Saturday, November 14, 2015

Voyagers Giveaway

Voyagers: Project Alpha by D. J. MacHale

About the Book: Earth is in danger! Without a renewable source of clean energy, our planet will be toast in less than a year. There are 6 essential elements that, when properly combined, create a new power source. But the elements are scattered throughout the galaxy. And only a spaceship piloted by children can reach it and return to Earth safely. First the ideal team of four 12-year-olds must be chosen, and then the first element must be retrieved. There is not a mistake to be made, or a moment to lose. The source is out there. Voyagers is blasting off in 3, 2, 1…

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I was thinking the other day about trends in middle grade lit and I realized that science fiction and stories set in space are becoming more popular. Add that to the multi-platform trend of middle grade books written by various authors (think 39 Clues, Spirit Animals) and you've got a winner. I know that I have an audience of readers ready to go crazy over Voyagers. I mean, what's more exciting than the idea that only kids can save the world and they have to go into space and have adventures in order to do so? In some ways, Voyagers could be likened to Star Trek for tweens if kids were sent on a mission. 

The books are action packed, part mystery, part science fiction, part adventure and they are lots of fun. The cast of characters is also diverse. I really love Piper, who is in a wheelchair, yet demonstrates that that won't stop her from traveling in space and being part of the team-she can do what everyone else can. (If you're a savvy reader, you'll figure out from the cover of book 1 who gets chosen for the mission, but there are still surprises along the way, so don't worry!) 

The additional elements on are engaging and fun. I love the videos of the possible candidates and the quiz-kids really get a chance to feel like they're part of the Voyagers mission. 

The series is fun and exciting and sure to be a hit with middle grade readers who are fascinated by space-and can also be a good intro into science fiction for young readers. 

Want to win The Voyagers Experience prize pack?

Get the full Voyagers experience! One (1) winner receives:
·         The first two books in the series;
·         Branded iPhone6 case and home GadgetGrip button to deck out your device while experiencing the Voyagers app.

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Random House Children’s Books.

FIll out the form below to enter! One entry per person. Contest ends 11/22

Friday, October 30, 2015

Flannel Friday: Buddy and the Bunnies by Bob Shea

Flannel Friday is a weekly roundup of posts about storytime and flannelboard ideas. You can visit the website here.

Librarian confession time-I am not a crafty librarian. Crafts for me mean fingerprints or play-dough. I wish I could knit cute puppets to use in storytime, but if I'm lucky, I can make an ok paper bag puppet. And my flannels just aren't pretty-so I rarely make them. (I'm more of a print it off from Kizclub and use magnets type of librarian!)

But I wanted a way to tell Buddy and the Bunnies by Bob Shea so that the kids knew who was talking. I'm reading the book, puppets weren't going to work. And since this is one of our state picture book award nominees, I'm planning on reading it a few times. In the past, the kids have had trouble knowing which character was speaking. So I made Buddy and Bunnies. While reading, I'll point to each character and move them on the flannel board to help the kids visualize who's speaking.

So here's my Buddy and Bunnies:

"I will eat you Bunnies!"

My first Buddy was a bit scary, so I had to make a happy Buddy too. 

The whole set. (Yes, I know the bunnies multiply by the end of the book, but I stuck with the original three to keep it simple) 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

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About the Book: After an accident leaves Samantha homeless and fatherless, she's not sure what to do. It's Missouri, 1849 and her dreams of being a musician are not going to be easy-she's a girl and she's Chinese American. Without a place to go, she's invited to a local hotel run by her landlord. But he has other plans for Samantha in mind-namely working in his brothel. Samantha fights back and finds herself needing to escape and fearing for her life. She meets a slave who works at the hotel named Annamae, who is also planning to run. So together they disguise themselves as boys and set off on the Oregon Trail to find Annamae's brother and and a new life for Samantha. As Sammy and Andy, they meet up with a group of cowboys who become unexpected allies. But if they knew the truth, the group could be in trouble-Annamae and Samantha are both wanted by the law. A powerful story of friendship and family.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Who knew the world needed a YA Western? It's not a genre I get asked about regularly (although here in Missouri I do get asked this question once in awhile). Stacey Lee knew we needed an amazing girl powered YA Western featuring a diverse cast of characters and lots of keep you up reading adventure-and I'm so glad she did!

