Book of the Week: Odd Dog

Odd Dog by Claudia Boldt

Published: 2012 by NorthSouth

Reasons Why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

Let me confess this: I absolutely, positutely adore weenie dogs. I’m just a tad bit obsessed with them.

With that said, the main character is an adorable weenie dog named Peanut.

Peanut is an individual. He marches to the beat of his own drummer.

He doesn’t like bones like most dogs, instead he prefers apples. And tending to his apply tree is what he loves to do most.

I love how this book shows, through Peanut, that worry is a useless emotion.

When Peanut worries, he worries that his chubby neighbor Milo is going to steal his prized apples.

When Peanut realized that the reddest, juiciest apple is ready to fall from the tree he devises many plans to keep this catastrophe from occurring.

Some of those plans include both shaking the tree vigorously and spraying it with a hose.

All of his plans fail. But that doesn’t mean he’s a failure.

I love how this book illustrates the importance of trying and never giving up. Peanut is a determined little dog!

Kids will admire Peanut and his determination.

There are many reasons why Peanut doesn’t want Milo to get his paws on his apple. But mainly it’s because Milo always gets everything.

Milo doesn’t look interested in Peanut’s apples.

When the apply finally falls, it does land in Milo’s yard. Right smack in Milo’s dog bowl!

Milo surprises Peanut. It’s amazing how they could be neighbors but barely know each other.

This book shows readers that we shouldn’t judge others.

After Milo gives Peanut the juicy apple back, the two become life long friends.

Peanut learns the importance of sharing, and that if you share it does not necessarily mean you have to give all of your favorite things away.

The writing was spectacular. It’s simple yet stong.

The story of Odd Dog is engaging and endearing, charming and sophisticated. Everything both children and adults look for in a great picture book.

The illustrations are warm and really brings the Peanut’s story to life.

I love how each page apples are always present and accounted for.

Shootin’ The Breeze With Karina Wolf

Hello Readers!

I’ve featured some pretty great author interviews here on the blog. But never before have I interviewed and featured a picture book author. I know, I feature a ton of great picture books, but never a picture book author. What’s up with that?!

It was about time I fixed that! I recently read, adored, and featured Karina Wolf’s The Insomniacs (if you didn’t read my post, you can do so here) as Book of the Week. After reading this lovely book, I knew I had to ask the author some questions! And fortunately she agreed!

BookBandit (BB): Can you tell me a little about yourself, and about your path as a writer?

Karina Wolf (KW): I grew up in a New Jersey suburb just outside Philadelphia.  And I knew I wanted to write from the moment I learned to read.  The strange alchemy of how letters formed words and words made stories was really exciting to me.  
My older brothers have been great examples for me — one is a visual artist and one began his career as a dancer and an actor, so I had great inspiration and support in pursuing a career in the creative arts.  Of course, it can hard to figure out a path for an untraditional career, so I’ve worked in a variety of writing-related fields, such as copy-writing, film development and other kinds of freelance writing.  The first things I wrote were poems, though I’ve always leaned toward more narrative media — so it’s a pleasure that The Insomniacs is my first book.  I wrote The Insomniacs‘ first draft as a poem.
BB: I’ve heard it been said before that writing a picture book is hard work. In your opinion as a picture book author, what makes it so difficult? What challenges did you face writing The Insomniacs?
KW: I’m a new picture book author, but I think the challenge of the picture book is in figuring out what details to put in and what to exclude.  It’s such a condensed form that you have to clarify the intentions in writing a story, often more than a few times, to be sure that each detail is relevant, moves the story forward, and has whatever aesthetic intention you hope to achieve.
BB: The Insomniacs is a story of a family who, after moving, find out that they much rather sleep during the day and live their lives at night. A family of insomniacs is a really unique topic that I don’t think picture books have seen before. What made you want to write a book about a family of insomniacs? With that, what was the inspiration behind your book? Also, I particularly loved all of Mika’s unusual pets. If you could have any one unusual pet, what would it be and why?
KW: I wrote about a family of insomniacs because I come from a family of insomniacs.  I have had many bouts of bad sleeping and realized my older brothers and my parents have the problem, too.  In part, I wrote The Insomniacsas a consolation for not sleeping and then it became a celebration of sleeplessness and of nighttime.I would love a fennec fox.  It’s a creatively exciting idea to have a wild animal as a pet.  My dog Luca looks a lot like a fox, and I’m very happy with him!
BB: Not only is your writing strong, it’s super smart. The Insomniacs may be a picture book, but personally I feel it’s a book that kids of all ages can and will love. What do you hope your readers – both young and old  – take away from your book?
KW: I hope that readers will enjoy the mysterious atmosphere, the nurturing and untraditional family and the pleasure that they take in solving their sleep problem together.  I hope the book makes nighttime magical for readers!
BB: If you were to describe your book only using three words, what three words would best describe The Insomniacs ?
KW: Loving eccentric family.
BB: Can readers expect to see more of The Insomniacs in the future?
KW: I hope so!  I certainly think there’s more to write about them!
BB: What advice could you offer to aspiring writers?
KW: I’m such a new author, I’m not sure I’m in a position to offer advice.  I realized that what works for me is to write about subjects and characters whom I love, who are fascinating and amusing to me — which makes the writing process enjoyable and hopefully the result is enjoyable to readers.
——————–
I want to say THANK YOU to author Karina Wolf for taking time out of her schedule to answer a few questions. For more information about Karina Wolf and her latest book, The Insomniacs, check her out on the web here!

