Thursday, May 17, 2018

Summer Reading Feature: Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I

Second only to reading a book by the pool or in a hammock, our favorite time for a good summer read is during a thunderstorm. Of course, the rain lends itself to a different kind of summer reading, and we have the perfect book. To mix up the summer reading lists, try some historical fiction.

Told from the perspective of Darling, a dog living during World War I, this wartime adventure begins when the British military asks for dogs to help the war effort, and Darling’s family reluctantly sends her to be trained as a mercy dog. Through gunfire and poisonous gases, it’s Darling’s job to find injured soldiers on the battlefield and fetch help from the medics. After saving the lives of numerous soldiers, Darling suddenly finds herself in need of rescue. Will she ever make it back to England?

Darling, Mercy Dog of World War Ithe first installment in Alison Hart’s Dog Chronicles series, is a touching and exciting introduction to World War I. Darling’s story of bravery and devotion reminds readers that dogs can be so much more than pets.

Read an excerpt and take a look at the teacher's guide for summer book club discussion questions and activity ideas! 

Get Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I from your indie bookstoreBarnes & Noble, or Amazon! For more reading suggestions this summer, check out our summertime reading and summer-themed round-ups.

Monday, May 14, 2018

15 Fiction Books Featuring Characters of Color

For many readers, the love of a book comes from seeing themselves within the pages. We celebrate unique voices here at Peachtree, and we know it’s important for children to see characters from all backgrounds and experiences in the books they read. From making inventions, to solving mysteries, to figuring out life after high school, these recommendations all feature characters of color with diverse backgrounds.

Babies in the Park Series
Ages 2-6
by Kathryn O. Galbraith
illustrated by Adela Pons

This brand-new board book series features adorable babies playing in the park throughout the seasons. Featuring diverse characters and highlighting early concepts like shapes and repetition, these books encourage an appreciation of nature and outdoor imaginative play. The first two titles, Autumn Babies and Winter Babies come out September 2018!

In the Weather Series
Ages 2-6

This gently rhyming board book series celebrates all types of weather, comes rain, wind, or snow! Featuring a young girl of color and her adorable dog, In the Wind, In the Snow, and In the Rain are perfect for a sit-in-your-lap reading experience for toddlers.

Ages 2-6
by Nicola Moon
illustrated by Alex Ayliffe

Friday is “special” day in Mrs. Brown’s class, but Charlie can’t think of anything special enough to bring. His mom is too busy with his baby sister to be of much help. But Charlie makes an important discovery about just how special baby sisters and big brothers can be.

Ages 2-6

“Papa, why can’t I fly?” a boy asks his father. His father’s simple answer leads to another question, and then another, until the father playfully demonstrates to his son all the things the child can do. In the end the boy discovers that with a little imagination and some help from his dad he can fly—even without wings!

Izzy Gizmo
Ages 4 - 8
by Pip Jones 

Izzy Gizmo’s inventions are marvelous, magnificent and they often malfunction. But when she finds a crow with a broken wing, she just has to help! Izzy tries again and again to build him a new pair of wings, but nothing is working. And that makes Izzy really cross! Can Izzy overcome her failures? Or will her crow friend never fly again.

by Kashmira Sheth
illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi

Experience the magic of a traditional Indian wedding! Sona’s big sister is getting married and she’s been given an important job to do. She has to steal the groom’s shoes. She’s never attended a wedding before, so she’s unfamiliar with this Indian tradition—as well as many of the other magical experiences that will occur before and during the special event. But with the assistance of her annoying cousin Vishal, Sona finds a way to steal the shoes and get a very special reward.

Ages 4 - 8
illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler

Sometimes it’s almost impossible to get your big sister to read your favorite book to you. Sometimes you have to go to great lengths even to get her attention! But if you’re really creative and use your imagination, you might just get what you want. Take care, though, not to go too far. Once you conjure up a tiger, there’s no telling where it might lead…

Every day, Rupa’s grandmother wears a beautiful sari. “Don’t you ever want to wear a gray skirt and red blouse with round buttons like Mommy or a green dress like me?” Rupa asks. But Dadima prefers to wear her traditional saris. She shares with her granddaughter all the wonderful things that saris can do—from becoming an umbrella in a rainstorm to providing a deep pouch to carry seashells. Soon Rupa’s imagination is sparked as she envisions saris protecting her in the scary Gir jungle, bandaging up an injured knee, and holding a special secret for her and Dadima to share.

