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Word Spelunking’s temporary hiatus is now permanent. All requests are closed and there will be no new content. Thank you to everyone I’ve worked with and everyone who has read and supported this blog. Y’all are awesome!!

Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review: To Burp or Not to Burp by Dr. Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti

To Burp or Not to Burp
(A Guide to Your Body in Space)
Written by Dr. Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti
Illustrated by Theo Krynauw
October 11, 2016
Annick Press
Source: from pub for review
Find out what happens to your body in space—from someone who’s been there.
Of all the questions astronauts are asked by kids, the most frequent one is “How do you go to the toilet in space?” This book not only answers that question, but many others about the effect of zero gravity on the human body: How do you brush your hair in space? What happens when you sweat? What does food taste like? The best thing is that the answers are provided by someone who speaks from first-hand experience: Dr. Dave Williams, a NASA astronaut who has accomplished three space walks.
Using age-appropriate language, this book explains the different phenomena that astronauts encounter during a mission. The bright, colorful pages, short blocks of text accompanied by photos (many of which were taken by Dr. Dave during his space missions), and humorous illustrations make this a very attractive choice for young readers. The opening message from Dr. Dave empowers kids to follow his example by believing in themselves and following their dreams.
“Riveting reading for junior astronauts—and just about everybody else.” —Kirkus Reviews, *starred review, 08/01/16
“A great purchase for schools and libraries that serve students interested in space travel and the grosser aspects of life in orbit.” —School Library Journal, 10/16
“… learning about the challenges to the human body present interesting opportunities for STEM-related problem-solving opportunities.”—Booklist, 09/14/16
“[A] must-read for those future space explorers and kids curious about how the human body works in space.”—Captain Scott Kelly USN (Ret) Former NASA Astronaut
“… a great book for reluctant readers, especially those interested in space or space travel.” —A Window into Books, 07/09/16
To Burp or Not to Burp: A Guide to Your Body in Space is an amusing and engaging exploration of the unexpected, unusual, and uncanny things that happen to the body in space. From burps, farts, number ones and number twos, and everything in between, this book covers it all!

Through age appropriate, yet completely factual information, a humorous voice, and fun illustrations, To Burp or Not to Burp: A Guide to Your Body in Space will keep young readers thoroughly engaged and entertained. Dr. Dave Williams, a NASA astronaut, provides fascinating first hand-experience answers to questions kids often have about space (how do you go to the bathroom?!). Science, technology, biology, and more, all collide to offer young readers incredible insight into and information about life in space.

The layout of To Burp or Not to Burp: A Guide to Your Body in Space, with its short blocks of text, colorful an silly illustrations, and awesome photos taken in space, create an eye-catching and captivating reading experience.

With fun, educational material and a pitch-perfect voice and layout, To Burp or Not to Burp: A Guide to Your Body in Space will intrigue, impress, and inspire young readers!

DR. DAVE WILLIAMS made two flights on the Space Shuttle and performed three spacewalks on the International Space Station. He also lived and worked in the world’s only underwater ocean laboratory to become Canada’s first dual astronaut and aquanaut. He is currently the CEO of a hospital just outside Toronto.
LOREDANA CUNTI is a writer and producer of children’s entertainment. A mother of two, she lives in Toronto developing ideas for food, family, and fiction.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Guest Post and Giveaway: Roger Ziegler, author of Hannah Grace and the Dragon Codex

Hannah Grace and The Dragon Codex
(Book 1: Hansu Chathri)
by Roger Ziegler
May 12, 2016

When an ancient book of wisdom is stolen, 11-year-old Hannah Grace and her karate besties must discover their true powers and rescue the book before Big Evil takes over the Universe.

Magic, positivity, adventure (and a sumo wrestling guinea pig), await readers in the first book of this coming of age fantasy series. It's perfect for all kids who love to get lost in worlds of wonder and imagination.

Every day after school, Hannah Grace does her homework and practices karate with her father John. But one morning when Hannah wakes from a strange dream where she sees an ancient and mysterious book, she's more than a little shocked when her dad reveals an amazing secret; it's The Dragon Codex, the most powerful book ever created and he needs Hannah to find it before Big Evil gets it and takes over the Universe!

