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Thursday, November 30, 2017

More Bookish Holiday Gift Ideas

Can you believe the holidays are thisclose to being here?! Luckily, I'm back with another list of awesome *books that would make perfect gifts for the readers in your life...


author: Richard Platt
illustrator: James Brown
series name: A World of...
How much do clouds weigh? Who invented the pencil? How many ways can you tie a knot? Discover the answers to these and many other questions in this elegant and absorbing miscellany of general knowledge. From music notation to Roman numerals and from the skeleton to the solar system, essential facts are brought to life by stylish infographics and fascinating commentary. Perfect for all ages, this book is sure to amuse and intrigue even the most curious minds.
From Morse code to the bones in the human body, this visually stunning collection of facts and figures puts a world of information at your fingertips.

author: Insight Editions
series name: Harry Potter
The wizarding world’s favorite sport, Quidditch is a magical game played high up in the air with Quaffles, Bludgers, and broomsticks. This interactive book allows fans to project their favorite Quidditch scenes from the Harry Potter films on a wall or ceiling using a flashlight. Read along and experience extraordinary moments from the movies like never before, like when Harry catches the Golden Snitch in his first-ever game of Quidditch.
Using black line illustrations on framed acetate pages, this unique book allows fans to project their favorite scenes from the Harry Potter films at home with a flashlight.

author: Dugald A. Steer
From the secret order of Round Table Knights comes a tell-all guide to the mythical occupation of knighthood — its history, mysterious quests, and puzzles that live on to this day. Inspired by the life of a most exemplary knight, this fascinating book explores the art of mastering sword and lance, the essential (and prohibitively expensive) war-horse, the ins and outs of a castle that a knight might defend, and the skills needed to prevail in a jousting tournament, with all its pageantry. No investigation of knighthood would be complete without a look at the Crusades, and a celebration of legendary knights such as King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, and Sir Gawain, plus vaunted icons such as Excalibur and the Holy Grail. In true ’Ology fashion, this tip of the lance to a noble (and misunderstood) profession offers a variety of interactive flaps and other novelties to keep young squires fully entertained.
What does it really take to be a knight? Peruse this lavish novelty volume and be surprised.

(fun note: Little A, my four year old niece, is obsessed with the book above! she calls it the renaissance fair book!)

author: Kate DiCamillo
illustrator: Jaime Kim
“La la la . . . la.” A little girl stands alone and sings, but hears no response. Gathering her courage and her curiosity, she skips farther out into the world, singing away to the trees and the pond and the reeds — but no song comes back to her. Day passes into night, and the girl dares to venture into the darkness toward the light of the moon, becoming more insistent in her singing, climbing as high as she can, but still there is silence in return. Dejected, she falls asleep on the ground, only to be awakened by an amazing sound. . . . She has been heard. At last. With the simplest of narratives and the near absence of words, Kate DiCamillo conveys a lonely child’s yearning for someone who understands. With a subtle palette and captivating expressiveness, Jaime Kim brings to life an endearing character and a transcendent landscape that invite readers along on an emotionally satisfying journey.
Conceived by Kate DiCamillo and featuring enchanting illustrations by Jaime Kim, this nearly wordless graphic story follows a little girl in search of a friend.

author: Kevin Crossley-Holland
A collaboration by two talented creators provides the perfect means to delve into Norse mythology and pore over the enthralling exploits of all-powerful Odin; mighty Thor and his hammer, Mjolnir; and Loki, the infamous trickster. From the creation of the nine worlds to the final battle of Ragnarok, Carnegie Medal winner Kevin Crossley-Holland details the Viking gods as never before, while Jeffrey Alan Love's lavish illustrations bring the mythic figures to life on the page. Readers will be caught up in the seesawing struggle for power between gods, dwarfs, and giants, punctuated by surprising love matches, thrilling journeys, and dazzling magic. With its well-researched, lyrical prose and its dramatic and powerful artwork, this wonderful gift edition makes the perfect book for both the staunchest fans of mythology and newcomers with no knowledge of Viking folklore.
Long-recognized master of Norse mythology Kevin Crossley-Holland pairs with award-winning artist Jeffrey Alan Love for an exceptional look at the Viking gods.


