Book PREview: Sunshine by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

In this companion to Hey, Kiddo, Jarrett takes us with him to Camp Sunshine, a week-long camp for pediatric cancer patients and their families. Jarrett volunteered when he was a senior in high school, and it changed his life.

Reading Sunshine changed my life – I can only read about Jarrett’s experience with Diego, Eric, and their families, but I wish my high school would have done a service project like this when I was young. I loved reading about the kids and all of the cool activities they got to do while at Camp Sunshine, despite their diagnoses.

Jarrett was a lovely host for Diego, encouraging the wheelchair-bound teen to speak a little more loudly and try activities that may have otherwise been impossible. Everything was possible at Camp Sunshine. Jarrett also made lifelong friends, special people who led him to be the wonderful human he is today.

Thank you to the author for sharing this wonderful graphic novel with readers. We are better people now that we’ve entered your world.

Recommended for ages 10 and up. Make sure you read the author’s note and acknowledgments. 5 Stars!

Sunshine publishes April 18, 2023 with Graphix. Thank you to Jarrett and the amazing people at Scholastic for the preview copy.

IMWAYR: ARCs and Announcements – Book Awards Time!

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.

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I am honored to be in New Orleans, LA for the #LibLearnX23 conference (ALA’s newest winter offering). I filled two full boxes and sent them home today, but I’m keeping a couple of titles out because I know I’ll read them at the hotel and on the plane. I’m still listening to Apartment 713, too.

Libro.fm: Apartment 713 by Kevin Sylvester is sooo good on audio! Kevin is a fantastic read-aloud voice!

NetGalley: The Gray by Chris Baron is fabulous! I’m over halfway through and I’m loving the characters and the horses. The “Gray” is a place inside the mind of Sasha, the main character, but Mr. Baron also uses colors throughout the book to set up metaphors and show the reader the mood of the setting. (Teachers: check out your state standards of reading literature; I can meet so many standards using this book! I know, it’s not the main purpose of reading, but as a teacher, I will use The Gray, for sure!)

Physical Books: At the conference, I picked up two books I’ve been looking forward to: Sunshine by Jarrett J. Krosoczka and A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat. I will need multiple copies of these books on our library shelves, I can tell already.

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

By the way, the Youth Media Awards 2023 announcements were today and I, apparently, need to read more! I hadn’t even heard of the Caldecott or Newbery Medalists before! Time to catch up!

IMWAYR: Cold Days, Hot Reads

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.

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When it’s cold and dreary, there’s nothing better than reading time with a hot cup of cocoa and some hot (excellent) books. Here’s what I read this past weekend and what I’m reading this week:

Libro.fm: I’m still listening to Apartment 713 and I’m loving it! Kevin Sylvester narrates his own story and I love it when authors read to me!

Physical Books: It’s so nice to hold books and turn pages. I picked up some books I had on my TBR from the past and read them last weekend, and I’m happy I did. Surviving the City, Vol. 1 is a graphic novel I read again after the Book Love Foundation’s study last summer. I wanted to revisit this important middle-grade indigenous story. The People Remember is an excellent picture book! The One Thing You’d Save is a book that didn’t get much attention when it came out, but I would like to book-talk this one again at school. I know students who will love it.

Net Galley: I’ve been looking forward to School Trip by Jerry Craft and Frozen Peaches by Erin Soderberg Downing (the third “Great Peach Experiment” installment – the family travels to the Ice Hotel in Sweden!). These are both on my 2023 “Must-Read” list for school — students won’t be disappointed!

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

IMWAYR: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Edition

It’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so I’m home from school, but I’ve been rereading many of my favorite books that encourage action and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision for our country. I read that we should “Remember, Celebrate, and Act” and what better way to ACT than to READ and SHARE our dreams with each other.

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.

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IMWAYR: January Starts Successfully!

I’ve been reading! I’m continuing A Rover’s Story, Love From Mecca to Medina, and Apartment 713, and I’ve already read some picture books that I wanted to get to in 2022. Here’s a new one you may like and recommend to your readers…Mega-Predators of the Past by Melissa Stewart and Howard Gray.

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.

