Character Quiz: Are you more of a Henry or a Dolf?

In Henry Hunter and the Beast of Snagov, we meet two best friends, Henry Hunter and Adolphus Pringle (Dolf for short). The pair are complete opposites but together, they make an excellent team as they traipse off on supernatural adventures. Take our quiz to find out if you’re more of a Henry or a Dolf!


Are you more of a Henry or a Dolf?

  1. If you were stuck on a deserted island would you . . .
    a. Explore the island and discover what interesting artifacts or island secrets you can uncover.
    b. Hang out on the beach and work on your tan.
  2. What’s your style like?
    a. Dapper and always put together.
    b. Casual and often in t-shirts.
  3. In the face of danger you . . .
    a. Investigate and learn about the danger. Everything is a learning opportunity.
    b. RUN!
  4. During the school day, we’d find you . . .
    a. Not in class but off jet setting and trying to uncover priceless artifacts or supernatural truths.
    b. Asleep at your desk.
  5. Ghosts are . . .
    a. Real. I’ve seen one.
    b. Eh, I’m skeptical

 

If you answered mostly A’s . . . 

You’re more of a Henry. You’re always ready for adventure and looking for the next opportunity to learn. You have a wild imagination and believe that anything is possible. You are good at motivating your friends and helping them see their inner strengths.

If you answered mostly B’s . . .

You’re more of a Dolf. You’re a little more on the laid-back side but willing to have an adventure as long as there will be snacks there. You can take the lead but it takes dire situations for you to realize your inner strength and that you have the power to save the day.

Henry Hunter and the Beast of Snagov by John Matthews

henry-hunter-9781510710382Adolphus Pringle lived a relatively normal life before he met Henry Hunter, but being the best friend of a twelve-year-old millionaire genius certainly makes life interesting. He has accompanied Henry on adventures all over the world and encountered dozens of supernatural creatures. Henry has a penchant for paranormal mysteries, and he never fails to drag his trusty sidekick, Dolf, into adventures to track down the truth in these mystical legends.

Henry announces one morning that he and Dolf are going to go in search of a creature more terrifying than Dracula himself: the Beast of Snagov. The pair of supernatural investigators travel from where Bram Stoker stayed in Whitby to Transylvania. Along the way they come across some strange things such as Dracula’s daughter, Bella, and an organization called the Order of the Dragon that wants to sacrifice Henry Hunter to the Beast of Snagov. When Henry is taken, it’s up to Dolf and Bella to team up and rescue him!

Will Henry survive this supernatural adventure? Get ready to discover the world of the supernatural through the eyes of our spooked narrator as he tags along on the first adventure in the Henry Hunter series!


Which character are you? Share below!

Continue Reading

Author Mark Eastburn Takes on the Sky Pony Press Q&A

Sky Pony author, Mark Eastburn takes on the Sky Pony Q&A and talks about his debut novel, Earning My Spots. Check it out!


Q: Why did you gravitate to the genre that you write in?

I teach science to kids in the middle grades, so writing a book with characters who change into animals was a natural springboard to literature. I’ve always been fascinated by other living things, as well as world cultures, and Earning My Spots gave me the opportunity to learn more about both. The original inspiration for this story came through watching how my dog moved, and wondering how that might feel, but I didn’t want to write a typical werewolf (or weredog) story. The history of Africa is something that I’ve studied in my spare time, with a focus on the Jewish people of Ethiopia, and as it turns out, they are sometimes considered bouda, or “hyena people” in that part of the world. It was believed that they held special powers because of their abilities to make iron tools, and that they could transform into hyenas. Of course, a lot of this mythology is based on anti-Jewish bias, which unfortunately exists all over the world, but I decided to turn that superstition into a positive by showing hyenas to be the proud, intelligent, and brave hunters that they really are. In Africa, spotted hyenas and lions are in constant competition, and in some areas, lions scavenge far more than hyenas do. Hyena society is also dominated by females, who are larger and stronger than their male counterparts. I thought that would be an interesting contrast with most other predators—especially lions and wolves.

eastburnandrocky
Our Newfoundland dog has been my family’s faithful companion for the past six years, and he keeps my feet warm while I write!