At first glance, Under A Painted Sky might be a hard sell to readers. Like I said, it's not every day I get asked for the western genre or even historical fiction. But there's one way to sell this book-have readers just open it up and read the first chapter-or even the first two chapters. The book starts with such a bang and within just a few pages, our main characters have met up and are off on the trail. There's not much waiting around for the adventure to start-it's there from page one. And it never stops. Each chapter brings a new setback on the trail, a new hardship, a new adventure, a new crisis to overcome. The details of trail life are hard and brutal (and eye-opening for readers who might be very familiar with this period in history) But it's not all dreary. There is lots of humor injected into the story as well. I love Annamae and her various quips and the cowboys can be a jovial bunch.

The thing I loved most about Under a Painted Sky, aside from how fast paced the plot is, is how diverse the cast is. Sammy and Andy meet up with cowboys who are from Texas and one of the cowboys, Petey, is from Mexico. Along the trail they meet up with people who have come from all over-a group from France, a gang of boys from Scotland. I listened to this book on audio and this is where I really fell in love with the audio-the narrator does an excellent job with all the various languages and accents.

I will admit that Sammy is a bit too perfect at times. She has overcome a lot of odds in a society that is against her and while that makes her a strong character, it also felt a bit too perfect. She can speak many languages so she can translate along the trail, she can play the fiddle (mostly seen as a man's instrument), she is well educated. I liked that she fought against expectations, but at times it felt a bit too much for the novel overall. Sammy could always save the day.

The friendship that develops between Andy and Sammy is the strongest relationship overall. They develop a strong and powerful bond and it's a beautiful picture of female friendship. They have been through something very hard and it's not going to get easier from here-the road ahead of them is still full of many trials and tribulations. Yet through it all they grow close to each other and find family in each other. I loved seeing two strong female characters in this book and I enjoyed reading about both of them.

The cowboys-Petey, West, and Cay-add another element to the novel both of drama and fun. Cay is the most lighthearted-always joking, flirting with various girls they might meet up with, and having fun along the way. Petey and West are more serious with West having the most difficult background and prejudices to overcome. His story is handled deftly. Sammy develops feelings for West, but as she's keeping her true identity a secret from the boys, the romance isn't very angsty. And since they have bigger things to deal with-like surviving-there's not much dwelling on the idea of a starcrossed romance. There is still romance in the book, but it's not the main plot point and I felt that it was well done and added a nice depth to the novel without feeling out of place. The focus is on Andy and Sammy, their friendship and the overall trip to California.

I absolutely loved this book. I've been suggesting to everyone and couldn't stop talking about it after I read it. I even got Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan to read it (which is huge!) and he enjoyed it. (He loved that there wasn't much angst in it as well) I would recommend it on audio, as the narrator does a wonderful job, but reading it is just as enjoyable-I couldn't wait to get through the last disc and finished the last 80 pages by reading it myself. I can't wait to see what Stacey Lee has in store for us next-I'm sure it will be wonderful! Even if you think you don't need a YA Western, give Under A Painted Sky a try-you might be surprised to discover a book in a genre you never knew you enjoyed.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook checked out from my library and finished book received from publisher

Monday, October 19, 2015

Blog Tour: The Toymaker's Apprentice-Sherri L. Smith Author Guest Post

Sherri L. Smith's newest book is based on The Nutcracker. Taking on a classic story is always interesting and I love knowing how authors research and make a well known story their own, so I wanted to know more about the research process for The Toymaker's Apprentice.  

