Blog Tour + Giveaway Time!!!

Book reviews, an interview, coloring pages, AND a giveaway?! Could this day get any better?!

Thanks so much for stopping by and don’t forget to comment for a chance to win a prize package from Sleeping Bear Press!

Jungle Gym (2018, Sleeping Bear Press, Board Book)

9781585363902_fc

From the publisher:

With a cast of characters including a zebra, toucan, and a hippo, everyday concepts such as up/down and in/out are hilariously demonstrated by animal friends on a playground. A new board book series by artist Jennifer Sattler.

jungle gym spread

Dirty Birdies (2018, Sleeping Bear Press, Board Book)

9781585363896_fc

From the publisher:

One curious birdie playing in a mud puddle leads to four new friends, all getting into trouble. Toddlers learn to count from 1 to 5 with Dirty Birdies, where birds of all feathers get down and dirty and then all clean again. A new board book series by artist Jennifer Sattler.

dirty birdie pages

Review:

Jungle Gym and Dirty Birdies, written and illustrated by Jennifer Sattler, are sure to be hits with emerging readers and toddlers. With bright, colorful illustrations and simple, short blurbs of text, children and adults will enjoy reading these clever books. Both books feature adorable animals in funny situations and lots of new words for the youngest readers. With opposites and counting at the forefront of these books, little ones will learn new concepts and words without even realizing it. Board books are great for introducing children to reading and to new ideas, and these two books will not disappoint. Highly recommended for children ages 2-5.

5 stars for five dirty birdies and all their jungle pals!


Dirty Birdies and Jungle Gym hit shelves February 15, 2018, but they are available for pre-order now! Click on the pictures below to see the books on Amazon.


Interview with author Jen Sattler

JenSattler

Thank you so much to Jen for taking time to visit with me and share about her books and writing career!

Both Jungle Gym and Dirty Birdies feature funny illustrations that can be appreciated by children and adults, but I think children will especially relate to the dirty birdies as they are often messy and enjoy many of the same things as the birds. What is the process like for creating a board book as compared to a picture book? 

So much of the humor in a board book is visual. That’s really why I wanted to do a whole series of them. I absolutely love board books.  With a board book there’s no big arc of a story or a lot of character development, it’s just fun! And when you’re having fun, learning new concepts is much easier (color, opposites, counting) When I’m putting together a board book each page can have a more singular impact. So much of the fun for little ones is learning to turn the pages, learning the physical act of reading a book, so each page is a little moment that they can come back to over and over again.

I see your books often feature (adorable!) animal protagonists. Can you tell me more about your creative process and how these animal characters come about? Do you choose animals for any particular reason? 

I love drawing animals because their human characteristics come out of their physical forms. Inevitably a character will emerge that just speaks to me. It starts to have a personality. When drawing people it’s too easy for me to reference someone I know. They’re not born out of the page so to speak.

I still enjoy reading children’s books as an adult, but there is something really magical about books when you are a child. Did you enjoy reading as a child, and what book do you remember most fondly from your childhood? What book do you enjoy most as an adult? 

I didn’t have many books as a child. We had a few Dr. Seuss books though and I loved them. (I used to call him “Der Seuss”, I thought that was how you pronounced “Dr.”) There also used to be books at the grocery store; Golden Books. If we were good, my mom would get us a book. Like I said, we didn’t have many!  I still have all of those and opening them up brings my memory back in a really visceral way. I see through my much younger eyes. You’re right, it really is magical. My favorite book was Horton Hears a Who.

As far as what book I enjoy most as an adult? I’d have to say that I never get tired of Sandra Boynton’s books. Especially Hippos Go Beserk. I think the humor in those books is for everyone. There’s no age limit on finding six hippos showing up to a party with an uninvited “guest” hilarious.

Did you always aspire to be a children’s book author and what was the road to publication like for you?

No, I sure wasted a lot of time trying to “adult”. After getting my MFA in painting I taught college students for a few years. Then I had my children. In no time our house was full of picture books and it was clear that THAT was what I wanted to do! No more paintings to just hang on the wall. I wanted to make kids laugh… I finally released my inner goofball! It took a lot of rejections before my first book Sylvie came out in 2009. Since then I’ve had over 15 books published. It’s the best career in the world.  The harder I work, the more fun I have.

