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Imani’s Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood with illustrations by Hazel Mitchell – Blog Tour

IMANI’S MOON BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY

Today we’re excited to share Cathy Ballou Mealey’s review of Imani’s Moon written by JaNay Brown-Wood along with Ronna Mandel’s Q&A with illustrator Hazel Mitchell. Plus we’ve got a great book giveaway!

Principal’s Award (National Association of Elementary School Principals): Picture Book of the Year

REVIEW: IMANI’S MOON is written by JaNay Brown-Wood and illustrated by Hazel Mitchell (Charlesbridge/Mackinac Island Press, $17.95, Ages 5-8)

Hazel_Imanis MoonCover high resImani, the smallest child in her African village, has been teased mercilessly by the other children because of her size. Their heartless jabs are just beginning to take a toll on Imani’s self-confidence when her mother tells her the legend of the brave moon deity Olapa. Inspired by a dream in which she stands hand in hand with the lunar goddess, tiny Imani awakens with the desire to do something great, to touch the moon.

In pursuit of her dream, Imani tries to reach the moon by climbing a tall tree, and building herself a giant pair of wings. The village children, even a snake and a chimpanzee, scoff at her valiant but failed attempts to reach the sky. But Imani’s mother still believes in her, offering the tale of Anansi the spider as a soothing and inspirational bedtime story. “A challenge is only impossible until someone accomplishes it,” she reassures her young daughter.

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Interior spread from Imani’s Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood with illustrations by Hazel Mitchell, Mackinac Island Press/Charlesbridge Publishing, ©2014.

Although discouraged, Imani attends a village celebration featuring the adumu, a special Maasai warrior jumping dance. She is particularly fascinated by one dancer who jumps higher and higher with each beat. Imani wakes the next morning, determined to try jumping her way to the moon. All day and into the night Imani jumps, a little higher each time. Despite her aching legs and throbbing feet, Imani keeps her focus on the moon, resolute on her goal.

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Interior spread from Imani’s Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood with illustrations by Hazel Mitchell, Mackinac Island Press/Charlesbridge Publishing, ©2014.

Readers will yearn for Imani’s success in the face of her faith and tiny warrior-like endurance, and cheer when her persistence is ultimately rewarded by the moon goddess herself.

Gleaming and triumphant with arms stretched wide, the cover of Imani’s Moon welcomes readers into this magical story touched with mythology, folklore and story-telling traditions. Mitchell’s watercolor illustrations offer sharp contrast between the soft earth tones of the African landscape and the rich, star-studded night skies. Lovely details abound, from cuddly goats to beaded jewelry and colorful shuka robes.

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Interior spread from Imani’s Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood with illustrations by Hazel Mitchell, Mackinac Island Press/Charlesbridge Publishing, ©2014.

This sweet, inspiring fantasy will rouse young readers to leap for their dreams, and dance, spellbound, until they hold the proverbial moon in their hands.

Don’t miss the charming book trailer at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS1yRoBITEk

– Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Medley

Where Obtained:  I reviewed a promotional PDF file copy of Imani’s Moon and received no compensation. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Q&A WITH HAZEL MITCHELL: 

Good Reads With Ronna: Imani is a beautiful person and a wonderful role model. She feels so real. Did you have someone in mind when you drew her?

Hazel Mitchell: Thank you! It’s lovely to know that. I didn’t have a particular child in mind when I began. The text conveyed a strong sense of Imani to me. So that’s where I started. And then I spent a lot of time looking at photos of Maasai children, who are very charming and full of character. So I began to make sketches. I did have a live model, but mostly for positions and expression and not for facial features. But she was a very lively model and I think that came across!

GRWR: The artwork in Imani’s Moon is joyful, even despite the local girls teasing Imani for being small. That’s an impressive accomplishment. What medium do you generally work in? Or, do you approach each picture book as a blank canvas that you’re eager to experiment with?

