Lily and the City of Light by Lindsay Bonilla

 One girl’s journey to find love and joy brings about some unexpected adventures in Lily and the City of Light by Lindsay Bonilla.

Lily lives in an orphanage in the dark city of Htrae. The people in the city are all poor and work hard, but Lily remembers a lullaby of a beautiful city atop a mountain filled with light and love. She travels to the outskirts of Hrtae to find the old man who knows about this beautiful city and asks him how to get there. When she finds the only way is to make a great sacrifice, Lily isn’t certain she can handle it. Meeting colorful characters along the way, Lily must decide if she can do the one thing that will allow her into the beautiful city.

What a fabulous story by author, freelancer, and performer Lindsay Bonilla.  While as a Christian, I see the symbolism and message behind this beautifully told story, any lover of fantasy will enjoy Lily and the City of Light.  This tale of one girl’s journey to gain entry into the city of her dreams will captivate young hearts. 

The bold illustrations provided by Alexander Morris are the perfect complement to Bonilla’s text. The rounded lines, the vibrant colors, and the expressions Morris is able to capture with his artwork, make this a wonderful story to share with your 5- to 12-year-old.

This isn’t the first time that Bonilla and Morris have collaborated. I hope to see more from them soon!

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
  • ISBN-10: 1616331054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616331054
  • SRP:  $10.95

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Chasing the Spirit of Service by Kristen Zajac

Kristen Zajac’s latest book, Chasing the Spirit of Service, is a great way to honor military families around the world.

Emma comes from three generations of Air Force pilots. She is proud of what her daddy does, but she misses him while he’s away. When her best friend, Adam, tries to cheer her up, she doesn’t act very kindly toward him. After long talks with their parents and a story from Emma’s great grandfather, both children find a way to appreciate the spirit of service.

Like Zajac’s first book, Ebeneezer’s Cousin, her latest release pays tribute to military families. Having a brother who is currently serving in Afghanistan, I appreciate Emma’s struggles to accept that her Daddy’s job takes him away so often and puts him in harm’s way.

What is so wonderful about Chasing the Spirit of Service is that it gently teaches how important it is to appreciate our servicemen and women, while it also shares some history of racial prejudice. Emma’s great-grandfather was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first African American airmen in the U.S. Military.  As he explains, not everyone in the military accepted them. And as Adam says, “That’s terrible.”

Zajac has a style that makes you feel like you’re sitting down together reading stories aloud, which would be a great way to share Chasing the Spirit of Service with your 4- to 8-year-old.

The illustrations by artist Julie Tucker are outstanding. They are so detailed, you feel like you could almost touch the hair and skin of the characters. From sharing banana splits in the ice cream shop to Emma snuggling in her mother’s lap, Tucker’s artwork brings this story to life in a special way.

A beautiful story that will touch your heart can be found in Chasing the Spirit of Service by Kristen Zajac.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
  • ISBN-10: 1616331097
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616331092
  • SRP:  $10.95
  • I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson

    I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson tells the story of one girl’s journey to find where she fits in.

    Life used to be easier for Emma. She used to be younger, shorter, and dumber. Then one summer she grew and her brain practically exploded with knowledge, leaving her close to six feet tall by the time she was 12 and disinterested in anyone her own age. Oh, and as if that isn’t bad enough, her New Age mother, Donatella, stuck her with a name that if said slowly comes out like, “Am a Freak.”

    Then a mysterious letter comes inviting Emma to The Freke Family Reunion at a campground in Wisconsin. Perhaps this will be her chance to learn more about herself. But surprises await Emma, and she’s not sure if being someone else’s Freke is right for her.

    This is such a superb story that I’m going to have to pick up the author’s other book, From Alice to Zen and Everyone in Between. From the very first page, Atkinson establishes Emma’s voice and it never falters. A tiny bit sarcastic, feeling like she is the adult instead of her mother, angry that Donatella refuses to answer questions about her father, and with only one true friend, Emma certainly has things tough. She’s also certain her mother never said her name aloud before putting it on her birth certificate, because who in the heck would name their kid something like that?

    Emma is sympathetic, but she’s also funny, which helps to pull the reader into her story.  I doubt you’ll feel the need to shed any tears over this one, though in some ways Emma’s life is rather tragic. Stuck working after school at her mother’s bead shop, often left with her Nonno (grandfather) and his disgusting dog, Eggplant  while Donatella goes out on numerous dates with a variety of guys, and freakishly tall with flaming red hair, you keep wondering if Emma will ever catch a break.

    In addition to Emma, some of the Freke cousins provide a healthy dose of entertainment. If you’ve ever attended a family reunion, those chapters might cause you to shout out, “It’s just like that!”

    A masterfully told story, I, Emma Freke will resonate with many tweens.  Atkinson has captured exactly what it was like to be Emma, and that will have readers flocking to stores to pick up this book and read it over and again.

    Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
  • ISBN-10: 0761356045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761356042
  • SRP:  $16.95

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    Interview and Giveaway with Michelle Nicole Martin, Author of Princess and Missy’s Magical Adventures

    Joining us today is Michelle Nicole Martin, author of Princess and Missy’s Magical Adventures. This is a children’s book geared toward ages five and up. Michelle grew up in California and began writing poetry as a teenager. By the time she was thirty-one, she was writing children’s stories. We’ll talk to her about her new series, why she enjoys writing for children, and what she is working on next.

