Should I Stay or Should I Go? Groundhug Day by Anne Marie Pace

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Written by Anne Marie Pace
Illustrated by Christopher Denise
(Disney-Hyperion Books; $17.99, Ages 3-5)


Cover image for Groundhug Day


Groundhug Day is a picture book delight that seamlessly weaves a heartwarming and credible friendship story together with Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day holidays. Making a themed book that can be read on more than a few days each year is a feat few authors and illustrators attempt, but the winning combination of Anne Marie Pace and Christopher Denise have managed to pull this off quite successfully!

Moose is planning a Valentine’s Day party and he’d like to celebrate with all his pals. There is however just one little hitch. While Bunny, Porcupine and Squirrel can attend, if Groundhog sees his shadow on Groundhog Day, he’ll “go back into his hole for six more weeks.” In other words, he won’t emerge in time for February 14th festivities. So it’s no surprise that when Groundhog comes out and sees his shadow, he’s quick to head back down, but hints there’s more to it than that. Ever the intuitive one, Moose thinks perhaps his pal is afraid of shadows. Determined to show Groundhog that shadows aren’t scary at all, Moose enlists help from his friends to demonstrate “just how awesome shadows are.”

Here’s where young readers, already drawn into the story, will be treated to several beautiful pages of illustrations (in addition to to all the other striking artwork in warm welcoming tones) showing what wonderful things shadows are and can do. It’s easy to feel the joy both author and illustrator felt about creating this lovely picture book. More fun times are in store because, despite no longer being fearful of shadows, Groundhog must still get his six weeks of sleep! This tale, honoring the support that genuine friendship offers, is both a sweet and satisfying read that has all the feels you’d want from a picture book.

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Groundhug Day



How To Catch A Monster by Adam Wallace & Andy Elkerton

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Written by Adam Wallace
Illustrated by Andy Elkerton
(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; $10.99, Ages 4-8)

Plus a Rafflecopter Giveaway 

cover image from How to Catch a Monster

A USA Today Bestseller!

From the creators of the New York Times bestselling How to Catch a Leprechaun and How to Catch an Elf!

There’s a monster in my closet,

with claws, and teeth, and hair,

and tonight, I’m going to scare him!

He lives just right through there …

Get ready to laugh as a young ninja heads into the closet to meet the monster that’s been so scary night after night! But what if things aren’t what they seem and our monster isn’t scary at all? What if our ninja hero is about to make a friend of the strangest sort?


Int artwork from How to Catch a Monster

Interior spread from How to Catch a Monster written by Adam Wallace with illustrations by Andy Elkerton, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky ©2017.




Int spread from How to Catch a Monster

Interior spread from How to Catch a Monster written by Adam Wallace with illustrations by Andy Elkerton, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky ©2017.


Adam Wallace is a children’s writer and cartoonist living in Australia. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling How to Catch series and Only You Can Save Christmas.

Andy Elkerton is a children’s book illustrator based in the United Kingdom.


Int image from How to Catch a Monster by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton

Interior spread from How to Catch a Monster written by Adam Wallace with illustrations by Andy Elkerton, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky ©2017.



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When I Wake Up – Guest Post by Joanna Liu

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Guest Post By Joanna Liu,
Debut Author of When I Wake Up


When I Wake Up cover image


My favorite pastime? Bedtime reading with my children.

Snuggling up at the end of the day with Annabel (3), Atticus (1) and a gigantic stack of picture books makes me a very happy mommy. What can I say? I love the cuddles! Likewise, it makes for two contented and relaxed kids ready to settle down for the evening. It’s a win-win situation.

Really though, there’s no surprise here. It’s well-known that bedtime stories create important parent-child bonds and prepare children for sleep.


Interior artwork from When I Wake Up by Ming and Joanna LiuIn terms of a bonding experience it can’t be beaten; 20 mins each day set aside for one-on-one time with your child. Both parent and child can escape from their daily pressures and de-stress, with a cozy environment and magical books used as stepping stones to further conversations. Even if it is evening number 30 of reading Goodnight Moon 10 times in a row, with a continuous search for that little mouse, it’s a great experience. (Anybody else have children who want the same book reading over and over for weeks at a time?).

Interior artwork from When I Wake Up by Ming and Joanna LiuAnd as for preparing your child for sleep, well, let’s face it, a toddlers’ resistance to going to bed is pretty much a universal parent struggle. So, it is music to my bedtime-reading ears that child development experts agree that creating consistency in the evening is a key part of getting children to sleep easily. By establishing a nightly routine, such as a bath followed by bedtime stories and cuddles, you are providing the child with the predictability needed to make them sleepy.

However, the benefit of story time doesn’t stop here… Hang on – what could be even better then cuddles and calm kids before bed?

Interior Artwork from When I Wake Up by Ming and Joanna LiuRecent research has shown that a daily reading routine actually boosts your child’s brain development, improving logic skills, memory and speeding up the mastery of language.

