Author Archives: Debbi Michiko Florence

About Debbi Michiko Florence

Author of children's books. Coming July 11, 2017, JASMINE TOGUCHI, MOCHI QUEEN and JASMINE TOGUCHI, SUPER SLEUTH (FSG).

Third Quarter Reading List

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WOW! Those last 3 months went by super fast! Part of it was due to my being busy with my own debut book launch for my chapter book series, JASMINE TOGUCHI. And the other part was it just being summer and spending time with family and friends. But fear not, I read some fabulous books and here they are:

 

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REBEL SEOUL by Axie Oh

HERE COMES THE TEACHER CAT by Deborah Underwood (Illus by Claudia Rueda)

WARCROSS by Marie Lu

HERE COMES THE TOOTH FAIRY CAT by Deborah Underwood (Illus by Claudia Rueda)

WHAT GOES UP by Katie Kennedy

HOW IT WENT DOWN by Kekla Magoon

I SEE LONDON, I SEE FRANCE by Sarah Mlynowski

RAISING THE GRIFFIN by Melissa Wyatt

THE INCREDIBLE MAGIC OF BEING by Kathryn Erskine

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THE LIGHT WE LOST by Jill Santopolo (adult fic)

THE STARS OF SUMMER by Tara Dairman

BUBBLES by Abby Cooper

WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME by Natasha Friend

SHINY BROKEN PIECES by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp

HELLO, UNIVERSE by Erin Entrada Kelly

AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR by Nancy Werlin

WANT by Cynthia Pon

I am very behind on my reading. There are So many wonderful books I want to read, and the great books keep coming out! I’m going to try hard to read a ton over the next three months! What are you reading that you’re loving?

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Welcome to the Spotlight Maria Gianferrari and HELLO GOODBYE DOG!

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I’m thrilled to welcome back author Maria Gianferrari to DEBtastic Reads! Her nonfiction book Coyote Moon was featured here last year. Today we’re celebrating the release of her newest picture book, Hello Goodbye Dog! Stay tuned below for a giveaway of this wonderful book!

Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Patrice Barton

(Roaring Brook Press, July 2017)

Moose hates goodbyes, so when Zara leaves for school, he finds a way to be with her. Zara insists he’ll behave when she reads to him. Each time he’s dragged back home, he finds a way back. Zara comes up with the solution of training him to be a therapy dog, and so Moose is able to spend reading time with Zara and her classmates.

Spotlight on Maria Gianferrari:

What was the inspiration behind the story of HELLO GOODBYE DOG? And can you share what the journey to publication was like?

Like many of my books, the initial inspiration was my daughter Anya’s relationship with our dog, Becca. Anya’s an only child, and we got six-month old Becca when Anya was only four years old, so they’ve grown up together. Anya’s now 15, and Becca’s 11! Becca’s like Anya’s dog sister. Here’s my favorite photo of these best friends, taking when Anya was six and Becca was one.

As a rescue, Becca had separation anxiety when we first got her, and used to howl when we’d leave her alone. An undertone of that still remains in the story: Moose only wants to say “hello,” to Zara, not goodbye. Some of the details changed through many revisions over the years, but in its heart, it is a story about a girl and dog who love each other, and who are best friends.

I so appreciate the diversity in this book. Can you tell me more about how you developed Zara as a character?

What makes America great is that we are a melting pot. But many books, especially picture books, need to reflect the experience of a wider variety of people, rather than just focusing on white main characters. My editor, Emily Feinberg and I, wanted to portray as broad a representation of people as possible. We wanted this book to be a mirror, so that kids of color and kids who use wheelchairs can see their faces reflected too, and to build empathy, which we need more than ever these days!

Dogs! I love dogs! I assume you do, too. Do you have a dog? If so, what is his/her name and is he/she anything like Moose?

Me too! Dogs, dogs, and more dogs! As I mentioned above, we have a rescue mutt named Becca who has separation anxiety issues, like Moose. Becca’s a Dixie chick originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Sadly, someone abandoned her in a common dumping area for unwanted dogs near a highway. Luckily for us, a couple named Ross and Rebecca (Becca’s namesake) were able to lure her into their car with some leftover Olive Garden chicken. Since they already had several pets, they brought her to a nearby rescue organization, For the Love of Dogs, that works to bring dogs from crowded southern shelters, to homes or shelters in the northeast. I spotted her on Petfinder, and it was love at first sight. This is the photo that made me fall in love with her—isn’t she sweet?