HM: I am glad the illustrations gave you such a good feeling – I feel I accomplished my task. I do approach each book with an open mind. I let the manuscript, the age group and the subject suggest to me the mood, the characters and what might work with medium. Sometimes an editor/art director tells me that they like something particularly that I have done before and that is the starting point. But mostly I am left to my own devices. I don’t have one set style, so I guess it can be a leap of faith on the publisher’s part sometimes! Having said that, I’m experimenting much more in my work, using more watercolour, collage and mixing in digital techniques. Imani’s world spoke to me of rich colours and textures and dramatic effects, so I had a lot of fun with this book!

GRWR: What tends to be the hardest part of working on a new picture book: Starting it? Trying to capture the author’s vision while remaining true to yourself? Finishing the book, or waiting for the next assignment to roll in?

I personally find the initial roughs the hardest part, but also the most interesting. It’s where the first thoughts of the book come out. It can be frustrating, as the vision is only half formed and sometimes it’s exhausting. The hardest part is trying to keep the freshness that you have in the initial sketches. Once you get to finals, the vision is there and it’s time to have some fun with technique and any little surprises that come along that you didn’t expect. After the book is finished, it’s like you gave birth. Then it incubates, until it finally arrives in book form. Then it’s a love/hate relationship!

GIVEAWAY: Hazel Mitchell has kindly offered one lucky reader a signed copy of Imani’s Moon. Please enter the Rafflecopter below and good luck!

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Get Happy by Mary Amato – Blog Tour

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GET HAPPY BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY

Author Mary Amato is also a songwriter, just like the protagonist of her new YA novel, Get Happy (Egmont USA, October 28, 2014, $16.99, Ages 12+ ). This fact provides a fresh hook: readers who get curious about the songs soon-to-be seventeen year-old Minerva writes when she’s working through her feelings can go to thrumsociety.com and listen to performances of the actual songs.

A funny moment in the book rings true and reflects Amato’s musical background: Minerva wants a ukulele for her birthday. She thinks she’s made this clear to her mother, but the two are rarely on the same page. So when Mom doesn’t come through, what does the uke-less Minerva do? She spends so much time practicing on the instruments at the music store that the store manager bans her!

The friendships in Get Happy also feel very real. Finnegan is a real BFF whom Minerva can count on when she’s down. He also pushes her to do things that are good for her. Notably, he gets Minerva to audition for a job with a company called Get Happy. The job entails, well, a tail! Minerva has to dress up as a mermaid, following a script to entertain at birthday parties. The job generates some funny and poignant moments and also turns out to be a place to meet new friends. Fin and Min meet Hayes on the way to the audition, and convince him to try out, too. Hayes is tall and friendly, and a cowboy — at least when he’s dressed for work. Cassie is the perfect princess, so perfect that her clients love her. Minerva notices every moment Cassie shares with Hayes, and finds herself feeling jealous. She even stalks Cassie on-line, leaving nasty comments on her blog.

The main conflict in the book feels less completely realized, but definitely adds suspense, and a sense of commonality for readers dealing with separated or divorced parents. Minerva’s father left when she was just a baby, but now he’s trying to get back in touch. If he’s as bad as Mom says, he’s not worth knowing, but Minerva can’t help wondering about him. Who is he, really? Should she try to contact him? Will Mom find out about the package he sent Minerva on her birthday?

Reading Get Happy is a good way to discover different paths for self-discovery — art, work, friendship — and will be especially enjoyed by younger YA readers.

Learn more about Amato’s books for younger children and educational resources for her books at www.maryamato.com.