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Book Review: HANDS by Torrey Maldonado

Book Review: Hands by Torrey Maldonado (Publishes January 24, 2023 — Nancy Paulsen Books)

How do you use your hands? Trev wants to learn to box so he can take care of his stepdad, who threatened Mom before going to prison. Trev thinks that “throwing hands” is the answer to his family problems. His friends and family members, especially the uncles, try to point Trev in a different direction. You see, Trev is smart. Never gets anything lower than 85% in school and is a fabulous artist. He could use his hands for good. The question is, what will Trev ultimately decide?

Hands is a story about a loyal family member who struggles with how to handle life. He’s “all good,” but not really. He worries. He tries to find solutions. He strives to discover himself as he works to use his hands. Metaphors include using “hands” in many ways, which lead Trev through his own story.

Middle schoolers will love this look at life: the dialogue is real, the inner and outer conflicts drive the plot, and the characters seem like family you want to talk with and protect.

Torrey Maldonado’s hands wrote another engaging, quick-but-meaningful text that teachers should add to their classroom libraries and librarians need to offer on their shelves. Recommended for ages 10 and up. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book Review: An American Story by Kwame Alexander and Dare Coulter

This is an important, necessary picture book, perfect for the classroom. Teachers and librarians should add THIS American Story to their shelves and read it aloud with their students. To be a true American, we need to acknowledge the America of the past and strive to be what we may become in the future — better humans. 

The book names a teacher who is sharing history with her students, starting in Africa before slavery. Over time, Americans stole these humans and made them slaves. “For Free” is one repeating line, and other multiple-meaning words add to the feeling and the depth (and the horror) of the times. Kwame Alexander’s poetic language shows the dark past, but also reveals that African Americans refused to stop telling stories and loving each other, and fought for their freedom.

In the middle of the story, the teacher cannot go on. She doesn’t know how to teach the students THIS history. Her students say, “But, don’t you tell us to always speak the truth, Ms. Simmons, even when it’s hard?” Kwame Alexander wants us to know the truth and share it. We cannot escape the past or pretend like history didn’t happen. “You can’t change the past, but you can do better in the future.” Mr. Alexander allows us to hope and dream and act to change the world. The book has two specific purposes: to educate the reader and provide a way to share uncomfortable facts in order to move to a more hopeful, inclusive future. 

Dare Coulter’s fabulous, rich colors provide life and meaning to Alexander’s words. (Pay attention to the colors that alternate the POV throughout the story.) She uses mixed-media techniques that invite readers in and command attention throughout the book, from the cover to the end pages. Her art captivates the reader and brings one closer to the historical account being told in a way that cannot be done with only the words. The pages are all gorgeous, riveting, sad, and hopeful. This book is truly a meaningful collaboration between Alexander and Coulter that should not be missed, and I’m going to follow the news about this book into next awards season, too.

An American Story is a text that needs to be read and shared widely. Adults, please read with your young ones. Recommended for ages 8 and up.

IMWAYR: Happy New Year!

It’s the second day of the new year already, and I AM going to keep up with my reading! My “One Little Word” is CULTIVATE, and I am taking action and nurturing my reading life with care and excitement. There were so many excellent books published in 2022, and many more to come in 2023. This week I plan to read some titles I didn’t get to in ’22.

Physical Books: Love From Mecca To Medina by S.K. Ali and A Planet Like Ours by Frank Murphy, Charnaie Gordon, and Kayla Harren are both on my desk.

NetGalley: If you know me, you know I’m bad at keeping up with NetGalley, but with my intention to CULTIVATE more time for reading, I’m off to a good start this year (I know; it’s only day 2!). I’m reading A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga. I’m usually interested in the moon, but Mars and the Mars Rover stories have been intriguing to me since the news reported on them recently.

Libro.fm: I’m currently listening to Apartment 713 by Kevin Sylvester and finishing The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty (which is not a children’s title, but the author is from my city). I love it when authors are also the narrators of their own audiobooks.

Extra! Bonus! Happy Book Birthday, Kwame Alexander! An American Story publishes tomorrow! This is the first of my “Picture Books are Perfect for Middle School” titles for 2023. It’s not like anything Kwame has ever published, and you NEED to read the story of America…the ACTUAL American story of slavery. Dare Coulter’s vivid illustrations are like paintings – so beautiful and haunting all at once. History and social studies teachers everywhere should acquire and read this book with their students. Families should share this book with each other. I cannot recommend this one highly enough.