History’s Mysteries: Curious Clues, Cold Cases and Puzzles from the Past - (ages 8-12, $14.99) - New series alert! This new look at history presents puzzles from the past, the clues left behind and the leading scientific theories to help kids learn and decipher what really happened. Fans of Night of the Museum and the Indiana Jones movies will be enthralled by these real life mysteries: why were the Easter Island heads erected? what really happened to the Maya? who stole the Irish Crown Jewels? Sections also cover mores of history's heavy-hitting, head-scratching mysteries, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Bermuda Triangle, the Oak Island Money Pit, Stonehenge, the Sphinx, the disappearance of entire civilizations, the dancing plague, the Voynich manuscript, and so many more. Chock-full of cool photos, fun facts, and spine-tingling mysteries, History’s Mysteries not only provides historical information but also lists important clues and theories for young readers to piece together and consider.

1,000 Facts About the White House - “Tailor-made for browsing but with plenty of nutritious content for young historians and prospective visitors.” - Kirkus
(ages 8-12, $14.99) On the heels of a high-profile renovation and in the midst of what may be considered the most controversial presidency in modern history, no house is more in the spotlight than the president’s residence. Now, in consultation with the White House Historical Association, Nat Geo Kids Books takes kids behind the scenes to explore the people, the grounds, the home and the history of the White House. This book provides a 360-degree view of America's most famous president’s residence, from how it was built in 1792 and the fire of 1812, to today's state dinners, celebrations, celebrity pets, and more. Discover through 1,000 fun-to-read facts what it's like to live and work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the quirky rules of the house and how the Secret Service keeps it safe. Find out how the kids who have lived there play, watch movies, and entertain friends. With a treasure trove of material from the White House Historical Association, this book presents a fascinating story of the building and the many people who have shaped its 225-year history.

The World of the Bible: Biblical Stories and the Archaeology Behind Them - (ages 8-12, $14.99) Have you ever wondered about the real location of the Garden of Eden?  Or how Moses could have parted the Red Sea? The World of the Bible takes the reader back to ancient times to revisit classic Bible stories from the Old and New Testaments, learn fascinating facts about biblical history, and explore that same landscape as archaeologists are studying it today. Stories include the Samson and Delilah, Joseph in Egypt, Noah and the Flood, the birth of Jesus, Paul's conversion, and many more.  Classic paintings and photos of the Middle East today enrich the archaeological explanations. Additionally, this book was reviewed by biblical scholars to ensure the most up-to-date and accurate information and includes profiles of important Bible personalities, analysis and explanation of key archaeological sites and maps of the Middle East to provide context to the stories and sites. Kids won't just revisit classic Bible stories in this book ... they'll dig deeper into the history behind the tales to learn more about the biblical world.


author: Katy S. Duffield
illustrator: K.G. Campbell
Candlewick Press
Ahhh-flying-saucer-shooting-star-CHOO! Laughter is the best medicine when you're a little alien feeling under the weather.

Little Alien is sick. And sick is extra-terrestrial bad when you have two scratchy throats, five ears that hurt, and three runny noses. Splatch! Sputter! Spurt! Luckily Mama and Daddy Alien have an arsenal of lunar decongestants and meteor showers on hand to make him feel a little better (not to mention a Milky Way milkshake to help the medicine go down). Even so, the family's alien pooch, Mars Rover, can't stand to see his little buddy feeling out of sorts. Can a loyal pup's funny tricks finally coax a smile?

author: Kerri Kokias
illustrator: Teagan White
Penguin Random House
Two sisters enjoy a snow day in their own unique ways. The first sister’s story presents itself on the left panel of each spread, and the second sister’s story unfolds on the right. In this uniquely structured book, both sisters’ stories are told with the exact same words, only in opposite order. Kerri Kokias has created a multilayered story using deceptively simple text, with the story truly being revealed in Teagan White’s sweetly detailed illustrations.

author: Marcie Colleen
illustrator: Bob Shea
Balzer + Bray
A hilariously clever geometry-inspired picture book from acclaimed author Marcie Colleen and popular illustrator Bob Shea. Perfect for fans of Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

Ever since they were a dot and a speck, Circle and Square have been best friends.... Then someone new comes along: a cool, exciting Triangle. And three starts to feel like a crowd. . . .
With their friendship bent out of shape, can they put it back together again?