– Reviewed by Mary Malhotra

GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

THE BLOG TOUR CONTINUES …

Saturday, October 25, 2014
Bring On the Books: Guest post and giveaway

Crossroad Book Reviews: Review and giveaway

Sunday, October 26, 2014
Reading Teen: Guest post and giveaway

Pinky’s Favorite Reads: Q&A and giveaway

Monday, October 27, 2014
Jean Book Nerd: Guest post and giveaway

Adventures in YA Publishing: Question and giveaway

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Book Briefs: Q&A and giveaway

CherylRainfield.com: Guest post and giveaway

Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Unorthodox Mama: Review and giveaway

Bloggin’ ’bout Books: Review and giveaway

Thursday, October 30, 2014
Reading Nook Reviews: Q&A and giveaway

Fandom Monthly: Review and giveaway

Rockin Book Reviews: Review and giveaway

Saturday, November 01, 2014
Adventures in YA Publishing: Question

Sunday, November 16, 2014
Children’s Book Review: Guest Column and giveaway

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Even Monsters … by A.J. Smith Virtual Tour & Giveaway

Welcome to the EVEN MONSTERS Virtual Tour & Giveaway courtesy of Sourcebooks Jabberwocky!

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Even Monsters … written and illustrated by A.J. Smith, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2014.

Be sure to scroll down to devour every last morsel of our exciting EVEN MONSTERS by A.J. Smith art contest, giveaway, interview & EVEN more!!

MONSTER ART CONTEST: Even the bravest little monsters can be scared of what’s lurking in a closet or under the bed. Author and illustrator A.J. Smith’s family-friendly picture book, Even Monsters (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.99, Ages 4-8 ) written and illustrated by A.J. Smith, is perfect for helping children understand that sometimes the things we are afraid of are not scary at all. In fact, they can be quite funny – see Fur of The Loom undies above!! To help kids overcome their fear of the dark and see how silly monsters can be, A.J. invites them to participate in the Monster Art Contest. Children ages 2-9 can send in their best monsters drawings for the chance to have their art animated into their own music video! The best 100 drawings will appear in a special Even Monsters art gallery, and the top 20 drawings will be animated into their own music video. WOW!

http://www.evenmonsters.com/artcontest.html
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PLEASE WATCH THIS TERRIFIC EVEN MONSTERS BOOK TRAILER BEFORE YOU READ OUR INTERVIEW.  Even Monsters Book Trailer

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR A.J. SMITH

Hi AJ! EVEN MONSTERS is ADORABLE and something both my kids would have loved when they were younger.  There’s something to discover on every page meaning kids will want to go back again and again to see if they can find something new. Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 5.43.03 PMGRWR: With that last sentence in mind, did you deliberately include those tiny cute orangey-red, big-eyed creatures for kids to seek out on every page (and perhaps count)?

A.J. SMITH: Certainly I want the story to be fun and engaging in its own right, but yes, the little cooties were added as a way to extend the life of the story by inviting kids to come back for multiple reads and explore the book for cooties. Taking it even a step further, kids can print and play this cootie-counter game: http://www.evenmonsters.com/cootieCounter.pdf

GRWR: I noticed a lot of broken items scattered throughout the book and thought you got into the young monsters’ heads quite well. Were you a monster when you were growing up?

A.J. SMITH: Kids (and monsters) can sometimes be destructive even when intentions are at their best. That said, I was an exceptionally gentle and thoughtful child who never did anything wrong. It’s possible my parents may have their own perspective on the matter, however.

GRWR: What prompted you to take this picture book one step further by introducing the digital element where kids (with help from their parents) can scan the QR codes throughout the book for assorted fun activities?

A.J. SMITH: I like the idea that a children’s book is a toy. Yes, it’s hopefully an eventual gateway to bigger literary endeavors. But in the meantime, a picture book should encourage interactivity and play. QR codes were just one more way for me to help facilitate that, which then brings you to more content online that revolves around Even Monsters. Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 5.52.51 PM GRWRAside from the fact that you’re obviously very talented, what else would you say influenced you to first enter the world of animation and designing?

A.J. SMITH: Thanks for the kind words. I’ve always liked to draw from a young age … Always enjoyed cartoons and books. I could talk all day about specific influences from pop culture to everyday events in childhood. But mostly I just always wanted to create stories and make people laugh. Animation, design, illustration, and writing became the best ways (for me) to make that happen.