Who has had the greatest impact on your writing and your career?

When I first started out it was my daughters Mayzie and Lilia that had the biggest impact on my writing. They would ask me questions. For instance Lili asked me why flamingos were pink and after some fact searching Sylvie was born. As my kids’ personality traits emerged issues like making friends or doing something you’re scared of would happen naturally and stories came to me through the characters I was drawing. Since the girls are pretty big  ( one’s in college, the other a junior in high school) now I spend time with toddlers and preschoolers at my daughters’ old preschool/daycare. There’s nothing like spending time with little ones. It’s pure joy.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your new books or your career?

I’ve always wanted to do a series of original board books. Their humor and simplicity is so pure and direct. There’s so much to learn at that age and so many fun ways to show them. Each thick board page is a little funny moment. No one is as in touch with joy as a toddler. It’s the best job in the world to make something fun to put in their hands.

Thank you again Jen!


Check out these great coloring pages for your little ones (or for you!)

Just click on the link for a full size PDF coloring page that you can print.

DirtyBirdies_colorsheet

JungleGym_colorsheet


Giveaway!

I’m excited to offer you a fantastic prize package from Sleeping Bear Press! Please comment on this post for your chance to win a set of books and a tote bag!

What is your favorite children’s book? Have you read anything else by Jen Sattler?

Or comment on something else that interests you!

Please comment by February 8, 2018 end of day. I will randomly select a winner from the comments and announce the winner on the blog on February 9, 2018.

A big thank you to all who read and comment on my blog. You guys are the best! 🙂


Thank you to Sleeping Bear Press for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.


  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm CDT on February 8.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
  • Winner agrees to provide their preferred mailing address, to be forwarded to Sleeping Bear Press for shipment of prize.

Halloweensie Contest Entry!

Writing Contest Time!

I’m so excited to participate in this year’s Halloweensie Writing Contest hosted by Susanna Hill!

If you’ve not been by her blog, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a great resource for aspiring writers, and she runs awesome contests throughout the year!

This is my first time participating in the Halloween contest, and I have had so much fun reading some of the entries so far. Check out all the entries or write your own! Either way, you’re sure to have fun.

I had snippets of ideas bouncing around my head, but nothing that came together in 100 words or in any words at all haha. Finally, I had a bit of creativity hit me and this is the result.

It’s good to make my brain work, and I think that is the best part of these contests. I write things I wouldn’t normally think of writing or with restrictions I wouldn’t normally place on myself.

See the full rules at the link above, but here is a quick summary: Write a 100 word (or less) Halloween story suitable for children and including the words GHOST, MOON and SPIDER.

Here is my 100 word entry 🙂


Beneath Halloween Moon

On Halloween Night,

The moon sings a song.

I’ll tell you the words,

And we’ll all sing along.

“Whisper and whistle,

Witch, Ghoul, and Ghost.

Come Spider, come Specter,

More scary than most.

Come Beastlies, come boy,

Come Gremlin, come girl.

Dance for the moon,

Tap, twist and twirl.

Frantic and frightful,

A magical tune.

Dance Halloween beasts!

Beneath Halloween moon.”

On Halloween Night,

The moon sings a song.

All the beasts gather,

All the beasts sing along.

Whisper and whistle,

Boy beast and Girl beast.

We all sing along,

To the magical tune.

Dance Halloween beast!

Beneath Halloween moon.

Blog Tour! The Storybook Knight: Interview and Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Storybook Knight

Welcome to another fun blog tour!

Today I’m sharing my review of The Storybook Knight and some fun bonus book content. Plus, I had a chance to interview the author/illustrator team behind this fun book!

storybook knight

The Storybook Knight (2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Picture Book)

Leo is a knight, but he doesn’t like to fight. He would rather read than seek out danger. His parents have a different view of how a knight should behave so they send Leo away on a quest to fight a dragon. Leo embarks upon his quest with his faithful horse, saddlebags full of books, and a story in his heart.

The Storybook Knight, written and illustrated by Helen and Thomas Docherty, is a tale of following one’s heart and believing in oneself. Children will love the clever rhyme and adorable illustrations as they root for Leo and his books. The concept of Leo knowing his heart, but being forced to try something different by his parents will resonate with young readers. Leo carries his love of books with him on his quest and it serves him well. He goes on a great adventure as his parents wished, but he always stays true to himself. A beautiful and subtle lesson of trying new things, but maintaining one’s integrity at all costs. Especially relevant in this age of social networking when children are bombarded with messages from all sides and face more peer pressure than ever.

