Book Giveaway Winners!

Getting ready for vacation right now, so I figured I better announce the winners of the two giveaways we ran. Our congratulations go out to:

Kathy for winning a copy of Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia

We also congratulate:

Gwendolyn, who picked up a free copy of How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain

I’m off to email the winners now. Since we’re headng out tomorrow, and my internet time will be at a minimum, the winners will have until July 8th to contact me with their mailing information. If I don’t hear from them by then, I’ll select a new winner. The publisher will be shipping a copy of Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji directly to the winner. I will be shipping out How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend by USPS media mail.

Congratulations again to our winners. Thanks to all who participated. Remember, we have a giveaway running right now for a copy of Spinning Out by Davdi Stahler Jr. You can find that one at  Deadline to enter is July 10th.


Will & Kate: A Love Story by Ink Robin

Created for iPad and available on iTunes, this interactive story captures the romance and grace of the Royal Wedding for princesses everywhere.

A modern-day fairy tale, it opens in England with a prince named William, who will be king. In the countryside, there is a girl named Catherine who dreams of meeting a prince. Their chance meeting many years later leads to a friendship that becomes a wedding the entire world helps celebrate.

I loved this book! Since I don’t have an iPad, I wasn’t able to take advantage of all the interactive features, but even the PDF is fun to go through. Ink Robin did a superb job of creating a simple, magical story of Will & Kate’s romance that will thrill young girls. Adam Larkum’s quirky and fun illustrations add so much to this book. I loved them all.

According to the information I received from the publicist, here’s what you’ll find in the interactive version:

Every page is full of interactive elements and sound effects triggered by a simple tap or swipe of your finger. Take a trip across the African plains in a hot air balloon, set off a sky full of fireworks, enjoy a chorus of sheep in the countryside and most importantly help Kate select her wedding dress for the big day by picking your favourite and dressing her in it.

The book also features a “read it to me option” with full narration and simple navigation features, allowing younger readers to enjoy the book alone or with the help of a parent.

Will & Kate: A Love Story is easily one of my favorites from this year.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

You can learn more by visiting

I received an ecopy of this book from the author’s publicist in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation to provide my review.

First Spring by Margaret Rose

Come celebrate spring with this book by Margaret Rose. In this beautifully illustrated lyrical story, baby discovers a new world that awaits him after the snow of winter has gone.

Told in rhyme, First Spring will help your young child (Birth – 4) fall in love with all the new experiences that come in spring. From green grass to gentle breezes, from bright sun to squiggly bugs, and from blowing bubbles to playful puppies, you can’t help but enjoy everything about this one.

Artist Marina Movshina offers her lovely illustrations to match Rose’s softly flowing prose. I am familiar with her work from other Guardian Angel Publishing books that I’ve reviewed, but she’s really outdone herself with First Spring. Her artwork captures the mood of this book perfectly.

This is a book you’ll be reading time and again.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
  • ISBN-10:1616331194
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616331191
  • SRP:  $10.95

I received an ecopy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinions. I received no monetary compensation of any kind to provide my review.

Marta’s Gargantuan Wings by J. Aday Kennedy

A little book that contains a big message is what you’ll find in Marta’s Gargantuan Wings by J. Aday Kennedy.

Aljor the bird teases Marta about her gigantic wings. She knows a brown Pegasus that looks more like a mule isn’t very beautiful, but she can’t help but be hurt by his cruel words. Even her friend Stajon, the monkey, coming to her defense doesn’t help. When a fire breaks out in the forest, Marta’s gargantuan wings might be what saves the day.

Just as she did with Klutzy Kantor, Kennedy creates a lovely story of friendship with characters that young readers will easily relate to. Readers are treated to an enjoyable tale that helps children realize our differences can often be what makes us the most special. They follow along as Marta has a chance to use her “flawed” appearance to help out in a time of need.

Talented artist, Eugene Ruble, created the illustrations for Marta’s Gargantuan Wings. His unique style stands as the perfect complement to Kennedy’s moving prose. It’s one of the reasons I was so thrilled to have him illustrate my book.

This is a great book for the home or classroom.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
  • ISBN-10:1616330937
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616330934
  • SRP:  $9.95

An ecopy of this book was sent to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation to provide this review.

World of Ink Tour: Babysitting SugarPaw by VS Grenier

A little bear named SugarPaw hopes to get rid of his babysitter, Bonnie Whiskes, by getting her into trouble after making changes to his rules chart. As the story unfolds SugarPaw learns about honesty and friendship. Babysitting SugarPaw, with its child-centered plot on getting to know others, is the perfect book for little ones scared of being left alone with a babysitter for the first time. This book will delight three-to-eight-year-old readers, especially those who like to create mischief.