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Hello Readers!

I realized I haven’t participated in a giveaway hop in some time. I know! What’s up with that?! So when I found out that Kathy over at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and The Diary of a Bookworm were hosting this fang-tastic Halloween themed hop I knew I had to be a part of this great hop.  Thank You! Thank You! Thank You for hosting such a great hop!

This hop around I’m giving three very lucky winners the chance to win one of three prize packs.

Prize Pack # 1:

A (used) ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of Lauren Oliver’s Pandemonium (Book 2 of the Delirium Trilogy). And guess what? The arc is signed by Lauren Oliver herself.  Along with the signed arc, winner will also win some bonus bookmarks and swag!

Prize Pack # 2

A (used) ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of  Jessica Warman’s Between.  With the arc of Between winner will also win some bonus swag and goodies.

Prize Pack # 3

A (used) hardcover copy of Carol Lynch Williams Glimpse. With the hardcover of Glimpse winner will also receive some bonus swag and goodies.

Contest is open to U.S. Citizen only ages thirteen years and older.

The Spooktacular Giveaway Hop is open from 12:01 am on Wednesday October 24th, 2012 and will run until 11:59 pm on (Halloween) October 31st, 2012.  Winners will be selected via random number generator (random.org) and will be notified by e-mail on November 1st, 2012, and will have 48 hours (November 3rd) to respond to winning notification e-mail. If no response is received, a new winner will be selected.

To enter simply leave a comment on THIS post telling me what your most favorite, most spooktacular horror movie is. Besides that please be sure to include a VALID E-MAIL ADDRESS in your comment. (Feel free to also leave which prize pack you are most interested in. Though I cannot guarantee that you’ll win that prize pack, I will guarantee to try my hardest to make all winners happy!)

Please make sure to visit the participating blog’s hops! I promise you that there are some great prizes up for grabs! Check the linky here.

Happy Halloween! And Happy Hopping!

Book of the Week: The Insomniacs

The Insomniacs by Karina Wolf Illustrated by The Brothers Hilts

Published: 2012 by Putnam Books

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I love the family portrait that greets reader’s at the books beginning. It reminds me of something that would hang in an old, creepy Victorian mansion.

This book shows kids that some people are morning people and some people are night people.

When Mother’s job forces the family of insomniacs to move clear across the world twelve time zones away – the family doesn’t complain.

It’s the move into a different time zone than makes these formerly day people into night people.

I love how the family doesn’t complain about having to pick up their life and move to an unfamiliar one. I think it shows the importance of family, and sticking by your family.

The daughter’s name is Mika. Awesome name!