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The Night Before My Birthday by Natasha Wing & Giveaway

Cover art for The Night Before My Birthday by Natasha Wing with illustrations by Amy Wummer.
The Night Before My Birthday by Natasha Wing with illustrations by Amy Wummer, Grosset & Dunlap, 2014.

We’re delighted to be part of Natasha Wing‘s blog tour for her new picture book The Night Before My Birthday (Grosset & Dunlap, $3.99, Ages 3-5). with illustrations by Amy Wummer. Wing’s written more than fifteen books in this popular series and at just $3.99 each, it’s easy and affordable to collect them all. I can even see giving a copy of the book instead of candy to each party guest. Parents will be pleased and kids will have something to enjoy long after the birthday has ended.

We’re also giving away two copies of the book. Winners will be selected by Random.org so email us by Friday, January 24th midnight PST to make sure you’re in the running. Like us on Facebook for an extra entry. Click here to submit your entry. Please be sure to write Night Before in the subject line and include your name and address in your email submission. Good luck!

So what’s the book about? Told in rhyme by a gender neutral narrator (readers can picture themselves as the main character!), The Night Before My Birthday is about the preparation leading up to a birthday celebration, and the joyous anticipation every youngster feels before his or her big day.

The invites were out. The streamers were strung.

The presents were wrapped. The banner was hung.

Natasha Wing, author of The Night Before series from Grosset & Dunlap
Natasha Wing, author of The Night Before My Birthday.

And in keeping with Clement Moore’s Night Before theme, Wing does an excellent job of incorporating infectious language like “visions of birthday gifts” dancing in the child’s head at bedtime, a clatter in the kitchen and a mad dash to the store for cartons of ice cream. Kids will love the adorable ginger tabby included in almost every illustration and will be surprised that it’s involved in a melty mishap that could cause chaos for the party. When what “to my wondering eyes should appear” well, I won’t say, but it’s a real treat.

Filled with humor, cheerful artwork and even a picture of a birthday cake with room to fill in a child’s age, The Night Before My Birthday may become a treasured birthday read and tradition for your child’s preschool years.

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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The Eighth Menorah by Lauren L. Wohl: Review and Giveaway

Review of The Eighth Menorah & 2 Book Giveaway Opp!

The Eighth Menorah by Lauren L. Wohl with illustrations by Laura Hughes
The Eighth Menorah by Lauren L. Wohl with illustrations by Laura Hughes, Albert Whitman & Company, $16.99, ages 4-7, 2013.

The Eighth Menorah, (Albert Whitman & Company, $16.99, Ages 4-7) by Lauren L. Wohl with illustrations by Laura Hughes, is reviewed by Ronna Mandel.

Growing up, I had one favorite menorah. It looked ancient to me with its pretty patina of brass and oxidized green brass, covered with assorted lava-like formations of old wax. My family also had an electric menorah we’d display in our front window. As a parent I now have four menorahs, one my husband and I were given as a wedding gift, a mini travel one, and the two my children made in Sunday school.

That’s why when Good Reads with Ronna was invited to participate in this special opportunity from Albert Whitman & Company, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. And to celebrate the early arrival of Hanukkah this year, we’re giving away two (2) autographed copies of  The Eighth Menorah, a terrific new picture book reviewed here today just in time to share with the family!

TO ENTER:

Just LIKE our Facebook page and/or follow us on Twitter first. For your chance to win, send an email by clicking here to enter. Please remember to include your name and address and write MENORAH in the subject line!  This giveaway ends on 11/21/13 at midnight and two (2) winners will be selected on 11/22/13. For detailed rules click here. HAPPY HANUKKAH and good luck!

