Tag Archives: chapter book

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!

 

 

 

Mochi Queen Cover!

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Please indulge me once more as I share the cover of the first book in my Jasmine Toguchi chapter book series:

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Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen (FSG/July 11, 2017)

Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker!

She’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophiesomething special, something different. The New Year approaches, and as the Toguchi family gathers in Los Angeles to celebrate, Jasmine is jealous that her sister gets to help roll mochi balls by hand with the women. Her mom says that Jasmine is still too young to join in, so she hatches a plan to help the men pound the mochi rice instead. Surely her sister has never done THAT before.

But pounding mochi is traditionally reserved for boys. And the mochi hammer is heavier than it looks. Can Jasmine build her case and her mochi-making muscles in time for New Year’s Day?

Big thanks and appreciation go to talented illustrator Elizabet Vukovic and awesome designer Kristie Radwilowicz! I’m so in love with this cover! The bright colors and overall design take me back to the manga I used to love to read as a child. And Jasmine – I just love her in her flamingo shirt and crown, holding a tray of delicious mochi.

Believe it or not, you can already pre-order the books!

Thanks for letting me share the joy with you all!

Thursday, stay tuned for my Spotlight on a debut middle grade author and a chance to win a signed copy of her book!

Welcome to the Spotlight Eric Luper and The Mysterious Moonstone

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Hooray and happy book birthday to author Eric Luper! This fabulous book is the first in the Key Hunters chapter book series. A secret library? Mysterious keys? I’m there! Stay tuned below to win a copy!

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Key Hunters: The Mysterious Moonstone by Eric Luper (Scholastic/April 2016)

When their beloved school librarian disappears, Evan and Cleo are stuck with a new mean librarian, Ms. Crowley. Evan and Cleo discover a secret library hidden under their school library and follow clues left by their previous librarian- and end up inside a book! Evan and Cleo must solve the mystery and find a key in order to return to their world. Will they make it out of the book? And what other mysteries are locked in the secret library? A fun adventure that had me trying to solve the mystery along with Evan and Cleo. I’m excited to read the rest of the series!

Spotlight on Eric Luper:

You’ve written several novels for older readers prior to this. How did this chapter book series come about? It sounds like such fun to write, with each book taking readers into a different genre.

I had been working on a middle-grade adventure that took place in the New York Public Library and had to do with real life puzzles, almost like National Treasure but in a library. I spent a lot of time learning about libraries and traveling to various libraries for ideas (NYPL, Chicago, Morgan Library, Library of Congress). I was having trouble envisioning how the story would come together until my editor from Scholastic, Jenne Abramowitz, mentioned an idea about a library with magical books that could only be opened with special keys. All it took was thinking about my idea for slightly younger readers with a magical twist and KEY HUNTERS was born!

Evan and Cleo are fun to follow – Evan with his jokes and knowledge and Cleo with her bravery and gumption. How did you develop these two characters? What are the challenges and joys to writing a book about their adventures?

I needed Evan and Cleo to sort of be opposites of one another. That way, there would be lots of opportunity for fun conflict between the two. They have very different ways of approaching problems, and neither is afraid of voicing their opinions. As I moved from book to book, I learned more about the characters in the same way I hope my readers do. And sometimes one or the other surprises me with a thought or action that makes me step back and ask why they did that! It’s part of what makes writing this series exciting for me.

As far as what challenges I’ve faced, I worried about writing a series. Most series have very similar plots from book to book and, quite frankly, that would bore me a little. When I get bored, I grow disinterested and interest is what motivates me as a writer. Since each book of KEY HUNTERS takes place in a different genre of fiction, every one becomes new and exciting for me and that has kept the writing coming fast and fresh.

I love the idea of having to find a key in order for Evan and Cleo to make it home. Do keys have any special significance for you?

Keys are fascinating to me. When I was little, I thought the more keys you had on your keyring the more important you were. Keys open up possibilities in the same way books do, so the two go hand in hand in my mind. The idea that a key would open a book that the characters would be drawn into just seemed to gel perfectly. And the idea that the worlds inside these books are as real as their own world felt exciting too.

Eric Luper grew up in New Jersey and attended Rutgers University. He writes fiction for young people and is proud to have moved from starving artist to not-so-starving artist. Eric loves excitement and is always looking for his next adventure. He’s fibbed his way into a tour of the ultra-secret Pez headquarters, rebuilt a castle in France, explored the creepy tunnels under Paris and Istanbul, escaped hungry crocodiles in Costa Rica, and rafted down the Colorado River. When he’s catching his breath, Eric lives in New York where he splits his time between Albany and Lake George.

For more about Eric and his books, check out his web site!

To win a copy of The Mysterious Moonstone for yourself, a child, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter in the drawing:

1. Comment on this post by Saturday, April 30th by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and contacted on Tuesday, May 3rd (be sure to include your email address).

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!

 

 

Marty McGuire Digs Worms! by Kate Messner

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I received my very own autographed copy of Marty McGuire Digs Worms! by Kate Messner (illustrated by Brian Floca) after winning a drawing for spreading the good word about Kate’s first Marty book. This book is just as much fun with a great story about saving the earth.

In this second book about the spunky third grader Marty McGuire, Marty is determined to win a prize in the school’s Save The Earth project. With the help of her grandmother, she and her best friend Annie set up a compost bin at school. Marty is excited for the worms to do their job, but is then disappointed that they are so slow about turning food scraps into fertilizer. In the meantime, it looks like all her other classmates are making great and visible progress on their projects. Will she even have a chance at winning?

I love how full of confidence Marty is, and I love that she cares about saving the earth. It’s no surprise that Marty loves worms (she wasn’t afraid of a frog in book 1). There’s good humor throughout (worm escapees!) and readers will learn about composting and other “save the earth” hints.  Young readers will enjoy this story and Marty will capture their hearts!