When babies are read to, they begin to pick up on simple sounds. The more frequently a baby hears these simple sounds, the faster they can process them. As a toddler learning to speak, they have an advantage at successfully differentiating between words, such as cot, cat, car. Then, as a grade-schooler learning to read, they are far better equipped for sounding out unfamiliar words. In short, it’s a knock-on effect from having started the bedtime reading routine with fun, colorful picture books as an infant. Moreover, add to the mix rhyming and repetitive stories and you have an invaluable teaching tool.

Interior artwork from When I Wake Up by Ming and Joanna LiuAdditionally, daily reading also improves their social and emotional development, and works on their fine motor skills as they learn to turn pages.

Yikes, that’s a lot of benefits!

With the aim of capitalizing on all of these benefits, my husband and I wrote our award-winning children’s bedtime book, When I Wake Up. The story delivers fun, positive encouragement for toddlers to get to sleep on time and does so in an educational way.

Sleep Interior artwork from When I Wake Up by Ming and Joanna LiuWhen I Wake Up tells the tale of a grumpy young girl who doesn’t want to go to sleep … until her imagination takes over and she starts to think about all the fun things she can do the next day when she wakes up. She could dance, or paint, or host a teddy tea party! There are so many exciting possibilities. Tomorrow is packed full of potential and tomorrow will be a wonderful day.

The very simple yet powerful message about getting to bed on time to enjoy the following day is happily received by toddlers without them even realising they are learning. It leaves the toddler with feelings of happiness, playfulness, curiosity … and wanting to go to bed. Two enthusiastic cuddles-and-calm-kids thumbs up to that!

Throw into the mix the quality rhyme scheme, beautiful illustrations and sturdy construction of the board book – all of which When I Wake Up has received high praise for – and it’s easy to see why it’s quickly becoming a must-have companion for nightly routines.

When I Wake Up by Ming and Joanna Liu interior artworkThis evening, when you are snuggling up for bedtime reading with your toddler and a large collection of picture books, as you enter the enchanted world of story time, have a think about all of these fantastic benefits and give yourself a pat on the back – it’s not just an enjoyable routine for you and your child, it’s also a really, really important part of their development.

Right, I’m pumped about bedtime – how about you?

  • by Joanna Liu

Here are the links for buying the book;
or via the When I Wake Up website (which feeds into Amazon)

When I Wake Up
Written by Ming and Joanna Liu
Illustrated by Hattie Hyder
Ages 0-3

Joanna Liu is a British stay-at-home mom living in Washington DC with her American husband and their two children, Annabel and Atticus. She has a degree in Philosophy from the University of York, England and loves to encourage curiosity. She has lived all around the world, including London, Vancouver, Switzerland, Cairo and Frankfurt. This is Joanna’s debut children’s book.


DISCLAIMER:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not constitute an endorsement from GRWR. No compensation was received for this guest post.

The Case of the Poached Egg: A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery by Robin Newman

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Written by Robin Newman
Illustrated by Deborah Zemke
(Creston Books; $15.95, Ages 4-8)



You’re eggspecting me to make yolks about this book, right? So here goes!

Eggceptionally funny, Robin Newman’s second Wilcox & Griswold mystery called The Case of the Poached Egg, will completely satisfy fans who’ve been hungry for a new installment following the duo’s Kirkus-starred first caper, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake.

The trench coat garbed Captain Griswold and the narrator Detective Wilcox are mice on the move. MFIs (Missing Food Inspectors) have to be. It’s an animals steal food kind of world. Always seeking justice for the over 100 creatures on Farmer Ed’s Farm, this pair will stop at nothing to crack a case. So, after taking an urgent call from Henrietta Hen upset over the apparent egg-napping of her “precious Penny,” Wilcox summons his superior to accompany him to the crime scene.

This 48-paged early chapter book not only breaks down the tale into six easily readable chapters, it also cleverly divides actions/events into time and place. For example, Wilcox and Griswold begin their investigation at 10:30am, at the Chicken Coop. There they not only encounter a distraught Henrietta, but an unusually written ransom note too. The game is afoot! I mean an egg! I mean, read on!

The determined MFIs uncover a motive and eventually a culprit, just in the nick of time, using the process of elimination, mounting clues such as a bunch of farm animals oversleeping, a red goose herring (!), thorough questioning of witnesses and possible suspects, and hand writing analysis. All this, which takes place against the backdrop of Farmer Ed’s Big Speggtacular, plus, the cast of colorful characters caught up in the shenanigans including Gabby Goose, Colonel Peck, Miss Rabbit and Porcini Pig makes for amusing dialogue as readers try to solve the mystery along with Wilcox and Griswold. And though, as an adult, I solved the case early on, kids will eat up the chance to play detective and read between the lines, something the format of this clever police procedural actively encourages.