With The Eighth Menorah, Wohl has created an amiable young character in a just-right-to read-aloud picture book. Sam is a Sunday school student who’s reluctant to participate in his class project. Mrs. Zuckerman, Sam’s teacher, has asked the students to make a menorah from clay using stones, marbles and buttons, but Sam knows his family already has seven menorahs at home. He’s convinced an eighth menorah is simply not needed.

The colorful and emotive illustrations by Hughes show Sam’s close relationship with his grandmother with whom, via telephone, he sort-of shares his Sunday school secret. Sam says the secret’s about something the kids are making in Hebrew school without revealing exactly what that something is. “It’s a secret, Grammy.” When soon after Sam learns that safety rules at Grammy’s new condo do not allow open flames unless they’re in the community room, Sam thoughtfully invites his grandmother to join him at home for the first night of Hanukkah.

Having been instructed to bring the menorah home and hide it before presenting it to his family, Sam now realizes he has a clever and caring solution for the one-too-many menorahs. I hope when you read this super spirited holiday story, you’ll note the significance of the eighth menorah and rejoice in the way it lights up so many people’s lives!

Click here for a fun activity – a dreidel game that’s at the end of the book.

These other bloggers are also sharing a giveaway opportunity courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company. Why not visit them all to increase your chances of winning?! Find their posts now through 11/15/13. The other bloggers are http://dulemba.blogspot.com, http://mcbookwords.blogspot.com, http://www.buriedinbooks.blogspot.comhttp://www.thechildrensbookreview.comhttp://smartpoodlepublishing.com/blog, and http://fourthmusketeer.blogspot.com.

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Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I Blog Tour and Giveaway

Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I *1917*

Fast-paced, fascinating historical fiction for readers who love dogs.
Fast-paced, fascinating historical fiction for readers who love dogs.

Welcome to the last stop of Peachtree Publishers’ Blog Tour!

Please read on for more info about the book and giveaway. Thank you Peachtree for this wonderful opportunity to spread the word about Dog Chronicles!

The new Dog Chronicles series introduces young readers to the important yet often overlooked roles our canine companions played in major historical events. In Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I (Peachtree Publishers, $12.95, ages 7-10), written by Alison Hart and illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery, we meet man’s best friend at her finest in this 176 page book set in England and Belgium during the Great War.

BOOK SUMMARY:

What an eye-opener this fast-paced and moving historical fiction novel was for me! I had no idea that mercy dogs existed, yet after reading Darling, Mercy Dog of WWI, I learned and appreciated what a vital military role they played in finding and assisting wounded soldiers on the battlefields of Europe. Hart’s tightly constructed story begins with Darling’s recruitment by the military from the family who loved her, especially the two children, Robert and Katherine. The book then details Darling’s training period and finally focuses on her service as a mercy dog, braving life and death situations. Montgomery’s sketch-like illustrations  done with various lines in assorted directions complement the story in their depictions of village life, battlefields and various characters.

Hart manages to convincingly share the tale in Darling’s voice so readers experience first-hand the stresses she feels and the successes she accomplishes as a soldier. In addition to all the satisfying action and adventure they’ll find in the book, kids will be drawn into the story because of several meaningful relationships detailed. First there is Darling’s relationship as beloved pet of Katherine and Robert. Second is her role as Mercy dog under the caring and watchful guidance of handler, Private Kent. There’s also a sweet friendship between Darling and a stray dog named Rags from Darling’s home town of Cosham in England. Before the war, Rags and Darling would roam the town together when, on occasion, Darling slipped free from her leash.

When at last Darling is faced with the prospect of being on an actual mission, she is scared but well prepared. “Hoping to pick up a trail, I kept my nose to the ground. The smells of burnt earth, gunpowder, and a hundred boot soles grew confusing.” Using all her keen senses, Darling the mercy dog locates a fallen soldier. With the story focusing more on the dog squad and Darling’s role saving soldiers, young readers will find this perspective less harsh than had it been a full-on WWI tale. There are some harrowing moments like when the Allied trench of Darling’s regiment is blasted by a barrage of enemy shells. Darling must race to find and dig out her colleagues despite a painful wound she’s sustained. Of course the questions remain whether she’ll get to them in time, whether she’ll recover from her wound and then, will she ever make it back from the Continent to Cosham and her dear Katherine and Robert?

