the other shipyard dogs have a lot of work to do on the docks. They are in charge of protecting the ships’ cargo. They scare away seabirds and chase away rats.

One morning, as Spike is chasing some birds, he slips on a patch of seaweed. Spike skids off the edge of the dock and lands in the ocean.

The waves pull Spike out to sea. Spike spots a bucket and crawls in among the rotten fish bits and barnacles.

Spike is eventually rescued by pirates. They name him Stinky Spike—he is no longer known for his powerful nose, but for the noxious smell from the bucket, which clings to his fur.

Although Spike is relieved that the pirates rescued him from the bucket, he quickly learns that they will not take him home. The pirates are busy looking for treasure. So Spike makes a deal with the pirate captain: he will help them find treasure in exchange for a ride home.

With this agreement, Spike’s pirate adventures begin. He must prove himself and the power of his nose to the pirates.

Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog is written in easy-to-read sentences that keep the action moving and excitement high for little readers. Mr. Meisel’s father, Paul Meisel, has included many beautiful full-color illustrations that enhance the reading experience.

Peter Meisel has also written a sequel to Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog, named Stinky Spike and the Royal Rescue. I received an advance reader copy of Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog in exchange for my unbiased review of the book. We will be getting a copy of the sequel because my kids are enchanted by Stinky Spike!

Paul Meisel can be found online at He has illustrated more than 70 books. His website includes many examples of his work, as well as a link to his blog.

Have you read any great books lately?

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

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?

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?


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 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?

Superfairies: Adventures in Peaseblossom Woods

Great news – a new Chapter Book Series is being released on April 1! The Superfairies are a team of four fairies who use super powers to help the animals of Peaseblossom Woods when they are in trouble. My daughter and I couldn’t get enough of the Superfairies and wish there were more than four stories in Superfairies: Adventures in Peaseblossom Woods.SuperfairiesThe Superfairies live in the Cherry Blossom Tree. The Superfairy team is made up of Rose, Berry, Star, and Silk.

Rose blows super healing fairy kisses to animals to make them feel better. Her kisses can always calm the frightened animals while they rescue them.

Berry has super eyesight and can see for miles. She flies the fairycopter when it is needed, and uses her super eyesight to watch for danger.

Star can create a dazzling brightness when she spins around, to bring light to dark places.

Silk can make a web to help rescue the animals and keep them from danger. If an animal is in trouble, she can catch them in a web and keep them safe.

Superfairies: Adventures in Peaseblossom Woods has four stories in it—one for each season of the year. In each story, the fairies learn that an animal is in trouble and they work together to save the day.

In Spring, the animals are just emerging from their winter hibernations. Basil the Bear Cub wanders down to the river to play and gets his paw stuck on an old bridge. The animals call the Superfairies for help, and there is an exciting rescue scene. You’ll have to read the book to find out if the Superfairies are able to save Basil . . .

Summer brings the Peasebottom Woods Summer Fair and the annual dance contest. Dancer the Wild Pony gets upset about the dance contest and runs away, and it’s up to the Superfairies to bring her home!

When Autumn comes, so does the Autumn Queen, bringing along a big Autumn storm. The storm causes trouble for many of the animals. Poor little Martha Mouse is even blown away by the strong winds! The Superfairies need to work their super magic to solve this problem.

In Winter, snow covers Peasebottom Woods. The animals have fun in the snow until Violet the Velvet Rabbit gets into trouble. Fortunately, the animals are able to call the Superfairies—who might be able to help them (I don’t want to give away the ending!).

The Superfairies books hit everything just right for a young chapter book series. The books are very easy to read. They are short (each story is just under 50 pages) and have beautiful illustrations every few pages to keep kids interested. There is action, magic, and fun. I received an Advance Reading Copy of Superfairies: Adventures in Peaseblossom Woods in exchange for my honest review. I will definitely be on the look-out for the next Superfairies release!