Available at:
Author website:  (autographed copy $10.95)

Halo Bookstore:



Picking the Right Words for a Picture Book by VS Grenier

First, let me say there are four types of picture books.

Story Books: Most of us grew up on this traditional picture book. This type of picture book is by far the most popular and is usually fiction based. You will have a series of events with strong character development. Story books tend to have more text on each page vs. other types of picture books.

Concept Books: This type of picture book helps to promote a child’s understanding. You see this type of picture book for toddlers or as a “My First” book series. These books can be fiction or nonfiction and have very few words. The illustrations tend to be the focus.

Novelty Books: A great example of this type of book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. This picture book relies on some short of gimmick to tell the book’s story.

Modern Picture Books: This type of picture book is a lot like the story picture book, but uses both the illustrations and context to tell the full story. This type of book is more character driven vs. plot driven and is supported by the illustrations.

Now here is where the hard part comes in. All picture books have one thing in common. The format, also known as the page count (24 to 32 pages). This tight format only gives you so much room to tell your story. It is important your wording also keeps the readers interest, the pacing of the storyline and can stand on its own. A great way to do this is by making a mock-up of your book. This way you can have a sense of how your story will build and flow and if you have under or over developed your characters. I did this with my book, Babysitting SugarPaw.

Although the story should be able to stand on its own, it must also gain visual support from the illustrations. A great way to do this is by having illustrations in mind as you write each word and sentence. You want to make sure you have enough detail for the reader to understand the storyline, but not too much where the text over takes the illustrations on the page. You need to keep in mind that the illustrator will have their own interpretation of the scenes of the book. So unless it is a natural part of the storyline, use visual details sparingly. However, using sensory details such as smell, taste, touch and sound are a great way to have active details in your book.

The other thing you need to consider when dealing with word choice is the reading level. Not every word needs to be understood, but the context around it should help the reader understand what is happening. However, don’t pick words that a child would not use in dialogue or be able to define. Keep in mind most children’s books are read aloud so don’t fret over simple word choices. Introduce some difficult vocabulary if you can.

Remember children delight in reading creative and playful language usage. Don’t be afraid to play with different sounds and word choice combinations. Also, remember repetition is a great way to reinforce a story’s plot and enhance its readability. Repeating difficult words or entire phrases, is one way to lend understanding to the plot and help children develop reading skills.

Have fun with your writing and when in doubt, have a librarian or teacher read your manuscript. They can be a great resource when trying to find the right word choice.

VS Grenier is an award-winning children’s author, founder & owner of Stories for Children Publishing, LLC., award-winning editor-in-chief of Stories for Children Magazine and chief editor for Halo Publishing, Int.; in addition, to running her own editorial and critique services.

In 2007 & 2008, VS Grenier was voted one of the Top Ten Editors in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll, won 2nd place for her article on, “Yes, Virginia, There IS a Santa Claus” in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Nonfiction of 2007, and won 7th place for her article, “Dinosaur Tracks in My Backyard” in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Nonfiction of 2008.

VS Grenier learned how to hone her writing skills at the Institute of Children’s Literature and is a member of the League of Utah Writers (HWG), Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Musing Our Children.

Visit VS online at:

Author Website:

Company Website:

Blog Address:

Twitter URL:

Facebook URL:

Facebook Fan Page URL:


Interview with David Stahler Jr., Author of Spinning Out (Giveaway)

Joining us today is David Stahler Jr., author of the YA novel,  Spinning Out. Read to the end of this interview to see how you can win a Free copy of this book.

Thank you for joining us today, David. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I live in the hills of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, where I was born and raised. I’m closing in on forty. I teach AP English at my alma mater, Lyndon Institute. I married my college sweetheart, whom I met when I was nineteen. I have a nine-year old son named Julian and a four-year old daughter named Maida. I love playing my Scottish smallpipes, listening to indie rock, hunting deer in the fall, and playing dorky boardgames with my friends. 

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I’d done a little writing as an undergraduate at Middlebury College, working with the writer Jay Parini. But it was during my master’s degree program at Dartmouth where things clicked. I took a fiction-writing course with the author Craig Nova, then worked with him on my thesis, which turned into the novel Truesight. It was during this time when I realized I could actually do this whole writing business. To be honest, I sort of stumbled into the career. I was never one of those people who pine their whole lives to be a writer. I still don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. 