Most people don’t realize that the Nutcracker ballet has its origins in an E.T.A. Hoffman story, Nussknacker und Mausek├Ânig published in 1816.  Some thirty years later, Hoffman’s strange story caught the imagination of Alexandre Dumas—the man who wrote The Three Musketeers and other popular novels.  It was Dumas’ version that Tchiakovsky based his ballet upon.  Luckily for me, as a kid, I fell in love with both the Hoffman story and the ballet.  As an adult, I found myself still daydreaming about the mysterious godfather Drosselmeyer, and the story behind the story.  So it wasn’t much of a stretch to think that one day I would tackle those questions for myself.
In my office is a blue binder stuffed to the gills with indexed pages:  18th Century Clothing.  Asia.  Turkey.  Arabic Cooking.  Clockmaking.  Nuts.  You name it.  When I finally decided to tackle this book, I amassed so much information that the novel sank.  It disappeared from view under the weight of too many possibilities, which took me ten years to assimilate and resurface with a story worth telling.
            It’s a strange thing when you are a writer.  The book the world sees is only one version of a multiverse of books I’ve written or imagined, all a different variation on the same story.  The version of Toymaker that you will read took several passes of research.  From that initial binder (I even recruited my mother into researching various time periods for me) to the last round of spelunking into the history and politics of 1815 Europe, and toy and clockmaking of the period, I did as much research as I could from libraries and a laptop in California.  I read up on lifespans of the various animals in the books, and the land speed of mice versus humans.  How to crack nuts.  Christmas traditions in Nuremberg.  I could give you a long list and sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump talking about shrimp. 
The idea is, you find out as much as you can, set it in the back of your mind, and then tell the story.  I find my brain will pull out the supporting details it needs to keep the story alive and moving forward.  Because of this method, which is rather like sifting for gold, I am always researching stories whenever I read or learn about something new.  I remember in patting myself on the back one day for inventing catacombs beneath the city of Nuremberg that worked perfectly for my story.  Then I went back and looked at my notes.  There are catacombs!  And they still work as if I made them myself! 
The best news for all us struggling writers out there is, if you’re midstream in a story and can’t come up with a good idea based on what you know, it doesn’t mean the story doesn’t work.  You just need to do more research.
About the Book: (from Goodreads) Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father until the day his world is turned upside down. His father is kidnapped and Stefan is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer, to find a mythical nut to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll. Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany, Stefan must save Boldavia’s princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family.   


Saturday, October 3, 2015

First & Then Superlative Blog Tour and Author Guest Post: Books Most Likely to Make You Cry On Public Transportation

I love the idea of a superlative blog tour for First & Then by Emma Mills-such a fun blog tour! I was given the superlative of "Most Likely to Make You Cry on Public Transportation" and of course, I had to ask Emma herself which books make her cry:

I would have to say Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson is the book that makes my cry the most! My father first read this book to my sister and I when we were kids, and I remember so clearly the overwhelming sense of loss I felt right along with Jesse. A beautiful—but tough to take!—book about grief.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – it has wrung the most book-fueled tears from me in my adulthood. Hazel’s relationship with her parents really gets to me.

Marrying Malcolm Murgatroyd by Mame Farrell—I first read this in junior high and shed more than a few tears. Very bittersweet, lovely middle grade story.

Before I share my own list, I first need to tell you something-I don't cry too often at books. Which honestly, I find a bit strange because I'm an emotional person and I cry at just about everything else, but books really have to get me to get me bawling. And these books did! So fair warning when reading on public transportation (or anywhere!):

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling-OK, I admit this one is cheating a bit, because seriously, what HP fan can read this one (or pretty much any book from 4-on) without bawling like a baby?

If I Stay by Gayle Forman-I cried so much at the end of this book and had to mourn that it was over. So I was incredibly grateful for the sequel-which yes, also make me cry.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley-Oh my goodness, this book just gets you in every emotional way and just tears at your heartstrings and makes you laugh and cry and smile all at the same time.

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern-I actually listened to this one on audiobook while driving-bad idea. It turned me into a blubbering mess and it was hard to sob and drive at the same time!

What books make you cry?

About the Book: Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Need to Know YA 2015-MLA/KLA Join Conference Presentation

Today I'm presenting at the Missouri Library Association/Kansas Library Association Join Conference! I'm presenting on "Need to Know YA of 2015" My session is only 45 minutes, so I sadly don't get to talk about very many books, so I made a long booklist of books I'm talking about as well as others to know. Here is my handout and booklist from the session. And if you're at the conference, I'd love to see you!

