Wednesday, November 26, 2014

MG Review: Fearless Joe Dearborne

Fearless Joe Dearborne by Lisa Whitney Mitchell

Title: Fearless Joe Dearborne
Author: Lisa Whitney Mitchell
Publisher: Independent; 2014. 198 pages
Source: Electronic Review Copy

Publisher's Summary:
Some might say he’s courageous, while others would say he’s daring, maybe even a little crazy. But when Joe Dearborne risked his life and ran into a burning building to save a puppy, the local newspaper referred to him as “fearless”—and that’s a pretty big title for a sixth-grader to live up to.
Plus, Joe already has plenty else to worry about. After other daring feats in the past, Joe promised his father he wouldn’t do anything dangerous again, and, alas, he’s just broken that promise.

But whatever trouble he expects to get into with his father, and despite the dangers he’s triumphed over in the past, nothing could prepare Joe for what he’s about to encounter when a cold, bitterness creeps into his home.

A mysterious and peculiar woman named Mrs. Chill has just been hired to care for Joe while his father is away on business. In no time, however, Joe discovers that she’s up to more than cooking and cleaning, and she has plans to destroy his family. Joe’s effort to save them results in perilous, sometimes humorous, encounters, and leads him on a journey through the threatening wilderness where he faces his greatest challenge yet.

My Review:
This was a quick read that kept me turning the pages. It wasn't quite what I expected from the summary--I think I expected more slapstick humor. But despite the over-played Mrs. Chill, the story really is the tale of a boy who's suffered a lot of loss and is trying to figure out who he is. Joe has been dealing with it--or not--by being recklessly brave, until he goes too far and loses his fearlessness. Now he has to learn that courage is going on even when you are scared.

My biggest criticism of this book lies in the contrast between the stock characters (Mrs. Chill and dotty Aunt P) and the very human boy at the center of the story. Mrs. Chill is like every other evil boarding-school mistress of literature--from Mrs. Minchen (A Little Princess) and Mrs. Monday (Nancy and Plum) to Count Olaf (A Series of Unfortunate Events): her perfidy is obvious to both Joe and the reader, but the adults in the case seem oblivious. I think this is intentional: the comedic aspects tone down what could otherwise be a pretty intense story. But I'm not sure it's necessary. I'd like to see how Joe copes with his real-world problems in the real world.

This is a fun and easy read for kids from about 8 and up. Kids are apt to really enjoy the goofy aspects, though older children (used to books with more intense issues) may share some of my complaints.

Full Disclosure: I was given an electronic ARC of Fearless Joe Dearborne by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Guest Post from A Year in the Secret Garden

A Year in the Secret Garden - Blog Tour Button 

I am happy today to host Valarie Budayr, co-author of the beautiful and charming book, A Year in the Secret Garden, a companion to the beloved classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Title: A Year in the Life of the Secret Garden
Author: Valarie Budayr Illustrator: Marilyn Scott-Waters
Publication Date: November, 2014
Publisher: Audrey Press
Pages: 144 
Recommended Ages: 5 to 99

Book Description: Award-winning authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters have co-created A Year in the Secret Garden to introduce the beloved children’s classic, The Secret Garden to a new generation of families. This guide uses over two hundred full color illustrations and photos to bring the magical story to life, with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes, and step-by-step crafts, designed to enchant readers of all ages. Each month your family will unlock the mysteries of a Secret Garden character, as well as have fun together creating the original crafts and activities based on the book. Over 140 pages, with 200 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. A Year In the Secret Garden is our opportunity to introduce new generations of families to the magic of this classic tale in a modern and innovative way that creates special learning and play times outside in nature. This book encourages families to step away from technology and into the kitchen, garden, reading nook and craft room.

And now, a word from Valarie Budayr!

A Year in the Secret Garden - coverThank you Rebecca for inviting me today to be a guest blogger today on Ninja Librarian. It is such an honor and I'm so happy to be here.

Over the past year I've had the great pleasure of working with Marilyn Scott-Waters aka The Toymaker as we created our book A Year in the Secret Garden.

