Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mr. Pig's Summer Reading Picks -- and a Giveaway!

It's here, it's here! Summer has arrived and the Cottagers  Kara LaReau, Jamie Michalak, Anika Denise, and moi  are ready to kick up our hooves, erm, feet and relax. Here's a list of books we're looking forward to packing in our beach bags.

And we have a special smorange treat for you  a GIVEAWAY!

Leave a comment below for a chance to win Adam Rex's new picture book, 

Kara Recommends ...

by Gaia Cornwall

Set on a summer’s day at the pool, this gorgeous ode to bravery and trying new things is written and illustrated by FOC (Friend of the Cottage) Gaia Cornwall, and it’s already a favorite in our house!

by Laurel Snyder

Every year on Orphan Island a new orphan arrives on a green boat and the oldest orphan leaves the island for good. A moving story about growing up and letting go by one of the masters of middle grade fiction, Laurel Snyder.

by Kat Yeh
Illustrated by Chuck Groenink

A solitary little hedgehog sets off in search of a rumored “Friend Ship,” and ends up meeting a menagerie of lonely animals along the way. A sweet story (and a fun read-aloud) by Kat Yeh, with lovely illustrations by Chuck Groenink.

by Debbi Michiko Florence
Illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic

I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of this chapter book, the first in a wonderful, funny new series starring eight-year-old Jasmine. In this story, Jasmine longs to do something first before her big sister, Sophie — and that something may or may not have something to do with pounding mochi rice!

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Jamie Recommends ...

by Stephan Pastis

My 10-year-old son is not a fan of any activity that requires sitting quietly. However, he took this book to his room and read it cover to cover. He wasn't supposed to have this private record of Timmy Failure's sensitive time as a detective, but my son is also not a fan of following rules. So he read it anyway — and fell off his bed laughing. 

Perfect for reluctant sitters and fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

by Adam Rex

When a cast of fruit makes up a rhyming ditty about themselves, even the lowly Kumquat gets his own verse. But nothing rhymes with Orange. How will he ever join the fun? Find out in this totally smorange picture book about celebrating difference!


by Stephen Shaskan

This rhyming romp, with humorous illustrations and fun-to-say sound effects, is a can't-miss storytime hit! Toadally adorable. 

Anika Recommends ...

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist 
by Jess Keating
Illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns
(Ages 4-8 years)

Critically acclaimed zoologist and author Jess Keating tells the life story of Eugenie Clark, a.k.a. the “Shark Lady,” who daringly dove the deep to study creatures many  considered “ugly" and “scary.” In devoting her life to proving them wrong, Clark broke gender barriers — charting a channel for future female scientists — while illuminating the true nature and majestic beauty of sharks.

Packed with fin-tastic shark facts in the back matter, this book is the perfect reading ramp-up to Discovery Channel’s Shark Week: starting on Sunday, July 23rd!

Shackles from the DeepTracing the Path of a Sunken Slave Ship, a Bitter Past, and a Rich Legacy
by Michael H. Cottman
(Ages 10 and up)

Continuing with a deep sea exploration theme, but for a slightly older reader, this is the riveting (formerly unknown) true story of a slave ship wrecked off the coast of Florida at the turn of the 18th Century, the Henrietta Marie. In what is part history lesson, part page-turning adventure, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Michael H. Cotter weaves the narrative in a deeply personal way, to deliver a fascinating and important story young readers will connect to. 

7 Ate 9: The Untold Story
by Tara Lazar
Illustrated by Ross MacDonald
(Ages 4-8)

Who doesn’t love a good detective story for a summer read? This one just happens to be a picture book starring digits (and a "Private I”)! Perfectly punny and delightful, this is one of the wittiest, most enjoyable picture books I’ve had the pleasure to read. Kids will giggle. Grown-ups will chuckle. A new classic perfect for any season, but particularly readable (and re-readable) during the carefree days of summer vacation.

Heartwood Hotel: A True Home 
by Kallie George 
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
(Pub date: 7/4/17; Ages 7-10)

We love reading chapter books aloud on summer nights in our house. Kallie George’s heartwarming first book in the Heartwood Hotel series is a perfect chapter-a-night read. Young readers will enjoy being be transported to the tiny woodland world where Mona the Mouse discovers the Heartwood Hotel while seeking shelter from a rainstorm. Mona is quickly welcomed into the fold—where a cast of characters, soft moss-lined beds, and a little adventure (and danger!) awaits. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf

Pete With No Pants
by Rowboat Watkins

This week's pick is from Cottager Anika Denise.  

What it's all about...
Pete is on mission to answer life's oldest question: Why do I have to wear pants? And the second oldest: Who am I? In his quest for answers, Pete considers that he might be a boulder, a squirrel, a cloud, or perhaps a giant pigeon? (All of whom flout customary pants-wearing traditions.)

Why it's on The Little Crooked Bookshelf...
Rowboat Watkins is at his quirky finest in this silly tale, which perfectly captures a little kid's penchant for nakey-ness, knock-knock jokes, and a blissful freedom from modesty — before pesky pants-wearing adults interfere.

My favorite line(s)...
Let's see...
I'm NUTS about acorns.
And I'm NOT wearing pants.
I'm a squirrel!

My favorite illustration(s)...