This book shows readers what happens when one doesn’t catch enough zzz’s. In the insomniacs case: Mother nods at her desk while at work. Father snaps photos and then snoozes in his studio. And Mika is lulled to sleep by her school lessons. (But remember kids, it’s not wise to sleep during class!)
There are many remedies for not being able to sleep: warm baths, counting sheep, meditation, and warm milk. All of which the Insomniacs try, all of which fail.

I love how this book shows young and old readers alike the importance of acceptance – acceptance of the things we can’t necessarily control.

The Insomniac family reminds me of another, famous family … The Addams Family!

I love The Addams Family and now, after reading The Insomniacs I love the Insomniac Family.

This book shows the importance of being flexible. Especially when it comes to time. No schedule is ever set in stone.

When the Insomniacs can’t figure out how to catch some zzz’s the set out to ask their neighbors: the bears, the lynx, the walrus, and the other animals that live twelve time zones away.

I love how the Insomniacs mistake bats for mice hanging upside down.

It was in the dark of night that they realized that life is awake all around them. They realized it’s normal to be awake all night and asleep all day. From that point on they carried about their normal everyday activities at night: Mika took night classes, the went on family walks through the quiet streets, they bought fresh-baked bread, etc..

This book celebrates unique-ness.

Mother has a moonlight cactus. I like cacti!

Mika has many pets: an aardvark, an angel shark, a bandicoot, and a small-eared zorro, and a fennec fox. I would love any one of those pets!

I love the Insomniacs home! It’s so … beautiful and Victorian looking.

Let’s talk about this books color scheme – kids young and old will appreciate it! The colors that fill this book are various shades of blues, black, white, red, and yellow! It’s simply beautiful.

I love, Love, LOVE the writing. Author Karina Wolf’s writing is smart, sophisticated, with a whole lot of fun and whimsy.

The illustrations really pop off the page … muted colors and all!

This is the kind of book I want to put in every reader’s hands! It’s the kind of book that I feel was made just for me and fit for my own personal library!

In short: I loved everything about this book (and I think you will too)!

 

Book of the Week: Super-Completely and Totally the Messiest!

Super-Completely and Totally the Messiest by Judith Viorst Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Published: 2006 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it a Book of the Week:

I’ll admit I’m not the neatest of all people. Because of that I identified with Sophie.

Sophie is a free spirit and marches to the beat of her own drummer. And as you know, I love characters like her.

I think Sophie shows young readers how no one is perfect, and that that’s okay.

There are a lot of aspects to Sophie that makes her the super-completely, totally the messiest person of her family. It’s not just her room (which looks like a tornado hit it), but when she colors/paints it ends up everywhere … even on the ceiling.

In school she manages to, not just get her artwork on the construction paper, but all over her desk (as well as other’s desks).

At the beach, with nothing but herself, her towel and bucket, she managed to kick sand all over the place, and destroy seven sand castles.

According to the narrator of this book, Sophie’s older sister Olivia, even her hair frizzy red curly hair is messy.

I particularly love how the illustrator, Robin Preiss Glasser, illustrated Sophie’s messy hair: her father finds a whistle, a piece of a sandwich, and a few other odds and ends as he combs out her hands.

There were so many laugh out loud moments that I actually lost counts.

Sophie really does try her best to put her best (but messy) foot forward. Sometimes she just needs a little help.

Sophie is more than just messy, and readers will get the chance to learn that as they read.

Sophie is smart, sincere, and above all things she’s caring.

Both kids and adults alike can find a bit of themselves living within Sophie.

The book as a whole, isn’t only fun, it’s relatable. We all know (or are) sometime like the characters.

There was only one real aspect I didn’t love about this book — I didn’t love the narrator Sophie’s older sister Olivia, who thinks she’s near perfect. She was often telling Sophie to act more like her.

The writing … well it’s written by Judith Viorst … so you shouldn’t expect anything short of great!!!

The illustrations are AWESOME!!! I love the black and white drawings with the bursts of color (that match Sophie’s bubbly personality) popping off the page.

Sweethearts

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

2020935

Jennifer “Jena” Harris isn’t the girl she used to be. In her former life she was an awkward social outcast who knows what it’s like to be picked on because she was chubby, because she often cried, loudly and publicly, and because she had only one friend.