Superfairies: Adventures in Peaseblossom Woods is written by Janey Louise Jones, who also writes the Princess Poppy series. She has a website devoted to the Princess Poppy series (, and is also online on Facebook:

Have you read any great books lately?

The Pandora Device

From the moment I read the description of Stella’s treasure hunts in her hoarder Grandma’s home in the opening pages of Joyce McPherson’s The Pandora Device, I was hooked. As I read about Stella and her Grandma, I realized that I could not recall ever reading a book in which the main character lived with a hoarder.The Pandora DeviceReading the following passage, my mind flashed to some old trade magazines that I’ve been holding onto because “surely someday I’ll read them.” I had to stop myself from putting down the book and going right away to clean out all those years of saved magazines.

“Let’s show Grandma,” I said.

We dashed down the hall to her library and squeezed through the stacks of newspapers that filled the room like yellowed skyscrapers.

She sat in her recliner in the midst of them, and I had a quick image of those towers slowly tilting until they whooshed across the floor and through the front door. That was my biggest nightmare—that the whole neighborhood would find out about Grandma’s collections.

Much as I would have loved to explore Stella’s life at Grandma’s house, Stella has other adventures to keep her busy in The Pandora Device. During one of these treasure hunts, Stella and her friend Lindsey find a box containing some keepsakes, including a photograph of Stella’s parents as teenagers at camp.

Stella wants to learn more about her long-deceased parents, so she decides to attend the camp in the photo—Camp Hawthorne. Before she leaves for camp, however, she receives an anonymous warning not to search for information about her parents.

Stella, her friends Lindsey and Jayden, and school bully Ellen, travel to Camp Hawthorne. There, they discover that Camp Hawthorne is not like any camp they have ever attended before, and that the camp counselors and staff will help each camper find and develop gifts they never knew they had.

The kids in The Pandora Device keep the fun and excitement moving as they explore their gifts at Camp Hawthorne, sometimes with funny results. They are guided by a host of counselors and staff, all of whom have their own quirks (as well as gifts). Stella’s dilemma of whether to try to find out more about her parents despite the threats and warnings draws the reader closer to her. Overall, Ms. McPherson has created a group of memorable characters that kept me up far too late at night rooting for them!

I was fortunate to receive an advance reader copy of The Pandora Device in exchange for my unbiased review of the book. I am so glad that I did, because I now look forward to reading the next books in the Camp Hawthorne series!

In addition to the three books that she has already written in the Camp Hawthorne series, Joyce McPherson is the author of a number of biographies and abridged Shakespeare plays for children. You can find Ms. McPherson online at Ms. McPherson’s blog has information about her books, experiments, and even a link to her tools for creating a Shakespeare camp for children (

Have you read any great books lately?

Puppy Pirates

I have a confession to make—I love chapter books. There is nothing like finding a well-written, engaging chapter book (or, even better, a new series!) to read with an emerging reader. Puppy Pirates by Erin Soderberg is one of those fantastic new chapter book series that I am excited to have found.Puppy PiratesSome people may be wondering why I have this fascination with chapter books. It’s because they are the gateway books to a life of reading. Sure—I’ll admit that it is amazing when a child first notices that the letters on a page form a word, and I loved when my kids read pages from Go, Dog. Go! to me.

But it was another thing entirely when I went into Alex’s bedroom one night to read him a chapter of a book that we had been reading, and he turned to me and said, “oh, I read that part already.” Not only that, but he was able to tell me what had happened in the chapter. He had moved into a world where he could not only read the words on a page, but they made sense to him as part of a larger story. Before we knew it, he was tearing through the chapter book series we had been reading.  And he really hasn’t looked back.

The gateway books.

The Puppy Pirates series will undoubtedly become that entrance into the world of reading for many a child.

The first book of the series, Stowaway, introduces us to a puppy named Wally. Wally has left the farm where he was living because he is looking for a life of adventure and excitement, and, more than anything, a place to call home. He runs into some pirates and decides that he wants to be a pirate too. So he sneaks aboard a pirate ship.

