Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Written in free verse Under the Mesquite is the story of Lupe and her family not only dealing with her mother's illness and death but it is also a view into the life of Mexican-Americans.  Wanting their children to have a good education and a better life than possible in Mexico, the family moves to a border town in Texas although they visit their relatives often.  We learn about the move, the birth of more siblings, the dad working far away, the siblings relationships, the mom's illness and the aftermath of her death.  The writing is beautiful and sprinkled with spanish words and phrases.

Since I now work in a school with many native Spanish speaking students I have already introduced this book to some students.  Many have never read a book written in this style and between that and the Spanish they are lining up to check it out.  Recommended for 5th grade and up.

Read it as an arc courtesy of Lee & Low Books via Netgalley.

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami

Dini is an 11 year-old Indian American girl living in the U.S.  She and her best friend Maddie love Bollywood movies and Dolly Singh, the biggest Bollywood star.  When her doctor mom receives a grant to work in India, Dini is sad to leave Maddie but excited to spend two years in India.  Her goal?  To meet Dolly in person.

 Uma Krishnaswami has written a story that will appeal to young girls who love movies, adventure, traveling, puzzles and stories of friendship.  She plants clues to things going on around different Indian cities/villages which seem plausible to help tie the story together.  Dini creates a screenplay hoping to fix her problems and those of others.  A fun read for middle grade girls.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes

Told in short poems Planet Middle School explores so many themes it's hard to believe the book is only 154 pages and a delightfully quick read.  Joylin is a tomboy and an awesome basketball player.  She tries to teach her artist younger brother to play in the hope that their dad will notice him more.  She's dealing with her body changing against her will and her best friends (one a boy, one a girl) are trying to make her understand she's still the same person.  She's experiencing her first crush.

This book is recommended for girls in grades 6 and up.  Reluctant readers will be drawn to it's quick pace and easy to read style while appreciating Nikki Grimes' understanding of what tweens/young teens are going through.  I laughed and cried and loved it from the opening poem to the closing one.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Adventures of Sir Gawain the True by Gerald Morris

  After saving a damsel in distress from a dragon, Sir Gawain the Undefeated does not accept the thanks the damsel offers him. King Arthur informs him that was quite rude behavior.  As the story proceeds Sir Gawain's life is put in danger by a Green Knight while at the same time he is learning about codes of honor, friendship and courtesy.

Stories about King Arthur, Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table have always enthralled me.  As a matter of fact one of my top 25 favorite books is Meg Cabot's AVALON HIGH.  In THE ADVENTURES OF SIR GAWAIN THE TRUE, the third book in Gerald Morris's The Knights' Tales series, while for a much younger audience then AVALON HIGH does not disappoint.  As a matter of fact it made me smile with it's subtle humor and clever storyline.  The illustrations by Aaron Renier are charming. A great introduction for young readers to King Arthur's court.  Recommended for readers in grades 3 and up (or 2nd grade strong readers) who enjoy the knights or are  looking for something new.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hidden by Helen Frost

When she was 8, Wren was in a car at a gas station (her mom ran in to pay for gas and a drink) that was stolen during a robbery. Hiding in the back the driver never knew she was there and she stayed hidden for two days in his garage. The man's daughter, Darra, also 8, discovered Wren and left her food and planned to help her. Wren overhears the abuse Darra and her mom receive from the dad. Wren manages to escape and Darra always wonders how and blames Wren for her dad going to jail. Six years later the two girls meet face to face for the first time in a sleep-a-way summer camp. At camp, Wren and Darra take turns telling their story.

Helen Frost has crafted an amazing work of fiction. Told in two voices the first being Wren's in free verse. Darra's is written in a form that Frost devised herself. You read about this in a "notes on form" section at the end. Then, you need to reread part of the book to see what she has "hidden" for us to help understand even more of the story. That is what takes this from a very good book to an amazing piece of work.

Recommended for readers who enjoy novels written in free verse or are looking for something new. Recommended for reluctant readers as the story moves along at a nice pace and is only 145 pages. While it is contemporary it could also pass for adventure if your readers are looking for something in that genre. It is truly a remarkable book.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bigger than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder

 At first it seems this is going to be a just a story about a 12 year-old girl dealing with her parents' separation.  Rebecca's mom packs up her up and her little brother Lew and leaves their dad and Baltimore to move in with Gran in Atlanta.  Needless to say Rebecca is sad about a new school, missing her friends and Dad and is angry with her mom.  However, a magical bread box found in Gran's attic grants Rebecca's wishes for money, jewelry, and gifts but it takes a while for Rebecca to realize the truth about the magic.

