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The 2014 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

The World’s Largest Children’s Literature Award was been presented in Sweden on June 2, 2014.

Barbro Lindgren, awarded the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in Sweden on June 2, 2014. “This media asset is free for broadcast/print publication/radio distribution. It is restricted for use for other purposes.”

Swedish author Barbro Lindgren (no relation to Astrid) received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award on June 2, 2014. The award was presented by H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria at a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall. Swedish Minister for Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth addressed the Laureate in a speech.

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award amounts to approximately $715,422 making it the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature. Authors, illustrators, storytellers and reading promoters are eligible for the award, which is given annually to a single laureate or to several. Lindgren is the first Swede to be honored with this prestigious award which was begun in 2003 following the death in 2002 of beloved author, Astrid Lindgren, of Pippi Longstocking fame.

Barbro Lindgren was announced as the 2014 Laureate on 25th March 2014. She is a Swedish author of innovative and multifaceted works for children of all ages. Her body of work includes picture books, poetry, plays and books for young adults. Since her debut in 1965, she has published more than a hundred titles, and her works have been translated into more than thirty languages.


Minister for Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth hailed Lindgren for her literary achievements:

“Barbro Lindgren is a brave and innovative author. She gives her readers courage and is not afraid to describe the world as it really is. Loneliness, setbacks, and even death are all part of life. Lindgren does not try to protect children; instead, her honesty, humor and openness strengthen children to think and talk about difficult things for themselves …”

And from Rabén & Sjögren publisher, Moa Brunnberg, where Barbro Lindgren sent her early manuscripts:

“It’s wonderful to be here, of course. It’s so great to celebrate Barbro Lindgren, an extraordinary author.”

For story-related web links:,



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A New Look For Good Reads With Ronna


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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The King of Little Things by Bil Lepp

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(Peachtree, $16.95, ages 4-8)

Not Your Mother’s Monarch

by Bil Lepp with illustrations by David T. Wenzel
by Bil Lepp
with illustrations by
David T. Wenzel

At first glance I thought that, with its fancy gold lettering, this was a holiday book. But it’s even better. It’s a picture book page turner! Yep, and for good reason. Author Bil Lepp and illustrator David T. Wenzel have created a book for all seasons that is certain to appeal to a lot of kids with its strong story and superb artwork.

Lepp has woven a tale so engaging that children may even read the story so quickly to discover the ending that they miss Wenzel’s wonderful illustrations. Not to worry. This is a book well worth going back over again and again, first to carefully study and enjoy each picture’s small details then again to look out for items readers are asked to seek out at the book’s end. What a terrific idea making this an inviting interactive experience for both parents and kids.

Have you ever read this African proverb below? It’s just a hint of what this new children’s book is all about:

If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito.

The King of Little Things is not your mother’s monarch. In his realm he reigns over candle holders, corks and sleeping dogs; lanterns, lizards, wheels and cogs. How many kings find joy in the simple pleasure of admiring a butterfly’s wing? This royal majesty much prefers peanuts or a pocket watch to the riches most kings desire. He does not long for conquering the world. Instead he chooses to cherish life’s tiniest treasures along with “a cozy house and a loving queen.”

But alas, in a distant kingdom lives King Normous, a power hungry hulk of a person determined to conquer all kingdoms big and small. Imagine the King of Little Things finding out the greedy galloping Goliath (better known as King Normous) is on his way to rid the world of all things little, the foremost being The King of Little Things himself! Well our hero has a plan to stop the evil enemy with an entitlement complex and it’s not just clever, it’s downright fantastic. But I don’t want to spoil the ending. Suffice it to say that the world’s littlest things who “loved their king,” do whatever it takes to save him from being annihilated by this monster of a sovereign. There’s alliteration and rhyming galore mixed with humor and some important lessons to take away from this top notch tale.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Check out these other great sites for more reviews on this blog tour!

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At Your Service


As a children’s book author, I first encountered Mack, a therapy dog five years ago at one of my author visits. I was truly overwhelmed by how well trained the dog was and by how much the children loved him. No matter how much those kids poked him, tugged on his hair or even rolled on his back, Mack was patient and gentle. He was a specially trained reading dog who sits with struggling readers as they read to him. What a positive impact that dog had on those kids! Reading to a dog has been proven to be much less intimidating for kids than reading to an adult.

