Friday, October 30, 2015

Duck & Goose Find A Pumpkin by Tad Hills

6633762
Duck and Goose Find A Pumpkin 
by Tad Hills
Board Book
Schwartz & Wade 
July 2009

Book Jacket Summary
PRESCHOOLERS WILL CHEER the return of Duck and Goose in their fourth board book appearance. This time, Duck and Goose are looking for the perfect pumpkin. Is it in the log? Is it under the leaves? Is it in the apple tree? Young children will surely enjoy going on a pumpkin hunt with Duck and Goose . . . especially when they find the perfect pumpkin at the end!

My Thoughts
What can I say about Tad Williams that I haven't said before? Although I don't know if I have done a Duck and Goose before but his Rocket series is near and dear to my heart. Duck and Goose are just as cute but on a younger level than Rocket because it is a board book rather than a picture book. If you are looking for a seasonal board book to give a young child than you are in luck! This book is cute and follows Duck and Goose as they try to find a pumpkin in some very unlikely places. They are finally pointed int he right direction and enjoy their new pumpkins. Highly recommended for a baby shower near Autumn or just a good present.

Book Pairings
Mommy? by Maurice Sendak, Arthur Yorkins, and Matthew Reinhart
A Not Scary Book About Big Scary Things by C.K. Williams
Halloween Mice! by

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bow-Wow's Nightmare Neighbors by Mark Newgarden

18465539
Bow-Wow's Nightmare Neighbors 
by Mark Newgarden
Library Copy
Picture Book
Roaring Brook Press
November 2014

Book Jacket Summary
As Bow-Wow naps, his neighbors creep in and steal his cozy green bed. When the expressive pup tries to get it back, colorful chaos ensues as the house next door might not be exactly what he thought. From authors Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash comes Bow-Wow's Nightmare Neighbors.

My Thoughts
Bow-Wow just wants to nap on his doggie bed but the ghost cats have a different idea. They carry off the bed and Bow-Wow goes on a journey to get it back. This wordless picture book is just the right kind of fun that kids are looking for around Halloween. It is cute and the ghost cats are mischievous with a hint of kindness. I really like the art and way the story moves despite the lack of words. I would recommend this one as a bed time story to point out funny things and make up your own dialogue that fits the story. 

Book Pairings
Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug by Mark Newgarden
BirdCatDog by Lee Nordling and Meritxell Bosch
Sea of Dreams by Dennis Nolan 



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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler



6295173
 The Thirteenth Princess 
by Diane Zahler  
256 pages
Middle Grade
HarperCollins
Feb. 2010 

Book Jacket Summary
Zita is not an ordinary servant girl—she's the thirteenth daughter of a king who wanted only sons. When she was born, Zita's father banished her to the servants' quarters to work in the kitchens, where she can only communicate with her royal sisters in secret.

Then, after Zita's twelfth birthday, the princesses all fall mysteriously ill. The only clue is their strangely worn and tattered shoes. With the help of her friends—Breckin the stable boy, Babette the witch, and Milek the soldier—Zita follows her bewitched sisters into a magical world of endless dancing and dreams. But something more sinister is afoot—and unless Zita and her friends can break the curse, the twelve princesses will surely dance to their deaths.

A classic fairy tale with a bold twist, The Thirteenth Princess tells the unforgettable story of a magical castle, true love, spellbound princesses—and the young girl determined to save them all.

My Thoughts
I think the Twelve Dancing Princesses is my favorite fairy tale retelling. There are so many ways you can make it new and exciting. You can tell it from anyone one of the princesses, the solider, or in this case the thirteenth princess. In this story the thirteenth princess is banished to the kitchens because the queen dies giving birth to her. The sisters try to look after her but she is under the care of the cook who keeps her busy.
This book is really cute and perfect for a middle grade student that is looking for a quick clean read. It is not one of the darker retellings but instead focuses on the sweet nature of Zita who is will to to anything to save her sisters. They use a dumbwaiter to bring Zita up to the princess' room and spend the night once a week so they can get to know each other. When the sisters start to fall ill it is up to Zita and her friend Brecken to find out what is happening each night. There is also a kindly witch who helps them and provides the spell to keep them invisible while in the enchanted kingdom. It hits all the right notes that you look for when reading the twelve dancing princesses and gives you new plot lines to keep it fresh! Enjoy this retelling!    