I’m always pulled into a story when there’s a map included, and illustrator Zemke’s created a super one. Her expressive illustrations work wonderfully to add action and emotion to this humorous and accessible story, while also making the thought of reading a chapter book not as daunting for the younger crowd! NOTE: Parents who may read this book aloud should not miss the legal disclaimer on the front endpapers or the author’s note beginning with  “No eggs, chickens, geese or roosters were harmed …”  I’m ready for another serving of Wilcox & Griswold, yes, ready indeed!


  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel



Flora & Ulysses and Journey Giveaway

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Enter our 1000+ Twitter Followers Giveaway

Win Copies of Flora & Ulysses and Journey!

Flora & Ulysses

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by 2014 Newbery Medal Winner, Kate DiCamillo, with illustrations by K. G. Campbell, Candlewick Press, 2013.

A huge thank you goes out to Candlewick Press for this fantastic opportunity. (Plus, read what DiCamillo’s publicist, Tracy Miracle, has to say about working with this two-time Newbery Medal winner.) Three contest entrants chosen at random will receive a set of two award-winning books, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (2014 Newbery Medalist) with illustrations by K. G. Campbell, together with Journey, a wordless picture book (2014 Caldecott Honor Book) by Aaron Becker.

Enter by clicking here. Include your name and address please. Remember to write 1000+ in the subject line. Contest ends at midnight PST on Tuesday, Feb. 18 and three winners will be selected and notified on Weds. Feb. 19, 2014. For eligibility, entrants must first follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Contest rules also available here. Good luck!


Journey by Aaron Becker

Journey, 2014 Caldecott Honor Book, by Aaron Becker, Candlewick Press, 2013.


“In addition to interviews with Kate DiCamillo, K. G. Campbell and Aaron Becker, we’ve been delighted to have both Flora & Ulysses and Journey reviewed on our site. So, it simply made sense to offer our readers a chance to share the enjoyment we’ve gotten from reading both these brilliant books. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t use this occasion to thank all our followers for their continued support. We love bringing our favorite books, authors and illustrators to our readers’ attention.”

Ronna Mandel, founder Good Reads With Ronna

“Working at Candlewick is an embarrassment of riches for any book publicist, honestly. There are too many wonderful books and authors, it can be overwhelming!

But working with Kate DiCamillo is a singular privilege that I can honestly say is one of the defining aspects of my career in publishing. Over almost a decade now, we have worked and grown together, and her books have continued to surprise and impress me at each publication. Not to mention, she’s a good person, and who doesn’t want to see a really, genuinely good person do well?

While no longer an underdog by any means, she’s still easy to root for. And I count myself among her biggest cheerleaders  — ever.”

Tracy Miracle, Sr. Publicist, Candlewick Press

Making New Friends From a Hanukkah Mishap

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Engineer Ari and the Hanukkah Mishap written by Deborah Bodin Cohen and illustrated by Shahar Kober ($17.95 hardcover, $7.95 paperback; Kar-Ben, ages 5-9) was reviewed by Ronna Mandel in the December issue of L.A. Parent.

Engineer Ari is trying to get from Jerusalem to Jaffa, Israel, to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with friends Jessie and Nathaniel. He’s bringing dreidels, a hanukkiah, a bottle of oil, a bag of Turkish coins and some sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts; a glossary in the front of the book offers more handy definitions), and children he meets on the way to the station chat about the story behind the holiday.

On board the train Ari can almost taste Nathaniel’s potato latkes and hear Jessie singing the Hanukkah blessings, but he will have to wait. Coming around a bend, Ari spots a camel relaxing on the tracks and must make an emergency stop, causing his caboose to derail.

Kalil, a Bedouin with long robes and a shepherd’s staff, comes to help Ari remove the stubborn camel. As the sun sets and the two men wait in a desert tent for help to arrive, Ari misses the chance to celebrate Hanukkah’s first night with his old friends, but is blessed to share the Festival of Lights with a new one.

While there may be a mishap, it turns out that everything about Engineer Ari and the Hanukkah Mishap is just right!

Nancy Tillman Shares The Love

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You may know author and illustrator Nancy Tillman from her bestselling picture book, On the Night You Were Born or maybe from Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You. With the addition of her latest picture book, The Crown on Your Head ($16.99, Feiwel & Friends, ages 4-8) one wonderful common theme emerges –  children everywhere need to know that they are special and loved.

You will be pulled into the pages from the very first lines:

“On the day that we met and I put you to bed,
I noticed a crown on the top of your head.

It was made up of sparkling, glimmering things
like moonlight and fireflies, and dragonfly wings.”

Had this book been published when my children were young, I would have read this book to them nightly to instill in them a strong sense of self and confidence. And one of my favorites lines is just below:

“I always knew just what your crown meant.
It said that you were MAGNIFICENT.”

Tillman has an unerring ability to convey her convictions through warm, gleaming artwork, artwork that captures a little one’s inner joy and contentment at just being themselves and being loved for who they are. This book is pure gold.

The Crown on Your Head was reviewed by Ronna Mandel.