One of our favorite childhood books is The Secret Garden. We wanted to bring the book to life for a new generation of readers. We've created a month by month guide to the Secret Garden bringing this magical story to life. Inside are crafts with step by step instructions, easy-to-make recipes, gardening activities, beautiful and fully illustrated paper toys to download, and historical information. We've even added a Yorkshire dialect guide. It's our wish that you have many magical moments inside the Secret Garden.

Today let's go exploring into the month of July. July is a beautiful sunny month in the Secret Garden. The garden is in full bloom, the bees are buzzing and there is always a gentle breeze found under blue skies. The Secret Garden is fully awake in summer and beckoning one and all to enter it's walls. July holds many wonderful adventures to be add as well as many wonderful things to eat. July explores the world of  The Secret Meal with a tin foil breakfast. Also included in July are Colin's exercises, a blindfolded garden walk, creating a garden journal, a character study on Susan Sowerby, creating beautiful affirmation stones and eating some lovely scones and ginger tea.

affirmation stones
Today I'd like to share some fun eating with a real Secret Meal, our tin foil breakfast. Mary, Dickon, and Colin enjoyed eating a breakfast by the campfire. It's one of my favorite things to do as well.

campfire 2 Tin Foil Breakfast

Makes enough for 1 person per foil package. Ingredients
  • Hash brown potatoes
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1 sausage link (optional)
  • Feel free to add ham, cheese, or bell peppers as well
  • Salt and pepper
  • Aluminium foil
  • Cooking Spray
Instructions Tear off a piece of aluminum foil large enough to hold your eggs and potatoes. Spray the non-shiny surface of your foil with cooking spray. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them until well mixed. Place potatoes, beaten eggs ( uncooked), sausage, and salt and pepper to fast in the aluminum foil. Wrap securely Place on hot white coals of your campfire or grill for approximately 15 minutes. Turn and rotate as needed.

Wishing you many happy adventures inside the Secret Garden.
--Valarie Budayr

About the Author: Valarie Budayr

Valarie BudayrValarie Budayr loves reading and bringing books alive. Her popular website,, inspires children and adults alike to experience their books through play, discovery, and adventure.
She is founder of Audrey Press, an independent publishing house, as well as an Amazon and iTunes best-selling author. She has written The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden and The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Valarie is passionate about making kid’s books come alive and encouraging families and schools to pull books off the shelves and stories off the pages.

Book Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Pinterest | Google+ | Goodreads

About the Illustrator: Marilyn Scott-Waters

Marilyn Scott-WatersMarilyn Scott-Waters loves making things out of paper. Her popular website,, receives 2,000 to 7,000 visitors each day, who have downloaded more than six million of her easy-to-make paper toys. Her goal is to help parents and children spend time together making things.
She is the creator of a paper toy craft book series The Toymakers Christmas: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling), and The Toymakers Workshop: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling). She is also the co-creator with J. H. Everett of the middle grade nonfiction series, Haunted Histories, (Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). Ms. Scott-Waters illustrated The Search For Vile Things (Scholastic), and created paper engineering for Pop & Sniff Fruit (Piggy Toes Press).

Website | Facebook | Google+

* $100 Blog Tour Giveaway *

Amazon 100 gift card
Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: December 7, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

Year in the Secret Garden Rafflecopter Giveaway!

A Year in the Secret Garden Blog Tour Schedule (2014)

November 1
Coffee Books & Art (Guest Post)
WS Momma Readers Nook (Book Review)
November 2
Hope to Read (Excerpt)
November 3
Eloquent Articulation (Book Review)
November 4
BeachBoundBooks (Excerpt)
November 5
Monique’s Musings (Book Review)
November 6
SOS-Supply (Book Review)
November 7
Randomly Reading (Book Review)
November 8
Adalinc to Life (Book Review)
November 9
100 Pages a Day (Book Review)
November 10
Edventures With Kids (Book Review)
November 11
November 12
Girl of 1000 Wonders (Book Review)
November 13
Seraphina Reads (Guest Post)
November 14
Juggling Act Mama (Book Review)
November 15
Pragmatic Mom (Illustrator Interview)
November 16
Stacking Books (Book Review)
November 17
Oh My Bookness (Book Review)
November 18
November 19
The Blended Blog (Book Review)
November 20
All Done Monkey (Book Review)
November 21
Geo Librarian (Book Review)
November 22
My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews (Book Review)
November 23
November 24
Bookaholic Chick (Excerpt)
November 25
Ninja Librarian (Guest Post)
November 26
Jane Ritz (Book Review)
Rockin’ Book Reviews (Book Review)
November 27
November 28
Deal Sharing Aunt (Book Review)
November 29
Mommynificent (Book Review)
November 30
This Kid Reviews Books (Book Review)
Java John Z’s (Author/Illustrator Interview)
Grandbooking (Author/Illustrator Interview)