On the ship, he meets a boy named Henry, who has snuck on board with the same idea. When Wally and Henry get caught by the puppy pirates, Wally must face four tests to prove that he belongs on the ship.

As Wally completes each of the tests, he makes friends with members of the puppy pirate crew. At the end of the day, following an attack by the kitten pirates, Wally is welcomed as a member of the crew and discovers he has found a home on the pirate ship.

There are currently six books in the Puppy Pirates series, and two more are expected to be published this year.

Ms. Soderberg is also the author of The Quirks chapter book series, many books for tweens, teens and adults (under the name Erin Downing), and some “fun books” under the pseudonyms Kate Howard and Nessi Monstrata. Ms. Soderberg’s website is (she has another website for her Erin Downing books). Ms. Soderberg’s website has information about her books and also has some fun stuff like a pirate’s code and a maze.

The Puppy Pirates also have their own Facebook page! You can find them at Check out the adorable pictures of the real-life inspiration for Wally and other great photos while you are there!

Have you read any great books lately?

Maybelle the Cockroach

Have you met Maybelle yet? If not, let me introduce you to the most charming cockroach you will ever meet.

I’m not usually a big fan of cockroaches, but this one has won my heart. Maybelle is very distinctive. Unlike other cockroaches, she wears a big pink bow on her head and a necklace of pearls.

Maybelle in the Soup

Maybelle lives under the fridge in the kitchen at Number 10 Grand Street. The owners of the house are Herbert and Myrtle Peabody. Mrs. Peabody insists that everything at Number 10 Grand Street must be JUST SO. And that there must be “absolutely, positively NO BUGS at Number 10 Grand Street.” Of course, she doesn’t know that she shares the house with Maybelle.

Maybelle’s good friend is Henry the flea. Henry dines regularly on Ramona, the Peabody’s cat.

There are just three rules that Maybelle must follow:

  1. When it’s light, stay out of sight.
  2. When you’re spied, better hide.
  3. Never meet with human feet.

These rules seem simple enough, but Maybelle always seems to be getting into trouble for breaking them. This is usually because Maybelle is trying to get some food that looks particularly delicious.

If the Peabodys see Maybelle, it will mean trouble for her and for Henry. The Peabodys don’t kid around about insisting that there must be “absolutely, positively NO BUGS” at the house. If the Peabodys think that there might be a bug in the house, they call the Bug Man—the Exterminator. And that means that Maybelle and Henry have to find a way to avoid an Extermination Event.

The results are hilarious and keep kids begging for “just one more chapter.”

Maybelle has starred in four books so far: Maybelle in the Soup, Maybelle Goes to Tea, Maybelle and the Haunted Cupcake, and Maybelle Goes to School.

Maybelle Goes to TeaMaybelle and the Haunted CupcakeMaybelle Goes to School

The books are well-written, short chapter books that are enticing for young readers. They are approximately 60 pages long, and the chapters are short—typically four or five pages long. The illustrations are black and white and are on almost every page. They are paired well with the text.

Maybelle’s adventures are written by Katie Speck. Ms. Speck’s website is

According to Ms. Speck’s website, the idea for Maybelle came from her grandmother, who called all of the cockroaches they came across “Maybelle” and made up funny stories about them. I’m glad Ms. Speck’s grandmother had such an imaginative way to deal with their cockroach troubles, and shared her stories with Ms. Speck!

Ms. Speck has provided teacher’s guides for Maybelle in the Soup and Maybelle Goes to Tea on her website. She has also shared some “Deliciously Yucky Recipes,” including “Fleas on a Dog” and “Earwax Snacks.”

Maybelle’s books have been a huge hit in our household. I hope we will see many more Maybelle books in the coming years! She is the only cockroach I welcome in our house (I have to admit—I am a lot like Mrs. Peabody when it comes to bugs in the house . . . ).

Have you read any great books lately?