Book Pairings
The Princes Curse by Merrie Haskell
Ella Enchanted Gail Carson Levine
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
 
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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Spotlight: Cupcake Club Sweet Victory

Displaying 9781492620822-PR.JPG
Sweet Victory (The Cupcake Club)
By New York Times Bestselling Author Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk
October 6, 2015; TP ISBN 9781492620822
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Praise for the Cupcake Club Series

“9-year-old author has recipe for success.” – The Washington Post, KidsPost

"Kids and cupcakes are the perfect recipe!"—Sophie and Katerine, stars of TLC's DC Cupcakes
“Sheryl Berk and her nine-year-old daughter, Carrie, have cooked up a delightful new series sure to be a treat.” –New York Family

Summary:
The eighth book in a delicious series by New York Times bestselling author Sheryl Berk and her cupcake-obsessed daughter, Carrie.
MVP Sadie knows what it takes to win- both on the court and in the kitchen.
But when Coach Walsh gets sick and has to temporarily leave school, Sadie’s suddenly at a loss. What will she do without Coach’s spot-on advice and uplifting encouragement? Luckily, Sadie’s got Peace, Love, and Cupcakes on her side. Her friends know what the power of friendship-and cupcakes- might be just what Sadie needs! Together, they rally to whip up the largest batch of sweet treats they’ve ever made, all to help support Coach Walsh. When the going gets tough, a little PLC goes a long way. But this record-breaking order might just be too much for the club…
Can the girls put it all together in time to score a win for Sadie- and Coach Walsh

Goodreads Link:
 
Buy Links:
Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/Simpk
BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/SimzW
Indiebound- http://ow.ly/Sin0b

About the Authors:
Sheryl Berk, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Soul Surfer, and her daughter Carrie, a cupcake connoisseur who has reviewed confection from around the world in her Carrie’s Cupcake Critiques newsletter, have cooked up a delightful series sure to be a treat.
Social Networking Links:

Excerpt from Sweet Victory (The Cupcake Club)
For a few minutes, the room was silent as the girls thought hard.                                                                            
 “Feet!” Lexi suddenly tossed out. “Or maybe socks? Isn’t that what you wear to jump on a trampoline?”                                                                                                                                                                                      
“Flies,” Sadie added. “They’re always in the air. And little boys love bugs, right?”                                 
“Falling,” Jenna grumped. “As in splat on your face or butt. Which is what I would do on a trampoline.”                                                                                                                                                                                                            
“Um, I’m not seeing any of those things on a cupcake,” Kylie tried her hardest to envision their suggestions, but all she could see was Jenna flopping on a trampoline face-first. As cupcake club president, Kylie had the power to veto an idea-and smelly feet and flies didn’t sound particularly appetizing.                                                                                                                                                                                                         
“What about balloons-balloons go up, up, and away if you accidentally let them go,” Delaney suggested. “And they’re pretty and colorful-and every birthday party has them.”                                                                  
“That’s just it,” Sadie jumped in. “Cupcakes with balloons on them are so ordinary. We’re PLC. We can do better than that.”                                                                                                                                                                            
“Lexi too out her sketchbook. Designing cupcake decorations was her job. “Sadie’s right. What if we did something like this…” She drew a cupcake with blue piping around the edges and a black fondant top to represent the trampoline. In the middle of the cupcake was a small figure of a boy bending his knees with his arms in the air.                                                                                                                                                              
“Ooh, that is amazing ,” Kylie said, watching as Lexi used her colored pencils to bring the cupcake to life on the page. “We could use fondant to mold the little jumping guys.”                                                  
“And no boring vanilla or chocolate flavors either,” Jenna insisted. As the official taste tester, it was her job to make each cupcake delectable. “I’m thinking chocolate-chocolate chip cake filled with marshmallow and churro cupcakes with a hint of cinnamon to give the vanilla a kick.”                                                
“Nice.” Sadie high-fived her. “Do you suppose we’ll get to try out those trampolines when we make the delivery?”                                                                                                                                                                                          
                Tu major que yo- better you than me!” Jenna said. “I get motion sickness if my little brothers bounce on the couch.”                                                                                                                                                                                           
                “Then I’d say we have a plan,” Kylie said, taking notes in her binder. “Let’s get jumpin’ on those cupcake recipes.”