    Welcome to The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection, Michelle. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

    Hello! I hope that everyone had a good holiday. I wanted to thank you, Cheryl, for giving me this opportunity to appear on your blog.  Princess and Missy’s Magical Adventures is the first book that I self published. I have written many other books, but they are not published yet. I served in the U.S. Navy. I have had an assortment of careers, but I decided that I like writing over all of them.

    When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

    A memory came to me a couple days ago. I was in second grade when we started writing short stories. I remember that I was finished first. Then, I read my story to the class. A few children and the teacher were impressed by my writing abilities. Everyone cheered for me afterwards. That encouraged me to continue. I loved writing as a hobby, but I didn’t think about publishing a book until I became an adult.

    Why did you decide to write stories for children?

    I don’t have any children, but I absolutely love them. I babysit for a lot of different friends. I love the innocence and excitement that children have. About four years ago, I read my manuscript to my best friend’s son Zephan. He was enthusiastic when I read my story. He wanted me to keep reading. That encouraged me even more. The smile on his face lit up my world and I knew I wanted to write for children. Later, he started writing stories and I edit them for him.  

    Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

    I write for adults as well as children. When I was about twenty-one years old, I published a poem. I want to publish books for both adults and children. I don’t feel it is difficult to write for children. I feel that I have an imagination as a child and I relate to them very easily.

    What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

    I enjoy the feedback from the children, especially when it is good. One of my friends bought five books from me. She gave one to her son Nathan. He read the book three times in a row. He told his mom how much he loved my chapter book. I went to go visit him and his family. Nathan asked me, “When is the book going to become a movie? I love it. When is the second series going to come out?” Those words melted my heart. I felt so alive after hearing that. This is why I love to write for children. I like to make children happy and also teach them.

    Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

    Princess is a poodle that loses her family. She becomes homeless. Even though she is in need, she saves children’s lives. She is then rewarded by Missy, a magical butterfly. They go on adventures helping people. There is some fantasy and also some realistic events that take place. There are lessons that show children as well as adults to never give up! When you carry on with your life and also help people when you can, wonderful possibilities occur!

    What inspired you to write it?

    There are a lot of different reasons why I was inspired to write Princess and Missy’s Magical Adventures.  Some parts of the book are lessons that I have learned. Other parts are what I have seen people go through. I went through a few hardships in my life. When I worked through the issues, my mind filled up with animals, love and encouragement.

    Where can readers purchase a copy?

    You can purchase a copy on my website @ There is a book trailer and a few reviews about the book. On my site, you can either purchase a book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Barnes and Noble is less expensive than the cost on the site. You can also purchase a copy on  

    What is up next for you?

    I have written the second and third series of Princess and Missy’s Magical Adventures. I am working on some poetry for adults right now. I also have five picture books that were critiqued by children’s author Louise Munroy Foley. I have about another ten children’s manuscripts that I haven’t finished yet. I also have been working on an autobiography. I haven’t decided if I ever want to publish that or not.  

    Do you have anything else to add?

    I hope that everyone has a beautiful year. Thank you for taking your time to read my interview.

    Thank you for spending time with us today, Michelle. We wish you much success.


    How would you like to win a copy of Princess and Missy’s Magical Adventures: The Crystal Heart? Here’s how!

    1) Leave a comment with your email address (so we may contact you if you win).

    2) Get one additional entry by becoming a subscriber of The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection. Be sure to leave us a comment to let us know.

    3)  Get one additional entry for friending me on Facebook at

    4) Get one additional entry for following me on Twitter at!/ccmalandrinos.

    Deadline to enter is 11:59 PM Eastern on Sunday, January 9, 2011 . Winner must be a resident of the United States or Canada and have a mailing address in one of those locations.  The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection is not responsible for lost or damaged goods.

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    Other Goose Giveaway Winner!

    Congratulations go out to Beverly, our winner of a copy of Other Goose by J. otto Siebold. I’ll contact Beverly now to get her mailing address. 

    Thanks to all who participated.  Look for more giveaways coming soon!

    Red in the Flower Bed by Andrea Nepa

     A beautifully told, rhyming story of interracial adoption awaits you in Red in the Flower Bed by Andrea Nepa.

    The story of adoption is told using nature’s beauty. A poppy lets her seeds go east and west to where they will find their best home. One seed lands in a garden patch and the flowers are thrilled to have her, waiting to see what the tiny seed will turn into. When she finally blooms into a pretty red poppy, she knows she has found her family and she complements them perfectly.

    Nepa is the adoptive mother of a young Vietnamese girl named Leah. The book is dedicated to her daughter, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. Leah’s cancer is currently in remission.

    This lyrical story captures the essence of adoption in a new and unique way. Red in the Flower Bed shares the feelings of both adoptive parents and their children in a symbolic fashion, and its unusual artwork will catch the eye of young and old alike.

    This would make a lovely gift for families blessed by adoption. The book can be purchased from the publisher’s website at

    Red in the Flower Bed by Andrea Nepa is an excellent addition to the offerings at Tribute Books. I will be on the lookout for more by this author. You can read an excerpt from this book at:

    Book web site:

    Andrea Nepa Facebook:!/profile.php?id=1664060822

    Tribute Books website: 

    Tribute Books Facebook:

    Tribute Books Twitter:

    Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Publisher:  Tribute Books
    • ISBN:  9780981461991
    • SRP:  $12.95


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