Wonderful read! A book for children to carry in their hearts, or saddlebags, when facing life’s obstacles.


Interview With Helen and Thomas Docherty

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Thomas and Helen Docherty are the husband and wife team behind The Storybook Knight. They were kind enough to answer a few questions about their newest book, the creative process, and working together as a team.

Where did you get your inspiration for THE STORYBOOK KNIGHT?

HD:  It was Tom who came up with the idea of a knight who didn’t want to fight, but he wasn’t sure how to develop the story, so he passed it on to me.  I decided to give our knight a passion for reading and some pushy parents who send him off on a quest to ‘prove’ himself… but of course, he ends up proving that the word is mightier than the sword. I think that’s an important message for us all!

How many books have you published together? 

HD:  Four, so far: The Snatchabook, Abracazebra, The Storybook Knight and an earlier book which we co-wrote (and Tom illustrated), Ruby Nettleship and the Ice Lolly Adventure.

What is the creative process like working as a team? Do you develop the story together or does one part develop more fully before the other (writing before illustrations or vice versa)?

HD:  When we work together on a book, the writing always comes first, as a story has to be commissioned by a publisher before Tom can start work on the illustrations. In some cases, as with the Storybook Knight, we work on the initial story idea together before I start writing.

TD:  By the time I come to illustrating Helen’s stories, I’ve had a long time to watch Helen develop the text, so I often have quite a few ideas in my head of how the characters and scenes might look. And as the illustrations progress I’m always showing the rough drafts to Helen and getting her feedback and advice – I really appreciate her input.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

HD:  An author! I spent most of my childhood writing stories and making them into little books, which I also illustrated. But I put that ambition aside for a long time; I was a language teacher (French, Spanish and English) for many years before I finally started writing again and became a published author.

TD:  I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. I think I was too busy climbing trees and playing ball with my brothers to give it much thought. Having said that, I always liked drawing and as I got older it became clear that I was going to end up doing something creative. But it wasn’t until after I had graduated from Art College (where I studied sculpture) that I thought back to all the amazing illustrated books I had enjoyed as a child and begun to think that I might like to do something like that myself.

As a child, what was your favorite book? 

HD:  I had so many favorites! But some of the books that I loved and re-read the most were Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr, Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce and a series of books about a girl called Aurora by the Norwegian author Anne-Cath. Vestly.

TD:  I am dyslexic and really struggled with my reading when I was young, so picture books and comics were very important to me because I could ‘read’ the pictures, instead of the words. My favorite books were the Asterix comics, and I spent hours looking at and often copying the pictures. It was Asterix books that eventually got me reading, and I’ve never looked back since!

Which part of the writing or illustrating process do you enjoy the most? 

HD:  The part I enjoy most is when I’ve got a really exciting, complete story idea and have worked out the rhyme scheme I’m going to use. Usually I’ll start with a sentence – not necessarily the first one – which establishes the rhythm of the story in my head. Then I’m ready to start writing… the fun bit!

TD:  I love the start of a project when I’m doing lots of quick sketches and you can see the characters and the world around them grow. I also love thinking about the colors that I will use to add drama and atmosphere to the story.

What struggles have you faced as a writer or illustrator? 

HD:  The hardest part is coming up with a watertight idea for a story. The best stories have their own internal logic; you may not see the end coming when you’re reading the story, but when it does, it all makes complete sense. But of course, those brilliant ideas don’t come every day. The other challenging aspect of being an author is that not every story you write ends up being commissioned – I’ve had plenty turned down by my publishers. You have to learn to get over the disappointment and keep going!

TD:  I have good and bad days, just like everyone else. I still do most of my work by hand, using paper and inks and watercolor. A large page can take me a couple of days to paint, and sometimes I mess up and have to start all over again. This can be quite stressful!

Anything else you’d like to add about your work or THE STORYBOOK KNIGHT?