As you can tell from the illustrations in the book, illustrator Patrice Barton is a dog lover too. Moose resembles Becca physically, especially with the constant wagging tail. Becca’s is like a whip—watch out! Moose and Becca both have sweet and loving temperaments. And here’s a photo of Patrice’s dog, Archer.

Thanks for featuring Hello Goodbye Dog on your blog, Debbi

Maria Gianferrari is the author of the Penny & Jelly books, Officer Katz and Houdini as well as Coyote Moon, also 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 her dog, Becca, her scientist husband and her artist daughter.

For more about Maria and her books, check out her web site, friend her on Facebook, or follow her on Instagram. You can also check out her web site on Penny & Jelly.

Roaring Brook has generously offered to send a copy to a lucky winner. To win a copy of Hello Goodbye Dog for yourself, a child, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter in the drawing:

1. Comment on this post by Sunday, August 6, by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and contacted on Tuesday, August 8 (be sure to include your email address).

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!

Check out Maria’s Blog Tour:

 

*Monday, July 24th:                           Pragmatic Mom + THREE book giveaway!

*Two for Tuesday, July 25th:          Librarian’s Quest

Reading for Research

 

*Wednesday, July 26th:                   Homemade City

*Thursday, July 27th:                        Kid Lit Frenzy

*Friday, July 28th:                              Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook

*Monday, July 31st:                           Picture Books Help Kids Soar

*Tuesday, August 1st:                        Bildebok

*Wednesday, August 2nd:                 The Loud Library Lady

*Thursday, August 3rd:                     DEBtastic Reads!

*Friday, August 4th:                           Mamabelly’s Lunches with Love

*Monday, August 7th:                         Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

 

EXTRA: August 25th:                         Kidlit411—Interview with Patrice Barton

 

My Book Birthday

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I don’t talk much about my own writing here – as this is my reading blog, but I can’t let this milestone pass without a mention. Today is the release day of my debut chapter book series, Jasmine Toguchi, with the first two books in the series: Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen and Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth. This has been a long journey and I’m overjoyed that my books are now out in the world.

Another milestone is that we got a new puppy. Meet Kiku! She’s also happy to join in on the celebration!

For more info and how to purchase, please see my website. And to read some interviews and reviews, see my blog Notes from the Word Nest.  If you’d like a chance to win both books, make sure to stop by the Emu’s Debuts blog for my launch week posts Monday – Friday, July 10 – 14.

Thank you!

Second Quarter Reading List

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Half the year is up and here’s what I’ve read the second quarter of the year. I slowed down with my reading in the last month because we got a new puppy. Meet Kiku! She’s a rescue pup, part dachshund and part terrier and we love her!

 

STEF SOTO, TACO QUEEN by Jennifer Torres

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon

CILLA LEE-JENKINS FUTURE AUTHOR

EXTRAORDINAIRE by Susan Tan

STRANGE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor

GENUINE FRAUD by E. Lockhart

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SPILL ZONE by Scott Westerfeld (illus by Alex Puvilland)
A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman (adult fic)
ALWAYS AND FOREVER LARA JEAN by Jenny Han
LOLA LEVINE MEETS JELLY AND BEAN by Monica Brown (illus. by Angela Dominguez)
GHOST by Jason Reynolds
ESCARGOT by Dashka Slater (illus by Sydney Hanson)
A LETTER TO MY TEACHER by Deborah Hopkinson (Illus by Nancy Carpenter)
THE BOOKSHOP ON THE CORNER by Jenny Colgan (adult fic)
WE ARE OKAY by Nina LaCour
THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE by Stacey Lee
GEM & DIXIE by Sara Zarr
RAISIN, THE LITTLEST COW by Miriam Busch (illus by Larry Day)
BUNNY BUS by Ammi-Joan Paquette (illus by Lesley Breen Withrow)
PUDDLES!!! by Kevan Atteberry

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FINDING WONDERS by Jeannine Atkins
HELLO GOODBYE DOG by Maria Gianferrari (illus by Patrice Barton
ARMY BRATS by Daphne Benedis-Grab
THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas
LET’S PRETEND WE NEVER MET by Melissa Walker (ARC)
ONCE AND FOR ALL by Sarah Dessen (ARC)
ROYAL BASTARDS by Andrew Shvarts (ARC)
COMING UP FOR AIR by Miranda Kenneally (ARC)
THE MANY REFLECTIONS OF MISS JANE DEMING by J. Anderson Coats
A LIE FOR A LIE by Robin Merrow MacCready

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What have you been reading and loving so far this year?

Happy reading!

Welcome to the Spotlight Monica Brown and Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean!

