Recently in So Many Good Books Category

You Must Bring a Hat!

Perfect Picture Book Friday

You Must Bring a Hat.pngYou Must Bring a Hat! (Sterling Children's Books, 2016) by Simon Philip and Illustrated by Kate Hindley is a humorous picture book about a young boy trying to get into Nigel's party. The doorman keeps coming up with more and more difficult requirements, like monocles for monkeys and pink tutus for elephants. The twist ending is fun.

This is Simon Philip's first book. Read more about the author here and see his other picture books here.

You can see a number of Kate Hindley's illustrations here and read about her and all of her books here.

A Unicorn Named Sparkle

Perfect Picture Book Friday

amy-young-art-a-unicorn-named-sparkle-cvr-500x621.jpgA Unicorn Named Sparkle (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016) by Amy Young is darling. Lucy sees an ad for a unicorn for 25 cents and sends away for one. She names his Sparkle and imagines how he'll be and what she'll do with him. But Sparkle does not live up to her expectations. In fact, she's going to send him back. But . . .

I won't spoil the end for you. Suffice it to say, it's a cute story with a feel-good ending. The illustrations are fun, too. And now there's a series of stories about Sparkle. The newest one is A Unicorn Named Sparkle's First Christmas.amy-young-art-sparkles-first-christmas-cvr-500x621.jpg

Learn about the author/illustrator here. Discover more about Sparkle here and watch the hilarious trailer.

Button and Bundle Cover Release

Button and Bundle.jpgIt's especially fun to talk about an upucoming release when the book is written by someone you know. Even better when it's a critique partner! Introducing Button and Bundle (Alfred A. Knopf, 2019) by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan and illustrated by Gillian Flint.

The Story Behind the Story in Gretchen's Words

Button and Bundle is a story very close to my heart. I was raised in a highly-mobile military family and moved more times than any young heart should bear. Some good-byes were tougher than others, but none as tough as saying good-bye to my first friend. We both loved dolls and made clothes and furniture and homes for them. After moving away, I can't remember ever playing with dolls again. I don't know what happened to my doll either. Button and Bundle is the story of what happened in my heart.

We can often mark the changes in children's lives by what they are playing with, as well as what they are ready to leave behind. Favorite toys are vehicles for rich imaginative play between young friends. When children are abruptly separated, they lose this unique world too. In Button and Bundle, Button honors and finds a way to keep alive the world she created with Bundle. Button is resilient, like I was, and moves forward to make a new friend and create new worlds. And she learns, like I did, that true friendship lives forever in the heart.

When I committed myself to writing for children, I was led by the beauty of the form of the picture book and a desire to give voice to the unheard child. I didn't meet myself in print until I was an adult and read a sociological text about growing up military. That experience was both a homecoming and an awakening, and I pledged to give this experience to others to the best of my ability. I pledged to represent the experience of the nomadic child, the Third Culture Kid, particularly the military child, in literature so they wouldn't have to wait as long as I did.

Yet my stories are for all children. In an interview in Children's Book Insider (March 2017), my editor was asked to describe a book that she knew right away that she had to buy. She responded, "I recently acquired a picture book text that I fell in love with immediately. It's the story of two little girls who are best friends, and one of them has to move away. The author managed to evoke so much emotion in such a spare, simple text that it blew me away."
Later, in an email to my agent she wrote, "From the moment I opened this submission, I knew it was a special one. As I began to read ... I knew this manuscript had everything I was searching for. It's incredibly sweet and gorgeously written, with just the right amount of sensitivity. I love the way the author honors very young friendship, and accomplishes so much in the spare text."

Button and Bundle is ultimately a story for those who understand the true meaning of friendship. I am humbled and glad that this story will be in libraries and bookstores as of February 19, 2019 and deeply grateful for my terrific agent, Karen Grencik, my amazing editor, Karen Greenberg, and her team at Knopf and my extremely talented illustrator, Gillian Flint, who brought my Button and Bundle to life.

Button and Bundle is dedicated to my first friend, and to first friends everywhere.

What was the timeline for your book from writing it to publication?