HD:  A little known fact is that the original storybook knight was called Gareth, after my dad (and also after one of the Knights of the Round Table). However, our UK publishers wanted a more universal name, so I chose Leo instead – which is our nephew’s name, and works well in lots of languages. The Storybook Knight has been translated into Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian and Slovenian so far.

TD:  My favorite character in the story is Ned, Leo’s faithful horse. He doesn’t say anything, so I had lots of fun giving him a personality of his own: loyal, brave, and always on the lookout for a tasty snack.


Bonus Book Content and Giveaway

Storybook Knight landing page

Join Leo’s Storybook Knights, plus pledge your allegiance and receive a certificate of membership!

Download an educator or activity kit

Are you sharing The Storybook Knight in your classroom or looking for more ways to engage your child? Download an educator or activity kit for even more adventures with Leo and Ned.

Rafflecopter: Enter for a chance to win an original sketch of Leo and Ned by illustrator Thomas Docherty! Comment on this blog post plus tweet about the giveaway for two chances to win!

Click on the link below to go to the rafflecopter entry page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have trouble entering or have any questions please comment below or contact me.

Learn more about the author and illustrator by visiting their pages or following them on Twitter!

Thomas Docherty on Twitter: @TDIllustration

Helen Docherty on Twitter: @docherty_helen


Thank you to Thomas and Helen Docherty for taking the time to answer all my questions and to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for letting me be a part of the blog tour and providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reading!

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Max At Night

Max at Night by Ed Vere

It’s Blog Tour (and Giveaway) day!

I’m so excited to share Max at Night with you all.

Following Ed Vere’s Max the Brave and Max and Bird, comes an all new Max the cat story in Max at Night.

max at night

Max at Night (2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Picture Book)

Max is sleepy. He has drunk his milk, brushed his teeth, washed his ears, Now he needs to say good night to everything before he can go to bed. But where is the moon? Max can’t go to bed without saying good night to the moon. So begins Max’s midnight journey to bid the moon good night.

Max at Night written and illustrated by Ed Vere follows the nighttime routine of a little black cat named Max. The book starts off with simple sentences and a gentle, poetic, sleepy feel as Max prepares for bed and bids things good night. Then Max goes on a bit of an adventure as he tries to find the moon and the tempo picks up taking away from the sleepy feel. The sentences become longer and more complex and the book might make kids wake up a bit as opposed to making them ready to fall asleep. Wonderful illustrations and a cute story that will be enjoyed by many children, but maybe not the most sleep inducing bedtime book. This book would be great when paired with another quiet bedtime book such as Goodnight Moon. 

Max is an endearing and brave character, perfect for bedtime or anytime. Children will love to read about Max and his sweet determination in Max at Night.

Four bright shiny stars for Max to hang in the night sky.


Blog Tour Bonus Time!

Check out these links for bonus book content.

Max at Night landing page: A whole page for Max! See page excerpts, order the book or request a free storytime activity kit (while supplies last)

Download the activity kit: Great for teachers or parents, download this activity kit full of printable activity pages.

Rafflecopter: Enter for a chance to win an original sketch by author and illustrator Ed Vere and a copy of Max at Night! Usually a fancy rafflecopter box would appear here, but WordPress doesn’t allow such things 😦 So just click the link below and follow the rafflecopter instructions.

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway!

If you are new to Rafflecopter giveaways or have any questions about how to enter, please email me or leave a comment below.

For more information about Author/Illustrator Ed Vere, check out his website, or follow him on Twitter (@ed_vere) and Instagram


Thanks for stopping by and I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and for letting Three Show Saturday participate in this great blog tour!

Happy Reading! ❤

 

Return to a World of Wonder…

Our journey nears its end, both in the world of imagination, and my journey in Uganda.

In Return, our heroes, and we as readers, are allowed to enter the enchanted realm one last time. In an end most fitting to this incredible journey, Return brings in elements of the first two books, while still creating a new and thrilling adventure.

“…a suspenseful and moving finale…”

I’m a bit sad that this is the final book. These have absolutely been my favorite picture books I’ve received to review.

There are many reasons these books stand out. The artwork for one. But I think the reason they keep pulling me back in, is because they make me feel like a kid again. I feel that same sense of wonder I felt reading Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter, or watching my first Disney movie. I want to be part of this world, and I feel like I’m part of this world as soon as I turn the first page.