Lola Goes to Work: A Nine-to-Five Therapy Dog ($16.99, Creston Books, Ages 3-8) is a non-fiction book about the daily life of a therapy dog told by the adorable dog herself. Lola, a five-pound Yorkshire Terrier, tells readers how hard she had to work to pass a test to be a therapy dog. The book shows Lola at work, visiting a senior center, putting smiles on the faces of the elderly and visiting a school, where children play with him and read to him.

The author and photographer of the book, Marcia Goldman, has 25 years of experience with therapy based programs. What a fascinating and rewarding job that must be. I’m glad she wrote this book because many people, both young and old, are unaware that therapy dogs even exist. They make people happy, make the lonely feel loved and give kids the confidence they need to read. The story is fun to read and since it is written from the viewpoint of the dog, it sure makes it extra cute.


This book would be fitting for any child and particularly a reluctant reader, who is sure to be inspired to read to a dog just like Lola. Read more about Reading Dogs at these websites and ask if your library participates in a Reading Dog program:

– Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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What Makes Your Dad Happy?

What Makes My Dad Happy cover dad playing with childWHAT MAKES MY DAD HAPPY is a charming children’s book written by Tania Cox with illustrations by Lorette Broekstra from Allen & Unwin. Distributed in the U.S. by Trafalgar Square Publishing from IPG,  $11.99, Ages 3-5), this 24-page book will appeal to a broad audience since the dads depicted are from a wide range of ethnicities and abilities. I love that in addition to several Caucasian dads, a father in a wheelchair is shown along with an African-American dad, an older dad, and an Asian dad. Best of all, they’re having lots of fun and smiling loving smiles while interacting with their children.

Whether talking on the phone together, cooking, dancing, building, or playing in the park, dads are simply happy making memories while spending quality time with their kids. And kids just love making their daddies happy with all kinds of surprises. Presented in easy-to-read rhyme with a catchy refrain, “That’s what makes my dad happy, that’s what makes my dad happy,” the book is ideal for reading aloud. Celebrate those special daddy and daughter or son moments by making time to read together and reflect on the different relationships What Makes My Dad Happy conveys.  Plus, giving this book as a gift not just on Father’s Day, but year-round, is certain to make any dad very, very happy!

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
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Making Sense of it All

9788415619482I pride myself on reading many different types of children’s books, and every once in a while, I discover an uncharted territory. Walking Through a World of Aromas ($16.95, Cuento de Luz, Ages 7-10 ) written by Ariel Andrés Almada, is a most original and enchanting story that will warm your child’s heart.

Annie is a girl who was born without the gift of sight. From an early age, she understood she was different than other children. She uses touch to make her way through her dark world, and it isn’t long before Annie realizes that her intense ability to smell can guide her through her life. She cooks with her grandmother and learns how to mix spices, sending incredible aromas wafting through the air, attracting the attention of the residents in Annie’s village. The smells make those villagers “curiously happy,” so they come to Annie to taste her magical mixtures of spices and awaken their most splendid emotions.

As the years go by, there is one villager, named Julian, who is around the same age as Annie, and who suffers from sadness and lethargy. No matter what spices she mixes, Annie does not seem to be able to help him. The two start spending a lot of time together, developing a close friendship and admiration. In the end, it is Annie’s grandmother who helps her “see the light,” showing her how to help her friend – and herself.

What I love about this book is that the story has a fairy tale quality, yet the book teaches young readers three very important lessons: 1) We are all unique, and that’s a good thing; 2) We can learn to turn our weaknesses into strengths to find our way in the world; 3) By sharing our strengths with others we can all make the world a much better place. The illustrations by Sonja Wimmer are winsome and so delightful to admire.

It really makes a statement that I, with so many books here waiting to be opened and reviewed, make the time to read this particular book not just once, but twice!

Note: This book has a lot more text than you’d expect from a picture book, but it can easily be read to children too young to read at this level. Also note that this book is available in a Spanish language version.

– Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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Fridays Featuring Flintridge – Roderick Townley’s Novels

A Truly Great Good Thing:

The Work of Children’s Author Roderick Townley –

reviewed by Hilary Taber of Flintridge Bookstore


I’m beyond delighted to announce that this and next Friday’s posts will be devoted to author and poet Roderick Townley. I will take this opportunity to review three of his children’s novels for those just making his acquaintance and next Friday Mr. Townley will join us for an amazing and inspiring interview. Those of you who are writers won’t want to miss this! For you who are already familiar with his delightful stories, you may empathize that it’s difficult to easily sum up the work of this author. His writing somewhat defies definition. I think Roderick Townley rather likes it that way. He likes to be unpredictable.

I will dare to say that it takes a certain talent that very few authors have to be able to convey such potent meaning in just a few sentences. Additionally, his writing is full of the magical, creative, and wondrous power of fairy tales. Mr. Townley is one of those authors who, through his books, seems to come to the reader and say, “Take my hand for now we are about to go journeying to places unknown, sights yet unseen, and things not clearly understood by anyone. Ready?” I always say, “Yes!” to offers like that, for not many authors are able to provide such unique and original tales. By the end of the story I have always thought very new thoughts, experienced high adventure, and returned to the real world wishing that the book could have lasted just a little bit longer, or even just a few pages longer. The writing itself is so magical that I always end up half convinced that, if I just wished hard enough, the extra pages I want might magically appear. Of course they don’t, but right there is the proof of a good author. Who else could half convince me of such a possibility? Such writing is just like the title of his first book. It is indeed a Great, Good Thing.

cvr9780689853289_9780689853289_lgThe Great Good Thing (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $6.99, ages 10-14)

“Sylvie had an amazing life, but she didn’t get to live it very often.”

Sylvie has been a storybook princess for more than eighty years. Her trouble is that the story of her amazing life is never lived until a Reader comes along. It is only when the book containing the story of Princess Sylvie is opened and read that she can live her adventures in the storybook. When your life depends on Readers reading and your story is forgotten what can you do? The characters in the book begin to accept the fact that they might never have a new Reader. However, one day, a very special Reader does come, and Sylvie dares to break the rule of all storybook characters, “Never look at the Reader”. Being Sylvie (brave, adventurous, and a Person with Purpose), she takes it one step further and makes a lasting friendship with this Reader. This friendship is destined to change Sylvie’s story forever, but it also offers Sylvie the opportunity to fulfill her greatest wish. Sylvie is finally given a chance to do A Great Good Thing.

41dlFvL3GSL._SY380_The Blue Shoe: A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery, and Shoes (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $6.99, ages 8-12)

“Not long ago, in the sunny mountain village of Aplanap, famous for its tilted streets, cuckoo clocks, and Finster cheese, there stood a small shoemaker’s shop. And in the window of that shop was a shoe that fit nobody.”

In this book Mr. Townley invites the reader to follow the adventures of Hap, the goodhearted assistant cobbler to the shoemaker who made the beautiful blue shoe. When the blue shoe looses its magical glow (due to Hap’s theft of one of the precious blue stones), he is sent to work tirelessly in the dreaded mines of Mount Xexnax. However, here in this cruel place, Hap discovers that sometimes life isn’t just about liberating yourself from a dreadful situation. Sometimes it’s about liberating others as well, for Mount Xenax holds many others in slavery. But just how will Hap be able to escape and set everyone else held in slavery on the mountain free as well? What about the blue shoe? Will the blue shoe ever regain its mysterious blue glow and why does it glow? Mary GrandPré, who is now famous for her illustrations for the Harry Potter series, wonderfully illustrates The Blue Shoe bringing to life the cast of characters that populate a world of heroes, heroines, villains, a blue shoe, and one shadowy, mysterious character it would be unfair of me to mention too much about.

8600966The Door in the Forest (Bluefire, $6.99, ages 8 and up)

“Some people claimed it was enchanted; others swore it was cursed; but, really, it hardly mattered what you thought because you couldn’t get to it.”