Laurel Snyder digs dip into the feelings and emotions of a 12 year-old.  The magic adds a fantasy element to the story but at it's core Bigger than a Bread Box is contemporary fiction about a girl dealing with more than 12 year-olds should have to deal with.  The love Rebecca feels for Lew is admirable and we can only hope Rebecca's  true wishes are granted as we close the last page of this wonderful book.  Recommended for readers in grades 4-8, fans of fantasy such as Half Magic by Edward Eager and contemporary fiction or dealing with parental separation/divorce.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Water Balloon by Audrey Vernick

Marley's parents are separated and she is spending the summer with her dad in his new house. Since money is tight he takes on summer jobs gardening( he is a teacher during the school year) and gets Marley a job babysitting twin 5 year-olds. Her two BFF's begin excluding her from their lives and her mother doesn't answer her phone when Marley calls. The twins are a handful and it is interesting to see Marley use her own life experiences to entertain them, help them deal with their 5 year-old issues and ultimately come to enjoy their company. The friendship/budding romance between Jack and Marley is innocent and sweet. My favorite part though is Marley realizing just how poorly her BFF's treated her and that maybe it is time for new friends.

In Water Balloon the author explores friendships among young girls, the relationship between a daughter and her father, dandelions, babysitting, and first crush. Audrey Vernick does a great job in all aspects in this easy reading story for middle grade girls. Recommended for fans of contemporary fiction and girls asking for romance.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rumors From the Boys Room : A Blogtastic Novel by Rose Cooper

The author, Rose Cooper, has mangaged to get inside a middle school girl's head and help us understand a little of what goes on in there. Sophia spies (overhears, really) different conversations around the school and blogs about what she hears. She's an anonymous blogger but there is a teacher who is in on it and keeps Sophia in line. Sophia is dealing with a pregnant mom (who also teaches at the schoool), a best friend liking a boy, liking a boy herself, a gross boy, a mean girl, etc.

The writing is extremely funny. The illustrations (by the author) are adorably charming. Recommended for girls in grades 4 and up and for fans of the Wimpy Kid and Ellie McDoodle books. Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Random House Children's Books via Netgalley.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Win a free book!

Last year I reviewed a book called TOUCH BLUE by Cynthia Lord.  To read that review click here.

Would you like to win a copy of TOUCH BLUE?  I am giving away a copy of the book to one lucky winner.  All you have to do to enter the give-a-way is comment on this post by telling the name of the book and the author you enjoyed the most in the last year.  One lucky winner will be chosen.  Contest ends Sunday, November 6 at 11:55 PM.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Case of the Missing Deed by Ellen Schwartz

For their annual summer vacation, five cousins visit their grandparents in a cottage on an island in British Columbia. This summer is different though. Their grandfather has died and a mining company is buying up property all over the island and their grandmother can't remember where the deed to the house is hidden. If it's not found she will lose the cottage. Promising to help grandma locate the deed the cousins stumble upon one clue after another and realize grandpa has left them exactly what is needed to find the deed. If only they can connect the clues and break a secret code.

Many of the clues are written in grandpas's handwriting on favorite recipes. The author, Ellen Schwartz has shared these recipes with us making The Case of the Missing Deed a delicious mystery. The cousins are all believable characters adding a little of their talents to the mix. The parents and other adults are mostly in the background allowing the kids to figure things out on their own.  This looks to be the first in a series entitled Teaspoon Detectives and I look forward to the next installment.

Recommended for middle grade boys and girls who like mysteries and for fans of books where recipes and cooking is involved such as The Teashop Girls  reviewed here and The Secret Ingredient  reviewed here both by Laura Schaefer.   Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Tundra Books via Netgalley.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mallory's Super Sleepover by Laurie Friedman

Mallory's parents agree to a sleepover party for her tenth birthday. She promises them a small well behaved group of girls.  However, Maryann, Mallory's best friend has other ideas and invites more girls and plans some messy activities which leads to the party spiraling out of control.