**I received copies of the books above for review/feature purposes. All thoughts, opinions, and reviews are my own.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Guest Post & Giveaway: Hillary Homzie and Laney Nielson, authors of the new middle-grade Swirl novels

Sweet Treats for the Holidays
Pumpkin Spice & Peppermint Cocoa

Guest Post by Hillary Homzie and Laney Nielson

Thank you so much for having us on Word Spelunking! We definitely agree that life is sweeter with books and cupcakes. And we think it’s even sweeter with pumpkin spice and peppermint cocoa! In October, Hillary launched Swirl, Sky Pony’s new line for tween readers with the novel, Pumpkin Spice Secrets and now Laney’s Peppermint Cocoa Crushes is also out—both are here in time for the holidays.

It was fun cooking up these stories featuring friendships, crushes and lots of middle school activities. Sweet drinks and yummy flavors inspired us too! To celebrate, we’ve matched our books with some recipes we think readers might enjoy.

First about the books…

Sometimes secrets aren't so sweet...

Just as Maddie picks up her pumpkin spice frappe from the coffee shop counter, she spills it all over the cute boy behind her. Talk about mortifying! Luckily, the boy -- Jacob -- is also friendly and easygoing, and soon Maddie is deeply in crush.

But before she can tell her best friend Jana about him at lunch the next day, Jana announces her huge new crush -- on Jacob! Maddie doesn't want to cause trouble, so she keeps her feelings hidden. Jana will get over him soon, right?

Add major school stress to Maddie's secret, and it's a recipe for disaster. Can she stay true to both her friend and her heart... without it all turning into a sticky mess?

The major stress part is debating. Maddie is one of those kids who doesn’t like public speaking. In fact, she has a tendency to listen to other people and not speak up. Hillary admits that when she was younger, she fell into the not-speaking-up camp. In fact, she’s still working on it. So a big theme in this book is learning to speak up and communicate how you feel. Debate plays a part in helping Maddie to do that. Friendships are a whole lot easier when you express yourself truthfully.

Friends, cocoa, crushes... catastrophe!
Sasha is so excited. 'Tis the season for snow, gifts, peppermint cocoa, and the Holidaze Spectacular -- the school's variety show competition with an amazing grand prize! She and her best friends, twins Karly and Kevin, are working on a dance routine for it, and Sasha is sure they'll win. She's also sure that her crush -- Kevin -- likes her back. She just needs to find a way to tell him.
But then nothing goes as planned. Karly disappears into quiz bowl, things with Kevin are going nowhere, and Sasha's head is spinning between rehearsals, homework, and volunteer commitments. Everything is falling apart! Can Sasha repair a friendship, figure out her crush, and still make the most of her moment in the spotlight?

We think that readers will appreciate some of the delightful surprises in this book. What you need to know is that it’s full of holiday cheer, but it’s also realistic in that life is definitely not perfect. Sasha’s mother wants her to imagine a STEM related future and Sasha imagines a more artistic path. The mom in Peppermint Cocoa Crushes is fairly recently divorced and Sasha and her family must adjust to a new reality. And yet, life is ultimately very sweet.

And now for some fun recipes featuring our favorite ingredients…

If you enjoy these sweet treats, be on the look out for Cinnamon Bun Besties by Stacia Deutsch and Salted Caramel Dreams by Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper, two more Swirl novels coming early 2018!


Hillary & Laney

Win a copy of Pumpkin Spice Secrets and Peppermint Cocoa Crushes!
The folks at Sky Pony Press have generously offered a copy of each book for one winner.
-US/CAN only
-ends 11/24/17 at 11:59 pm ET
-one winner get a copy of both books
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-word spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes in the mail

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Splendid Baron Submarine Tour

The Splendid Baron Submarine Tour is stopping by today with an author interview and giveaway! This tour is hosted by The Children's Book Review and sponsored by Amberjack Publishing...