In her former life Cameron Quick was Jennifer’s best and only friend. He accepted her for the person she was: the chubby girl who often found comfort in food. And she accepted him for who he was: a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who was hiding a dark secret.

So when Cameron quickly disappears from school, from the neighborhood, from her life, Jennifer puts the past behind her. Now in high school, Jena is thin, has a group of friends that love her for who she is – or rather who they think she is – and even has a boyfriend who can’t seem to keep his hands off her. Life is near perfect.

That is, until Cameron Quick walks into her classroom and back into her life. Reunited after years apart they learn in order to keep moving forward, they need to take a step back and revisit the past they’ve both been trying to forget.

Sweethearts, written by author Sara Zarr, is a quick but fulfilling read.

Zarr’s writing is a driving force. It’s simple, but not overly so. She manages to weave a realistic story with threads of, both tension and romanticism. Every step of the way, readers will almost fear learning what Cameron’s dark secret is. While their fearing the worst, readers will also be swept up in Jena’s raw emotions that come rushing back the moment she sees Cameron.

There are many characters featured within the pages of Zarr’s Sweethearts, all of which readers will love. But of all of them, two really jumped off the page. Jena and Cameron. Both are multi-dimensional, realistic, and easy for readers to sympathize with. Jenna will feel like one of the girls, while Cameron will feel like the brooding stranger here to woo every girl in his path.

Beyond Jena and Cameron – the stars of Zarr’s Sweethearts – one other character really struck a chord: Jena’s stepfather. Unlike a lot of stepfather prototypes (I’ve read) in other books, he isn’t uninvolved. He’s an exceptional figure of stability and love to Jena, someone she can truly confide in. He isn’t just the man her mother married, in so many ways he’s the father she’s always wanted and needed.

Sweethearts and a book that will tug on reader’s heart-strings. It’s a lyrical story that will fit the tastes of any reader.

Book of the Week: Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning by Judith Viorst Illustrated by Hilary Knight

Published: 1993 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

If you didn’t know, I LOVE Judith Viorst’s books!

In a round about way this book is about time, a unique concept not often found in children’s picture books.

I love how the two little boys – Anthony and Nicky – do the complete opposite of what their parent tell them to do.

When their parents get home late from an evening out, all they want is to sleep in until 9:45 a.m. . Do you think the boys listen?!

It seems like Anthony wakes up at the crack of dawn, and like most children (or at least the ones I know) from the moment they’re little eyes pop open they are on the go. Little hyperactive balls of energy they are.

Anthony is the first of the two boys to wake up. So he makes it his own, personal mission to wake up Nicky. And he tries making an array of sound, poking him, and finally yelling.

With Nicky awake, the real fun begins.

They take care of many morning chores, so in a way they’re helping their parents. They change out of their pajamas, they wash their faces (and get water … everywhere), the rearrange the living room furniture to look like a raging ocean, they make breakfast, and they even hang their mother’s clothes up (that is after they use them to wipe up the spilled milk from breakfast.)

So in reality, the boys aren’t making a mess (as it would appear), but they’re being helpful.

I love how the parents respond to all the ruckus is to yell through the wall. It really doesn’t help.

Anthony and Nicky are typical rough-housing boys! They’re adorable.

I love the illustrations in this book. To be honest they’re one of the reasons why I picked up this book.

The illustrations are done in mostly shades of black and white with hints of blue.

I love the part of the book when the parents finally do wake up, and realize their furniture has been rearranged. Anthony and Nicky’s  father stubs his toe while  their mother stumbles and falls over a chair.

I love the boys’ imaginations. For instance, their living room miraculously turns into a dark, churning ocean. Just like they imagine it.

When Anthony’s parents do wake up, after stumbling and stubbing themselves, they don’t yell at their boys. Instead they embrace them, and laugh right along  with the boys.

I think this shows that sometimes we adults need to use our imaginations more. Why? Because it’s fun!

The writing, as I knew it would be, is solid, and really brings the story to life.

Adults and children’s won’t only love, but will really appreciate this show.