Next up in this series: Murphy, Gold Rush Dog *1896*

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

The GOOD READS WITH RONNA giveaway opp begins today, Friday, October 4, 2013 and runs through Sunday, October 20th ’til midnight. Enter now by sending your name and address to Good Reads With Ronna by clicking here. Be sure to write DARLING/Peachtree Giveaway in the subject line. One winner of (1) one copy of Darling: Mercy Dog of World War I -1917- will be selected via Random.org and notified on Monday, October 21st. Click here to see our contest and giveaways rule page.  Good luck!

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A New Look For Good Reads With Ronna


WE’VE CHANGED OUR LOOK!
KEEP CHECKING US OUT DURING CONSTRUCTION BECAUSE
THERE’S LOTS GOING ON.

Under Construction, but still blogging!
Under Construction, but still blogging!

We’re almost done cleaning up our site. It was truly a case of out with the old and in with the new, and long overdue! Thanks so much for your patience during our blog remodel. Please let us know what you think about our updated look.

The current blog tour is for Super Schnoz and the Gates of Smell along with an author signed book giveaway. Enter by clicking here now for your chance to win because that great opportunity ends this weekend.

Our next blog tour in conjunction with Peachtree Publishers begins on Friday, October 4th, so watch this space for more details about the surprise book review and giveaway. But in case you can’t wait, here’s a little preview:

Some other stops on the Peachtree Publishers Blog Tour & a chance to win a copy of the book!

Visit Blue Owl Reviews today to get a taste of what’s to come.

On Tuesday, check out Gidgets Bookworms and Maestra Amanda’s Bookshelf

Wednesday stop by the Peachtree blog for the giveaway contest!

Thursday’s the blog tour is on Kid Lit Reviews

and Friday it’s here at last: Good Reads with Ronna.

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Super Schnoz Blog Tour And Book Giveaway

GET A WHIFF OF SUPER SCHNOZ!

SuperSchnozBlogTour

Super Schnoz and the Gates of Smell (Book 1) (Albert Whitman, $14.99, ages 8 -12) by Gary Urey with illustrations by Ethan Long is reviewed today by Ronna Mandel.  The book is available in print both online and at local independent bookstores. Find the ebook at Open Road Media (www.openroadmedia.com). Please also read on for a Q&A with the author and the signed book giveaway details then remember to visit the next stop on the blog tour & book giveaway: Monday, September 23, 2013 www.carolwscorner.blogspot.com/ Gary Urey Interviews Ethan Long and Signed Book Giveaway.

Book Summary:

In this riotous romp around Denmark, New Hampshire (yes, something is rotten in this city), readers meet 11-year-old Andy Whiffler. With his exceptionally large nose, Whiffler will experience the trials and tribulations common to many just-moved-to-town tweens, only more so because his nose knows no boundaries.

Super Schnoz and the Gates of SmellAndy’s intelligence, wit and uncanny ability to sniff out trouble (in addition to a variety of vile stinky things such as a rotting pastrami sandwich, feet fungus and armpit odor) soon turns around the kids who so often tease him about his oversized honker. Now, as a member of a group who have dubbed themselves the Not-Right Brothers along with one female friend named Vivian, Andy embarks on unearthing what’s causing the horrendously horrible noxious fumes at James F. Durante Elementary.

Soon something seriously fishy is discovered. In fact it’s downright criminal and it may cause the school to close down leaving kids to lose their summer vacation. However, if all goes according to plan, The Not-Right Brothers, aided by a Mardi Gras masked, flying crime fighter known as Super Schnoz, will rid school of its evil element, foiling a dastardly plan to pollute cities across the planet. Can Super Schnoz close the Gates of Smell and help reopen James F. Durante Elementary? Don’t let only the nose know! Pick up a copy today at your local independent bookseller and find out what part some snot and cayenne pepper play in this mad dash to deliver Denmark from certain disaster.