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

Again, I didn’t set out intentionally to write YA fiction. It just happened that the stories I found myself wanting to tell ended up having young adults as the main characters. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m a high school teacher. It certainly helps, anyway, to be tuned into that consciousness on a daily level.  

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

It’s hard to answer that question, because I never think of myself as writing FOR that particular audience. I just have a story to tell, and I tell it the way I’d want to hear it if I were on the other end. With few exceptions, I think adults could get just as much enjoyment as teens from reading my books, or any YA novels for that matter. It’s exciting that a lot of people are starting to realize this. The crossover audience for YA fiction is exploding right now. In terms of your question, I guess I would say that teenagers are full of passion, of both the light and dark variety, which can make things easy and sometimes difficult in terms of telling a story.   

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

Spinning Out is about a lot of things, but at its heart it’s a buddy story. What do you do when your best friend falls apart? And how do you handle it when you’re also dealing with your own upheavals and trying to discover who you are and what you’re going to do with your life? The narrator Frenchy is a kid who’s the perennial sidekick who ends up coming into his own and surprises himself in the process. It’s a bittersweet tale.

 What inspired you to write it?

It’s funny because I can pretty much remember where the ideas for all my books came from except this one. I came up with the idea seven years ago, then tucked it away into the back of my head and ruminated on it for about five years before putting it to paper. 

Where can readers purchase a copy?

The usual places—online at Amazon and B&N, as well as bookstores with discriminating taste.  

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Not yet, but I’m finally going to break down and join the world of social networking this summer. Look for it in July! 

What is up next for you?

I’m hard at work on a real genre-blending project—a gritty, futuristic, supernatural tale that involves reincarnation and a young woman’s struggle against an ancient enemy. It has all these framed narratives from different periods in history mixed with elements of horror. It’s been exhausting, but I’m very excited about it!

Do you have anything else to add?

Spinning Out taps into a lot of contemporary issues (teen mental illness, wind turbines, returning veterans with PTSD) and has some pretty heavy moments, but it is also a very funny novel. I think there’s something in it for everyone to enjoy.

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

Now that you’ve read a bit about David and Spinning Out, I’m sure you’ll want to own a copy of this book for yourself. Here’s how you can win a FREE copy:


1. Leave a comment with your email address for your chance to win. You can’t win if we don’t have your email address.

2. BONUS ENTRY: Follow our parent blog, The Book Connection, at Leave a comment here that you are now following. +1

3. BONUS ENTRY: Like Chronicle Books on Facebook at!/ChronicleBooks Leave a comment here that you have liked their page.  +1

4. BONUS ENTRY:  Follow Chronicle Books on Twitter at!/ChronicleBooks Leave a comment here that you are now a follower. +1

Contest is open to residents of the United States only. Deadline for entries is 11:59 PM on July 10, 2011. A winner will be selected from all correct entries received. The winner will be notified by email and will have 72 hours to respond with mailing information. If we do not hear from the winner within the 72 hour time frame, a new winner will be selected. Book will be shipped via USPS. TC&TBC is not responsible for books lost or damaged in shipment.

Catch the Cat by Aaron Hoopes

An ebook that will entertain and empower your school age child is what you’ll find in Catch the Cat by Aaron Hoopes.

Justin Lumkin and Nikki Bean are two misfits. Justin is fat and picked on by the school bully. Nikki’s face is broken out and her hair a scraggly mess. The girls tease her profusely. Luckily the end of the school year arrives and the torture can stop for a few short months. But on that last day, something amazing happens. They meet an impish purple cat named Zink who plans to teach them the five secret words to help them be happier and healthier.

Catch the Cat is a fun book that will help youngsters make better choices. Taking place over one summer, two misfits unlock the secret words that will help them deal with the issues they have barely managed to cope with on a daily basis. Tackling topics such as bullying, exercise, obesity and dieting, self-confidence, and more, Hoopes, founder of Zen Yoga, uses his years of experience working with children to develop this wonderful story.

If the story had encompassed a few more chapters, the ending might not have seemed rushed, but overall I was satisfied with how it turned out. Almost five dollars is a bit pricy for a 35 page ebook, but since the messages contained within its pages are so important to today’s children’s I still think it’s a sound investment. I look forward to more books by this talented author.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Information from Smashwords:

Ebook By Aaron Hoopes
$4.95 Rating: Not yet rated.
Published: April 28, 2010
Category: Fiction » Children’s Books » Fairy tales and fables
Category: Fiction » Children’s Books » Animals
Words: 16654 (approximate)