Why kids will love it...
For its unabashed silliness! The naked truth? Pantlessness is just plain funny. Especially when you're three.

Why grown-ups will love it...
If you have ever chased down a toddler streaking bare-bummed through the backyard while you are entertaining guests, or trying to get him or her to bed, or on a video conference call with your boss in Indonesia, you will appreciate this book. And even if you haven't, Watkins' adorable illustrations and hilarious banter will charm the pants off ya'.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf

by Julia Denos

This week's pick is from cottager Jamie Michalak.

What it's all about ...
In a place where color runs wild lives a girl who is wilder still. Her name is Swatch, and she's a color catcher. From brave green to in-between gray to rumble-tumble pink, Swatch wants to collect them all. But colors don't always like to be tamed.

Why it's on The Little Crooked Bookshelf…
If a more exuberant read-aloud exists, we've yet to see it. The vibrant cover pops off the shelves, and a riot of color bursts from its pages. 

A sample illustration…

From SWATCH: THE GIRL WHO LOVED COLOR. Illustration copyright 2016 by Julia Denos.

Why kids will love it…
SWATCH will inspire little color collectors to create their own masterpieces. (And maybe even paint their face to look like Swatch!)

Why grown-ups will love it…
Take this one out on a rainy day for read-aloud, paint-along, color-naming fun. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mr. Pig LIVE... with Splatypus + a Literary Lunch!

Hello, friends! It's time for an all-new episode of MR. PIG LIVE! I'm your lovable and dapper host: MR. PIG.

Today, we have a very special guest joining us. Please give a warm welcome to the semi-aquatic star of Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen's new picture book...

Welcome, to the Cottage. Let's get started. What is your full name? 
I’m easy. Just “Splatypus.”

What one word best describes you?

Do you have a belly button?
I’m a mammal, so I should. But because I was egg-raised, I don’t actually have a belly button.

What is the best thing about being you?
That I’m willing to try new things, even if I land on my behind.

What is the worst thing about being you?

If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you bring?
A satellite phone.

What is your idea of the perfect day?
It might start in any number of ways – running, jumping, or flying, for example. But it would end in the water, swimming and splashing with whomever is around and wants to enjoy life.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I can already sense electrical impulses and I have poison spurs, so I’m ahead of the game with respect to superpowers. But if I could have another, it would definitely be the ability to fly.

What are you reading right now?
Advance copies of PURRMAIDS chapter books.

What is your favorite word?

What is you least favorite word?

Share one thing that most of our readers don’t know about you.
I’m a classically trained ballerina.
No, really.

If you could dine with three characters from other books, who would they be?
The first two would be Tyrannosaurus from Tyrannosaurus Wrecks and Moose from Duck Duck Moose. I like a kindred spirit. The last slot would go to Jon Snow from Game of Thrones, because I need to know how it ends!

If a genie gave you one wish, what would you wish for?
Opposable thumbs.

If you have a pocket, what is in it right now? 
I have a duck bill, a beaver tail, some otter feet, and waterproof fur. But, alas, I have no pockets.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Shrimp-and-larvae pancakes and trout egg pancakes. You would have loved it.

What is your most embarrassing moment?
I think it was when I got the bright idea that I could fly with fruit bats…

Ouch. What is your pet peeve?
Messy people.

What was it like working with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen? 
She’s just as clumsy as I am, so that was great. But she doesn’t have a tail, which is a little bit of a problem. The tiebreaker is that she will happily watch animal YouTube videos for hours, looking for new adventures for me. So overall, it was a great experience.

I know what you mean. My roommates don't have tails either. Sometimes it's awkward. But we manage. Anyhoo, I hope you're hungry. Nina from Mamabelly's Lunches with Love has made a special Literary Lunch in your honor. It's no shrimp and larvae pancake, but I'm certain you will find it just as tasty! 

(Scroll down for a peek at Nina's bookish bento creation.) 

Follow me to the kitchen while we roll the credits...

by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic
(Two Lions 2017)

Lonely Platypus wants to play, but where should he go? Should he jump with the kangaroos? Leap with the possums? Fly with the bats? Every time he tries to find out—skipping, hopping, dipping, dropping—he winds up going splat instead. Can a SPLATypus find a place where he belongs? This rhyming, rollicking story is perfect for reading aloud.

"An amusing tale, ready for reading aloud, of finding “the perfect place. " —Kirkus

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is an award-winning author whose books include Duck, Duck, Moose!, Chicks Run Wild, Tyrannosaurus Wrecks!, Orangutangled, the Merida chapter book series, and more than forty other titles. Her books have been named to the Junior Library Guild, the CBC Children’s Choices finalist list, the California Readers Collections, the Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year list, and the Amelia Bloomer list. She lives in New Jersey. Learn more about her at



Meet SPLATypus! All he wants to do is play but somehow he does not seem to fit in anywhere. This adorable new book by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Jackie Urbanovic follows this little lonely platypus trying to play with someone. Come find out who his new friend will be!

Nina from packed a lunch to fit:
  • blue water jello to splash in
  • a cheese stick friend to play with
  • sandy beach cereal
  • and of course a SPLATypus sandwich
Nina | Mamabelly's Lunches with Love web: facebook: twitter: @LunchesWithLove