Today, as part of this week long  Albert Whitman blog tour, Good Reads With Ronna interviews Super Schnoz debut author Gary Urey.

Author Gary Urey
Author Gary Urey

Q&A with Gary Urey:

GRWR: Please tell us how you decided that a boy with a humongous nose should be a super hero? Why not ears or big feet?

Gary Urey: Big noses are just funny! They can smell good things and bad things, expel mucous, wiggle, and you can pick it. If you ever got stranded on a desert island, your nose could provide hours of idle entertainment. Also, people are generally obsessed with their nose. Is it too big or too small? Why is it red? Should I get a nose job?

GRWR: I love being entertained and your book is pure entertainment. What does it take nowadays to entertain children with their oh so many distractions?

Gary Urey: Children are very easy to entertain if you have a laptop, a TV, and Netflix. Seriously, I think that children innately love books. We as adults just need to put the right book into a kid’s hands and they will gobble it up. A Newbery Medal winning book may very well be a beautifully told tale, but a kid who likes comic books, laughs at fart jokes, and makes goofy videos with his friends and then uploads them to YouTube probably won’t be interested in a story about a kid who lives in a small Kansas town during the depression. But that same fart joke-loving kid will eagerly read books like Captain Underpants, Super Schnoz, and The Day My Butt Went Psycho.

GRWR: You’ve said that you were nasally challenged as a child like Andy Whiffler. What kind of teasing did you endure and is that when your keen sense of humor was born?

Gary Urey: Yes, I was born into a family of large noses! Our family reunion looks like a nose convention. My maternal grandfather’s nose was so HUGE you could use it as a storm shelter. His honker actually affected the tides.

Somewhere in my childhood, I got an unfortunate nickname that left me wide open for teasing. Everybody referred to me by that name, even teachers and my own family. To this day, if I went back to my hometown they would call me by that name. So, to answer your question, when you go through childhood and adolescence with a humiliating nickname you develop a healthy sense of humor.

Illustrator Ethan Long
Illustrator Ethan Long

GRWR: Was this book originally conceived as an animated TV show because between Long’s artwork and the madcap adventures embarked upon, it seems to shout series?

Gary Urey: No, I didn’t consciously start writing Super Schnoz with an eye for an animated TV show—although that would be great! I grew up in a home without books so Saturday morning and after-school cartoons were my main source of entertainment. Shows like Hong Kong Phooey, Johnny Quest, Bugs Bunny, the Flintstones, Land of the Lost, Super Friends, and dozens of others were a major influence on me as a writer for children.

GRWR: There are snot and sickening smell type jokes up the kazoo in this book. How do you know when you’ve reached capacity with this type of humor in a kids’ book? For example – do you show it to some kids for their input?

Gary Urey: I let my eleven-year-old daughter and her friends read the manuscript. Half said it was gross, the other half didn’t, so I figured the avalanche of booger and snot jokes were okay. Also, my editor at Albert Whitman will let me know if I have gone too far.

GRWR: Did you decide to add all the name references to nose related things such as Principal Cyrano and James F. Durante Elementary School for the grown-ups who might read this to their children? I looked up the Russian city of Nizhnevartovsk you included in the story thinking it was going to be a translation of nose, but it wasn’t. Did you do that on purpose?

Gary Urey: Yes, I did add all the big nose references for the grown-ups. The Russian city of Nizhnevartovsk just popped into my head the day I was writing that chapter. I think I heard of the city from some documentary. Although, your idea of naming the city after the Russian word for nose is much funnier. (According to Google Translate, nose in Russian is hoc.)