 

Q: What are you reading right now?

At the moment, I am reading Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, since I’m convinced that kids these days really need to reconnect with nature. As a teacher, I know that there is a lot of enthusiasm for learning about the Earth’s fellow creatures, and I am trying to find more opportunities to make that possible. I’m also reading lots and lots of research papers on jumping spiders, ants, and acacia plants, since I’ve been doing research on the world’s only known vegetarian spider for my master’s degree.

Q: If you could be a character in any children’s book, who would you be and why?

I’d be Nate Twitchell from The Enormous Egg, or Louis from The Mysterious Tadpole. They’ve been favorites of mine for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always hoped to make surprising discoveries like they did.

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?

I write in the room with my tortoises, who are named Leo and Josephine. They have deformed shells because they didn’t get proper care with a previous owner, but I’m trying to ensure that they get the best treatment possible. I also share the room with Green Fruit Loop, a little lizard that one of my students discovered in salad greens last year. That story made international news, and there is a whole list of articles about her on my website.

eastburn-tortoises
Leo and Josephine are still kind of shy, unless I’m bringing them food.

 

Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

My favorite movie of all time would have to be Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, although I’m also a huge fan of the Star Wars movies and the original Jurassic Park . . . even though it had a lot of incorrect information about dinosaurs. For example, T. rex probably had some of the best eyes in the animal kingdom, and it wouldn’t have shaken the ground when it moved.

Q: If you could have any animal as a pet (current or extinct), what would it be?

Given my previous answers on favorite books, I guess it’d be cool to have a pet Triceratops or Loch Ness monster, but I’ve already got lots of animals in my home. I’ve been thinking long and hard about getting a group of spiny tailed monitor lizards, because they look so cool, although I doubt that I have space with all of my other reptiles, including ten turtles, seven snakes, and my wall lizards from a small island off the coast of Italy. They’re actually bright blue!

eastburn-bluelizard
As soon as I learned about these blue wall lizards, I couldn’t help but buy a few. Last summer they laid eggs, so I might be getting more!

 

Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Dark chocolate, because it’s supposed to be healthier than the rest. It also needs to be sourced from Central America, since I used to walk through chocolate farms while I was living and working in Panama. I’m always looking for ways to help those farmers out, since their plantations can help protect the rainforest and the beautiful frogs that live on the tree trunks and forest floor.

eastburn-frog
Poison dart frogs love to hop around under chocolate plants!

 

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving, because it’s the time when people get together and nobody has to worry about gifts. It’s all about sharing time, and not material things. I also love the food!

Q: What’s your favorite emoji? OR What’s your favorite GIF?

Anything with a jumping spider in it, like this one:

via GIPHY

 

Or this one:

spider

 

I also really like pufferfish:

via GIPHY

Q: What did you want to grow up to be when you were Sam’s age?

I wanted to be an exotic pet veterinarian, and work with reptiles. The part about working with reptiles came through, although I never found the time to go to veterinary school. Maybe I will someday!


Earning My Spots by Mark Eastburn

earning-my-spots-9781510707788Sam and his family are the only werehyenas in their town, and they do their best to keep up their cover in front of the humans while the other more aggressive shifters mock the werehyena family for being weak and passive. But Sam sees no other life for himself, as he believes what he is told: he is inferior to the other shifters.

One night, a pack of shifters raids Sam’s house and takes his family, leaving him all alone. With the help of some new friends, Sam sets off on a journey from Vermont to South America to rescue his family. Along the way, he meets various shifters who aid him on his quest. He even meets a tribe of werehyenas in Louisiana who teach him how powerful his kind actually is and how far his ancestry goes back. From them, Sam learns he has a great destiny to fulfill.

As Sam draws closer to finding his family, he begins to understand how different the world of shifters is that exists outside of his small hometown. Shifters are tired of humans destroying their homes, and they want not only revenge but also to force humans into submission. It becomes clear that Sam is the only one who can stop a war that’s on the brink of erupting.

