Category Archives: Children’s Literature

Spy Mice Blog Hop & Giveaway with Heather Vogel Frederick

Books for boys…I’m not ashamed to admit as a children’s librarian it’s probably my Achilles heel…somehow very early in my career I became a certifiable princess expert within the library scene. I was always sought out when the need for girly books was crucial especially when the treasured few princess books were checked out or falling to pieces from so much child love. And while I never minded because I got to do Daddy Daughter Tea Parties and wear a ball gown skirt and tiara for programs….this became much more complicated when I was blessed with my beautiful BOY. That’s right…the Mom who knew it all for girls was blessed with the bouncing baby boy! What’s a librarian and a Mom to do? Call in the expert…a favorite children’s book author who just happens to have raised two boys. Did I mention she also happens to be fabulous at writing for girls as well? All right it must be said…she’s just plain fabulous.

Who is she you ask? Well…I always had my go-to books for boys that I trusted every time and the Spy Mice series by Heather Vogel Frederick was always one of those that I went to for reader’s advisory for boys. Spies…mice..adventure…intrigue…what’s not to like? So how wonderful is it that they are now all new in paperback with covers meant to make them irresistible to even the most persnickety of young readers both boy and girl. Lucky for me author Heather Vogel Frederick decided to drop by and answer questions about her favorite mice and their risky adventures. Not only that Stiletto Storytime and The Styling Librarian get to give three lucky readers entire newly released sets of the series. Now that’s something to celebrate! It’s a series I will no doubt be stocking for my boy for on down the reading road. So read on and learn more about this great series and remember to enter to win on the form below by simply sharing your favorite fictional spy.

SPY MICE Q&A

 Author Heather Vogel Frederick

 Q:  What’s the best part about the relaunch of your SPY MICE books?

 A:  Knowing that new readers will have a chance to discover them!  These books are dear to my heart, and I had a blast writing them.

 Q:  What do you think of the new look?

 A:  Fabulous!  I couldn’t be happier.

 Q:  Can you tell us how the books came about?

 A:  Sure.  Not that long ago, in a galaxy not that far away, I had a bright idea. I’d write a story that would pay homage to my misspent youth, or at least the part of it misspent in the living room watching television. I grew up during the heyday of spy-fi TV, addicted to such shows as Get Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, and The Avengers.  My 12-year-old self loved them all.  I loved the glamour, the gadgets, the whole cool factor of espionage, at least as Hollywood portrayed it.

 Grown-up me knew exactly where to set the story. The seed for that idea had been planted when I’d filed away a newspaper clipping about the building of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., along with a scribbled reminder.  (Note to self: Great setting for a story, à la E. L. Konigsburg’sFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”)

 I noodled around with the concept for a while, came up with a great main character (an aspiring fifth grade spy whose James Bond moves were seriously lacking), but something was missing.  And so I set the story aside and waited for that je ne sais quoi.  And waited.  I’ve learned to trust my muse—she often makes me wait, but she always comes through.  One day, the words “spy mice” drifted into thought, and I was off and running.

 Q:  Do you have a favorite character?

 A:  Mouse or human?

 Q:  Let’s start with mouse.

 A:  Well, the evil rat mastermind Roquefort Dupont is really fun to write, and I have a soft spot for Bunsen (Burner, a shy lab mouse).  I love it when he blushes—which he does often, because he has a crush on secret agent mouse Glory Goldenleaf.

 Q:  And the humans?

 A:  There’s a lot of me in fifth grader Oz Levinson, alas.  When I was his age, we both shared the same awkwardness, the same Walter Mitty-esque delusions of grandeur, complete with deflating reality checks. And we were both bullied.

 Q:  Really?

 A:  Yep.  I was plump, shy, and wore glasses, the trifecta of bully bait back then, at least in my particular corner of suburbia.  Nowadays, schools talk much more openly about bullying, and really make an effort to both prevent the problem, and give kids the tools to deal with it more effectively when it does crop up.  Back then, it was just something to be endured.

 Q:  Would fifth-grade you have appreciated a mouse ally?

 A:  Are you kidding me?  I would have been ecstatic.

 Q:  Who’s your favorite fictional spy?

 A:  Oz may dream of being James Bond, but when I was his age I dreamed of being Emma Peel from The Avengers.  No one wears a black leather catsuit like Emma does.

