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Friday, January 25, 2019

Parkland Speaks Blog Tour (review)

Parkland Speaks 
Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories 
Edited by MSD teacher Sarah Lerner 
January 22, 2019 
Crown BFYR 
Source: ARC from pub 

Featuring art and writing from the students of the Parkland tragedy, this is a raw look at the events of February 14, and a poignant representation of grief, healing, and hope. 

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School share their emotional journeys that began on February 14, 2018, and continue today. This revealing and unfiltered look at teens living in the wake of tragedy is a poignant representation of grief, anger, determination, healing, and hope. 

The intimate collection includes poetry, eyewitness accounts, letters, speeches, journal entries, drawings, and photographs from the events of February 14 and its aftermath. Full of heartbreaking loss, a rally cry for change, and hope for a safe future, these artistic pieces will inspire readers to reflect on their own lives and the importance of valuing and protecting the ones you love. 

On February 14, 2018 a horrific, unforgettable tragedy occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when a gunman cowardly took 17 lives and forever changed many more. In Parkland Speaks, students and faculty from Marjory Stoneman Douglas share their stories, journeys, healing, and grief through their personal essays, poems, and artwork. 

Going into Parkland Speaks I knew it was going to be an emotional read, but it was even more powerful and poignant than I could have imagined. Each student/faculty contributor courageously open their hearts and thoughts up to readers to share their remarkable stories. These pieces aren’t easy to read –they shouldn’t be- but they are important and effective and real and heartbreaking and a thousand other things. At times I had to put this book down, dry my tears, and take a deep breath, but felt compelled to quickly return.  

Each story, poem, and piece of art is astonishing on its own, but together they send a powerful and much needed message to the world. A message about gun control. A message that demands change.  I am so grateful for and amazed by each student/faculty member’s contribution in this book and their ability to channel their grief, pain, and feelings into profound art. 

Parkland Speaks isn’t an easy read, but it’s an extraordinary and stirring one that will inspire and move readers of all ages.  

5/5 Cupcakes

SARAH LERNER is an English teacher, Journalism teacher, and yearbook adviser at MSD in Parkland, Florida. She began teaching in 2002 and was named the Sun-Sentinel High School Journalism Teacher of the Year in 2014. Sarah lives in Florida with her husband and two children.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Sleepover At The Museum Blog Tour (picture book review)

Sleepover at the Museum 
By Karen LeFrak 
Illustrated by David Bucs 
January 15, 2019 
Crown BFYR 
Source: pub 

Imagine spending your birthday at the museum! Join Mason and his friends on their scavenger hunt through all the exhibits that make any natural history museum so special. The perfect birthday gift for museum lovers and adventure-seekers alike!  

Mason couldn't wait to celebrate his birthday with a sleepover at the museum of natural history--his favorite place to visit. 

Armed with headlamps for the dark hallways, a map, and a list of clues, Mason and his two best friends take off on a scavenger hunt through each hall of the museum. But they aren't just trying to solve the clues. They're scouting for the best place to spend the night. 

Sleeping next to a T. rex in the Hall of Dinosaurs felt too scary. And sleeping with the monarch butterflies would probably tickle. This decision isn't as easy as Mason thought it would be.... 

Wherever they end up, the museum at night is the best place for a birthday adventure!

Mason, along with his parents and two best friends, is spending his birthday by having a sleepover at the museum! Clues take Mason and his friends through each exciting part of the museum as they try to decide just where to spend the night. 

Sleepover at the Museum is a fun and delightful picture book! Karen LeFrak’s engaging storytelling will thrill little readers as they excitedly join Mason on his museum adventures. Through crafty, clever clues, LeFrak wonderfully lays out the museum and introduces readers to so many fascinating topics, from dinosaurs to geology, butterflies, the ocean, and more! David Bucs bright, lively illustrations perfectly bring the museum to life and capture all the fun Mason and his friends are having. Little readers will enjoy pouring over each page and spotting all the cool details.  

My five-year-old niece is in love with this book and, since first reading it, has talked non-stop about visiting a museum. Sleepover at the Museum is sure to entertain, excite, and educate little readers everywhere!

5/5 Cupcakes

KAREN LEFRAK is the author of Jake the Philharmonic DogJake the Ballet Dog, and Best in Show. She is an avid dog lover and breeder of champion poodles, as well as a composer of music for ballets and instrumental works around the world. Karen and her husband divide their time between Manhattan, Southampton, and Miami, where they live with their two poodles. For more information visit 
DAVID BUCS began his career at KlaskyCsupo, the studio famous for Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys, and has art directed television series for Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, TLC, PBS, and Disney. David loves to create characters and bring them to life using watercolors, colored pencils, and digital media. Sleepover at the Museum is his first children's book. He lives with his wife and young son in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where life is sweet. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter, or visit him at 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review: The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle

The Storm Keeper’s Island 
by Catherine Doyle 
January 22, 2019 
Source: ARC  

Catherine Doyle's stunning middle-grade debut, an evocative tale of ancient magic, bravery, and family bonds. 

When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet. 

Once in a generation, the island chooses a new Storm Keeper – someone to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn's grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise. 

Fionn's ancestral home has been waiting for him. But, deep underground, someone else has been waiting, too. As the battle rages over who will become the island's next champion, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war. 

Catherine Doyle's gorgeously written and evocative tale is perfect for fans of Orphan Island, Beyond the Bright Sea, and A Snicker of Magic. 


Arranmore Island holds magic, adventure, and so many secrets. Secrets about the weather, about unusual candles, and magical warfare. In every generation the island chooses someone to guard its magic and secrets, it chooses a Storm Keeper. Eleven-year-old Fionn’s kooky grandfather is the current Storm Keeper and it seems the island has its heart set on Fionn inheriting that sacred role. But Fionn soon discovers that some of Arranmore’s secrets are best left buried. 

I love every enchanting bit of this book! Captivating magic? Check! Wild adventure? Check! Engaging characters? Check! Clever humor? Check! Masterful storytelling? Check! The Storm Keeper’s Island has all this and more. 

Catherine Doyle spins a story like no other, full of dreamy, lyrical prose that just swirls and whirls right of the page. Doyle has an achingly beautiful way with words and her ability to lay out a scene, world build, and create heart stirring emotion is truly wondrous. Arranmore Island, with its rich history, eclectic people, and bubbling magic, makes for a charming and intriguing setting. I really enjoyed Doyle’s quirky, relatable characters and I love how the island itself, along with the sea and the weather, are these evocative and powerful characters in their own right. 

Fresh, imaginative fantasy, exciting adventure, cheeky wit, and breathtaking storytelling collide to create an unforgettable tale that burns as bright as its magical candles. Young readers will dive head first into The Storm Keeper’s Island and refuse to come up for air until the very last page. 

5/5 Cupcakes

Catherine Doyle grew up in the West of Ireland. She holds a first-class BA in Psychology and a first-class MA in Publishing. She is the author of the Young Adult Blood for Blood trilogy (Vendetta, Inferno and Mafiosa), which is often described as Romeo and Juliet meets the Godfather. It was inspired by her love of modern cinema. Her debut Middle Grade novel, The Storm Keeper's Island (Bloomsbury, 2018), is an adventure story about family, bravery and self-discovery. It is set on the magical island of Arranmore, where her grandparents grew up, and is inspired by her ancestors' real life daring sea rescues.  
Aside from more conventional interests in movies, running and travelling, Catherine also enjoys writing about herself in the third-person.