Fans of the Spirit Animals and Warriors series will enjoy accompanying Sam on his quest as he discovers not only that his destiny and inner strength are greater than he thought, but also that being a werehyena is not as laughable as he assumed.

 

Continue Reading

Jasper the Dog is Betrayed, Again

jtd-1

Author Beth Vrabel’s lovable dog Jasper wrote a guest blog post for us earlier this year. Now that he’s had a chance to read Beth’s newest novel, A Blind Guide to Normal, he’s back with another guest post! Check out his thoughts below!


 

Jasper the Dog is Betrayed, Again

I am betrayed once more.blind-guide-to-normal-9781510702288

Not only does my human’s latest book have guinea pigs on the cover—guinea pigs!—the story also features a…

No, I can’t bring myself to say it.

But I must.

Deep breath.

It features a cat.

Not just any cat, either, as despicable as that might be. No, it features a cat based on one she actually once knew. Her latest book, A Blind Guide to Normal, includes a cat named General MacCathur II. And it’s based on Goldie, a cat her grandparents had when she was a pup (or whatever humans call puppy versions o9781510703827-frontcoverf themselves).

Goldie even gets a shout out on the dedication page, which I know because I heard the Littlest Human ask why it wasn’t dedicated to him.

Great question, Littlest Human, but you got the dedication in my human’s book Pack of Dorks. Did I? No, of course not. I’ve simply dedicated my life to keeping her warm and cozy while she writes, defending her from Vacuum, adding my personal musk to our favorite chair and bringing her the toy she so loves to throw again and again.

Yet I’ve never gotten a dedication. The closest acknowledgment to my influence is the golden version of me on the cover of her book A Blind Guide to Stinkville. She told me that Tooter, the dog in that book, is based on me, but her description of him (a fat, farting dog who goes where he shouldn’t) sounds pretty far off from me.

Yet this Goldie gets a whole dedication.

Okay. If she likes cats, fine.

I, Jasper the Dog, will become a cat.

 

Day One

I consult with Winn-Dixie and Pippin the Guinea Pigs, who lived in a pet store among other animals, including cats, when they were guinea piglets.

“What do you know about cats?” I ask.

“They’re horrid,” they squeak.

“That’s what you say about humans.”

“Yes,” they squeak.

“And dogs.”

“Yes.” Pippin scurries into their hut and away from me. Winn-Dixie darts in and flips the hut. Pippin screeches and chases Winn-Dixie. They do this all day.

“But what do cats do?” I call above their screeches. “How do they cat?”

The pigs pause. Winn-Dixie says, “They sit high on top of things.”

Pippin adds, “Aloof! They’re aloof!”

Winn-Dixie pipes in. “They have beautiful singing voices!”

“They have no need for the humans. They can take ’em or leave ’em,” Pippin adds.

“Take,” I say.

“No, take ’em or leave ’em,” Winn-Dixie says. “Both.”

“I choose take. I’ll take humans. Humans are my favorite.”

The pigs sigh. “Cats are cats’ favorite,” Winn-Dixie says, and resumes their chase.

I’m sure the pigs are wrong. Humans are always favorite. Even so, I can do this, I tell myself. I can cat.

I assume my position atop my human’s favorite chair.

jtd-2

“Get down, you silly pup,” she says. “You are not a cat.”

Not yet, Human.

Two hours later, I’ve become wedged between the cushion and the chair and cannot move. I am, however, extremely comfortable.

Twenty minutes later, my human yells, “What have you done to my chair? You’re ruining the cushion!” When she notices that I’m stuck, she pulls me free and gives me some pepperoni. Do cats get pepperoni?

This thought troubles me.

I will resume efforts tomorrow.

 

Day Two

I shall be aloof.

I’m going aloof all the way over here, away from the Littlest Human and his even littler friend, away from the Monopoly game and all of its interestingly smelling pieces and their deliciously smelly toes.

jtd-3

Aloof.

Aloof.

Hold up. They’re leaving the game! They’re going to the OUTSIDE! I love that place! I love The Outside!