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway! #MGBookElves

I don't usually review my own work...and I'm not. But I'll review the other 6/7 of the book!

Seven stories, seven situations threatening the festivities. Will the holidays be a disaster?  Will families be left out in the cold? Will there be tears before bedtime, or will there be happy endings all round? The MG BookElves group brings you its first anthology of tales to enjoy during the holiday season:
* Reliable Clooney Dockins delivered his town's mail on time for thirty-two years, until that strange and impossible Christmas Eve when he woke up late. M.G.King (Fizz & Peppers at the Bottom of the World, Librarian on the Roof)
* Max the Tonkinese cat finds Santa Claus on the roof and is whisked away to retrieve a very special message from another time and place. Wendy Leighton-Porter (The Shadows from the Past series)
* Shirley Link is an amateur sleuth who lives in a town that could use all the sleuths it can get! What is it about Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts that makes it such a hotspot for dastardly deeds? Even on Christmas Day? Ben Zackheim (Shirley Link Detective Series, The Camelot Kids)
*Champ may be a rescue dog, but he’s the best person around to stop the dognappers and save heartbreak at Christmas. Fiona Ingram (The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, Champ: My Story of Survival)
* When the railroad gets snowed under, the two bit town of Skunk Corners has to play host to a load of mighty difficult strangers.  Can Big Al and the Ninja Librarian keep the season of goodwill from breaking into a riot? Rebecca M. Douglass (The Ninja Librarian, Halitor the Hero)
*Far away on the west coast of a western Scottish island, Dylan and Dougall face yuletide in Castle Haunn with no heat, light or food.  Can Dylan get the message through to the mainland for help, or is there something nasty waiting for him in the hills? Jemima Pett (The Princelings of the East series)
*It’s Christmas holiday and Lily is stuck in a remote mountain village. With school out for a month and no internet connection, at first she wonders how she will fill the time. In this sweet romance, Lily discovers there’s more to gift-giving than just the giving.  S. Smith (The Seed Savers series)
Each tale weaves its own seasonal magic.  Each magician has already warmed the hearts of thousands of young readers with their stories. Enjoy these frantic races to meet the Christmas deadline while you curl up in your favourite reading spot this winter.

Details: 40,000 words (approx); 157 pages (approx, ebook)/ 184 pages (paperback) ; grade 4 +; ages 8 to 108.

Title: BookElves Anthology, Vol. 1
Authors: Jemima Pett, Rebecca M. Douglass, Fiona Ingram, M.G. King, Wendy Leighton-Porter, S. Smith, Ben Zackhiem
Publisher: Princelings Publications, 2014, 184 pages.
Source: I got to proof the book for our group!

My Review:

 There really is something in here for everyone. The stories are very different, but I enjoyed every one, and each had something to offer the reader: humor, inspiration, food for thought, and a faint whiff of candy canes and chocolate. Most of the stories are spin-offs or bonus tales from series, from my own Ninja Librarian to the guinea pigs that inhabit the world of the Princelings of the East to Max the Tonkinese cat and Shirley Link, kid-detective extraordinaire. I have read some of the series, and for others this was my first encounter, and all the stories read well as stand-alone stories, as well as tickling my desire to delve further into their worlds. It's nice bunch of stories to curl up with as the holidays approach!

It really is for kids from 8 to 108, though some stories skew more to the younger or older child, largely through variations in reading level. I recommend this for anyone, of any age, who just wants to spend a little time with some heartwarming holiday stories!

Like it? Buy at Amazon in paperback or Kindle, or enter the Goodreads Giveaway for a copy all your own! 

And while we're on the subject of great new books...