Suddenly, Hannah, who can barely remember her homework, is thrown into a much larger world of magic and danger--and a whole lot of people are counting on her.

Hannah's got it covered though. Actually, she has no idea what to do, but she's not giving up just yet.

Filled with mysteries, demons and a sumo wrestling guinea pig, Hannah Grace and The Dragon Codex is a fun, thrill-ride adventure about discovering the power inside you.

How Kids Can Stop Thinking and Make Better Life Choices
by Roger Ziegler

Dreaming and imagination are fundamental to solving practical problems, in school, at home or in the office. Both big problems and everyday ones.
One of the challenges the lead character in my book Hannah Grace and The Dragon Codex faces, is how does she know she’s making the right decision?
She wants to do good, be good, but how do you know? For Hannah it comes down to trusting her imagination and heart. When she does this, things usually go well, when she doesn’t, they go kerflewy.
So what is Hannah learning? In everyday life when we don’t know the answer we usually say, “let me think about it,” or we encourage kids to “think hard” to find a solution. But this kind of problem solving is like using a hamster on a running wheel to power a jet plane.
As the great scientist and mystic Albert Einstein said, “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.”
We need more fire power to make better decisions and life choices. Where do we get it? From our heart and our gut. Our feeling and sensing centers.
One of the greatest pleasures of my life as a child, and now, is playing with my imagination, feeling out a situation. When I do, it makes my writing much better and my daily life easier.
When we connect the triangle of heart, gut and mind to make decisions, we engage our “Power Trio” and make better life choices.
These skills are not only for adults; they are essential for children. And great news, kids are usually naturals at this. We only need to encourage them to go in the direction they’re already heading.
Getting kids out of our adult habit just “thinking about it,” is one of the best things we can teach them.
Encouraging children to make decisions using their heart, mind and gut “Power Trio,” may help when they’re 20 or 30 or 40 years old and in a crisis. They’ll have developed skills and won’t need to reach for a self-help book that tells them to engage their heart and gut more.
Stop thinking. You’ll be better off. As the great sage Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no ‘try’.”
So then, what do you do instead?
How To Make Better Decisions By Not Thinking About It
Kids are experts in expressing their feelings and playing with their imaginations. Imagination, in my experience, comes mostly from a feeling, not from our heads.
Instead of only “thinking hard” about a solution to a math or science or English problem, make it a game. Ask the child to look at the big picture. Have them compare the problem or the situation to something in their own life. An event, their family, things they have or want. Let them use their big picture skills to solve the problem.
It’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Become aware of what is actually happening right now. Not what you think is happening, or what you wish was happening, but what is actually taking place.
Take a moment to stop your thoughts and notice, just notice, what you see and hear and experience that. This alone can bring about an awareness of options that weren’t there before.
Kids are generally much better at this than adults. Usually, all you need to say to a child is, “stop thinking for a moment,” and they usually get it.
Older kids already conditioned to “think about it,” make take more training.
Another cliché and yet, still one of the best ways to stop yourself and kids from over-thinking and making bad choices.
A simple deep breath in and longer breath out, can do wonders to stop the chattering mind and cool the situation. Give peace a chance, bro!
Cliché number 3? See and imagine your success as having already taken place before you begin. See yourself making the basket before you take the shot. What does it look like and feel like?
Imagine organizing the numbers correctly before you solve the math problem. And then practice this. These things, like anything worth having, take time.
Just because you imagine yourself sinking the basket doesn’t mean it will happen the first time or every time. But I’m betting it will happen much more often than if you don’t imagine that it already happened.
Which leads us to the next better decision skill for children.
We all face obstacles when doing something new or even when we’ve done it 10,000 times. Allow yourself to make mistakes and keep going.
Discouraging children when they are beginning something new, is the biggest killer of success and imagination in my opinion.
This is fun. If we turn the above steps into dry, boring, abstract lessons, we’ve missed the point. The goal here is to let our heart feelings and gut senses play free. Your true feelings will always result in more fun and enjoyment, and better results for you and the people around you.
In my book Hannah learns this, after many, many struggles to fight it.
I’ll end with our friend Einstein; “When I examine myself and my methods of thought I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”
Just something to think about. Or not.

