Let’s Make Some Great Art by Marion Deuchars

Looking for a way to unleash your child’s creativity? Pick up a copy of Let’s Make Some Great Art by internationally acclaimed, award-winning illustrator Marion Deuchars. Your child age eight or older will enjoy exploring her artistic side with this fascinating book that is part instruction, part creative genius, and all fun.

From drawing simple birds to making fingerprint characters, from color experiments to shading, and from Da Vinci to Warhol and beyond, it’s almost like having your own private art teacher. There are projects for young artists at any level.  I liked that the opening pages contain a list of basic art materials. I would be totally clueless what to buy for my two budding artists (Lil Diva (10) and Lil Princess (8)).  They attend art camp each summer and also the occasional art class during the school year, so they sometimes use materials I’ve never heard of before.

The only thing I found confusing is that the book doesn’t seem to start with the easiest lesson. It talks about Leonardo Da Vinci and on the opposing page it asks you to draw Mona Lisa’s smile. It then goes on to ask the artist to copy a drawing and talks about drawing faces. It’s several pages in before the lesson on drawing simple birds. Now, I admit I’m no artist, so this could make perfect sense. I just feared a child could become frustrated with it, so I had the Lil Diva start out with the simple birds instead. She’s gearing up for the annual art fair at school and is trying to figure out what she will submit.

I highly recommend Let’s Make Some Great Art.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Paperback:224 pages
  • Publisher:Laurence King Publishers (August 17, 2011)
  • ISBN-10:185669786X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856697866
  • SRP:  $19.95

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for my review.


Don’t Juggle Bees! by Gerald Hawksley

Get ready for a zany book filled with useless advice in Don’t Juggle Bees! by Gerald Hawksley.

A rhyming book that shares Dos and Don’ts, this book will have you and your kids laughing out loud. Filled with advice like, “Do remember where you keep your toes,” and “Don’t share your bath with a crocodile,” Hawksley really knows how to tickle your funny bone. His colorful illustrations are just as silly as the text.

I highly recommend Don’t Juggle Bees! if you’re looking for a quick and fun read.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • File Size: 1747 KB
  • Publisher: Gerald Hawksley; 1 edition (September 22, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • ASIN: B005OZ6ROE
  • SRP:  $2.99

I downloaded a free copy of this book to my Kindle. I received no monetary compensation for my review.

The Adventures of Sniffy Doo Da: Friends for Life by Pam Kimba

A cute story of helping out and making new friends awaits young readers in The Adventures of Sniffy Doo Da: Friends for Life (Volume 1, Book1).

Sniffy Doo Da is walking along the stream when she hears a sound. Another dog is stuck on the opposite side. Sniffy Doo Da’s quick thinking allows her to make a new friend.

I like the premise that author and illustrator Pam Kimba is working with in Friends for Life. By the title, we can guess Sniffy Doo Da and Loopy Doo Da will be friends a long time. The story is simple and easy to read, so it’s good for kids ages 3 to 8. The dialogue is a bit stilted in places like, “I’m Sniffy Doo Da,” said Sniffy Do Da, laughing…” That’s not necesarily unexpected in a kid’s book, but it interrupted the flow for me. The colors are vibrant and look crisp and clear on my Kindle Fire.

There are several Sniffy Doo Da books available. You can find them all at Amazon.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Format:Kindle Edition
  • File Size:296 KB
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • ASIN: B0076GG76W
  • SRP:  $2.99

I downloaded a free Kindle version of this book. I received no monetary compensation for my review.


In Memory of Dad by Maranda Russell

A touching story of how to learn to live again after tragedy can be found in Maranda Russell’s short children’s story, In Memory of Dad.

This fictional story is loosely based upon true events from the author’s life. Kaley Jergins was blessed with a wonderful family, good friends, and the talent and passion to succeed on the basketball court. When her father suffers a fatal heart attack, everything changes. Mom doesn’t smile anymore; they eat lots of takeout; and Kaley can’t seem to face playing the sport that she and her father loved so much. It feels like nothing will ever be the same again.

If you’re looking for a short and simple way to help a child deal with the loss of a parent, In Memory of Dad can certainly help. At a little over 2,100 words, it provides a way for young readers to get a glimpse into Kaley’s world without getting too overwhelmed by a complicated storyline. While it is mostly telling, not showing, the story flows nicely and has a superb ending. Readers who have lost a parent will realize what they are feeling is normal, and hopefully things will get better. The touching author’s note at the end will connect with the reader.

Russell has also written two children’s picture books and contributed to Weres in the City.I would definitely check out her other books.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Format:Kindle Edition
  • File Size:85 KB
  • Publisher:Maranda Russell; 1 edition (August 28, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • SRP:  $.99 (Also available at Smashwords)

I purchased this book from Amazon for my Kindle. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

Teen Girls Need L.O.V.E. by S. Dodson

A book meant to inspire, motivate, and transform young women is what you’ll find in Teen Girls Need L.O.V.E. by S. Dodson.

Alarmed by so many teens committing suicide after being bullied, Dodson wrote a book to show teens they can overcome any problem that comes their way. From being bullied to peer pressure, from accepting your body image to loving yourself, from owning your future to achieving success and more, young women will get advice on how they can have a L.O.V. E. (Loud Outstanding Voice (that)Echoes).