GRWR: The whole idea of Andy being able to fly is so totally imaginative.  Did you have to do some research to make his ability to lift off the ground thanks to inflated nostrils believable?

Gary Urey: I did a bit of research on how hot-air balloons work, just to make it bit more believable.

GRWR: Where did you draw your inspiration for the four other members of Andy’s Not-Right Brothers and girl partner-in-crime fighting?

Gary Urey: The Not-Right Brothers are composites of friends I had during elementary school. As for Vivian, all the great super hero teams like the Fantastic Four have a kick-butt girl in the gang. Vivian fit the bill perfectly!

GRWR: Is there a second book in the works?

Gary Urey: Yes. I just finished Super Schnoz II. He will battle snotty aliens who are intent on taking over the world!

GRWR: What writers inspired you as a child and who are those you still enjoy reading as an adult today?

Gary Urey: The book I remember most from childhood is How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell. I still love that book! The book that made me want to become a children’s writer was Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. It’s my favorite book ever, and it won the Newbery back in 1991. I also love every book by Gary Paulson, Avi, Cynthia Rylant, and Dav Pilkey. They’ve had a tremendous influence on me.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

We’re excited to give away 2 autographed by the author (Gary Urey) copies of SUPER SCHNOZ AND THE GATES OF SMELL. Each of the winners will have their signed copy mailed to them by Albert Whitman & Company who are graciously providing the books.

The giveaway begins today, Sunday, September 22, 2013 and runs through Sunday, October 6th ’til midnight. Each of the winners of (1) one copy of SUPER SCHNOZ AND THE GATES OF SMELL by Gary Urey with illustrations by Ethan Long will be selected via Random.org and notified on Monday, October 7th. Send your name and address to Good Reads With Ronna by clicking here. Be sure to write SCHNOZ/Albert Whitman Giveaway in the subject. For an extra entry, please LIKE our Facebook page by clicking here.  Also remember to send us your name and contact info in an email to Ronna.L.Mandel@gmail.com by midnight Sunday, October 6, 2013 and you’ll be entered to win.

Please click here for a link to our contests page if you need more info. Good luck!

 See the trailer here:

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Brave and Mighty Little Chick

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tlc tour hostChick-o-Saurus-RexGood Reads With Ronna is excited to be part of the Chick-O-Saurus Rex  (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, ages 4-8) blog tour. This new picture book is a collaboration by husband and wife team Lenore and Daniel Jennewein.

If you saw a tree house you’d want to go in, wouldn’t you? Well so did Little Chick. The only problem was the bullies, Little Donkey, Little Pig and Little Sheep, keeping him out. They announced, “This is a club for the brave and mighty. First you have to prove you belong.” Not exactly a warm and welcoming requirement to place on poultry.

Chick-O-Saurus RexBut Little Chick was up for the challenge despite the mean behavior of the taunting trio. While other chickens might have been discouraged, Little Chick persevered. He wondered if somewhere in his family tree there might be proof of a brave and mighty chicken and posed this question to Father Rooster. Together they perused a family album for hints of bravery and might in their lineage.

When a photo shows Grandpa Rooster unearthing an ancestor’s fossil (yes, fossil), Little Chick is eager to pursue this clue. Could our Little Chick be a descendant of dinos? Several weeks pass before a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton is dug up proving Little Chick’s mighty heritage. He takes off for the tree house to share his discovery, but finds the bullies being preyed upon by a hungry wolf. With a scary battle-cry of “Cock-A-Doodle-Dooo!,” and a frightening fossil clutched in his fist, Little Chick chases the wolf away, is proclaimed a hero and permanently changes the bullies’ opinion of one so small.

Lenore and Daniel Jennewein
Lenore and Daniel Jennewein

This winning book is infused with subtle humor (perhaps adults will have to explain the chicken-dance craze reference to youngsters, but the picture of Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandpa crossing the road should be easier to catch) and adorable illustrations that make it mighty good human entertainment.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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