Daniel and his family live near a mysterious island. This island is impossible to reach, as the island itself seems to jealously guard its secrets with vines, quicksand, and snakes. No one has ever set foot there. While most people are content to leave the island to itself, Daniel is not. He knows he would willingly spend his whole life trying to figure out how to reach such a mysterious place. However, to achieve this dream, it will take a war, a witch (or is she?), and a girl named Emily whose past may be the only key to accessing the island that Daniel will ever find. Now, mix this cast of intriguing characters together with an evil captain who is intent on getting to the island first, and you are ready for an adventure you will not soon forget! The Door in the Forest seems to me to always ask these questions: “How much would you risk, who would you be willing to trust, and how long could you hold out during a dangerous time to attain the impossible thing you have always wanted with your whole heart?”

To find out more about Roderick Townley’s young adult novels Sky and The Red Thread and to learn more about the sequels to The Great Good Thing (Into the Labyrinth and The Constellation of Sylvie) visit Also, please join me next Friday for the interview with Mr. Townley as we discuss his writing for children, writing in general, poetry, and the inspirations that have led to his remarkable books.

HilaryTaberStop by the Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse today to pick up your copy of these great books, buy gifts, enjoy their extensive selection of other great reads  and relax over a great cup of coffee.  Check out the website at to keep up-to-date with story times, author events and other exciting special events. And when you stop by, keep a lookout for Hilary peeking out from behind a novel.

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Chirp, Click, Buzzzzzzz

BUG_COVERI absolutely love bugs! In fact, if I were not a writer, I’d choose to be an entomologist. There’s just so much to learn about bugs, and they are so fascinating to look at, too. Noisy Bug Sing-a-long ($8.95, Dawn Publications, Ages 3-8) written and illustrated by John Himmelman provides the littlest readers with a delightful introduction to the world of common bugs. Himmelman, who has written and illustrated more than 75 children’s books, started a “Bug Club” when he was eight years old. He has since co-founded the Connecticut Butterfly Association. How wonderful it is that he utilizes this love of nature to educate and express himself through his books!

Inside the pages of Noisy Bug Sing-a-long are big bold, eye-catching illustrations, with close-up detail of bugs and their surroundings. Simple one line prose teach readers about the sounds each critter makes, while the illustrations teach them about the environments where one may find them.

In the back of the book are illustrations of the sound waves coming from each bug, plus more information about the different species and tips about what to watch and listen for when you are looking for bugs in your own back yard.


Curious kids will love Noisy Bug Sing-a-long.  When my daughter (now in college studying Geology) was young, I bought her a plastic bug box that came with a little magnifying glass. She would spend hours catching and studying bugs before releasing them back into the wild.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading many Dawn Publications books, and each and every title educates children about plant and animal life on our planet, how to identify it, grow it, respect it, care for it and learn more about it. What a terrific mission that is.

-Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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Batter Up!

Take me out to the ball game, please!!

9781623700003Say hello to Good Night Baseball ($14.95, Capstone Young Readers, ages 4-7), a new Sports Illustrated Kids picture book from prolific children’s book author Michael Dahl with illustrations by Christina Forshay.

As spring training kicks off, Good Night Baseball provides the perfect play by play to introduce young fans and potential fans to this beloved American sport.  I got excited reading the rhyming text in anticipation of my family’s annual outing to see our favorite minor league team, the Quakes, based in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Their home opener’s on April 4th. Be prepared for your kids to get in the mood for some serious snacking, too, when they see the tempting artwork. “We eat popcorn and hot dogs and hold drinks in our laps … with the names of our favorite teams bright on our caps.” Don’t forget the pretzels, peanuts and fries!

While the whole book is a lot of fun, my favorite part was when the little boy who is attending a ball game gets to go down on the field along with his dad and say, “Goodnight, diamond. Goodnight, grass. Goodnight, home plate where each runner ran past.”  Towards the end, in this quasi homage to Goodnight, Moon, Dahl’s book really shines as he describes the boy getting tired and ready to call it a night. We all know how exhausting watching a nine inning baseball game can be for youngsters and Forshay’s illustrations capture that mood with both the color changes on the last few pages and the look of pure contentment on the baseball fan’s sleepy face. Goodnight, baseball. Goodnight, baseball fan!