As in the other Mallory books, the parents handle the situation calmly yet firmly.  They always let their children know what their expectations are and help Mallory understand what she did wrong.  Young girls can relate to Mallory and will enjoy the stories within the story and the cartoonish illustrations.  What a different place this world would be if more parents were like Mallory's.  From the eye appealing cover and the terrific illustrations by Jennifer Kalis, Laurie Friedman has given us another wonderful book for young girls. Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Lerner Publishing Group via Netgalley.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Would you like to win a copy of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman?  Click on the link below to enter for a chance to win.  Beware though, it is SCARY!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mallory's Guide to Boys, Brothers, Dads, and Dogs by Laurie Friedman

Mallory's Guide to Boys, Brothers, Dads, and Dogs
Mallory has a crush on an older boy and tries to get his attention. This angers her brother who wants her to like someone her own age.  When she fails a math test because she has spent too much time dreaming of her crush she's grounded to spend more time studying. When she is home alone she bakes cookies to bring to him and gets lost looking for his house.  When her parents find her she gets in even more trouble.

Told in the first person Mallory is someone young girls will love.  She is so sweet and innocent and tries very hard to get what she wants.  Her parents are loving and kind and even though she displeases them they never lose their temper with her.  The illustrations are wonderful and cheerful and add a lot to the story.

After reading the book I can see why girls in grades 3-6 (and sometimes younger) always check out the Mallory books.  Many times I see them recommending the books to each other.  I recommend this for elementary aged girls (I already owned it in my former school library).  Read as an ebook courtesy of Lerner Publishing Group via Netgalley. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Year Without Autumn by Liz Kessler

A Year Without Autumn
     Imagine going up in an old cranky elevator to visit your best friend in a condo you know she lives in for one week every summer while your families are on vacation.  Only when you knock on the door it is opened by a lady you've never seen.  Turns out a year has gone by and Jenni, our elevator rider doesn't remember a thing about it.  She learns that her best friend, Autumn, is in a different condo and that Autumn's family has suffered a tragedy and that her own family is a mess. And that is just the beginning.

     What starts off as a simple contemporary story twists into a time travel work of science fiction.  Written so well we believe that the world has moved on without Jenni and she is left to play catch up.  Three times!  Jenni is up to the challenge of putting puzzle pieces together and because of her love and loyalty to her family and Autumn's she works hard to try to make things right.  While the chapters are a little long for young readers they are cliff hangers that will keep readers turning the pages.  Fans of When You Reach Me and A Wrinkle in Time will enjoy A Year Without Autumn and  girls in grades 4-8 who enjoy stories about friendship, mysteries and light sci-fi.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Candlewick Press via Netgalley.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lily Renee, Escape Artist by Trina Robbins

World War II is one of the most requested non-fiction subjects in a school library.  Graphic novels are also quite popular.  A graphic novel about a World War II event is sure to find it's niche.

Lily Renee lives a comfortable life in Vienna enjoying all the culture the city has to offer.  Told in accessible language that young readers can understand, Trina Robbins  tells the story of Hitler's rise to power including how friends turned their backs on the Jews, the beginning of ghettos, and Kristtelnacht, the night of broken glass, the event that led to Lily's parents sending her out of the country.  Lily is shown on the train and boat as one of the 10,000 children saved by being sent out of Nazi rule.  While not so lucky with the family she was sent to live with in London Lily leaves them and becomes a nurse's assistant surviving the bombings.  Finally Lily makes her way to America to be reunited with her parents. She dines in an automat ( I have too!)and gets a job which ultimately leads her to be a successful comic book artist.

Throughout her life Lily overcame the horrific obstacles dropped in her way but this book is written so young children get just enough information about the situation and perhaps be inspired to seek more. Lily is an admirable girl and I would recommend this book for a biography report, a non-fiction report or casual reading.  While the illustrations by Anne Timmone may not be as eye popping as manga or anime they work well with this story. Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Lerner Publishing Group via Netgalley.

Honestly, Red Riding Hood was Rotten! by Trisha Speed Shaskan

Each spring in my school library I share different versions of a few fairytales with my students.  Red Riding Hood is always one.  While some versions are a little scarier and the pictures a tad more gory, this version told in the wolf's point of view is actually laugh out loud funny.  From the first page to the last you can't help smiling.

The wolf is starving and dreaming about apples which are now out of season.  Little Red looks an awful lot like a red apple while granny looks like a green one.  They are both so vain and self possessed and the wolf is spot on when he says "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."  Gerald Guerlais's digitally produced illustrations are simply beautiful.  I look forward to sharing this version along with other more traditional ones and having the students compare them.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Capstone via Netgalley.