Roger long ago rejected the sensible (and sane), advice of his parents to be a lawyer or doctor and became a writer instead. He's been a journalist, taxi driver, actor, theater producer, collection agent and so much more!
He's received writing awards from the New York State Press Association and the Physicians for Social Responsibility. Roger coauthored the Amazon "best" selling humorous self-help book Pee On It and Walk Away: How to Deal with Difficult People. Life Lessons from Superdog Abby,
Roger is a third-degree black belt in Seido karate and has a wonderful, magical nine-year-old daughter. Roger likes fudge.
This is his debut novel.  Website * Facebook

Win 1 of 3 copies of 
Hannah Grace and the Dragon Codex!
Roger has generously offered up three copies for three winners.
-US only
-ends 10/3/16
-three winners will each get one copy
-winners will be emailed and must claim prizes within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes in the mail
Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter:
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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Penguin Problems Review Tour

Penguin Problems
from Jory John and Lane Smith
September 27, 2016
Random House BFYR
Source: from pub for review
A penguin levels with human readers about what penguin life is really like—and it isn’t all fun and games.
Have you ever considered running away to Antarctica? Of course you have! Because it’s a land free of worries and responsibilities! All of your problems will surely be blown away by the icy winds of that lawless paradise! . . . Won’t they?
Think again, my friend. This penguin has come to tell you that his life down there is no more a picnic than yours is here. For starters, it is FREEZING. Also, penguins have a ton of natural predators. Plus, can you imagine trying to find your mom in a big ol’ crowd of identical penguins? No, thank you.
Yes, it seems there is no escaping the drudgery of your daily grind, whatever it might be. Or perhaps we’ve just learned that grumps are everywhere. . . .

Praise for Penguin Problems
“Well-paced, bursting with humor, and charmingly misanthropic.”—Kirkus Reviews starred review

“The temperature may be below freezing, but the snark level is cranked up high
in this collaboration between funnymen John and Smith.”— Horn Bookstarred review

Penguin Problems, from Jory John and Lane Smith, follows one honest and less than satisfied little penguin, as he explains to readers why life as a penguin isn't all cuteness and fluff. From too much snow, to predators in the too salty ocean, and the tricky situation of looking like every other penguin, our disgruntled narrator has lots of problems.

Penguin Problems is a charming picture book that will have little readers laughing. Jory John and Lane Smith create a humorously, slightly snarktastic voice that is both clever and relatable. With sparse, yet entertaining text, Penguin Problems creates an engaging and delightful encounter between the cute penguin narrator and readers. The penguins complaints are over-the-top silly, but readers will totally understand that universal feeling of  "I kinda hate everything today and want everyone to know it". The fun, captivating illustrations, with their soft colors, lively action, and expressive characters, are the perfect companion to the amusing story.

With its laugh-out-loud text, eye-catching illustrations, and message of appreciating what you have, Penguin Problems is a sweet and fun picture book read!

JORY JOHN (@joryjohn) is an author, a journalist, and an educator living in Portland, Oregon. Jory is the creator and coauthor of the bestselling All My Friends Are Dead, which has sold more than 200,000 copies. For 10 years, Jory worked as a seasonal camp counselor at a performing arts and circus camp, where he taught songwriting, guitar, juggling, and writing.

LANE SMITH has written and illustrated a bunch of projects including the 2012 Caldecott Honor book, Grandpa Greenwich.  His books have been New York Times Best Illustrated Books on four occasions and in 2012 The Eric Carle Museum named him an Honor Artist for "lifelong innovation in the field of children's books." In addition, he  received the Society of Illustrators Lifetime Achievement award in 2014.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk Birthday Celebration Blog Tour

This blog tour and giveaway are sponsored by M.M. Allen and Deborah Wynne and hsosted by The Children's Book Review.