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Filed under Author Interviews & Posts, Blog Tour, Children's Literature, Heather Vogel Frederick, Middle Grade, New Books

Tween Tuesdays With Jordin

Today at Stiletto Storytime we debut a new feature and a new guest reviewer. In fact not only is she my first ever guest reviewer in almost six years of blogging here at Stiletto Storytime but she also just happens to be my little sister as well. You see in our family reading has always been a family affair so it only felt right to let my tween sister review some books written for her age in mind.

An adult can review books for all ages but one often likes to get the actual intended reader’s opinion. As a children’s librarian I am pretty good at knowing what’s good and will be well received and what won’t for a variety of ages. But why not get the point of view of a reader at the age for whom the book was written? So without further ado here is Jordin and her review of Famous for Thirty Seconds by P.G. Kain. This book is the first in the Commercial Breaks series for tweens which means it was written for kids roughly between the ages of 9-12. So please give a warm welcome for Jordin here at Stiletto Storytime.

“You know me. You don’t know how, but you’ve definitely know me.”

            This was true about a thirteen year old actress, Brittany Rush. She has been on the cover of just about everything since she was in diapers. All of that came to a sudden stop when she and her family moved to Hong Kong for a year. When Brittany returned to New York City, she expected to find her old life of call-backs, go-sees, and auditions. Instead she came to find that her spotlight had been given to Phoebe Marks. The girl who before Brittany left, rarely ever got call-backs.

I thought that this was a great book because it has stuff about fashion, romance, and a good rivalry. You should really read this book because not only was it fun but it was also exciting enough to make me want to read the next book in the series too! Book two in the series Picture Perfect is available now and Book three Dramatic Pause will be released on November 27, 2012.

    Need another summer read or how about an option intended more for the boys? Check out Scary School by Derek the Ghost and Scott Fischer. You can also check out the second book in the series Monsters on the March. Here’s a little about the book from it’s description:

“You think your school’s scary? Get a load of these teachers: Ms. Fang, an 850-year-old vampire, Dr. Dragonbreath, who just might eat you before recess, Mr. Snakeskin—science class is so much more fun when it’s taught by someone who’s half zombie and Mrs. T—break the rules and spend your detention with a hungry Tyrannosaurus rex! Plus gargoyles, goblins, and Frankenstein’s monster on the loose The world’s most frighteningly delicious school lunch and the narrator’s an eleven-year-old ghost!

 Join Charles “New Kid” Nukid as he makes some very Scary friends—including Petunia, Johnny, and Peter the Wolf—and figures out that Scary School can be just as funny as it is spooky!”

Sound like some good reads for either yourself or someone you know? Perhaps they may be perfect for your classroom or school library? Do you like having a tween’s point of view on newly released books here at Stiletto Storytime? Would you like to see more reviews by Jordin on Tween Tuesdays or do you have a book you’d like Jordin to review? Just let us know. We love feedback and comments are always not only accepted but truly appreciated as well.

Thanks to Jordin for taking the time to review for Stiletto Storytime and thanks to my readers for allowing her a chance to share some great new tween books with you, your kids or even your grandkids. And as always Happy Reading for All Ages!

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Filed under Books for Girls, Children's Literature, Girly Books, Middle Grade, Reading Fun

Reading Challenge: My Life in Newbery

Children’s literature is really important to me not only as a children’s librarian but also as a reader and a parent. There is something about the books that we read as children that shape the readers we become later in life. They can often sometimes even depict or affect whether we will become readers at all. The John Newbery medal is an award given by the American Library Association to an author for their contribution to American literature for children. The award has been given since 1922. It is named for John Newbery, an 18th century English publisher of juvenile books.

 I recently saw a friend and former library colleague at Learning to Play the Bassoon create a sort of reading challenge by looking up the Newbery winners at certain points in her life and I wanted to take it and make it my own by doing something similar. Below I have created a list of books that have won the Newbery Medal during my lifetime. I thought it would be fun to read each of these books this year. I really don’t read as much children’s literature as I should anymore now that I am at home with Little Man and this seems like a fun way to incorporate some into my current reading.

I would love for others to undertake this challenge with me or even just commit to reading one Newbery winner this year such as the book that won for the year you were born. You can easily look the winning and honor books for each year here. Just for the fun of it….I would love for everyone to share what book won the year you were born and whether or not you have read it?