written by Eric Bower
illustrated by Agnieszka Grochalska
Waldo “W.B.” Baron is back with another amazing adventure in another incredible invention! Pirate treasure? A clandestine meeting? A terribly rude monkey with personal boundary and hygiene issues? Two of those things sound like a dream come true to W.B, whose clever inventor parents are hired―by the Vice President!―to go on a super secret and intensely important treasure hunt to repay a national debt. If only it weren’t for that lousy, rude monkey, it would be the beginning of a perfect adventure. But at least it isn’t squirrels…
The treasure hunt gives the Baron family the opportunity to use their exceptional steam-powered submarine, freshly biggened and ready for adventure! But things are seldom straightforward for the eccentric Baron family, and this treasure hunt is no exception. W.B.’s trademark bad luck has him suffering monstrous marine misfortune and marauding monkey misery.
Can the Baron family embark on their newest adventure without the eggy and depressing Aunt Dorcas? Will the Barons find the treasure they seek? Will they save the country from financial ruin? Where does the monkey fit in, anyway? Do we like asking questions? Not really, but inside you’ll meet someone who likes asking questions and then answering them (despite his claims to the contrary, he really does like it).
Oh, did we mention the pirate’s curse?
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Amberjack Publishing | November 14, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1944995256
Available on Amazon
Available on Barnes and Noble
Available on IndieBound

Rectangular, inedible, and booky.


My favorite chapter is Chapter 5, where W.B. is forced to scuba dive in shark and eel infested waters. I’m particularly fond of the bit where he misunderstands his mother’s warning about hyperventilation. This feels like a mistake I might have made as a child.

27. I don’t remember what is on this page, but I’ve always been partial to page 27 of my books.

My favorite setting is the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, where the Baron submarine has experienced an unfortunate breakdown -though I suppose any breakdown in a submarine could accurately be described as “unfortunate”.

“And then I spotted something out of the corner of my eye which was either a sea monster or a giant collection of seaweed floating towards me. When I had finished bravely screaming, I decided that I had appreciated the ocean for long enough and quickly made my way back to the submarine.”

I think what makes W.B. special is that he doesn’t think he’s special, despite all of the amazing things he accomplishes. He’s happy to play a supporting role to those he feels have real talent and expertise, which keeps him humble and kind. But that’s not what I love about him. I love that he appears to be made of rubber and can withstand a baffling array of stumbles and falls and other inexplicable accidents without ever getting seriously injured. He also doesn’t complain, whereas I will compose an updated Last Will and Testament if I ever suffer so much as a papercut.    


I’M REALLY AWESOME AT Avoiding questions that I do not know how to answer. I’m also quite good at pairing socks with sweaters.

I’M REALLY EMBARRASSED TO ADMIT That I can’t roll my R’s when I try to pronounce Spanish words. I sound like a drowning cat.

THE LAST GREAT BOOK I READ WAS I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett. His entire Tiffany Aching series is an absolute marvel. I can only dream of one day writing something half as good.
If a cupcake were baked based off the book, it would have to be a cupcake that would satisfy the appetite of the main character, W.B. –who is sweet, but whose stomach is comparable to a garbage disposal. The cupcake would be the size of an actual cake, with an assortment of regular-sized cupcakes embedded in the top. It would taste like the feeling I imagine someone experiences moments before they fall into the throngs of diabetic shock, and should be called the “Don’t Plan On Doing Anything After You Eat This, Cuz You Ain’t Gonna.”

Eric Bower is the author of The Bizarre Baron Inventions series. He was born in Denville, New Jersey, an event of which he has little recollection, yet the people who were there have repeatedly assured him that it happened. He currently lives in Pasadena, California. His favorite type of pasta is cavatappi, his favorite movie is The Palm Beach Story, and he is the proud recipient of a “Beanology Degree” from Jelly Belly University in Fairfield, California. His wife and family have told him that the degree is nothing to be proud of, since “It’s not a real degree. You know that . . . Right?” and “Eric, they literally give them to everyone who visits the Jelly Belly factory,” but he knows that they’re all just jealous.

Enter to win a The Splendid Baron Submarine themed prize pack!

One (1) winner receives:
  • A copy of The Splendid Baron Submarine, by Eric Bower
  • A The Splendid Baron Submarine themed gift pack. Includes some pirate-themed goodies, Go Fish, and ghostly treats as well.
Giveaway begins November 15, 2017, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends December 15, 2017, at 11:59 P.M. MT.
Giveaway open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.
Prizes provided by Amberjack Publishing
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