We’re going to Play!

This is awesome! This is fantastic!

jtd-4

I chase leaves and shred them to bits! I bounce through snow and make it splash and splash! I chase the basketball!

This is… not what cats do.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

 

Day Three

I try this singing of which the guinea pigs have spoken.

The humans tell me to Be Quiet and Go Lay Down.

I sing louder.

The humans say Stop It and No.

Soon after, my human leaves for a long time. I am not worried. Take ‘em or leave ‘em.

I’ll just sit here on top of her chair and look out the window.

Still looking.

I’ll take a small nap. I’m sure she’ll be here when I wake up.

She’s still not here! I am not long for this world without her!

I run from room to room to make sure she isn’t just hiding. I even jump up onto her bed, which is a No, Jasper!, and pull back the blankets but no human! I roll around a little on her pillow, just to remember her scent.

I hear the door open but I’m too exhausted from my hunt to find her.

“What are you doing on the bed, Jasper the Dog?” she asks.

jtd-5

I just roll over.

I’m getting better at catting.

 

Day Four

I smell pupcakes! Is today birthday?

Every other month or so, it’s my birthday. Poor Little Humans only have one birthday a year. I don’t think the big humans have any birthdays. But Jasper the Dog? Seven birthdays every year.

I bet today is birthday.

Pupcakes!

jtd-6

Troubling thought: Do cats have birthdays?

I run to the kitchen. The Little Human asks, “Can I have one of the cupcakes?”

My human says no. “These are for the party we’re going to later.”

I wait for my pupcake and my pupcake hat and my birthday song. The little human puts dog food in my bowl. Dog food? The injustice!

The biggest human comes home and puts a box on the table. “I’ve got the hot wings!” he says.

Then all the humans shuffle on coats and grab bags—including the cupcakes—and leave without Jasper the Dog.

But then I smell something even better than pupcakes. Hot wings.

“Don’t you eat those!” Winn-Dixie the Guinea Pig squeaks. “Cats don’t eat hot wings.”

I sniff. Somehow I find myself up on a chair.

I sniff again. Somehow my nose has opened the box. I’ll just grab one little hot wing. Nom, nom, nom.

Nom, nom.

Nom.

The garage door is opening! My human runs inside!

I jump from the chair!

I hide behind the couch as my human opens the lid of the box.

“Jasper!” my human yells. “Why are six hot wings missing?”

He calls me Bad Dog. He never calls me Bad Dog.

I am worse than Bad Dog. I am also Bad Cat.

And my belly is on fire.

 

Day Five

The vet says dogs aren’t supposed to eat hot wings.

He gives me medicine.

The only perk is my humans are now properly interested in the gifts I leave for them in the yard.

My human claps for me to sit with her on her chair.

I jump up and think about jumping further to sit above her head like a proper cat.

Instead, I sit across her lap. She puts away her laptop and rubs my ears and pats my belly. “Silly, pup. You know you might be the best dog ever?” she says. “Love you so much.”

jtd-7

I sigh and press my head against her shoulder. Best Dog Ever.

That’s me.


blind-guide-to-normal-9781510702288

A Blind Guide to Normal by Beth Vrabel

Richie “Ryder” Raymond has a gift. He can find the punchline in any situation, even in his limited vision and prosthetic eye. During the past year at Addison School for the Blind, Ryder’s quick wit earned the respect and friendship of his classmates. Heading to mainstream, or “normal,” school for eighth grade is going to be awesome.

After all, what’s not to like? At Addison, Ryder was everyone’s favorite person. He could make anyone laugh, especially his best friend Alice. So long as he can be first to make all of the one-eyed jokes, Ryder is sure he’ll fit in just as quick at Papuaville Middle School, home of the Fighting Guinea Pigs. But Alice warns him fitting in might not be as easy as he thinks.

Turns out, Alice was right. In just the first hour of “normal” school, Ryder is attacked by General MacCathur II (aka, Gramps’s cat), causes his bio teacher to pass out cold, makes an enemy out town hero Max, and falls for Jocelyn, the fierce girl next door who happens to be Max’s girlfriend. On top of that, Ryder struggles to hold onto his dignity in the face of students’ pity and Gramps’s non-stop practical jokes.

