[spooky review + giveaway] The Pomegranate Witch by Denise Doyen and Eliza Wheeler

Hello my pretties! Ready for a spookalicious story?

*cackles and strokes chin wart*

No matter where we grew up, most of us can remember a mean or eccentric neighbor, a creepy old house that was supposedly haunted, or a place we were afraid (or not allowed) to frequent for one reason or another.

It was the kind of thing where we were both curious and terrified at the same time. We hungered for more even as we trembled in our boots. It’s wonderful how local lore and enduring legends figured in our childhoods, how we bore witness to the dynamic process of their evolution.

In The Pomegranate Witch (Chronicle Books, 2017), Denise Doyen and Eliza Wheeler serve up a deliciously eerie and suspenseful tale of five neighborhood kids who battle a green twiggy-fingered Witch for fruit from her haunted, zealously-guarded pomegranate tree.

Beyond the edge of town,
where streetlights stopped and sidewalks ended,
A small boy spied a farmhouse in a field long untended —

And before its sagging porch, amid a weedy foxtail sea,
Found the scary, legendary, haunted pomegranate tree.

The gnarled tree loomed high and wide; its branches scraped the ground.
Beneath there was a fort, of sorts, with leafed walls all around.
Its unpruned limbs were jungle-like, dirt ripplesnaked with roots,
But glorious were the big, red, round, ripe pomegranate fruits.

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Barking About Pet Crazy by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (+ a giveaway!)

Jump, roll over, sit, and stay . . . it’s time to sniff out Pet Crazy, the third title in the popular Poetry Friday Power Book series created by poetry goddesses Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. Yip!

Just for this post, you may bark, meow, cluck, or tweet your approval at any time. Perfectly acceptable. After all, it’s hard to curb your enthusiasm for this fun and frisky interactive story-in-verse and writing journal rolled into one, just purrrrfect for kids in grades K-3 (or bears of any age).

Pet Crazy includes 36 poems in all, with three poems featured in each of 12 PowerPacks.

PowerPacks include:

  1. Powerplay Activity
  2. Anchor Poem
  3. Response Poem
  4. Mentor Poem
  5. Power2You Writing Prompt

The anchor poems in Pet Crazy were written by Kristy Dempsey, Janice Harrington, Carole Boston Weatherford, Eric Ode, Helen Frost, Tamera Will Wissinger, Elizabeth Steinglass, Laura Shovan, Padma Venkatraman, Eileen Spinelli, April Halprin Wayland and Don Tate. Five poems culled from the Poetry Friday Anthology series take their place alongside seven newly penned verses.

Janet Wong has written original response and mentor poems, cleverly weaving all into a charming story about young Ben, who yearns for a dog of his own, friend and cat lover Kristy, and Daniel, Ben’s best friend, who gives Ben an unusual pet for his birthday.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

“Baby Bear Counts 1 Nuthatch” © 2017 Ashley Wolff

1. The perfect way to welcome Fall is with a beautiful giclée archival print by Vermont-based author/illustrator Ashley Wolff. Part of a small series based on the linocut illustrations from her Baby Bear Counts One picture book, this print has hand-applied gold accents, making it look like a gouache original. It’s 13″ x 19″ and comes signed, titled, and numbered (Limited Edition of 100 pieces).

Here’s another charmer from the same series:

“Baby Bear Counts 4 Bees” © 2017 Ashley Wolff

Shop for these and other goodies at Ashley’s Etsy Shop!

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2. New Book Alert!!  Look what’s coming out on September 26! A new middle grade novel by Sara Lewis Holmes! Isn’t the cover gorgeous?