Highly praised classic fairy tale, Wishapick Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk, a children’s book for all ages, written by acclaimed author MM Allen; and a CD of Wishapick Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk soundtrack composed by the talented Deborah Wynne.
Darkness-utter blackness. Was this why his mother had refused to let Jack unlock his father’s old trunk? It had been two years since his dad had died, and all Jack could think about was examining whatever treasures were stored inside the beloved trunk. But when he finally lifted the lid, he didn’t just fall in –he fell through it into a pit of rattlesnakes. Trying to recall his mother’s stories about the Breathe of All Good Things –anything to help him out of his dangerous predicament-Jack wished he had paid attention rather than mock the tales as childish myths… and that he’d waited to enter the trunk with his sister, Lilly. They could have at least faced this together. Jack quickly learns two things; the villagers in Wishapick think Jack is the only one who can bring light back to Wishapick –and accomplishing this feat is the only way he can return home.
Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk is available on Amazon.

About M. M. Allen
M. M. Allen, author of the acclaimed children’s picture book Let’s Play Ball, is the mother of two adult children and aunt to twenty-three nieces and nephews, including ten great-nieces and great-nephews. MM is a former teacher and university lecturer. She has also worked extensively in marketing and communications with varied businesses and non-profits. MM lives in a picturesque northern California town where she enjoys writing, tending to her rose garden, and caring for her West Highland terrier, Pip.
About Deborah Wynne
Composer and lyricist Deborah Wynne created a companion CD of songs to accompany Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk. Wynne’s primary talents lie in choral singing, stage musicals, and composing. Her musical projects include the 2013 album Strands of Gold and 2007 musical Moment of Truth. She is an active singer and composer in Santa Barbara, California, where she lives with her husband and their two shelties, Sparkle and Gracie.
Learn More About Wishapick
Wishapick Soundtrack Be sure to check out the companion music CD, Wishapick, for purchase or download from
Book Club Questions Get to the heart of Wishapick by downloading this set of book club questions: Wishapick by M. M. Allen: Book Club Questions


One (1) Winner Receives The Grand Prize:
  • An autographed copy of Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk
  • A CD of the Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk soundtrack
  • A Fitbit Alta
Value: $153.77
Four (4) Winners Receive:
  • An autographed copy of Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk
  • A CD of the Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk soundtrack
Value: $23.82

Giveaway begins September 23, 2016, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 23, 2016, at 11:59 P.M. PST.
Giveaway open to US and Canadian addresses only.
Prizes and samples provided by M.M. Allen and Deborah Wynne

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Spotlight and Giveaway: Evil Librarian series by Michelle Knudsen

To celebrate the release of the upcoming Revenge of the Evil Librarian and the paperback release of  Evil Librarian, Candlewick is offering the following giveaway...

Evil Librarian
Book #1
by Michelle Knudsen
352 pages
Paranormal YA Novel
He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian.

When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body! From best-selling author Michelle Knudsen, here is the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil variety).

Revenge of the Evil Librarian
Book #2
by Michelle Knudsen
On sale Valentine’s Day 2/14/17
Paranormal YA Novel
The stage is set for a fiendishly dramatic summer at theater camp for Cynthia and her boyfriend, Ryan. With no demons at all. Right?

Last fall, Cynthia Rothschild saved her best friend, as well as the entire student body, from the demon librarian, Mr. Gabriel, all while executing the most awesome set design for the school musical, Sweeney Todd. But now that all that demon stuff is behind her, Cyn is looking forward to the best summer ever at theater camp with her former-crush-and-now-boyfriend, Ryan Halsey. Once she gets to camp, though, Cyn realizes this summer might not be all she’s been hoping for. First, Ryan’s best camp friend is a girl (which Ryan had never mentioned to Cyn), and she just happens to be ridiculously pretty. Plus, it seems the demon stuff is not entirely over as Cyn had hoped. At least any new demons that show up to ruin her summer can't possibly be as evil as Mr. Gabriel. It's not like he could somehow come back to life to seek his terrible revenge or something. Best-selling author Michelle Knudsen brings back all the hilarity and horror (not to mention hot guys) in this sizzling sequel to Evil Librarian.


Michelle Knudsen is the author of The Dragon of Trelian and The Princess of Trelian, as well as the best-selling picture book Library Lion, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes; Argus,illustrated by Andréa Wesson; and Big Mean Mike, illustrated by Scott Magoon. Michelle Knudsen lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Win a paperback copy of Evil Librarian!
Candlewick has offered up one book for one winner.
-US/CA only
-ends 9/30
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes
Fill out Rafflecopter form:

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