Ages 4- 8
illustrated by Judy Love

Jake and his fellow students are getting ready for a celebration. Tomorrow is the 100th day of school and everyone is going to share their collections of 100 things. The day of the celebration arrives, but Jake forgets the 100 family pictures he has glued into a special memory book at home. Disaster! Thanks to Jake’s ingenuity and the sensitivity of his principal, Mrs. Wadsworth, Jake does have a collection to display that day… and something special to share with the class on the 101st day of school.

Seed Magic
Ages 4-8
by Jane Buchanan
illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb

In a barren, gray city, Rose dreams of gardens full of red and yellow and blue flowers. So when Birdman fills Rose’s hands with slick, black seeds and tells her they are magic, she plants the seeds outside her window and waits. Soon, like Birdman promised, a garden appears before her eyes—a singing flurry of red and yellow and blue, drawn to Rose’s window by seed magic.

Follow Kayla and her adorable pup King as they follow clues and solve mysteries together. From missing dog treats to secret encryptions, there’s plenty of detective work and laughs to be had with this sleuthing duo.

by Farhana Zia 

Aliya already struggles with trying to fit in, feeling confident enough to talk to the cute boy, or brave enough to stand up to mean kids—the fact that she’s Muslim is just another part of her life. But then Marwa, a Moroccan girl who shares Aliya’s faith, if not her culture, moves to town. Marwa’s quiet confidence leads Aliya to wonder even more about who she is, what she believes, and where she fits in.

Ages 8-12
by Shan Correa

Paul Silva lives in a paradise—a little farm high in the hills of a lush, green island in Hawaii—where he can see the ocean from his front porch. His disabled father, who makes a living by raising, training, and caring for roosters, has sheltered Paul from the harsh reality of the ties between the family business and the underworld of cockfighting.  But after his schoolmate Honey reminds him of the terrible fate of these roosters, Paul begins to question his family’s role in such a cruel sport.  At a cockfight, Paul is shocked by what he sees and vows to find a way to get his family out of the business altogether, only to come up against a disturbing quandary: raising roosters may be the only way the Silvas can continue to live in this idyllic place.

Child of Spring
Ages 8-12
by Farhana Zia

Basanta longs for the beautiful ring worn by her young mistress, but when it is finally hers, she realizes that it’s not the wonderful possession she expected. Increasingly aware of the struggles of her less privileged friends, Lali and Bala, she finds a way to improve their lives and entertain their community—and the beautiful ring takes on new meaning. Set in a 1960s Indian village and filled with a cast of distinct, endearing characters and humorous, thought-provoking events, this novel provides an insightful look at relative privilege and opportunity.

Sophia—former child prodigy and 17-year-old math mastermind—has been having panic attacks since she learned that after high school, former prodigies either cure cancer or go crazy. It’s a lot of pressure. Joshua—a highly intelligent and cheerfully unambitious amateur magician—has admired his classmate Sophia for as long as he can remember. He thinks the time is perfect to tell her how he feels. He doesn’t know how wrong he is. Full of diverse and quirky teenagers, this story intricately explores the idea of what it takes to feel comfortable in one’s own skin.

Monday, May 7, 2018

10 Children's Books for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a special holiday to celebrate motherhood and all of the maternal figures in one's life. Mothers may look different in every family, but the love and care that every maternal figure brings is special and invaluable. These children's books showcase the special bonds between children and maternal figures, whether it's a mother bear and her cub, a grandmother imparting wise advice, or a woman giving some motherly love to a rescued baby bird. So celebrate all the mother figures in your life this Mother's Day with these ten books honoring motherhood.

Written and illustrated by Jo Weaver 

With gentle text and stunning black and white illustrations, Jo Weaver reveals the strength of a mother’s love, wonder of nature and the first steps of independence. There is so much for Big Bear to teach her new cub as they step out into the forest. Together they eat, swim, fish, and play as one season becomes the next. With his mother’s help, Little One grows more and more confident, until winter comes once more and it’s time to head. (And be on the lookout for Jo Weaver's second book, Little Whale, coming October 2018.)

Written and illustrated by Susan Stockdale 

In straightforward language and bright, colorful pictures, author-illustrator Susan Stockdale shows young children how animals around the world transport their young. Some tote babies on their backs. Others dangle them from their mouths or prop them on their shoulders. From kangaroos carrying babies in pouches in the Australian Outback to penguin babies perched on their parents’ feet in the frozen Antarctic, each animal family is shown in its natural habitat. The story ends on a reassuring note with a human baby snuggled in her mother’s arms.