Button and Bundle's life on paper began in March 2015 when I wrote the first draft longhand. I work back and forth between longhand and the computer, printing each draft to read aloud, workshop and revise. I submitted what I was calling The Cheer-up Yellow Balloon to my agent a month later. Our search for the perfect editor and house ended with an offer from Knopf in August of 2016. I wanted to shout my news to the world, but had to practice patience until my contract and the illustrator's were signed. Knopf announced the sale in May of 2017 in Publishers Weekly. I got a sneak preview of Gillian Flint's sketches that July and her beautiful final art in October, 2017. It's always a huge thrill to receive the "folded and gathered" unbound pages of a new book. The F&Gs for Button and Button were in my hand in May 2018, and I got to hug the hardback book for first time in November 2018. Now I'm waiting to celebrate Button and Bundle's book birthday/release date on February 19, 2019 with small cakes and lemonade. I hope you'll celebrate with me too.

Author's Bio

Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan is a former elementary reading specialist who now devotes herself to writing for children and visiting schools as an author. She is an active member of SCBWI and writes chapter books and middle-grade fiction as well.

Gretchen grew up as a global nomad, daughter of a career Army officer, and lived on three continents. Gretchen had to leave many friends behind, but they lived on in her heart. She has settled in Camas, WA where she lives with her husband, cat and dog, stunt squirrels, marauding neighborhood chickens, and celebrates when her children and grandchildren come home. Children will find a home in her heartfelt books about community, courage and compassion.
When she isn't writing or teaching, Gretchen can be found reading, playing word games, baking, sewing, hiking in the woods, cross-country skiing and attending plays. Please visit Gretchen at gretchenmclellan.com for more information about her books, events and author visits.

She is the author of Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3 (Peachtree, 2017), I'm Done! (Holiday House, 2018), When your Daddy's a Soldier (Beach Lane, 2020), and No Party Poopers (Little Bee, 2020).

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle

MasonButtle.jpgThe Truth as Told by Mason Buttle (Katherine Tegen Books, 2018) by Leslie Connor has such a sympathetic character. I couldn't wait to find out what had happened.

Mason is the biggest, tallest kid in seventh grade. He also has a sweating problem. And writing is extremely difficult for him. Of course, that means he's bullied. But Ms. Blinny believes he has stories in him and lets him use a computer that translates his spoken words into text. Maybe Lieutenant Baird can read those printouts and will believe Mason's oft-told story of what he knows about his friend Benny's death.

Life gets better with a new funny friend, Calvin. But when Calvin goes missing, the Lieutenant suspects Mason for this too.

The book is a National Book Award Finalist and is on a number of "Best Book" lists for 2018.

Read more about the author here.

I've recommended another of her books here.

Your Amazing Skin from Outside In

AmazingSkin.jpgYour Amazing Skin from Outside In (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018) by Joanne Settel, PhD, and illustrated by Bonnie Timmons is a fun factual book about skin and why it does all the good and weird things it does.

The book is told in rhyme which flows well and is matched by humorous illustrations. Kids (and adults) can learn why they get pimples and goosebumps, sunburns, their skin color, and a lot more.

I think my favorite page of text is the one discussing layers and layers of skin and how they are shed. A portion of it says,

"These cells are tiny, small, and thin.
You'll never see them leave your skin.
But actually, they're everywhere.
They make the dust that fills the air."

*Shudder*

I love so many of the illustrations, it's hard to pick one, but the spread with someone who is green is especially fun.

There are bonus facts about animal skin too.

Dr. Settle has written other science books for children. Read more about her and her other books here.

Read about author/illustrator Bonnie Timmons here--I can see why she was selected to do this book just from her bio.

Each time I pick this book up, I find myself smiling.

You Must Bring a Hat!

A Unicorn Named Sparkle

Button and Bundle Cover Release

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle

Your Amazing Skin from Outside In

Somewhere Among

A Big Mooncake for Little Star

Steelheart

Grace and Fury

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

we don't eat our CLASSMATES

Be Quiet!

Natsumi!

The Lying Planet

Sanctuary

The Wizard's Dog

The Someday Birds

Roller Girl

Warcross

One of Us Is Lying

Hello, Universe

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

A Death-Struck Year

The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse

Bernice Gets Carried Away

The Traitor's Kiss

Chasing Secrets

Is It Night or Day?

Tempests and Slaughter

Infinity

To Catch a Killer

The One Memory of Flora Banks

My Lady Jane

Shadow Magic

Lucky Broken Girl

Grandma's Purse

Dad and the Dinosaur

Strange the Dreamer

Wonderling

What Goes Up - a picture book

Insignia

The Sun Is Also a Star

Who Killed Christopher Goodman?