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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The Best Books are Silly Books

BTRAEveryone would agree that the American Library Association knows all there is to know about books. That’s why it makes a lot of sense that they published a list of  Silly Books to Read Aloud; Books That Will Have Adults and Kids Laughing Together ($18.95, Huron Street Press, Adults). Written by Rob Reid, a father of four children, instructor and expert of read aloud books, this treasure of humorous children’s books for all ages is a valuable resource for parents and teachers who strive to find books that will encourage the children in their lives to embrace reading.

There’s a brief introduction explaining the benefits of reading humorous books with your kids. Then there are chapters for picture books, easy readers, chapter books, poetry books, as well as graphic novels and manga. There’s also a Hall of Fame Guide to the Funniest Authors and Illustrators.  In each of the chapters, there’s an alphabetical list of books by author, followed by the title and a short paragraph with a synopsis of the book and mention of any companion books that you may wish to check out.

As a parent, I have vivid memories of the days when I bought books for my avid-reading daughter that I thought would be great only to be disappointed that they were often just plain boring. I love the fact that Silly Books to Read Aloud takes the guesswork out of choosing fun books to read together. And  since literacy is the single most crucial factor in financial success as an adult, making reading fun is essential for your child’s future.

As a book reviewer and children’s book author of a book about a silly talking  millipede, I am often asked by parents and teachers for recommendations for other humorous picture books. Now I can recommend they read Silly Books to Read Aloud, the ultimate guide to saving valuable time and making great choices when it comes to children’s book that are fun to read.

Reviewed by Debbie Glade.

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One Stone at a Time

After reading Me and Momma and Big John, ($16.99, Candlewick Press, Ages 3 and up) William Low is now one of my favorite children’s book illustrators. After reading this story and marveling at the pictures, I’m sure he will be one of your favorites, too. This award-winning artist is classically trained and has also mastered the art of digital illustrating. The pictures are extraordinary and you’ll find yourself spending a lot of time on each page to marvel at all the detail.

The story, written by Mara Rockliff, is about an African American woman stone cutter who works on helping to finish building the Cathedral of St. John., a.k.a. Big John, in New York City during the 1980s. The first stones to build the structure were laid in 1892, but due to numerous reasons, mostly World War II, the building was never finished. The author was inspired by real-life apprentice stone cutter, Carol Hazel, to write the story.  In the back of the book you can read about the history of the cathedral.

What I like about the story is that it teaches children about preservation of our most treasured buildings and how many people it takes to create them, one stone at a time. In addition to that and the illustrations, I can also appreciate the high quality of this sturdy, big, beautiful book from the printing and paper, to the binding and the cover. And like the Cathedral of St. John, it’s made to last, and was written and illustrated to keep for generations to enjoy.

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Both Sides of Bullying

The award-winning team of Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis tackles bullying from behind a bully’s eyes.

Each Kindness ($16.99, Nancy Paulson Books, ages 5-8), an exceptional children’s picture book written by Jacqueline Woodson with illustrations by E.B. Lewis, will touch you and your children in ways you hadn’t expected and that’s a good thing, a very good thing.

Asking us to walk in a bully’s shoes, in this case narrator Chloe’s, author Woodson takes us down a path of a child’s unkindness that is certain to strike a chord. How many of us have been in young Chloe’s position choosing not to befriend someone based on appearances only to regret that decision when it was too late? Can we imagine the pain the bullied child feels?

When a new student, Maya, joins Chloe’s class and is seated beside her, Chloe turns toward the window, ignoring Maya’s friendly smile. Why? Simply because her clothes were tattered. Though Maya makes many gestures to become friends with Chloe and the other kids, they continue to whisper about her second-hand clothing and ostracize her, never once thinking how hurtful those actions might be.

One day, well into the school year the teacher, Ms. Albert, gives a seemingly simple yet ultimately powerful lesson using a bowl of water and a small stone dropped in. She explains how kindness works. “Every little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.”  Unfortunately for Chloe she realizes too late that she, like that tiny stone’s ripples, could have had a positive effect on another person. Maya does not return to school and that chance is lost forever.

Though Maya’s family circumstances are never clearly explained, this worked for me and perhaps is deliberate. Maya becomes symbolic of all those vulnerable children often targeted by bullies whether it be for financial reasons, a disability or just not having the right clothing. Between its lyrical text and the marvelously moving watercolors, Each Kindness provides an opportunity for parents and educators to broach the topic of bullying from both the perspective of the bully and the bullied.  This meaningful and moving book is a must-have that is certain to make a difference in many a youngster’s life.