Written by Lester L. Laminack
Illustrated by Jim LaMarche

Day after day as Henry observes his Aunt Lilla work with the beehives on their Lowcountry farm, he becomes fascinated with her bee suit and her ability to communicate with the bees. So when he learns that the bees are getting ready to look for a new place to live, can he find a way to communicate with the sister bees and convince them to stay? Through is lyrical prose, Lester Laminack presents a sweet portrayal of a young boy’s special relationship with his aunt as they bond over their bees.

Written by Sandra Markle
Illustrated by Leslie Wu

One late afternoon in early September, Jilly sees something that looks like it’s raining black pepper from a clear blue sky. Then the black rain becomes a wispy mist, and then a shimmering orange cloud. What can it be? Jilly and Mom set out to identify the mysterious orange cloud. The closer they get, the more curious Jilly gets, and gradually, the hidden world of nature opens to mother and daughter. This sensitive, eloquent mother-daughter story and imaginative depiction of monarch butterfly migration from author Sandra Markle reminds us that a loving parent can empower a child to discover the mysteries of the natural world—and to enjoy that discovery again and again.

Written by Lester L. Laminack
Illustrated by Constance R. Bergum 

This poignant tale tells of a woman residing in a nursing home who seems to live in a world of memories. Although Miss Olivia is unable to respond and doesn’t always seem to notice her family, her daughter Angel and great-grandson Troy know better. Anything from a beautiful sunset to the mention of her porch swing can take her back into her past. She can no longer do the things she used to do, but she’s still their Momma Olivia. Laminack treats a difficult topic with great care, reminding us of the love that holds a family together in the difficult scenario of seeing a loved one slip into the past.

Written by Doris Gove
Illustrated by Marilynn H. Mallory 

In this story about a special mother-daughter relationship, as Laura’s mother greets each tree, mentioning its unique features, Laura grudgingly begins to take note. Slowly her curiosity overcomes her embarrassment. By the time they’re almost home, Laura has made the acquaintance of many special trees in her neighborhood. In the end, she has been infected by her mother’s contagious enthusiasm for nature and she begins to develop her own relationship with the natural world. Doris Gove’s charming tale shows the knowledge imparted through mother-child relationships as well as a source for inspiration of budding young naturalists.

Written by Kashmira Sheth
Illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi 

“Don’t you ever want to wear a gray skirt and red blouse with round buttons like Mommy or a green dress like me?” Rupa asks. But Dadima prefers to wear her traditional saris. She shares with her granddaughter all the wonderful things that saris can do—from becoming an umbrella in a rainstorm to providing a deep pouch to carry seashells. Soon Rupa’s imagination is sparked as she envisions saris protecting her in the scary Gir jungle, bandaging up an injured knee, and holding a special secret for her and Dadima to share. This intergenerational story offers a unique view of Indian culture and tradition through this affectionate, sensitive portrait of a grandmother and her American granddaughter.

Written and illustrated by Quentin Blake 

When Angela Bowling rescues a baby bird after a storm, she finds her very own Loveykins. She names him Augustus, and he quickly becomes more to her than just a bird to be looked after. But Augustus is growing larger and rounder and soon requires a special garden shed to house him. He seems content enough…until another night brings even stronger winds. From the UK’s first Children’s Laureate, this entertaining tale about the improbable relationship between a determined, eccentric matron and a young bird is classic Quentin Blake. With his quirky, humorous watercolors and his distinctive storytelling style, Blake gives readers a charming and sensitive treatment of the issues of loving and a child’s steps into independence.

Written by Carmen Agra Deedy
Illustrated by Michael Austin

Sometimes grandmothers know best. In this hilarious folktale, Martina the beautiful cockroach doesn’t know coffee beans about love and marriage. While some of the Cucarachas offer her gifts to make her more attractive, only Abuela, her grandmother, gives her something really useful: un consejo increíble, some shocking advice. At first, Martina is skeptical of her Abuela’s unorthodox suggestion, but when suitor after suitor fails the Coffee Test, she wonders if a little green cockroach can ever find true love. Soon, only the gardener Pérez, a tiny brown mouse, is left. But what will happen when Martina offers him café cubano? Also available in Spanish and audio, Carmen Agra Deedy delivers a deliciously inventive Cuban version of the beloved Martina folktale, complete with a dash of café cubano.

Written by Lester L. Laminack
Illustrated by Chris Soentpiet

In this poetic memory, a young boy rides his bicycle every Saturday up and down country roads past farms, a graveyard, and a filling station, until he reaches his beloved Mammaw’s house. She is waiting for him. While she picks tomatoes, he pushes the lawnmower through the dew-wet grass. Afterwards, he always helps her make teacakes from scratch, breaking the eggs and stirring the batter. But the best part, he remembers, is eating the hot, sweet cakes fresh from the oven. Lester Laminack’s richly detailed prose perfectly portrays the special relationship of a young boy and his grandmother. 