Ryder quickly sees the only thing worse than explaining a joke is being the punchline. But with help from his stuck-in-the-70s Gramps and encouragement from Alice, Ryder finds the strength to not only fight back, but to make peace.

 

A Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel

9781510703827-frontcoverBefore Stinkville, Alice didn’t think albinism—or the blindness that goes with it—was a big deal. Sure, she uses a magnifier to read books. And a cane keeps her from bruising her hips on tables. Putting on sunscreen and always wearing a hat are just part of life. But life has always been like this for Alice. Until Stinkville.

For the first time in her life, Alice feels different—like she’s at a disadvantage. Back in her old neighborhood in Seattle, everyone knew Alice, and Alice knew her way around. In Stinkville, Alice finds herself floundering—she can’t even get to the library on her own. But when her parents start looking into schools for the blind, Alice takes a stand. She’s going to show them—and herself—that blindness is just a part of who she is, not all that she can be. To prove it, Alice enters the Stinkville Success Stories essay contest. No one, not even her new friend Kerica, believes she can scout out her new town’s stories and write the essay by herself. The funny thing is, as Alice confronts her own blindness, everyone else seems to see her for the first time.


pack-of-dorks-9781629146232Pack of Dorks by Beth Vrabel

Lucy knows that kissing Tom Lemmings behind the ball shed will make her a legend. But she doesn’t count on that quick clap of lips propelling her from coolest to lamest fourth grader overnight. Suddenly Lucy finds herself trapped in Dorkdom, where a diamond ring turns your finger green, where the boy you kiss hates you three days later, where your best friend laughs as you cry, where parents seem to stop liking you, and where baby sisters are born different.

Now Lucy has a choice: she can be like her former best friend, Becky, who would do anything to claim her seat at the cafeteria’s cool table, or she can pull up a chair beside the dorks. But can she really be seen with the likes of dinosaur-obsessed Sheldon and nose-picking April? And how will she survive doing a research project on wolves with the super-quiet Sam Righter? Lucy’s about to find out what being a dork is really about—and it might just surprise her.

 

Camp Dork by Beth Vrabelcamp-dork-9781634501811

Lucy and her pack are back, in this sequel to Beth Vrabel’s heartwarming and humorous debut, Pack of Dorks. Sheldon convinces Lucy, Sam, April, and Amanda to join him at Camp Paleo. Like cavemen, they’re going to have to make do without air-conditioning, and they’ll dig for fossils during the day. And Grandma’s coming too—as lunch lady for the camp next door.

But Sam backs out at the last minute to attend a gymnastics camp instead. Lucy wonders why she misses him so much—it’s not like he’s her boyfriend. And why does the word “boyfriend” make her blush? She needs a distraction.

Enter Mr. Bosserman, the grouchy camp leader who won’t budge on the caveman aspect of the camp. The old man needs some softening up, and Lucy knows just the person for the job: Grandma.

One successful match made, Lucy starts to see potential lovebirds everywhere. But when the wrong campers pair up, the pack falls apart, all under the watchful eye of a secret blogger who’s been writing about the camp’s activities. Even worse? A thief is targeting everyone but Lucy, setting her up to look guilty. Soon Lucy finds herself alone, left to fix the messes she’s made. If she fails, the pack may be splintered for good.

 

Continue Reading

Top 5 Monsters from the Big Screen by Sarah S. Reida, author of MONSTERVILLE: A LISSA BLACK PRODUCTION

Halloween season means monster movies! Thank goodness we have Monsterville author, Sarah S. Reida, to help us pick the best scary guys from the big screen. Now, if you need us, we’ll be hiding under the bed and hoping we don’t find ourselves Down Below!


The title character of Monsterville: A Lissa Black Production, is a huge movie fan. That’s why she’s bummed when her family moves from exciting NYC to the sticks of Freeburg, Pennsylvania. How can Lissa break into the movie business if she’s trapped in the middle of nowhere?