Six of Crows

Foxheart

A Face Like Glass

What Goes Up

Daughter of the Burning City

Before She Ignites

The Lost Girl of Astor Street

The Black Witch

The Someday Suitcase

The First Last Day

The Seventh Bride

The PROBLEM with FOREVER

Red Queen

The Reader (Book One of Sea of Ink and Gold)

Hoot & Honk Just Can't Sleep

Cloud and Wallfish

Rules for Thieves

Heartless

Prisoner of Ice and Snow

Just a Normal Tuesday

Defy the Stars

Given to the Sea

Monster, Human, Other

Carrying Mason

Holding Up the Universe

The Passion of Dolssa

Bob and Joss Get Lost!

Night Animals

The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan

The Diabolic

Jelly Bean Summer

Leave Me Alone!

Wolfie the Bunny

The Only Road

The Wolf's Boy

The Water Princess

Who Wants a Tortoise?

The Secret of a Heart Note

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3

Pug Meets Pig

Normal Norman

Mother Bruce

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

Handbook for Dragon Slayers

Enchantress Sacrifice

Shadows

One for the Murphys

A Time to Dance

Dying to Meet You

Iron Hearted Violet

Let Me Finish!

Scythe

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Scourge

Written in the Stars

Dead Boy

Poppy

Ms. Bixby's Last Day

Towers Falling

Echo

The Seventh Wish

All Four Stars

the impossible knife of memory

Just My Luck

The Thief of Mirrors

Snoring Beauty

The Inn Between

Bottled

Booked

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

Counting Thyme

In the time of the Dragon Moon

The Chance You Won't Return

The Fire Sermon

The Crossover

A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals

Sweet Home Alaska

Mouseheart

How to Capture an Invisible Cat

The Year We Sailed the Sun

The Wrinkled Crown

Ship Breaker

Uprooted

Circus Mirandus

Dragon Slippers

Mr. Pusskins: a Love Story

Prisoner 88

Tuesdays at the Castle

Not in the Script

All the Bright Places

Fuzzy Mud

Rhyme Schemer

Switch

El Deafo

Nightsong

On My Way to Buy Eggs

The Last Child of Hamelin

The Cabinet of Earths

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

Castle Hangnail

Moonpenny Island

Waiting for Unicorns

This Girl Is Different

An Ember in the Ashes

Tunnel Vision

How It Went Down

Loved It! - Fish in a Tree

Not Easy - The Truth about Twinkie Pie

Argh, Mateys - Hook's Revenge

Thrills and Chills - The Third Twin

Payback - Nickel Bay Nick

Eerie - Sorrow's Knot

Quick and Cute - Number One Sam

Saved by the Milk - Fortunately, The Milk

Dory Fantasmagory

Born to Succeed - Every Day After

Captured by the Title - Also Known as Elvis

MG Adventure in Verse - May B.

Absolutely Almost

Out-of-this-World Adventure - Space Case

Discoveries and Escapes - Rooftoppers

A Wow Adventure

Dangerous Adventure - Badger Knight

Draw or Die - The Rithmatist

An Eggstraordinary Story - Under the Egg

Looking for Magic? - A Snicker of Magic

MG Mystery - Three Times Lucky

Not just a Mystery Weekend - Suspect

Dangerous Impersonation - The False Prince

A Boy and an Elephant - Chained

Charming, Literally - Rose

Girl in Trouble - The Rules for Disappearing

Shaping Her Own Fate - Passion Blue

Fated to be Useless? - Firstborn

Secrets! - The Pledge

Ultimate Fractured Fairytale - Enchanted

Deliciously Funny - Monsters Eat Whiny Children

Hilariously Creepy - Creepy Carrots

Moving Story - The Stamp Collector

Cute Grandma Story - Silly Frilly Grandma Tilly

A Cat Lover's Novel - Cat Girl's Day Off

Secret Agents - Junior Style - Double Vision

A Dark Story - Wooden Bones

Contemporary Fantasy or Magical Realism - Drizzle

Heartbreaker - The One and Only Ivan

Fantasy AND Humor - The Last Dragon Slayer

The amazing Laini Taylor - Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Eye-opening Historical - Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