Need to Know YA 2015

MLA/KLA Joint Conference

Sarah Bean Thompson

Trends in YA

Religious Extremism and Cults, End of the World Beliefs
Devoted by Jennifer Matthieu
Eden West by Pete Hautman
No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oaks
Seed by Lisa Heathfield
Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
Watch the Sky by Kristin Hubbard

Mental Illness
Calvin by Martine Leavitt
Disappear Home by Laura Hurwitz
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Fell of Dark by Patrick Downes
Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Footer Davis is Probably Crazy by Susan Vaught
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
The Last Time We Said Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
The Law of Loving Others by Katie Axelrod
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
Playlist For The Dead by Michelle Falkoff
Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten
Twisted Fate by Norah Olson
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13 B by Tessa Toten
The View From Who I Was by Heather Sappenfield
Your Voice Is All I Hear by Leah Scheier

Retellings of Arabian Tales
A Thousand Nights L.K. Johnston
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury (coming in 2016)
Rebel of the Sands Alwyn Hamilton (coming in 2016)
Sequels and Popular Authors
The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith
Another Day by David Levithan
Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Mass
The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Fairest and Winter by Marrisa Meyer
Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams Garcia
The Heir by Keira Cass
Hold Me Closer by David Levithan
I Crawl Through It by A.S. King
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
Magus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
P.S. I Love You by Jenny Han
The Rose Society by Marie Lu
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Stand Off by Andrew Smith
Walk On Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Websites to Know

Need to Know Middle Grade/Younger YA
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
George by Alex Gino
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
Monstrous by MaryKate Connolly
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
We Are All Made of Molecules by Susan Nielsen

Older YA
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromley
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Buzz Books (with Some Issues)
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Hugely Buzzed Books-AKA-The Next Big Thing?
An Ember in the Sabaa Tahir
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

Need to Know Non-Fiction
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin
Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum
Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson

Other Books to Know
All the Rage by Courtney Summers
Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas
Audacity by Melanie Crowder
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Don Brown
Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow
Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Ink and Ashes by Valynee E Maetani
Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
Lock and Mori by Heather W. Petty
Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
Lumberjanes Vol. 1 by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder
The Nest by Kenneth Oppel
The Novice by Taran Matharu
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt
A Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly
Serpentine by Cindy Pon
Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm
Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Tommy: The Gun That Changed America by Karen Blumenthal
The Truth Commission by Susan Juby
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones
Untwine by Edwidge Danticat
Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

Friday, September 25, 2015

Ghostlight by Sonia Gensler Blog Tour-Author Guest Post

Please welcome Sonia Gensler to GreenBeanTeenQueen

(photo credit: Eden Wilson Photography)

Writing horror for young readers

Growing up is scary and painful, and violent, and your body is doing weird things and you might, to your great horror, become something beastly and terrible on the other side. 

—Greg Ruth, “Why Horror is Good for You (and Even Better for Your Kids)”

Every day young people deal with horror landscapes, both physical and psychological. They face the gauntlet-like labyrinth of school hallways, and the confinement of overcrowded classrooms. They defend against emotional and/or physical bullying, all while feeling haunted by the “stupid” things they’ve said or done. In fact, young people often feel downright monstrous—their bodies are changing too quickly, or not quickly enough, their emotions are fraught with ups and downs, and the world just doesn’t make sense. 

I know all this from having been a teenager, and also from having taught young people for ten years. These experiences have somehow led me to write a certain kind of horror.

A lot of horror is about gore, grotesquery, and jump scares—and there’s a cathartic benefit to that experience. I try to write the horror of mystery and dread. Gothic horror is all about dealing with extreme transitions, facing the uncanny, and acknowledging repressed emotions that insist on spilling out against your will. I write this sort of horror for the apprehensive teen that still lives inside me. Mostly I just wish to entertain, but I can’t help hoping that teen and tween readers will recognize parts of their own experience, see themselves in the protagonists who overcome their fears, and somehow feel less strange and alone. 

About the BookThings that go bump in the night are just the beginning when a summer film project becomes a real-life ghost story!

Avery is looking forward to another summer at Grandma’s farm, at least until her brother says he’s too old for “Kingdom,” the imaginary world they’d spent years creating. Lucky for her, there’s a new kid staying in the cottage down the road: a city boy with a famous dad, Julian’s more than a little full of himself, but he’s also a storyteller like Avery. So when he announces his plan to film a ghost story, Avery is eager to join in.

Unfortunately, Julian wants to film at Hilliard House, a looming, empty mansion that Grandma has absolutely forbidden her to enter. As terrified as Avery is of Grandma’s wrath, the allure of filmmaking is impossible to resist.

As the kids explore the secrets of Hilliard house, eerie things begin to happen, and the “imaginary” dangers in their movie threaten to become very real. Have Avery and Julian awakened a menacing presence? Can they turn back before they go too far?

Imagination Designs