Today’s reviewer is Ronna Mandel.

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Fridays Featuring Flintridge – Picture Books

Catherine Linka shares her picks of …


When I choose new picture books to carry in the store, I may select five out of fifty the publisher shows me. I try to choose books that kids will want to hear over and over, and that parents won’t mind reading forty, fifty or a hundred times. 

I look for great characters, and wonderful, perhaps wacky artwork. I look for books that are fun for adults to read aloud, because the language is rhythmic or because there’s a chorus kids can join in on. I love books where children find surprises hiding in the artwork that adults might miss. And I adore books that make children laugh.

Picture books are made to be shared between an adult and a child. Even after children can read on their own, they will often return to a favorite picture book for the memory of togetherness with someone they love.

Here are some fun, new titles you may not have seen yet.

THIS MONSTER NEEDS A HAIRCUT by Bethany Barton ($16.99, Dial Books for Young Readers)

Stewart is a young monster who’s afraid that if he gets a haircut, he won’t be scary so he won’t get it cut. His dad wants Stewart to get a haircut, because things keep disappearing into Stewart’s out-of-control locks. Wacky artwork that both boys and girls will adore. Great for ages 3-5 years.

THE REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BIG DINOSAUR by Richard Byrne (   Tiger Tales Books

Kids will laugh at Jackson the dinosaur who protects his jar of jelly beans from a larger dinosaur by claiming the beans belong to his friend. The bullying dino tries every trick to get Jackson to turn over the candy, but in the end Jackson and his friend turn the bully around. Lively, perfect read aloud for adults who love to act out books. Ages 2-4 years.

ABC ZOOBORNS by Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland ($12.99, Beach Lane Books)

Fans of the outrageously cute photography in the original ZOOBORNS will swoon over the new ABC ZOOBORNS. One look at the minute koala on the cover and you’ll be hooked. From A is for Anteater to Z is for Zebra, ZOOBORNS is adorable. Ages 2 and up.

1-2-3 PEAS by Keith Baker ($16.99, Beach Lane Books)

You may already know Baker’s LMNO PEAS alphabet book. 1-2-3- PEAS has the same infectiously charming artwork. Peas in hats and glasses and tutus help readers count up to ten and then one hundred. Fun, engaging, repeating text with lots of hidden details to engage children in the art. Ages 3-5 years.

SQUID AND OCTOPUS: FRIENDS FOR ALWAYS by Tao Nyeu ($16.99, Dial Books for Young Readers) 

Squid and Octopus are friends, but even friends disagree sometimes. Three short gentle and loving stories show how friends explore the world together. Charming artwork, and silly jokes. Ages 3-5 years.

Please visit the Flintridge Bookstore today to pick up your copy of these great books, buy gifts, enjoy their extensive selection of other great reads  and relax over a great cup of coffee.  Also visit the website at to keep up-to-date with story times, author events and other exciting special events.

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Fridays Featuring Flintridge: Find Your Child’s Next Favorite Book Here!

An Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Kids
to Become Passionate Page Turners

Welcome to an exciting new feature we’ll be offering every other Friday at Good Reads With Ronna, Fridays Featuring Flintridge. This insider’s look at great books for kids and teens is brought to us by professional children’s book buyer, Catherine Linka. She’ll present her recommended reads in themes and today’s theme is a rather dreamy one. Read more about Catherine below and see her suggestions for this summer. We’re sure you’ll soon understand why we value her opinions and why we’re so delighted she’s on board!

About Catherine

Catherine Linka is the Children’s and Teen Book Buyer for the Flintridge Bookstore in Southern California. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and blogs about writing at  Catherine also leads two groups of young book reviewers, elementary school and teens. Her book recommendations are books she respects and those her young reviewers loved.

Raising an Enthusiastic Reader –a message from Catherine Linka

– You want your child to grow up to be successful and independent and you know that being a good reader is crucial for their success.

– There are two parts to being a good reader. First, a child has to learn the technical skills of “decoding” text–of learning the relationship between letters, sounds, and the meaning of words.