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I’m very pleased to shine the spotlight on author Monica Brown and her chapter book series Lola Levine! So far there are four books in the series starring vivacious and kind-hearted Lola. Lola Levine, Drama Queen is a Bluebonnet nominee in Texas. Awesome! Stay tuned below for a chance to win the most recent book in the series:

Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

(Little Brown/2017)

Lola Levine is excited! This summer break she is getting a kitten. Lola and her brother, Ben, prepare to welcome a new pet by reading books, designing a cat castle, and finally going to the animal shelter to pick out a kitty. But Lola’s happiness soon turns to distress when she realizes Ben might be allergic to Jelly, her kitten. Will Lola be able to keep her new pet?

Can you tell us a little about how you came up with Lola Levine and her stories? How did you develop Lola as a character?

Lola’s story is my own, and that of my cousins, siblings, and community.  I grew up in a large, loving diverse Latino/a community and I wanted to depict children like myself and my own that are bicultural, bilingual, biracial, and so much more. I am Peruvian, Jewish, and European and can trace my ancestry across the Américas, Africa, and Europe.  Lola Levine can’t be described in fractions and I don’t think any child should be. Our multicultural children are whole just as they are. My own daughters, Isabella and Juliana inspired Lola and other characters in the book, but she is a person of her own—funny, fierce, passionate, dramatic, loud, smart—a super soccer fanatic that has a beautiful, honest way with words. When I write I slip into what I call Lolaworld, and it is a loving, challenging, fun place to be.

In LOLA LEVINE MEETS JELLY AND BEAN, Lola is excited to adopt a kitten. What was your inspiration and spark for this story?

I love animals and at one point my house had two dogs, two Guinea Pigs, and two fish.  Our two dogs are still with us, Ollie and Finn.  As a child I always wanted a cat, but I, like my mother, was severely allergic to them, so I got a wonderful dog instead.  This book is about children and animals, but a lot more too. It’s about what we do when our wants conflict with what is right. Lola loves Jelly, but her brother is allergic.  She and Ben learn the hard way, that health, and taking care of our bodies, is always best.  It’s also about making mistakes, and how we grow from them in the context of family. I don’t believe there is such a thing as “bad” kids. Rather, children are inherently good, and like adults, make mistakes.

Lola’s favorite drink is chicha morada from Peru – made from purple corn, spices, and pineapple. It sounds delicious and I sure would love to try some! What is your favorite drink and why?

As a child, my most favorite, special drink was one that I could ONLY have when we were in Peru—Inca Kola!  It is a sweet, fizzy, neon yellow cola drink that tastes like bubble gum. It’s now available (if you are in the know) in the United States, wherever Peruvians are found:). I must confess that aside from water, my most favorite drink is one that is intimately tied to my writing life—coffee!! We have some amazing local roasters in this town, and I am, in fact, answering these questions in one of my favorite coffee shops!

Monica Brown, Ph.D. is the award-winning author of many multicultural books for children. Her books have received numerous honors and starred reviews. She wrote the Chistopher-Award winner Waiting for the Biblioburro, illustrated by John Parra, and the Marisol McDonald picture book series, which includes Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/no combina; Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash/y la fiesta sin igual, and Marisol McDonald and the Monster/y el monstruo all illustrated by Sara Palacios. Her most recent creation is the unique, fabulous Lola Levine, who stars in Monica’s first chapter book series, which includes Lola Levine is Not Mean!, Lola Levine, Drama Queen, and the forthcoming Lola Levine and the Ballet Scheme (Fall 2016) and Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean (Winter 2017). Her next picture book will be Frida and her Animalitos, from North South Press.

Monica Brown is also a Professor of English at Northern Arizona University where she teaches Chicano/a, U.S. Latino/a, and African American Literature.

For more about Monica and her books, check out her Lola Levine web site where you can download an educator’s guide, her author web site, and follow her on Facebook,

To win a copy of Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean for yourself, a young reader, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter the drawing:

1. Comment on this post by Saturday, May 6 by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and announced on Wednesday, May 10. Be sure to include your email address.

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

EDITED TO ADD: Congratulations Colleen M. for winning a copy of Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean!

Happy reading!

 

 

 

First Quarter Reading List 2017

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I thought I’d keep a running list of the books I read quarterly, as well as posting a full list at the end of the year. Here are the books I’ve read and loved so far this first quarter of 2017. While I’ve read 30 books so far, I’m way behind on my reading. More great books keep popping up. If only I could read and do nothing else! 🙂 Would love to hear what books you’re reading and loving!

