Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf on Reviewsday!

PIZZA! An Interactive Recipe Book
illustrated by lotta nieminen

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Kara LaReau.)

What it's all about...
The second title in this interactive recipe series (I reviewed the first title here), this is a reading AND cooking experience that allows readers to make pizza prom scratch — mixing ingredients, kneading dough, and spreading sauce, all while following a simple recipe.

Why I love it...
My little one loves to cook — this book allows him to make one of his favorite foods by engaging a series of ingenious (and super-fun) wheels, flaps, and levers!

Sample illustrations...

What's the kid-appeal?
All of the fun of cooking without needing any parental supervision!

What's the grownup appeal?
All of the fun of cooking without needing any parental supervision!

Where to find/buy Cook in a Book: PIZZA!
Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Lotta Nieminen is an illustrator, graphic designer, and art director from Helsinki, Finland, now running her own New York-based studio. In 2014, she was nominated for Forbes magazine's annual 30 Under 30 list. In 2010, she received the Art Directors Club Young Guns award. Her client list includes Google, New York Times, and Vanity Fair, among many others.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf on ReviewsDay!

Dear oh-so-patient readers,

We apologize for our absence this September. We cottagers (Anika Denise, Kara LaReau, Jamie Michalak and Mr. Pig) have been up to our ears in bookish things, and haven't been able to visit as much as we'd like.

The good news? WE'RE BACK! And we've been doing some redecorating.

In order to accommodate our writing deadlines, appearances, school visits, etc., AND keep hosting kidlit faves in the Cottage—we're changing things up a bit.

With a big nod of thanks to author Jess Keating, we're pleased to join the #ReviewsDay movement, by posting reviews of our favorite picture books, early chapter books, and middle grade novels, every Tuesday. We'll simultaneously post to the Cottage's GOODREADS account, and on AMAZON. This helps readers, by spreading the word about books we think are truly FANTÁSTICO! And helps authors, who rely on reviews to help boost sales and visibility of their titles.

Voila! A win-win.

And guess what? YOU can help, too—by commenting, sharing our reviews on social media, and by  posting Tuesday #ReviewsDay of your own, for books you love.

So... without further ado, our first #ReviewsDay selection is...

by Maria Gianferrari
pictures by Patrice Barton

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Anika Denise.)

What it's all about...
Zara, a little girl in a wheelchair, has a special bond with her lovable dog Moose. Moose loves saying hello to Zara, but isn't so fond of goodbye. So when it's time for Zara to go off to school, Moose figures out a way to pay her a visit.

Why I love it...
Even if I didn't know Maria Gianferrari is a passionate dog-lover (I do), it's abundantly clear from the warmth and humor of her story. As I was reading, I found myself thinking: Yup, that's exactly what a dog would say if he could talk. Patrice Barton's equally expressive illustrations provide a perfect complement to the charming text.

My favorite line(s)...
"Goodbye was a tag without an 'It.'
Goodbye was a tug and no war.
Goodbye was a hide without seek.
Goodbye was being alone.
AAAA-WOOO, yowled Moose."

What's the kid-appeal?
Kids with dogs (or those who desperately want one, like mine) are sure to love this story of a devoted furry friend.

What's the grownup appeal?
Parents and educators will no doubt welcome the addition of this heartwarming story, featuring a diverse main character and a lovable (yet imperfect) pet, to their libraries. An author's note at the end includes information on therapy dogs and their uses in classrooms and libraries—providing a wonderful discussion prompt for ability differences, and how dogs (to quote the author) can have "pawsitive" effects in a variety of environments.

Where to find/buy Hello Goodbye Dog
Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Maria Gianferrari is the author of several picture books, including Coyote Moon, published by Roaring Brook Press. For Maria, hello is sunshine after a snowstorm, the scent of cinnamon, and happy greetings from her beloved mutt, Becca. Maria lives in northern Virginia with Becca, her scientist husband and her artist daughter. To learn more about Maria, visit her at mariagianferrari.com.

Patrice Barton is the illustrator of over twenty picture and chapter books, including the award-winning MINE! by Shutta Crum and The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig. Her chapter books include Junior Library Guild selections The Year of Three Sisters (An Anna Wang Noel) by Andrea Cheng and The Naming of Tishkin Silk by Glenda Millard. Patrice lives with her husband and her sweet dog, Archer. You can learn more about her at partricebarton.com.

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.