Prince William & Kate:A Royal Romance by Matt Doeden

Back in 1981 I remember watching Prince Charles and Diana's wedding which was just a few months before my own.  Thirty years later I was not one of the millions who woke early to watch Prince William and Kate's wedding, I did however catch glimpses of it on-line.  Therefore most of what I know about it I learned from Matt Doeden's book.

Filled with lots of pictures from Prince William and Kate's relationship over many years including the most recent from their wedding.  Doeden has made it accessible to young readers.  Anyone interested in the royals will enjoy this quick reading factual book.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Lerner Publications via Netgalley.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Clementine and the Family Meeting by Sara Pennypacker

I remember reading the first Clementine book a few years ago and laughing out loud. The series has quickly become a favorite and her fans and new readers will love this addition. Clementine's mom is pregnant, her friend Margaret is obsessed with make-up and the rat being used in her science experiment is missing.  Just how much is a third grade girl supposed to handle?
     Not only does Clementine have an understanding teacher, her parents are amazing.  They know what to say and how to say it and twice I found myself tearing up.  Written so young readers will not only want to read this book they will fall in love with Clementine and her family.  Recommended for those who enjoy Ivy &  Bean, Judy Moody and Kylie Jean and for readers graduating from easy chapter books.  Do you think we will ever find out Clementine's little brother's real name?  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Disney-Hyperion courtesy of Netgalley.

Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy

In short poems Sally Murphy has told the story of Pearl, her mom and granny.  We learn that Granny is very sick and no longer knows who Pearl is.  We learn that her dad left long ago.  We learn that Pearl's teacher assigns poems that rhyme.  But neither Pearl nor her poems rhyme.  It is a very sad event that brings to light to everyone that Pearl is indeed a wonderful poet.

The relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter is a very special relationship.  Through poems we can see what Granny and Pearl meant to each other, their shared love of children's literature and poetry.
The illustrations by Heather Potter are lovely and show the emotions Pearl feels throughout the book.  This is a wonderful book and can be paired in a poetry unit with Love That Dog by Sharon Creech to introduce poetry to young children.  Recommended for grades 2-5.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Candlewick Press via Netgalley.  Pearl Verses the World is now available and every library should own it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Just Grace and the Double Surprise by Cherise Mericle Harper

Just Grace and the Double Surprise (The Just Grace Series)
     In this seventh installment of the Just Grace series, Grace's best friend Mimi is anxiously awaiting the adoption of a new baby sister.  In the first surprise Mimi's parents bring home Robert, a 3 year-old-brother instead.  Mimi is not happy about this and Grace tries really hard to help prove brothers can be just as much fun as sisters.  The second surprise is that Grace gets something she has always wanted but I don't want to spoil that surprise for readers!
      Harper's illustrations work beautifully with the story.  Grace and Mimi are best friends and it's wonderful to see how they care for and watch out for each other.  Their parents are depicted as caring but not overbearing involved parents.  This series is spot on for young girls especially those ready to move on from Junie B. or Judy Moody.  Just Grace and the Double Surprise is a stand alone but readers will fall in love with Grace as I did and will want to read them all.  (Be sure to introduce fans to Harper's Fashion Kitty too!)  Recommended for girls in grades 1 (strong readers) through 6th grade (reluctant readers) and everyone in between.
     Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Negalley.  Just Grace and the Double Surprise will be published August, 2011.

Nikki and Deja : Election Madness by Karen English

When Deja's teacher announces the school is holding a student body election, Deja is sure she would make an excellent president. She is counting on her best friend, Nikki to be her campaign manager. Although they are best friends they don't always see eye to eye on everything. While Deja wants to spend all their time focusing on getting the nomination, Nikki is worrying that the tension between her parents means they will be getting a divorce. Youngsters will enjoy the relationship the girls have with each other and with Deja's aunt who is raising her. They will see that sometimes friends argue and disagree. Auntie is a loving character who guides Deja rather than telling her what to do. The illustrations by Laura
Freeman are wonderfully expressive and add pizazz to the story. This is a welcome addition to chapter books for primary grade students. Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Netgalley.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

While camping with his mother, Jack wakes up to discover that she has left him. Alone.  Again.  Jack uses his experience with his mom disappearing and his smarts to avoid the police and social services.  Being  far home in Maine (they live in Masachusetts) doesn't hinder Jack's ability to find food (helping an old lady or from trash cans) or finding a place to sleep (in a store or church).  We surmise from Jack that his mom is mentally ill and that she has Jack believing that his grandma is the enemy.  Each chapter begins with a blurb about elephants with a quote from a book or an interesting fact.  Jack has always loved elephants and it is this love that will ultimately save him and help him heal.