And if you're looking for an adult book for an expecting single mother...

Written by Joan Anderson

More than 14 million women in American are single mothers, facing the headaches and heartaches of their challenging role as sole head of the household. This comprehensive guide features practical solutions for surviving and succeeded as a single mother. Drawing on her own experience as a single parent, Anderson inspires confidence and offers comfort and hope.

Find these titles and more at your indie bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Author Interview: Leslie Bulion on The Universe of Fair

Miller Sandford’s parents think he’s too young to explore the annual town fair alone. But when his mother can’t attend the Fair and his father has to cover her volunteer booth hours as well as he own, Miller ends up with more responsibility than he can handle. Instead of enjoying a freewheeling day on his own, he is drawn into a series of mishaps involving everything from his dad’s prize-worth lemon meringue pie and his own ill-fated science fair project.

Author Leslie Bulion answered some questions about the story behind The Universe of Fair.

Q: Your novel takes place at the Holmsbury Fair. I understand that the setting is inspired by a similar event in your town. Is it as fun and crazy as the one Miller attends?
A: For kids, our fair is a magical, Brigadoon-ish place that materializes for three days each September, then disappears until the next year. Daily life is suspended and everyone in the community—friends, family, teachers—hangs out and volunteers at the fair from morning ‘til night to host the tens of thousands of visitors we get from all over Connecticut and beyond. Being set loose in this giant playground of delicious food, rides, games, exhibits, performers, activities, animals, contests, and prizes is a local rite of passage. Disclaimer: turning in fair entries the night before the fair as they do in Holmsbury is pure fiction!

Q: The Universe of Fair features fantastic illustrations by Frank Dormer. We hear that you two know each other. How did you meet? Does he ever attend the fair?

A: Frank doesn’t live in my town, but he has been going to the fair since he was younger than Miller—way longer than I have. We’ve known each other through our local SCBWI critique group for at least a decade. Early on, at an NESCBWI annual conference, I had such positive feedback on a manuscript that I was physically unable to sit in my next workshop--I had to go out into the hall to jump around and hyperventilate…where I ran smack into Frank, who’d just had an effusive reaction to his portfolio and he couldn’t sit still, either. We were giddy. I babbled. Frank is so brilliant and talented. I love his kid-centric, king-of-quirk sense of humor and have (selfishly) always wished we could do a book together. His art ratchets up the book’s humor by at least six orders of magnitude.

Q: You’ve written picture books, middle grade fiction and nonfiction, and poetry collections. Do you have a favorite category or subject?
A: I never know what inspiration might strike, so I won’t rule out any genres or subjects, but I think my mind and heart tend toward middle grade fiction and poetry. I feel like I’m always writing to my fourth-grade self; I loved that total engagement with books as an independent reader. Nothing makes me happier that to come along for that adventure with young readers. Middle-grade readers are wide open, creative, and capable, and when I visit their classrooms they share such interesting and insightful connections. Also, in my writing arithmetic, gross = funny, so developmentally, I’m still right there.

Get The Universe of Fair from your indie bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon! The Universe of Fair is one of our summer reading book club features! Find more information and resources here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Summer Reading Feature: The Universe of Fair

Every year as the weather becomes perfect for picnicking and walking outside with bare feet, a phenomenon happens in every neighborhood, town, and city in the country. Whether it's called the fair, a festival, or a carnival, everyone joins in, eating things they didn't know could be deep-fried and entering in competitions they're determined to win this year.

For Miller Sanford, attending the Holmsbury Fair is going to be a freewheeling day without his annoying little sister, but when his mother can't attend the fair and his father has cover to her volunteer booth hours as well as his own, Miller ends up with more responsibility than he can handle. He is drawn into a series of mishaps involving everything from his dad’s prize-worthy lemon meringue pie to his own ill-fated science fair project.

The Universe of Fair is the perfect middle grade chapter book to help kids dive into their summer reading. Frank Dormer’s kid-friendly illustrations enliven the pages of Leslie Bulion’s lighthearted take on growing up and learning to be responsible.

Read an excerpt and take a look at the teacher's guide for summer book club discussions and activity ideas! Also make sure to follow us on Facebook for the giveaway starting May 7th!

Get The Universe of Fair from your indie bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon! For more reading suggestions this summer, check out our summertime reading and summer-themed round-ups.