Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf

Image result for Curious Constructions

by Michael Hearst, illustrated by Matt Johnstone

This week's pick is from cottager Jamie Michalak.

What it's all about ...
Curious Constructions features fascinating and humorous accounts of 50 incredible structures, including a fire-breathing octopus, a whole community of tree houses in Costa Rica, and a lifesize X-Wing Starfighter made of Legos.

Why it's on The Little Crooked Bookshelf …
This is not your average book about buildings. It's full of weird and wonderful, off-the-beaten path constructions, as well as favorite and familiar structures.

A sample illustration…

From Curious Creations by Michael Hearst. Illustration copyright 2017 by Matt Johnstone

Why kids will love it …
So many quotable facts! Did you know there's secret room known as M42 in the basement of Grand Central Terminal? Or that you can eat in an underwater restaurant in the Maldives? Or that in California, you can find the skateboard ramp you'd need to jump the Great Wall of China?

Why grown-ups will love it …
Makes a great gift for aspiring engineers and trivia-loving kids who are ready to move beyond The Guinness World Book of Records and Ripley's Believe or Not.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf

Count Your Chickens

by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Lori Joy Smith

This week's pick is from cottager Kara LaReau.

What it's all about
Talk about fowl play! All the chickens are going to the county fair — you can count on them (literally) for some fine-feathered fun!

Why it's on The Little Crooked Bookshelf…
It's a clucking adorable book, especially for little ones (like mine) who love counting and cute animals.

A sample illustration…

Why kids will love it…
Get ready to enjoy chickens on planes, trains, slides, and Ferris wheels, thanks to the delightful illustrative stylings of Lori Joy Smith, along with playful rhyming text from Jo Ellen Bogart. It's poultry (er, poetry) in motion!

Why grown-ups will love it…
A guide at the end offers kids a chance to practice their counting skills — and don't worry, parents, there's an answer key, too!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf - Two for Tuesday - & Giveaway Winner!

We have not one, but TWO books to tell you about in this special "Two for Tuesday" edition of The Little Crooked Bookshelf.

The first is a fact-tastic Ready-to-Read nonfiction book about the history of cookies: The Way The Cookie Crumbled. The second is an early peek at a moo-rrific upcoming picture book: Prudence The Part-Time Cow. Both books are written by the talented (and versatile) Jody Jensen Shaffer.

What it's all about...
Do you know how the first cookie was created? Or why cookies are called cookies? Or what the world's favorite cookie is? All these answers and more are revealed in this delicious history of a much beloved petite treat.

Why it's on the Little Crooked Bookshelf...
We love the History of Fun Stuff series from Simon & Schuster. It's wild, it's wacky—it's chock full of cool facts about fun stuff. Like cookies.

Why kids will love it...
Admit it, you wanted to know the answers to the cookie questions when you read them just now. Kids will too.

Why grownups will love it...
For kids reluctant to delve into nonfiction, this book serves up an enticing introduction in sweet, digestible bites.

(June 13, 2017, Henry Holt)

What it's all about...
Prudence looks like a full-time cow―she wanders through pastures, she swats flies, and she lines up for supper. But Prudence is a part-time cow―she is also a scientist, an architect, and an inventor, studying and building and dreaming and creating.

Why it's on the Little Crooked Bookshelf...
Snappy text + humorous details in the illustrations + a message of individuality (with some girl... er... cow-power thrown in) = a satisfying read. 

Why kids will love it...
With just enough silly, kids will appreciate Prudence's earnest efforts to stay true to herself, while making friends. 

Why grownups will love it...
It's a fun read to encourage kids to be themselves. Even better for encouraging girls to own and celebrate their love of science and math. 

Jody Jensen Shaffer is the author of Prudence the Part-Time Cow, The Way the Cookie Crumbled, and many more fiction and nonfiction books for children. Her poetry has been published in great children's magazines like Highlights, High Five, Hello, Ladybug, Babybug, Clubhouse Jr, and Humpty Dumpty. Jody lives in Liberty, Missouri, and is a member of the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. When she's not writing, Jody can be found at a ballpark, cheering on her favorite baseball teams.

You can visit Jody at or on Twitter @jodywrites4kids.