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All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Keily

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Whobert Whover, Owl Detective by Jason Gallaher (illus by Jess Pauwels) ARC

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Mama Loves You So by Terry Pierce (illus by Simone Shin) ARC

In Case You Missed It by Sarah Darer Littman

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (adult fic)

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins ARC

Egg by Kevin Henkes

The Takedown by Corrie Wang ARC

My Busy Green Garden by Terry Pierce (illus by Carol Schwartz) ARC

Flying Lessons and Other Short Stories edited by Ellen Oh

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

March Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

March Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Hug It Out by Louise Thomas

Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Silvensky ARC

Are You an Echo? translation by David Jacobson, Sally Ito, Michiko Tsubori (illus by Toshikado Hajiri)

The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LeReau (illus by Matt Myers)

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar

Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick

The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli

Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howard (illus by Rafael López)

The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina by Kara LaReau (illus by Jen Hill)

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham (adult humor)

Dark Horses by Cecily Von Ziegesar

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray

Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy

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Welcome to the Spotlight Kara LaReau and The Bland Sisters!

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Ahoy there! Join me in shining the spotlight on children’s author Kara LaReau and her marvelous new middle grade series The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, starting with book 1, The Jolly Regina! She most recently won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor for her chapter book The Infamous Ratsos, illustrated by Matt Myers and published by Candlewick Press. Stay tuned below to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of The Jolly Regina!

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The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Jen Hill (Abrams/2017)

Jaundice and Kale Bland are sisters who live in Dullsville darning socks, watching the grass grow, and eating cheese sandwiches. They enjoy these things quite a bit, despite not knowing where their parents had disappeared off to for years. But one day, they are kidnapped by a band of female pirates and forced on an adventure that leads them to search for their missing parents. Full of great wit and humor, this story will enchant readers. And they will fall in love with Jaundice and Kale. I can’t wait for the next book!

Spotlight on Kara:

A swashbuckling witty tale about two sisters who enjoy NOT having adventures, end up on a pirate ship. I love that the pirates are all women. What inspired this all-female cast of characters?

When I wrote the scene where Jaundice and Kale hear a knock at the door, I had to ask myself who the mystery visitor might be. I thought, “What would be the most surprising thing for these boring girls to encounter?” Of course, the answer was pirates. But there have been SO MANY stories about pirates already, and I didn’t want them to be run-of-the-mill. That desire to provide a fresh take on something conventional, combined with my indomitable feminist spirit, led me to the crew of The Jolly Regina.

The names of all the characters and places are such fun! What was your process for finding the right (and funny) names? Do you have a favorite?

I am a bit obsessed with names. I’ve been told my own name is hard to pronounce and hard to spell, so I’ve spent most of my life correcting people! It’s led me to focus on remembering how to pronounce and spell other people’s names, which has led me to focus on names in general. I love words that almost sound like names, and I am always noticing and tabulating interesting ones. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you’re a big fan of names, you’re REALLY going to like the next Bland Sisters adventure!

The Bland Sisters do not like change or adventure. The pirates, obviously, do! Are you more like Jaundice and Kale, or like the pirates? And what would your favorite activity be if you lived in Dullsville or on a pirate ship?

I am a little bit of both. I love traveling and socializing and being out in the world, but I also love the comforts of home, so sometimes it takes effort to change out of my pajamas. I channel that homebody side of me when I write the Bland Sisters.

If I lived in Dullsville, I’d probably want to work at the grocery store; I’d love to know what other kinds of “sundries” they have in stock, and making deliveries might be interesting.

If I lived on a pirate ship, I’d like to sit in the crow’s nest. It would give me some alone-time, the view would be breathtaking, and I’d always be on the lookout for adventure!

Kara LaReau was born and raised in Connecticut. She received her Masters in Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts and later worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and at Scholastic Press. She is the author of picture books such as UGLY FISH, illustrated by Scott Magoon, and NO SLURPING, NO BURPING! A Tale of Table Manners, illustrated by Lorelay Bové; a chapter book series called The Infamous Ratsos, illustrated by Matt Myers; and a middle-grade trilogy called The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, illustrated by Jen Hill.  Kara lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband and son and their cat.

For more about Kara and her books, check out her web site, follow her on Twitter, and follow her on Instagram.

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To win a signed copy of The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina for yourself, a young reader, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter the drawing:

1. Comment on this post by Saturday, February 11 by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and contacted on Monday, February 13 (be sure to include your email address).

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

EDITED TO ADD: Congratulations to Maria G. for winning a signed copy of The Unintentional Adventures of The Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina!

Yo ho ho! Happy reading!