A parent with a mental illness is a tough subject for kids.  Being abandoned by a parent is also tough.  Jennifer Jacobson handles these subjects deftly and readers will be cheering for Jack.  While as an adult I find it hard to believe that Jack survived alone as long as he did young readers will not.  Recommended for readers who like survival or adventure stories and contemporary fiction.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Planet Explorers Chicago by Laura Schaefer

If you have read my interview below with author Laura Schaefer then you know she is writing a series of guidebooks for children. I had the chance to review one and chose Chicago because for three years Chicago was my home.

My children would have loved this book when they were young. It is written specifically to intrigue children and to help them understand this large magical city. The trivia facts are interesting by themselves. For instance every man, woman, and child in Chicago eats an average of 23 pounds of pizza a year! And the Brookfield Zoo was the first zoo to use moats and ditches instead of cages. I can just hear a child in the back seat saying "hey, did you know..." and rattling off some cool fact about Chicago.

Are you traveling there? Just want to learn about Chicago? I highly recommend this ebook for everyone.  It is a great overview of the city yet detailed enough to really help you learn your way around.  And although I haven't eaten there for twenty years, Ed Debevics was our favorite family restuaruant!  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Smashwords.  To purchase this book on amazon.com click here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Hole in the Wall by Lisa Rowe Fraustino

Strange things are happening to Sebby, his family and around his home.  His dad is out of work and his mom is overworked.  His grandmother has moved in forcing Sebby to share a room with his twin sister Barb.  His older brother has disappeared and the chickens are laying eggs hard as rock.  The hole in the wall is his hide-a-way spot to get away from all his troubles.  Soon though Barb joins him in trying to figure out just what is causing the beautiful colors they see floating around, why a baby chick has attached itself to his belly and why he has had an unnatural growth spurt.

Written in Sebby's voice, Lisa Rowe Fraustino has us believing in the magic (or is it science?)  Though the twins bicker their love for one another shines through as does their mom's.  They act as young children would in their situation even questioning their feelings for their father as he disappoints them continuously.  Sebby has a sense of humor as does big brother Jed that will make kids laugh.

Part science fiction, part mystery, part environmental, The Hole in the Wall will keep readers turning the pages.   Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Milkweed Editions via Netgalley.

Friday, July 1, 2011

True (...sort of) by Katherine Hannigan

Delly is such a troublemaker that even she believes she is bad to the core.  She reaches rock bottom though when threatened to be expelled from school and sees her mom cry.  With the help of her younger brother R.B. and their new friend, Ferris Boyd,  Delly just may be saved.  Although Ferris Boyd does not talk, R.B., Delly and another boy in town, Brud, manage to communicate with her.

True (...sort of) starts off as a simple story.  However, like an onion Katherine Hannigan peels away layer by layer revealing little by little the goodness in Delly, the love in R.B.'s heart, the understanding in Brud, and the pain that silences Ferris Boyd.  

Although dealing with the issue of physical abuse, Hannigan makes readers understand that it is not Ferris Boyd's fault.  She is the victim but there is help available.  A tough subject for young children to read about but an important one and written extremely well.  You will fall in love with Delly, R.B., Ferris Boyd and Brud just like I did.  Recommended for 4th graders and up.

Nerd Girls : The Rise of the Dorkasaurus by Alan Lawrence Sitomer


  Tired of being bullied by the popular girls, three girls team up to try to win the school talent show and end the reign of bullies always winning.  Alice, aka Allergy Alice, Barbara aka Beanpole and Maureen aka Mo (the fat girl) find the true meaning of friendship as they nearly become convinced they are losers for ever.
     For most of this book I was reading with a smile on my face and laughed out loud in many spots.  When Alice's tragic background came to light I had tears in my eyes.  Sitomer sure knows how to twist a story.  Recommended for grades 6 and up and all middle school girls who have ever been bullied.
Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Simon and Schuster via Netgalley.  Nerd Girls : The Rise of the Dorkasaurus will be available July 5, 2011.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Meet Author Laura Schaefer

It is my pleasure to introduce Laura Schaefer, author of The Teashop Girls and the newly released sequel, The Secret Ingredient.