**We have one final treat on this Two for Tuesday... (suppose that makes it three for Tuesday?)... the winner of last week's RACE CAR DREAMS signed book giveaway is... BELINDA HAMILTON! Congrats, Belinda! Please email us at with your mailing info!**

Thursday, April 6, 2017

COVER REVEAL! The Infamous Ratsos Are Not Afraid

Lucky reader, behold! You're the first to feast your eyes on the cover of THE INFAMOUS RATSOS ARE NOT AFRAID! 

In this follow-up to the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book The Infamous Ratsos, written by our very own Kara LaReau and illustrated by Matt Myers, Louie and Ralphie Ratso set out to transform a cluttered lot into an arcade, they end up conquering a few surprising fears along the way.

Creeping your way September 2017!

Louie and Ralphie Ratso have a genius idea: if they clear out the lot down the street, they can use all the junk lying around to build makeshift games for a Big City FunTime Arcade! With their friends to help, they’ll be able to recycle all the old abandoned stuff into whack-a-mouse, a high-striker, a fortune-telling booth, and more. Everyone says the house next to the lot is haunted, but if Louie just pretends it’s not there, maybe he can ignore the goose bumps he gets every time he looks at it. Ralphie’s head’s not exactly in the game, either, because of some rumors that have been swirling around school. But they’re Ratsos, and like their dad, Big Lou, Ratsos aren’t afraid of anything — right? 

Kara LaReau and Matt Myers team up for a second surprisingly touching chapter book proving that sometimes the things you fear the most aren’t at all what you thought — and might be exactly what you need to feel better.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Today, we have the honor of revealing the cover of a follow-up to one our favorite books of 2016, RACE CAR DREAMS by Sharon Chriscoe.

Make way for BULLDOZER DREAMS (illustrated by John Joven), coming October 3, 2017 from Running Press!

Sharon stopped by the Cottage to tell us a bit more about the book — and generously offered a signed copy of RACE CAR DREAMS, to one lucky reader!

Leave a comment below to enter to win. Winner will be announced next week!

What it's all about...
“After a day at the construction site, pushing and piling dirt, a bulldozer is tired and ready for sleep. He scrubs clean his track, sips up some supper, and chooses a book to read with his cone. Underneath the stars, he drifts off to sleep, he lowers his blade . . . and dreams of finishing his important work!”

My favorite line(s)…
Of course, as the author of each line, I love them all. But I think my favorite lines are “He pulls in the station, sipping each slurp. His belly pan swells, and up comes a burp.” The idea of a bulldozer’s belly pan swelling until he lets out a burp is simply hilarious. And the illustration for those lines is equally funny and cute.

A sneak peek inside the book...

(c) 2017 John Joven;  from Bulldozer Dreams published by Running Press

Why kids will love it…
Kids will love how bulldozer is just like a kid. From his friendly smile to his funny burps and sleepy yawns, kids will understand that even bulldozers need a little shut eye.

Why grown-ups will love it…
Grown-ups will love the gentle, rhythmic text and vivid illustrations as they snuggle with their little ones to enjoy this special bedtime story.

Sharon Chriscoe never saw a bulldozer clearing the way for a new playground, but she did enjoy doing a little dozing of her own in the sandbox. She is the author of Race Car Dreams and forthcoming Fire Truck Dreams, both illustrated by Dave Mottram, and The Sparrow and the Trees, illustrated by Susan Detwiler. Sharon and her husband live in Pilot Mountain, NC. They have three children and one grandchild, and a large variety of pets. In addition to her books, she has been published in Highlights High Five, Highlights Hello, The Old Farmers Almanac for Kids, The Mailbox, and more. She is represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. Please visit her online at

Pre-order Bulldozer Dreams online.
At an indie book store near you. 

Comment below to enter to win a signed copy of Race Car Dreams, race flag swag and bookmark! 

Race Car Dreams
by Sharon Chriscoe
illustrated by Dave Mottram
(Running Press, 2016)

"The story unfolds in rhythmic four-line stanzas and is composed with a calm, soothing tone that makes this perfect for reading aloud before bed. Largely bathed in a cool nighttime palette of greens, blues, and violets, Mottram's colorful cartoon illustrations bring charming expressions to anthropomorphized vehicles and tools. VERDICT This sweet bedtime offering is ideal for vehicle and auto-racing enthusiasts." School Library Journal

"Chriscoe's crisply rhyming text is enlivened by lots of punny expressions and colorful language...All in all, clever, bouncy fun." —Kirkus