What books do you remember with a sense of wonder?

Which world have you been most sad to leave when the book was over?

Join the discussion and comment below for a chance to win a copy of Journey and Quest! I will randomly select a winner from those who comment on any (or all) of the review posts for the Journey Trilogy. The winner will be announced when I return from Uganda!

return

Return

Ignored once again by her father, our heroine escapes to the world she’s grown to love. Armed with her magical red marker, and surrounded by friends, she has no plans of returning to the world she left behind. But soon, her reverie is shattered by an old enemy. Wielding a new and powerful object, they threaten everything the young heroes have worked so hard to save. Now it will take a great and powerful force to overcome the enemy and bring our heroes home.

Return, by Aaron Becker, is a powerful ending to a wondrous adventure. Bringing together elements from his first two books, this is a fitting and fantastical grand finale. The author is once again able to convey so much emotion through his storytelling style, where words would distract from the powerful images. Children and adults will be sad to see this trilogy end, but the story will continue to grow in young imaginations. This is one journey you don’t want to miss.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Quest Continues

The Journey trilogy, and this review series, continues in the second book, Quest.

“My hope is that these stories might inspire us all to place a bit more faith in the power of wonder.”

-Aaron Becker

Our young heroes find themselves thrust once again into a wild land of magic and imagination. And you my dear readers, find yourselves immersed in another wordless wonder.

Trilogies seem to be popular in other age categories, but this is the first true trilogy I’ve come across in the picture book market.

Can you think of other picture book trilogies?

What is your favorite trilogy from any age category?

Comment below to join the discussion and earn a chance to win the first two books in The Journey Trilogy! One winner will be randomly selected from all comments on each of the review posts for the Journey trilogy. Books will ship directly from the publisher to the winner.

Quest

Quest

When two friends encounter a King in the park, their journey into a magical world begins again. Then the King is captured by hostiles, and the friends are left holding a mysterious map and other objects. Can they unravel the mysteries of the map and save the King and his people from the dark forces?

Quest, by Aaron Becker, is the second book in the Journey trilogy. The incredible, wordless saga continues in this masterpiece. Following the same two children introduced in Journey, they find themselves once again thrust into a wild and fantastical world where anything is possible. Beautifully illustrated and wonderfully told without the necessity of words, this book can be enjoyed again and again. Highly recommended for children of all ages. This is a book that will be treasured for many years to come.

 

Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Contest Time!

Hello readers of UNDER THE BIG TOP TALES AND TWISTERS,

As you may have seen in this week’s paper, a new writing contest has started!

This contest is only open to residents in the Cabool, Missouri area/subscribers to The Cabool Enterprise. The contest will also be open to subscribers of any other newspaper my column appears in, but for the moment in only appears in The Cabool Enterprise.

Below you will find the complete rules and information to enter the contest as was printed in the paper.

The contest is free to enter but remember the deadline for entries is April 15th by 5:00pm 

Please read the rules carefully and email me or comment below if you have any questions.

I look forward to many wonderful, creative, exciting, hilarious, sweet, sad, heart-warming, frightening, fantastical, works of prose from children of all ages.

Good luck and Happy Writing!

Contest Rules and Submission Process

Write a response to the following prompt.

If I had three wishes…

To Enter: This contest is open to children in the following age categories:

  • Under 8 years old
  • 9-12 years old
  • 13-18 years old

Please include the following information with your entry:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Hometown
  • Phone Number/Email Address.

Submit Entries: Attach entry in Word or PDF format, or type into the body of the email, and email to threeshowsaturday@gmail.com

Please put “Contest Entry” in subject line. Entries may also be submitted in person at The Cabool Enterprise or Missouri Gun Co LLC, both located in Cabool, Mo.

Rules: Entries must be previously unpublished. Entries must be 500 words or less and must be the original work of the submitter. Entrants must fall within one of the age categories to be eligible to enter. Entries must be received on or before the deadline. By entering, you agree to allow your work to be published in the newspaper and online.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three places in each age category. First place stories will be published in the newspaper, all other winning stories will appear online.

Writing contest and prizes proudly sponsored by these local businesses:

Missouri Gun Co. LLC of Cabool, Missouri

The Cabool Enterprise of Cabool, Missouri

A team of three judges will determine the winners in each category.