My Life in Newbery

The year I was born: 1981

Newbery Medal Winner: Jacob Have I Loved  by Katherine Paterson

The year I started kindergarten: 1986

Newbery Medal Winner: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

The year I turned 10: 1991

Newbery Medal Winner: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

The year I started high school: 1996

Newbery Medal Winner: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman

The year I graduated from high school: 2000

Newbery Medal Winner: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

The year I graduated from college: 2005

Newbery Medal Winner: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

The year I received my Master’s Degree: 2006

Newbery Medal Winner: Criss Cross by Lynn Rae Perkins

The year Little Man was born: 2009

Newbery Medal Winner: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This year’s Winner for 2012

Newbery Medal Winner: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

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Filed under Award Winners, Children's Literature, Classic Literature, Middle Grade, Reading Challenge

Blog Tour: “A Wrinkle in Time” 50 Years, 50 Days, 50 Blogs

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of A Wrinkle in Time Stiletto Storytime is pleased to be a part of the 50 Years, 50 Days, 50 Blogs Celebration. As part of the second week of celebrating we are blogging about “sharing” this great book.

Personally the first time I read A Wrinkle in Time I didn’t get it. I was in middle school and I quickly went through the book and simply didn’t “get it”. Then the second time I read it, once again in middle school…I kind of got it. I got that it was special. As Meg says ” I got it. For just a moment I got it! I can’t possibly explain it now, but there for a second I saw it!” And so began my cycle of re-reading this destined classic. A cycle that has continued from young adulthood into graduate school and beyond into my library career.

How could this book not be destined to be a classic although in many ways it was lucky in finding it’s way to print at all. The classic good vs. evil, dark vs. light, right vs. wrong…but for children. That was the key. For the first time someone was entrusting children with saving the world, with joining the ranks of Jesus, Gandhi and so many of the other fighters. Someone was given children worth not only in constructing a story of this magnitude where they were the heroes but in also creating a story that might be hard to “get” but believing that those children out there devouring each page would persevere even if it did take a few times.

That to me is what makes A Wrinkle in Time and Madeleine L’Engle special and the reason why it must continue to be shared. And what better way to share than with this dazzling new 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition which can rival it’s contemporary companions in shelf presence while providing a little something new for everyone to learn about their treasured favorite or new discovery, whichever may be the case. If you have not read this book I do hope you will let me share it with you now. Enjoy & Happy Reading!

About the 50th Anniversary edition:

The 50th Anniversary Commemorative edition features:

•       Frontispiece photo*†

•       Photo scrapbook with approximately 10 photos*†

•       Manuscript pages*†

•       Letter from 1963 Caldecott winner, Ezra Jack Keats*†

•       New introduction by Katherine Paterson, US National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature  †

•       New afterword by Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughter Charlotte Voiklis including six never-before-seen photos †

•       Murry-O’Keefe family tree with new artwork †

•       Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery acceptance speech

( * Unique to this edition    )         (   † Never previously published)

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Filed under Blog Tour, Children's Literature, Contests, Events, Middle Grade

2nd Annual Holiday Read-a-Thon

It’s that time of year again. Time for the second annual Holiday Read-a-thon! So cozy up with a nice big pile of your favorite reads and let’s get going! And while diving into your very own favorite books might seem like a holiday treat in and of itself…make sure to check out the all the details and the awesome mini-challenges that Liza at WhoRuBlog has put together including one from moi! That’s right a fantastic mini-challenge and prize pack giveaway from one of my favorite authors who just happens to be a spectacular person as well. And don’t fret…it’s not too late to enter.

Stiletto Storytime Mini-Challenge

What better way to celebrate holiday reading than with a great holiday book. Enter the latest addition to The Mother Daughter Book Club Series titled Home for the Holidays where the girls get introduced to none of than the Betsy-Tacy books! So for this mini-challenge what better prize than to win your very own autographed copy of Home for the Holidays, the newly released Betsy-Tacy Treasury, the first two Betsy-Tacy High School Books and a special Betsy-Tacy tote bag! What a haul! Big thanks to the always generous Heather Vogel Frederick for making this giveaway not only possible but wonderful as well.

So what’ the challenge? It’s really easy- just share your favorite holiday read? It doesn’t have to be a classic or even holiday related…just let us know in the comments below what you enjoying reading this time of year and most importantly why? It can be from a cherished childhood memory, a yearly personal tradition or just your own preference…just let us know why it’s important to you. That’s all it takes. Simple right?