Happy New Year! It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

One Little Word 2023

I learned about One Little Word at http://www.aliedwards.com many years ago as I found writing inspiration at Two Writing Teachers (http://www.twowritingteachers.org). In 2023, I want to get back to the basics with my writing and business ventures. My #OLW2023 is CULTIVATE.

What is One Little Word®?(From the website)

In 2006 I began a tradition of choosing one word for myself each January—a word to focus on, to live with, to investigate, to write about, to craft with, and to reflect upon as I go about my daily life. These words have each become a part of my life in one way or another—a process I document via simple creative monthly prompts from January to December.

You’re invited to join me in choosing your own One Little Word®.

CULTIVATE means applying oneself to improving or developing one’s mind (or manners). As a lifelong learner, I will further develop my mind in 2023, but I will learn with more purposeful outcomes. As an adult with ADD, my learning activities are disorganized most of the time and even haphazard in development. Setting goals is not my problem – I plan well. Implementation is the key to the new year. According to an article I read on www.mindful.org, “…if we’re wishing for a more meaningful life but not actively doing anything about it, we probably won’t fare very well. Rather than hoping we will discover or figure out the meaning of our lives someday in the future, it may be possible for us to take ownership of cultivating and experiencing a meaningful life on a day-to-day basis.”

Happy New Year! What is YOUR “One Little Word” for 2023?

Cover Reveal! The Great Caper Caper (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast #5) by Josh Funk

Cover Reveal of Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast #5: The Great Caper Caper by Josh Funk & illustrated by Brendan Kearney

My family has followed the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series since the beginning (2015). My granddaughter and I were #TeamLadyPancake and my husband and daughters were #Team SirFrenchToast. Once, we had an incident with running out of maple syrup, but Josh Funk took that scenario to a whole new level in his first installment of the series. Now, all these years later, we still look to these characters to brighten our mornings!

Here’s a description of the newest book: Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are back in a Las Veggies heist for the ages! Pancake and Toast awake one morning to near-darkness. Who could possibly have stolen the fridge light? And what if the fridge is—gasp—dark all the time? Not to worry; Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are on the case! Along with their friends, they assemble blueprints, collect supplies, and investigate. Will they bring the fridge back to its bright self, or will they have to live in semi-darkness . . . forever?

Josh: Hi, Jennifer. Thanks for having me over to chat!

Jennifer: We are excited to see what’s next in the series! When did you realize that Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast had more adventures coming?

Josh: As soon as I saw Brendan Kearney’s sketches for the very first book I knew I wanted to write more stories in this amazing world he’d created. I mean, all I gave him were the names “Lady Pancake” and “Sir French Toast” – he came up with all of the details from the strawberry hat and the whipped cream hair to the wafer crown and the chocolate mustache! I knew I had to explore more inside the fridge world!

Jennifer: I love the play on words/vocabulary with multiple meanings. How long did the book take to write?

Josh: Thanks! According to Google Docs, it took about two weeks to write the first draft – and then another three months to revise – and that’s before I even sent it off to my editor. We then continued to edit for another four months before sending it off to Brendan to begin illustrating. To be honest, in publishing, that’s actually pretty quick.

Jennifer: Well, it’s certainly a long time for us readers! Will we be seeing our favorite characters again in The Great Caper Caper? Are there new characters for us to meet?

Josh: Yes, and yes! In many ways, this book is a reunion of sorts for characters who’ve shown up throughout the series. As you probably know from any heist book or movie, you need a whole team to pull a caper – and Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast recruit not only Baron von Waffle, but characters major and minor from all four of the previous books (Of course, you don’t have to have read any of the previous books to enjoy this one).

And the new character, Count Caper, is as despicable as capers get (I don’t like capers, btw – the food kind).

Josh: Thanks so much for hosting the cover reveal! Here it is…

The Great Caper Caper by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney is available for preorder from your favorite book retailers and releases on September 20th, 2022, published by Union Square Kids.

Josh Funk is a software engineer and the author of books like the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, the ​It’s Not a Fairy Tale series, the How to Code with Pearl and Pascal series, the A Story of Patience & Fortitude series, Dear Dragon, Pirasaurs!, Albie Newton, and coming soon: My Pet Feet (8/23/22), It’s Not the Three Little Pigs (10/25/22), and Dear Unicorn (fall 2023)! For more information about Josh Funk, visit him at http://www.joshfunkbooks.com and on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @joshfunkbooks.