Amazing Story - Wonder

Unexpected - The Hop

Anything But Typical

Words in the Dust, an amazing story

Historical MG in Verse - Inside Out and Back Again

Hysterically Funny - Fetching

Light-hearted Story - The Grand Plan to Fix Everything

Not Your Average Greek Myth - King of Ithaca

Amazing Historical - The Year We Were Famous

Fascinating Premise - Wake

Good and Creepy - The Cabinet of Wonders

Fascinating problem - Flip

Whose life? - How to save a life

Historical YA Giveaway - Second Fiddle

Another time and now - Blessing's Bead

Another place - Island's End

Just love this kid! - Okay for Now

Powerful Story - After

Memorable Story - Tell Me A Secret

Twist after twist - White Cat

A book with heart - Heart of a Shepherd

Really good story - Grounded

Family Story with Photographs - Finding Family

Halley's Comet and Hope - Selling Hope

One Strong Girl! - One Crazy Summer

Distinct voices - Blink & Caution

Great first line - Split

Phew - almost missed this goodie - Schooled

Very Very Good! - Crunch

Very Interesting - The Everafter

Real or not real? - The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Sympathetic Character - Windblowne

Humorous sheep and more - The Quest of the Warrior Sheep

Funny pet story - Guinea Dog

Hard to put down! - Divergent

Murder in Space? - Across the Universe

What Happened?! - No Passengers Beyond This Point

More History - The Fences Between Us

Historical for Boys - The Walls of Cartagena

Grown-upness is truly wasted on grown-ups - Cosmic

Something a bit different - Ashes

Fearful stuff - Countdown

Humor and Heart - How to Survive Middle School

Love the opening - Ratfink

More Humor Mixed with Mystery - Belly Up

What a sweet winner! - Moon Over Manifest

All that jazz - The Little Piano Girl

Sweet Sibling Rivalry - Flora's Very Windy Day

Another great heroine - Girl, Stolen

Incredible Story - out of my mind

Funny! - Fiona Finkelstein Meets Her Match

Another Very Good Book - Absolutely Maybe

Bedtime Bible and more - Read and Share Bible

Unputdownable Fantasy - The Demon King

Humorous SciFi - The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

Shortlisted? - Mockingbird

Historical Fantasy - Plain Kate

Facts just slip into your mind - The Red Umbrella

How could you not care?

Novel in Verse . . . for boys - Hate That Cat

Must Read Book - Escaping the Tiger

7th Grade - no laughing matter - Mackenzie Blue

Focus, shoot! - Flash Burnout & hold still

Book just came out - God's promises...for boys...

Aren't they cute? - Poodle and Hound

Book Felt SO Real - memoirs of a teenage amnesiac

Great First Line - How to Steal a Dog

Book Plus - Invisible i - The Amanda Project

Fantasy Sequel - yea! - The Timekeeper's Moon

Book 1 - glad more is coming - Shiver

Steampunk and Darwin - Leviathan

Newbery honor book - The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Emotional Book - Rubber Houses

Modern Fantasy - The Demon's Lexicon

Coming Out This Month! - Boys without Names

Great opening scene - The Middle of Somewhere

You thought you had it tough? - Sweetgrass Basket

Powerful Book - Hate List

Please let me slap the father! - Candor

Unforgettable - Unwind

Parental Discretion Advised - Jumping Off Swings

Companion Book - Eternal

Character Growth - Red Glass & Mexican WhiteBoy

Modern-day Retelling - Beastly

Powerful story - Right Behind You

Must read - The Hunger Games

More Author Interviews

Got voice? - Penny from Heaven & Elijah of Buxton

Sympathetic character - Ethan, Suspended

2009 Newbery Winner - The Graveyard Book

Fantasy to Love - Graceling

"we become what we have to be" - Nation

Calling Baseball Fans and others! - Keeping Score

Memorable story - Ways to Live Forever

Mystery to Solve - The Postcard

Wow! Really moving story! - The Mailbox

A 2009 Newbery honor book - Savvy

Don't miss this award winner! - Home of the Brave

Catching Up on Reading - Book of a Thousand Days

Makes me smile - A Crooked Kind of Perfect

Puns galore - Punished!

Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time by Lisa Yee

Love this character! - Beka Cooper, Terrier

Murder Mystery, yet so much more - Perfect Shot

Couldn't Stop Reading - Elsewhere

Prepare for fun - Once Upon a Marigold

Make me laugh! Thor's Wedding Day & Queen Sophie Hartley

Arriving in March - Reaching for the Sun

Science Fantasy - Enchantress from the Stars

Twist, twist, twist - Carmine, A Little More Red

Graphic Novel - Here Be Monsters

Novels in Verse - Seeing Emily

prepare to be amused - The Wee Free Men

Limits not reached - Downsiders

Hooked by Voice - Stuck in Neutral

Delightful book - Sylvia Jean, Drama Queen

The Sea of Trolls

The Schwa Was Here

LOL - Ruby Holler