While I think the book would have been more powerful if it had opened with real teens telling their stories instead of those stories being relayed by the author, Teen Girls Need L.O.V.E. has a lot to offer. It gets teens thinking, and that’s a good start. It’s a short book filled with tons of useful advice that is shared in a style that teens will appreciate. Dodson doesn’t talk down to her audience. She shoots straight with them and meets them where they are.

I’m going to hold onto this copy for when my girls are old enough to read it.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Paperback:164 pages
  • Publisher:Mahogney Ink Publications (June 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-10:0982795025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982795026
  • SRP:  $10.95

I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

Interview with Justin Swanton, Author of Centurion’s Daughter

Justin Swanton lives in Durban, South Africa. He has written a short book of comic poetry for children and a book of school plays. Centurion’s Daughter is his first novel. It has a website at http://sites.google.com/site/centurionsdaughter/a-world-in-transition.

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

I am a graphic designer in a printing company and have done a quite a bit of layout and illustrating of school workbooks. I’ve always preferred writing though.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I’ve always had it I suppose. However the idea of writing something for publication came about ten years ago.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

Doing workbooks naturally led to writing for children, which resulted in Grimes, a book of comic verse, and Child’s Play, a book of short plays for children. Centurion’s Daughter is aimed at older readers, teens and up.

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

Not really. The point is just to remember one’s own outlook on things when one was young, and write for that. I am against ‘writing down’ to children: speak to a child about a subject that interests him as you would speak to an adult, and you will get through.

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

The knowledge that one is writing for a fresh mind that is not jaded or prejudiced.

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

A young girl, Aemilia, goes looking for her Roman father, an ex-Centurion, whom she has never met, after the death of her Frankish mother. She is caught up in his schemes to restore the greatness of Rome and finds her loyalties split between the Romans and Franks in their ensuing war. Ultimately she finds out what God’s will is for her, and it is something she never expected.

What inspired you to write it?

I was always interested by the Roman Empire, but the idea for this particular story came from a dream I had years ago, which eventually became part of the last chapter of the book. Tarunculus, Aemilia’s father, is wandering through the town telling odd passers by that they are the one to restore Rome to her former greatness. Everyone thinks he is half-mad but indulges him. The story gradually developed around that.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

At Arx Publishing and at Amazon.

What is up next for you?

I am currently working on a sequel called ‘Crescentius the Great’, most of which takes place about ten years after the events of Centurion’s Daughter.

Do you have anything else to add?

I would love comments and even reviews from those who have time for it. Feel free to contact me on my website or at justinswanton(at)gmail(dot)com.

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

Interview with Kelly Milner Halls, Editor of Girl Meets Boy

Kelly Milner Halls is the author of Albino Animals and Tales of the Cryptids, both YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications including Booklist, BookPage,Teen Reads, the Denver Post, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Washington Post, and many others. She lives in Spokane, Washington.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

Like so many writers, I had a teacher in the 3rd grade that planted the writing seed. But it was really my experience with the high school newspaper that helped that seed take root. I didn’t have to be the shy girl trying to find the courage to talk about myself as a reporter. I could ask questions about other people, and, to my astonishment, they wanted to answer. It was life changing.

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

I have been a professional writer for twenty years now, but I discovered YA as the first executive editor at KidsReads (part of the Book Report Network) in the late 1990s. YA literature was under the KidsReads banner, at the time, and I fell in love with the fast paced, power of the genre. The chance to create GIRL MEETS BOY combined what I’d learned by interviewing the best of the best YA authors with a concept I found intriguing – why do two people sometimes see the same event so differently?

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

My favorite part of writing for YA readers is the chance to tell true stories through fiction. That thread of authenticity is what makes YA so powerful, so moving. It’s also the greatest challenge, because if you tell your truth, it will collide with the truths of others. Those others often object with ferocity. But courage is important. If writers write their best stories, they provide their readers with emotional back up and help pass that courage on.

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

GIRL MEETS BOY is a collection of story pairs. One writer tells a story from the boy’s POV. The second writer tells the same story from the girl’s POV. Same turn of events, very unique perspectives. What he saw is not always the same as what she saw.

What inspired you to write it?

Many years ago, my daughter broke up with her long term boyfriend after they saw the same event very differently. To my daughter, she watched a video with a friend. To her boyfriend, she cheated on him. I was struck by the gap in understanding, and wondered what great YA writers might do with that kind of intellectual challenge? I approached authors I’d written about and admired for years, and they agreed to write the stories, no holds barred. They were brave and honest and I think they created remarkable literature that helps us understand how two people could see one thing so differently. I’m so grateful to Chronicle Books for bringing the collection to life.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

The book is available from any bricks and mortar or online bookseller.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
You can find out more about the book at www.kellymilnerhalls-ya.com or at the Chronicle Books website at http://www.chroniclebooks.com/titles/kids-teens/subject/growing-up/girl-meets-boy.html

What is up next for you?

I am working on my first YA novel, a second anthology and several nonfiction projects, including a book on the history of video games, a look at tattoos through human history, and a book on surprising artistic masterpieces. My travel schedule picks up steam in February — I’m visiting 21 schools in February alone — so I stay pretty busy.

Do you have anything else to add?

Just thank you for including GIRL MEETS BOY on your blog. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

View the Girl Meets Boy trailer at http://budurl.com/girlboytrailer