For readers who don't know you please tell us a little about yourself.

I live in Madison, Wisconsin and I began writing full-time after I graduated from college here in 2001. When I was in school, I wrote book reviews for my school paper and had the chance to interview several authors. It was a world I knew I wanted to join. I initially thought I might be an editor, but it turned out that freelance writing suited me, so I stuck with it.

As I found my niche, I fell in love with it. I began as a curriculum writer, which means I wrote educational content such as small lessons, informational pieces for reading comprehension practice, and test questions. When I turned to fiction, it was a natural fit for me to write for middle-grade and young adult readers. I've always been a huge reader myself and the books I read when I was ten or twelve years old are the ones that really stuck with me. It's an honor to write for young readers.

Why did you decide to use blogging and social networking to create awareness about you and your books?

I think social networking is a great way for authors to connect with readers. I've really embraced Twitter and Facebook in the last few years, so when it came time to write a sequel to The Teashop Girls, it made sense to me to incorporate that part of my life into The Secret Ingredient. Annie starts a food blog, which isn't necessarily an easy thing to do. I've only blogged intermittently in the last three years, so I have a lot of respect for anyone who can keep a quality blog going.

Using the Internet in all its glory to connect with readers is such a natural fit for most authors. As a group, we tend to be a bit introverted, so it's nice to have an option to reach out to people that doesn't involve getting on stage.

How much of Annie's personality and life experiences are biographical?

Her personality is more biographical than her life experiences, as I've never worked in a tea shop myself. We do share some things: great friends, an entrepreneurial spirit, and concern for the world around us. Annie is thoughtful and genuine, and I'd like to think I am too. :-) One thing we don't share is hair problems. Annie always fights with her big red curls, and my hair doesn't really give me trouble. It's usually up in a bun and not on my mind at all. That's the beauty of not having to leave the house for work, I suppose!

Did you create and tryout the recipes for the scones in The Secret Ingredient? What is your favorite scone?  What is your favorite tea?

I did! My favorite scone in the book is the last recipe, which involves apples and toffee (but don't flip ahead...they're all good!). My tea tastes have really been evolving lately, so it's harder and harder to pick a favorite. For a while, it was English Breakfast tea, which is delicious and classic. Then I really loved this caramel rooibos. Next up, I went through a matcha phase where I made a lot of frappes with blended milk, ice, matcha, and sugar (the recipe is in the new book). Now I'm drinking Pu'erh, which is an earthy tea from China that is good for heart health. I recommend all of these.

I think the Steeping Leaf scone blog being real is brilliant.  How did you come up with that idea?

Actually, the blog address given in the book just directs back to my website in real life. ;-) But I did have a lot of fun writing the blog entries in the book. I might have Annie or Genna "guest blog" on www.teashopgirls.com one of these days. Perhaps they could answer questions from readers. That would be fun.

What are you reading now?

I just finished an advance review copy of Lauren Oliver's lovely middle grade novel LIESL & PO and I'm starting CLEOPATRA CONFESSES by Carolyn Meyer next.

Who was your favorite author as a tween?

As a young tween, I loved The Babysitters Club books and the Anastasia Krupnik books by Lois Lowry. As for stand-alone titles, I adored A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (I've been meaning to reread that, in fact).

Have you thought about writing in another genre and if yes which one?

Yes. It's fun to try new things. I'm working on a book now for older teen readers, and I'm also working on some non-fiction titles for 8-12 year-olds. They're a series of travel guidebooks for kids called Planet Explorers. I just finished a guide to Chicago and one to Walt Disney World...so fun to work on! They will exist as ebooks only.

Will we see Annie, her grandmother and friends in another book?

I think so! I'm not working on a third book just yet, but it would be great fun to see where another story could take them. :-)

Wow!  Thank you so much for visiting my blog Laura :)

If you'd like to purchase either book on Amazon.com click on the title here : The Teashop Girls or The Secret Ingredient.  

If you'd like to read my reviews of the books you can click here for The TeaShop Girls and click here for The Secret Ingredient.

Here's the link for  The Teashop Girls website for lots more fun! http://teashopgirls.webnode.com