Also by Sheryl and Carrie Berk:
Fashion Academy
July 7, 2015; TP ISBN97814926016233
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Summary:
Fashion-forward MacKenzie “Mickey” Williams is thrilled to be accepted to FAB Middle School (Fashion Academy of Brooklyn), a school that serves as a training ground for the fashion designers of tomorrow. (Their motto: “We are SEW FAB”). But when her daring fashion looks get laughed at by some of the FAB A-listers, Mickey wonders whether standing out is such a great idea. So when friendly classmate JC comes up with a plan to help Mickey fit in, she decides to take the ultimate fashion risk-ditch her personal style for good.
One mega makeover later, pink-haired Mickey Williams mysteriously disappears, and the trendy, blond “Kenzie Williams” shows up on the FAB scene, blending with the other students in a way Mickey never could. But when Mickey starts to lose herself “Kenzie,” she’s not sure that fitting in is worth cutting herself down to size…

Goodreads Link:
Buy Link:
Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/Sir33
BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/Sire4
IndieBound- http://ow.ly/SiryQ

Displaying 9781492604365-PR.JPGRunway Ready (Fashion Academy)
January 5, 2016; TP 9781492604365
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Summary:

Project Runway meets Fame in a trendy new series from the authors of The Cupcake Club

1.         Balloons
2.         Spaghetti
3.         Rainbows

If you were to ask Mickey Williams, these would not be her top points of inspiration for designing a party dress. But in fashion, the client is always right…and Mickey’s client happens to be fashion legend Victoria Vanderweil’s five-year-old granddaughter. Even though it’s the  toughest assignment Mickey’s gotten during her time at the Fashion Academy of Brooklyn, she can’t pass up the opportunity to impress a top designer like Victoria.

But when Cordy turns out to be a tiny terror with non-stop demands, the assignment goes from hard to impossible. Not only that, but Victoria wants Mickey to babysit Cordy during NYC Fashion Week! Can Mickey pull off her project and pass, or will it fall apart at the seams?

Goodreads Link:
Pre-Order Links:
Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/SiwwT
BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/Siwmi
IndieBound- http://ow.ly/Siw3E
Social Media Links:

Excerpt from Fashion Academy Sheryl Berk & Carrie Berk:

After spending the weekend with her aunt, Mickey concluded that Olive wasn’t that bad—at least not as bad as her mom made her out to be. She was just a bit uptight. It was hard for Mickey to understand how she and her mom could be sisters, much less fraternal twins. They had the same curly strawberry blond hair, though her mom highlighted hers and wore it long and loose and Olive pinned hers back in a tight bun. She recognized her aunt’s eyes as well—they were emerald green, just like her mom’s. Too bad she hid them behind thick tortoise shell glasses. Then there was her style: Olive looked like she had stepped out of a time warp. She wore a ruffled pink blouse, long pearls, and an A-line brown skirt. Maybe she was going for a retro 50s vibe? It was the opposite of her mom’s ripped jeans and vintage rock tee shirts. Maybe there had been some mistake and they were switched at birth? Maybe her Granny Gertrude got confused and accidentally picked up the wrong baby in the park one day?
Olive was also a neat freak who insisted that everything be “spic and span” and in its place.
“Mackenzie, clean up after yourself!” she scolded when Mickey left her sketchbook and colored pencils on the kitchen table. No one called her Mackenzie; her mom only used it when she was mad at her. It was a name she barely recognized or answered to. But as many times as she corrected Aunt Olive, she insisted on calling her by her “proper name.”
“Mom calls me ‘Mickey’ and I call her Jordana sometimes,” she tried to explain.
“I don’t care what you call your mom or she calls you. And you call me Aunt Olive out of respect,” she warned her.
Mickey wrinkled her nose. “Really? Mom says she called you Olliegator when you were little. I think that’s cute.”
Olive pursed her lips. “I’m an adult,” she replied sternly. Aunt Olive was an executive assistant at a big law firm, and she took everything very seriously. “Your mother needs to grow up.”
But that was exactly what Mickey loved about her mom—how she was such a free spirit and never cared what anyone thought or said about her. Mickey tried her hardest to be that way, but sometimes it was hard.
For the first day of FAB, she set her alarm for 6 o’clock so she would have time to style her outfit properly. She was proud of how it had all come together. She’d taken a beaten-up denim jacket from a thrift shop and dyed it black before adding crocheted doilies for trim at the collars and cuffs. It said exactly what she wanted it to say about her: “I’m edgy but feminine.” And wasn’t that what fashion was all about? Not just a trend or a style, but a reflection of who you are and how you’re feeling? That was what Mickey loved about designing the most, and what she had written on her FAB application:
“I love how you can speak volumes with a single stitch. Fashion should be fearless! I want to be a designer who always colors outside the lines and thinks outside of the box…”
She was pretty sure Aunt Olive didn’t see it that way. Her idea of taking a fashion risk was wearing a skirt that was hemmed above the knee.
“Does it really go together?” she asked, noticing how Mickey had paired her jacket with a white tank top and bike shorts, both of which were splatter-painted with green and yellow drips.
“It isn’t supposed to go,” Mickey told her. “It’s supposed look creative, which is what FAB is all about. Pushing the envelope!”
She added a pair of green cat’s eye sunglasses.
“Well, it’s colorful,” her aunt sighed. “I’ll give you that. And so is your hair. Good heavens!”
Mickey had created green stripes in her long, wavy blond hair with hair chalk.
“Now for the finishing touch!” she said. “No outfit is complete without accessories!” She slipped her feet into a pair of black high top sneakers, tied the yellow laces, and grabbed her bag.
“What is that?” her aunt asked, scratching her head. She squinted to make out the words on Mickey’s tote.
“It used to say ‘Louis Vuitton’—it’s a bag you keep a really fancy expensive bag in. Which if you ask me, is pretty silly,” Mickey explained.
Olive seemed puzzled. “You mean a dust bag? You made that out of a dust bag?”
Mickey spun the tote around. “Two of them, actually!” The other side read, “PRADA.”
“What? How? Why?” Olive asked.
“Well, it’s perfectly good flannel,” Mickey replied. “And don’t you think it’s kinda funny? A statement about recycling? I used two leather belts for the straps and jazzed it up with some studding at the seams. It cost me about $4 total at the flea market!”
She threw the bag over her shoulder and glanced at the clock. It was 8, and the school bus would be along shortly to pick her up on the corner.
“Your breakfast is ready,” Olive said, handing her a glass of green sludge. This was worse then yesterday’s quinoa and fruit concoction! She missed her mom’s breakfasts of left over Chinese Take Out omelets or cold pizza. But Aunt Olive insisted she start the first day of school with “something healthy and nutritious.”
“Do you have any chocolate milk?” she asked, getting up to check the fridge for something edible.
“This is better for you. It’s fresh kale, celery, cucumber, ginger and a touch of agave. It’s delicious.” She took a big sip of her own glass and licked her lips.
Mickey wrinkled her nose. It didn’t look or smell delicious. “I think I’ll grab something in the cafeteria,” she said, pushing the glass away. “I’m too nervous to eat.”
It wasn’t entirely a lie. She was pretty terrified for her first day at FAB. Just then, Mickey’s phone rang.
“All ready to conquer the world?” her mom asked.
“I think so, Jordana,” she replied.
“Ah, I see. We’re trying to sound very mature this morning. Send me a picture of the first day outfit and call me tonight. I want to hear all the deets.”
Mickey smiled. Her mom was trying to sound cool. “I will. Love you.”
As the bus pulled up to the corner of Columbus Avenue, Mickey took a deep breath. This wasn’t just the first day of FAB. It was the first day of the rest of her life. The first day of everything.