I first “met” Sara between the pages of her prize-winning debut novel, Letters from Rapunzel (HarperCollins, 2007), which revealed her penchant for fairy tales, quests, and happy endings. The Wolf Hour (Arthur A. Levine Books. 2017) sounds positively magical and compelling:

A girl. A wolf. A red cape. And . . . pigs? In the vein of A Tale Dark and Grimm, this gorgeously written, endlessly surprising retelling explores the stories and wildness that define us. Welcome, my little lambs, to the Puszcza. It’s an ancient forest, a keeper of the deepest magic, where even the darkest fairy tales are real. Here, a Girl is not supposed to be a woodcutter. Or be brave enough to walk alone. Here, a Wolf is not supposed to love to read. Or be curious enough to meet a human. And here, a Story is nothing like the ones you read in books, for the Witch can make the most startling tales come alive. All she needs is a Girl from the village, a Wolf from the forest, and a woodcutter with a nice, sharp axe. So take care, little lambs, if you step into these woods. For in the Puszcza, it is always as dark as the hour between night and dawn — the time old folk call the Wolf Hour. If you lose your way here, you will be lost forever, your Story no longer your own. You can bet your bones.

*shivers*

Prepare to be enchanted. I can’t wait! Congratulations, Sara!!

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three poems from My Daddy Rules the World by Hope Anita Smith

Happy Poetry Friday and Happy Father’s Day Weekend!

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate all the cool dads in the world than with Hope Anita Smith’s brand new poetry picture book, My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads (Henry Holt, 2017).

Through fifteen heartwarming poems told in a child’s voice, Smith captures the singular bond between father and child as evidenced in everyday activities such as eating, dancing, playing music, and reading. Smith focuses on those small, intimate moments and interactions that mean so much to children, and every one of these gems brims with pride, adoration and pure love.

 

MY DADDY

My daddy is a porcupine
with whiskers that are prickly.

My daddy is an octopus
who finds where I am tickly

My daddy is a tall giraffe
who lifts me to the sky.

My daddy is a sea eagle
who teaches me to fly.

My daddy is a wise old owl
who stays up late at night.

My daddy is a big brown bear
with arms that hug me tight.

The poems are paired with Smith’s beautiful torn paper collages that feature fathers, sons and daughters in a variety of skin tones without facial features. I love how Hope is able to convey so much warmth and emotion through body language: an affectionate tilt of the head, a concerned hand lifting a chin, the reassurance of Dad holding the bike seat, being encircled in Dad’s arms as he reads aloud or teaches guitar.

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[review] All Aboard the London Bus by Patricia Toht and Sam Usher

Hurry, the bus is here! You don’t want to miss a single minute of the tour!

One of the things I loved best about living in London was public transport. Never had to worry about driving on the left side of the road, navigating those tricky roundabouts (how our British friends teased us Americans for calling them “traffic circles”!), or wasting precious time looking for a parking spot.

I was constantly amazed at how easy it was to get around a city of that size. I could take the London Underground (affectionately known as “the tube”), catch a friendly black cab, or pop onto an iconic red double-decker bus, and in no time, I’d be happily browsing the bookstores in Charing Cross Road, spending money I didn’t have at Harrod’s, or visiting the teddy bears at Hamley’s. No matter where I was headed, it was always such fun seeing London from the top deck of the bus.

You can see why I was excited when All Aboard the London Bus (Frances Lincoln, 2017) appeared in my mailbox. How could I not love a poetry picture book introducing kids to the coolest sights in my favorite city?

Written by Patricia Toht and illustrated by Sam Usher, it contains 24 lively, fun-to-read, mostly rhyming poems showcasing London’s most popular tourist attractions. We follow a family of four as they board a double-decker bus and make stops at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly Circus, the British Museum, and more.

The warm, enthusiastic opener gets us revved up for a jolly good time. 🙂

Come!
Board the double-decker bus
and see the London sights with us.
At any time, hop off.

Explore!

Then climb back on and ride some more.
For better views, climb up the stairs —
the city views are great from there.
Here’s your map and city guide.
Settle back. Enjoy the ride.
Buenos días!
Bonjour!
Hello!
Guten Tag!
Ni hao!

Let’s go!

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