– Second, a child has to want to read–to be excited about it, and to find it satisfying. Unless a child is motivated to read, they won’t advance. 

– Decoding is the job of your child’s teacher. But your job is better–to build your child’s love of reading.

– The books I picked for this blog are ones that kids I work with loved. These are books they held up and said, “This is the best book I’ve ever read.” I hope your child will find a book they love.


Books for Dreamy Girls who love to sit in the shade with a book for company. 

JUNONIA by Kevin Henkes ($6.99, Harper Collins Children’s Books)

Now in paperback, this lovely story of a girl who goes to Florida every year with her family only to find that this year, things are different. A perfect book to reassure a child that things change, but change can be OK. (8+)

THE SECRET TREE by Natalie Sandiford ($16.99, Scholastic Press)

This reminded me of BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE. Set in a woodsy neighborhood, everyone writes their secrets on slips of paper and leaves them in a hollow tree, hoping their pain will be absolved. Two friends do what they can to help their neighbors heal. (9+)


REMARKABLE by Elizabeth Foley ($16.99, Dial Books For Young Readers)

The book for little girls who don’t see themselves as special, but who hunger to be. In this story, Jane is the only child in the town of Remarkable who is plain and unremarkable. But Jane becomes the hero when three unpleasant characters come to down. The fifth and sixth graders in my Advance Readers club LOVED this book. (8+)

THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND by Catherynne M.Valente ($6.99, Macmillan/Square Fish)

Think ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Sophisticated, gorgeous, playful and ironic language and a perfect read aloud for 10+. Now in paperback. Sequel is coming.

KAT, INCORRIGIBLE   ($6.99, Atheneum Books For Young Readers)

Fun and funny fantasy set in England in the 1800s. Kat doesn’t want her older sisters to have to get married,
so she uses magic to mess up her stepmother’s plans. A little flavor of Jane Austen. Very sweet. Now in paperback. 10+.

SPARROW ROAD by Sheila O’Connor ($6.99, Penguin)

Now in paperback. A sensitive portrait of a 12 year old girl trying to figure herself out over a summer when her mother goes
to work at an artist colony. A tender, beautiful story. (10+)

Please visit the Flintridge Bookstore today to pick up your copy of these great books, buy gifts, enjoy their extension selection of other great reads  and relax over a great cup of coffee.  Also visit the website at to keep up-to-date with story times author events and other exciting special events.

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Lauren Child’s Fun New Spy Thriller

Ruby Redfort Look Into My Eyes ($16.99, Candlewick, ages 8-11) by Lauren Child is reviewed today by Amanda Hogg.

Compared to Ruby Redfort, almost everyone is a bozo. At the age of seven she won the junior code-cracker championship. The following year she was offered admission to Harvard, which she declined because she had no interest in becoming “some kind of geek freak.” When we meet her at age 13, Ruby Redfort has been called in by Spectrum, a top secret spy agency, to help crack the Fool’s Gold Gang’s code and stop a robbery. But the code is not the only mystery Ruby has to solve. Ruby’s mother has a couple near misses with death and Mrs. Digsby the housekeeper has gone missing along with the entire contents of the Redfort house.

Bike, drive and sprint through Twinsford with Ruby, her pal Clancy Crew and Hitch, Spectrum agent/bodyguard/butler, as they try to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together. Who is involved in the Fool’s Gold Gang? Why is someone trying to run Ruby’s mom off the road? And just where has Mrs. Digsby gone?

You may be wondering how this book differs from any other kid genius mystery. Well let me tell you, buster. Ruby Redfort Look Into My Eyes has layer upon layer of mysteries to solve, codes to crack and clues to find which the reader can unravel along with Ruby. Thankfully, for those of us who have no patience for problem solving and code cracking, clears up some of the more frustrating conundrums for us.

Filled with cartoonish villains, secret agents and nifty gadgets, Ruby Redfort Look Into My Eyes by Lauren Child is a fun, raucous spy thriller that will have adults and kids alike on the edge of their seats. This book will appeal to readers who like Clarice Bean, Harriet the Spy and just about any book where snarky, spunky kids are smarter than their adult counterparts.

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