Rafflecopter Giveaway Link to Complete Cupcake Club Collection Books 1-8 (Runs 9/17-11/1, US and Canada only)
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Monday, October 19, 2015

Spotlight: I Don't Know How the Story Ends

Displaying 9781492609445-PR.JPG
I Don’t Know How the Story Ends
By J.B. Cheaney
October 6, 2015; Hardcover ISBN 9781492609445
Publishers: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Praise for I Don’t Know How the Story Ends:

“The novel is packed with cameos by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin…fascinating tidbits about the early days of film, and a relentless series of action scenes. Set dressing and quick pace aside, as narrated by Isobel, the story relies on—and delivers—solid characterization to drive it forward. Impressive on all fronts.” -Kirkus, starred review.

“I Don’t Know How the Story Ends will grab you by your shirt and drop you right into the early days of Hollywood and movie making.”  - Karen Cushman, Newbery Award-winning author of The Midwife's Apprentice


“This book is a love letter to the art of storytelling.” Caroline Starr Rose, author of Blue Birds

“The electrifying setting of early Hollywood, along with the ever-relevant story of a young girl’s search for stability in an increasingly chaotic world, make this a winner…Industrious, creative, and resourceful young characters will charm readers interested in the life-changing magic of filmmaking.”  –School Library Journal

“Cheaney (Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous) offers a zippy coming-of-age romp featuring cameos from film stars like Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, as well as lovely descriptions of a blooming Hollywood...Readers will be absorbed as Cheaney’s characters embrace their creativity and find comfort through the art of film.”  –Publishers Weekly

Summary:

Our story begins in a dusty little town in California, a bustling place called Hollywood…

Isobel Ransom is feeling anxious. Her father is away treating wounded soldiers in France, leaving Izzy to be the responsible one at home. But it’s hard to be responsible when your little sister is chasing a fast-talking, movie-obsessed boy all over Hollywood! Ranger is directing his very own moving picture…and wants Izzy and Sylvie to be his stars.
Izzy is sure Mother wouldn’t approve, but scouting locations, scrounging film, and “borrowing” a camera turn out to be the perfect distractions from Izzy’s worries. There’s just one problem; their movie has no ending. And it has to be perfect-the kind of ending where the hero saves the day and returns home to his family. Safe and sound. It just has to.

The Wild West atmosphere of early Hollywood and the home front of a country at war form a fascinating contest to award-winning author J.B. Cheaney’s (Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous) new novel about the power of cinema in helping us make sense of an unexpected world.



Buy Links

Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/ScmXR
Books A Million- http://ow.ly/Scn63
Indiebound- http://ow.ly/ScnKa

About the Author:

Displaying Janie_B_Cheaney.jpgJ. B. Cheaney was born in Dallas, Texas, sometime in the last century. In school her favorite subject was making up parts for herself in imaginary movies and plays.  Too bad they don’t give grades for that.  Fortunately, her second-favorite subject was history. All that daydreaming and history-loving finally paid off with five published novels, the latest of which is Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous. She has won numerous awards for her children’s books: : Booklist TopTen Best YA  by debut authors, NYPL's Best Books for Teens; Texas Bluebonnet nominee, the Florida Sunshine State Young Readers award, the Indiana Young Hoosier list, and a Kansas Notable Book. She lives and daydreams in Missouri with her husband.


Social Networking Links:

Excerpt from I Don’t Know How the Story Ends
 
While we waited to cross the street, Ranger swerved his head and gave me another of his piercing stares.
“Why do you keep looking at me like that?”
I looked but could not tell what I was looking at. Like a gigantic top hat, it stood about twenty feet high, as big around as a house, with a wooden platform circling it like a brim. The cylinder was painted with low rolling hills, trees, and blue sky. A couple of workmen near the back of the platform were fixing a tree in place. They took no notice of us as we walked up to the edge.
“It’s called the panorama—­they just finished it a couple months ago,” Ranger explained. “The platform here stays in the same place, but the background moves. Just the opposite of a carousel.”
I couldn’t see the point. “What’s it for?”
“Shooting road scenes and chases. If you put an auto right here”—­landing on the platform with a hop—­“and a camera there”—­pointing to the ground beside us—­“you can shoot the car in place while the background rolls along behind it. So it looks like the car’s moving. Sennett used to shoot all his car chases on the real street, but he kept getting in trouble with the natives.”
“It’s delicious,” Sylvie said breathlessly, quite overwhelmed.
I was skeptical. “It’s too big to move.”
“Oh yeah? I’ve made it move by myself—­that is, me and a bunch of the neighborhood kids. One night we snuck under the platform and lined up along one of the struts inside and started pushing. It takes a little muscle, but once you get it started… I’d show you now if I could, but I’ve got something important to do.”
He jumped off the platform. “Wait here.” With no more instruction than that, he ran around the curve of the panorama and disappeared.
“Well!” I exclaimed. “How do you like that?”
Sylvie seemed to like it fine. “He’s the wonderfulest boy I’ve ever met.”
We found a pair of orange crates to sit on and were debating that point a few minutes later when the wonderful boy reappeared in the company of an older fellow. The stranger appeared to be about fifteen or so, with a bony face and straight brown hair that might have been cut with a pair of garden shears. He carried a broom over one shoulder.
The two of them stopped about ten feet away from us. Dragging on a cigarette, the older boy looked me up and down with gray eyes as pale as dimes. It was the height of rudeness, which I was just about to mention when Ranger asked him, “Well?”
“Yep,” the other boy said. “Good eyes, good hair. Can she act?”
“Haven’t asked her yet.”
That did it for me. I jumped up and folded my arms and stamped my foot like an overtired child who’s been told she can’t have the last cookie. “What is this about? Tell me right now, or I’m leaving this instant and taking Sylvie with me, no matter where we end up.”
“She can act mad,” the stranger observed.
Ranger turned to me with eyes so animated that they could have jumped out of his head. “This is about art,” he told me, “and life, and truth and beauty too, if we can pull it off.” He paused for effect. And then:
“How would you girls like to be in a picture?”


RAFFLERCOPTER GIVEAWAY LINK (Open 9/15-11/3)

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dream On, Amber: Spotlight

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Dream On, Amber
By Emma Shevah
October 6, 2015; Hardcover 
ISBN 9781492622505 
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Praise for Dream On, Amber:
“By turns playful and poignant, in both style and substance, this coming-of-age novel will hook readers from the first page to the last.”—School Library Journal, STARRED review

“Amber’s effervescent and opinionated narration captivates from the start, making it easy to root for her as she strives to conquer the “beast” of her worries and thrive at home and at school.”—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

“Shevah tenderly captures the void of growing up without a father yet manages to create a feisty, funny heroine… A gutsy girl in a laugh-out-loud book that navigates tough issues with finesse.” –Kirkus, STARRED review

“[This] novel is a charmer...While its humor and illustrations lend it Wimpy Kid appeal, its emotional depth makes it stand out from the pack. Molto bene!”- Booklist, STARRED review


Summary:
My name is Ambra Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto. But call me Amber. I have no idea why my parents gave me all those hideous names but they must have wanted to ruin my life, and you know what? They did an amazing job.
As a half-Japanese, half-Italian girl with a ridiculous name, Amber’s not feeling molto bene (very good) about making friends at her new school.
But the hardest thing about being Amber is that a part of her is missing. Her dad.  He left when she was little and he isn’t coming back. Not for her first day of middle school and not for her little sister’s birthday. So Amber will have to dream up a way for the Miyamoto sisters to make it on their own.
Buy Links:
Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/RX7VK
Books A Million- http://ow.ly/RX9Ra
Indiebound- http://ow.ly/S3wYp

About the Author:
Emma Shevah is half-Irish and half-Thai born and raised in London. She has lived in Australia, Japan, India (her first child was born in the Himalayas) and Jerusalem before moving back to the UK. Emma has busked as a fire-juggler, been a restaurant manager, a copy writer, an English teacher, and is now a blogger and author.

Social Networking Links:

Excerpt from Dream On, Amber
Bella came in wearing her matching pink nightdress, pink dressing gown, and pink slippers with Hello Kitty all over them. I just don’t get why people like Hello Kitty. I know it’s Japanese and supposed to be kawaii (cute) and everything, so maybe I should like it, but it’s just a picture of a cartoon cat’s head. I mean, seriously, what’s the big deal?
Bella’s hands were behind her back like she was hiding something. She looked much happier than she did when we got home from the party. She moved her arms to the front and handed me a sealed envelope.
“What’s this?” I asked, putting my sharpener down.
“Can you mail it for me tomorrow?”
I looked at the front of the envelope. There was nothing written on it.
“But it’s blank, Bella.”
“Yuuup.”
“Who’s it for?”
“None of your beeswax, Mrs. Nosy Pants.”
“Um…okay. So you…you want me to put it in the mailbox?”
“Yes, Amber. Duuuh. That’s what mailing means.”
“But how is the mailman going to know who to give it to if it has no name on it?”
“Oh,” she said, frowning.
She lay down on her belly on the floor and with her red crayon from the dollar store (well, she wasn’t borrowing any of mine), she wrote on the front of the envelope: TO MY DAD.
I looked at her.
“Bella—”
“Shush,” she said. “Just mail it for me.”
“But there’s no address on it—”
“The mailman will know where he lives. He knows where everyone lives.”
“He won’t know where Dad lives. Nobody knows where Dad lives. Not even Mum.”
“Didn’t I say ‘shush’? I’m sure I said ‘shush.’ Just mail it for me. Pleeease, Amber.”
I sighed. What was I supposed to tell her? She was too little. She didn’t get it. So I took it and put it on my desk, just to make her happy.
I know I shouldn’t have done it and it’s probably against the law and everything but when she went out of my room, I opened it.
It said:
 
Dier Dad,
My nam is Bella and Im your dorta. My bithday party is on Sunday 16 Speptmbr and I rely want you too come. And I neid you to play with me in the park and posh me on the swing. Please come home
love, Bella
P.S. Please buy me a perpel Swatch wach and Sparkle Girl Julerry Makar for my bithday.
I didn’t know what to do. Obviously, I wasn’t going to mail it without an address on it. So instead, I put it in my secret place. If you pull the bottom drawer of my dresser all the way out, there’s a space under it on the floor where I put my most sacred things. I had a coin that I found in Hyde Park that I’m sure is Roman or Viking and one day I’m going to sell it and get mega rich. I had a few other cool things in there too. Some of them are embarrassing, like key-rings I made out of lanyard strings when I was, like, seven and valentine cards my mum sent me. Stuff you can’t exactly throw out but really don’t want anyone to see. The letter wasn’t one of my sacred things but where else was I going to put it?
I also had a picture of my dad holding me when I was a baby that I sneaked out of Nonna’s album. Obviously, we have a whole bunch of photos of him in that album, but I wanted one for myself. One of him with me. Just to prove to myself that he did actually exist and hold me once, and he even looked proud. I don’t look at that photo much because it makes me angry. I know it doesn’t make sense to keep it, but there you go. Not everything makes sense. If it did, he would never have left in the first place.
There was another knock on my door, so I quickly closed the drawer.
“Hang on… Okay, you can come in now.”
Bella stuck her head in.
“When do you think he’ll get it?” she asked.
“Well, they have to find him first. It’s not easy, you know. It takes teams of detectives months to find missing people.”
She walked in to my room and said, “Oh,” and did that thing where she points her toes inward and puts one foot over the other, like her toes are hugging.
“Do you think he’ll get it before my birthday?”
“I don’t know, Bella. I don’t think so. But if by some weird miracle he did get it before then, I’m sure he’d come to your party.”
Bella unhugged her toes and put her hands on her hips. “Amber?”
“Mmm?”
“How do you know I want Dad to come to my party?”
Oops.
“Well, it’s kind of obvious, Bella. You did ask if he’d get it before your birthday.”
“Oh,” she said, frowning. “Hmm. Well, okay.” And she skipped back to her room.
The letter wasn’t my biggest problem at that point. I was so worried about starting my new school in the morning that I couldn’t get to sleep for ages. When you can’t sleep, your mind starts going a bit doolally. Well, mine does anyway. I start thinking all kinds of crazy things. And eventually the problem with Bella and her letter worked its way into my churning brain.
It was kind of mean and everything but there were times I really wished Bella wasn’t my sister. But knowing there was a huge hole where our dad was supposed to be wasn’t much fun either. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that maybe, just maybe, I could do something about it. I could save Bella from years of torture with one quick solution. 
It seemed straightforward enough.
I decided to pretend to be my dad and write back to her, you know, to make her feel better.
And that was it.
Paff!
The most ingenious idea I’ve ever had lit up my mind like a firework.

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