 Giveaway ends midnight EST December 5th 2011. This giveaway is open US/Canada shipping addresses only. Winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address or Twitter. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter (Leave Name)

Be/Become a Follower of Liza of WhoRuBlog on Twitter (Leave Name)

Like the new “Mother Daughter Book Club Page” on Facebook (Leave Name)

Tweet or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)

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Filed under Books for Girls, Challenges, Children's Literature, Girly Books, Heather Vogel Frederick, Middle Grade, New Books, Reading Challenge, Young Adult Books

Blog Tour: Can You Survive? Jack London’s “Call of the Wild”

   Growing up as a child there were two types of books that really caught my attention. I loved the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books and I also adored classical literature…a trend that has obviously  persisted throughout my lifetime. Bringing the classics to children has always been part of my mission as a children’s librarian, I simply love exposing children to classical literature and watching their minds come alive with the masterpieces of the past. Just that small taste of a classic can promote a child to later in life pick up the real thing which to me is the end goal.

Enter the newly adapted “Can You Survive” series from Ryan Jacobson in which he combines the classic Call of the Wild  by Jack London with an interactive choose your own path type format. The result is an adventure into a true classic that allows young readers an interactive choice driven reading experience. This book is perfect for reluctant boy readers of late elementary to early middle grade range (Ages 9-12) although some girls may find the book to their liking as well.

The book itself places the reader into the role of Buck, the reluctant sled dog. Each plot twist and turn allows readers to decide their action and hope for survival. It’s obvious throughout the book that Jacobson has tried to stay as true as possibly to Jack London’s original story in many ways. However I would caution the choices and situations faced in the book can be graphic and somewhat disturbing at times. I would advise parents and educators to stick to the age guidelines set forth by the book or to read the book ahead of time and make sure they feel the book is appropriate for the age group for which they intend it. When made available to the correct audience this book could truly open doors into the world of classical literature for the right child.

Book Giveaway

Thanks to generous author Ryan Jacobson one lucky reader of Stiletto Storytime will win their very own copy of Can You Survive? Jack London’s Call of the Wild for a special child in their life. Giveaway ends midnight EST November 10, 2011. US and Canada addresses only please. Winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

To enter just comment below telling us what special child in your life deserves this book and why you think they would enjoy it. Teachers and educators are welcome and encouraged to enter for their classrooms and students.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Be/Become a Follower Author Ryan Jacobson on Twitter

Tweet or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)

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Filed under Blog Tour, Children's Literature, Contests, Middle Grade, New Books

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

(From Wednesday, May 25th to Tuesday May 31st)

Get ready for the chance to win an uniquely classic prize during this Giveaway Hop at Stiletto Storytime!  Many followers of Stiletto Storytime and #ArmchairBEA participants recently learned of The Storybook Kit Company and their amazing products including:

 Alice’s Pawfect Tea-Party

A delightful book filled with fun: featuring an annotated read-a-long, a CD of accompanying music,”eat me” goodies, a “drink me” vial, a chocolate faced watch and delicious sugar cookie hats for the White Rabbit of course. Oh, and there is yummy tea too.  This company’s fresh idea takes classic children’s stories and brings them alive through interactive play, music and actual refreshments as children enjoy their very own “themed” tea party. This would be a perfect activity to enrich and play away the hours this summer.

Storybook Kits Giveaway

Thanks to the generosity of the Storybook Tea Kit Company: two luck Stiletto Storytime winners will receive their very own Alice ‘s Pawfect Tea-Party Kit -magical and imaginative. It truly will be beyond your expectations.

And don’t worry the company has many more titles being developed includingThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz, A Princess Collection, Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

To enter:  Just share a favorite childhood book you would love to see adapted into interactive play in some way below in a comment below to entered to win.

 Please only US/Can shipping addresses only as these packages do contain perishable items.Giveaway ends midnight EST Friday, May 31st. Winners will be chosen by random.org and notfied by e-mail on June 1st. Also an announcement will be made in the comments section of the winning participants.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Join The Classics Challenge of 2011 (Old +5) (New +3)

And check out my other current giveaways along with  all the other giveaways on the hop here for the Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop .

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Filed under Children's Literature, Children's Programming, Classic Literature, Contests, Events, New Books