If she finds a shape-shifting goblin, that’s how! Add the ready-made set of her parents’ creepy new woods, and Lissa has all the makings of her very own monster movie. Freeburg ain’t so boring after all.

To create her masterpiece, Lissa does some research – she watches monster movies! Now, just in time for Halloween, she’d like to share her top five monster picks with you. Sure, you probably recognize all of them, but did you know Lissa’s fun facts before reading this blog?

 

Number Five – Sully (Monsters, Inc.)

 

thumbnail_sully

Voiced by John Goodman, an actor with the rare distinction of appearing in two successive Best Picture winners (The Artist, Argo), Sully is a towering, huggable-looking creature. Bill Murray was the top pick to voice this character in Pixar’s monster hit, but he had (has) no agent and the filmmakers were unable to reach him to give him the part.

Number Four – Maurice (Little Monsters)

thumbnail_little-monsters

 

Played by America’s Got Talent judge, Howie Mendel, Maurice befriends Brian (Fred Savage) after climbing out from underneath his bed in his new home in Chicago. Capitalizing on the enormous popularity of Fred Savage (who was then appearing in The Wonder Years), the film also features Daniel Stern, who provided the voice-over in that show, as well as Fred’s real-life little brother, Ben (of Boy Meets World).

 

Number Three – The Gremlins

thumbnail_gizmo

 

Gremlins, as they came to be known in Steven Spielberg’s 1984 film, were loosely based on Roald Dahl’s (Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) very first children’s picture book, which was about mythical, mischievous creatures fond of sabotaging the British Royal Air Force’s aircraft. Howie Mandel (Howie! Again!) provided the voice for Gizmo (above).

Editor’s note: We  hope Lissa learned the importance of following the rules from these little guys. Gizmo may look cute, but watch out if you feed these guys after midnight or get them wet!

 

Number Two – Pennywise the Clown (It)

thumbnail_pennywise

Singlehandedly responsible for ruining clowns for children across multiple generations, Pennywise is quite possibly Stephen King’s scariest creation. Played by Tim Curry in the television mini-series, Pennywise tempts children with balloons and is known for the phrase, “they all float down here!” You may recognize Tim Curry from his lead role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and as the hotel staffer intent on busting Kevin in Home Alone II.

Number One – Beetlejuice

beetlejuice

Even though he refers to himself as “the ghost with the most,” Beetlejuice is more monster than ghost given his shenanigans. An early Tim Burton creation, Beetlejuice was played by Michael Keaton, who did such a great job that Burton insisted he be cast as the title character in Batman (across from the prolific Jack Nicholson as the Joker), which Burton was also directing. Years later, Michael Keaton would be robbed of the Best Actor Oscar for his incredible role in Birdman.

Not only does Lissa know movie trivia backwards and forwards, she knows monster movie rules. That comes in handy when Lissa’s little sister Haylie is kidnapped to the monster homeland of Down Below, and Lissa must use her movie knowledge (and a mysterious board game called Monsterville) as a vital tool to get her back.


MONSTERVILLE: A LISSA BLACK PRODUCTION

9781510707337-frontcover Beware what lurks beneath your bed. . . . It could lead to a monstrous adventure.

Thirteen-year-old Lissa Black is miserable when her parents force her to move from New York City (the perfect home for an aspiring writer/director/actress) to Freeburg, Pennsylvania, nowhere capital of the world. There’s nothing to do there, except play her little sister Haylie’s favorite new game, Monsterville, and hang out with her new neighbor Adam.

But when a walk in the woods lands her face-to-face with a swamp monster hungry for brains and then a Sasquatch that moos, even Lissa can’t call her new home totally boring. With Adam’s help, she catches the culprit behind the drama: a shape-shifting goblin who’s fled from the monster world of Down Below.

And what do you do with a creature that can be literally anything? Make monster movies, of course! Lissa is convinced that Blue will be the secret to her big break.

But when Haylie goes missing on Halloween, Lissa, Adam, and the monster must venture Down Below to stage a rescue—and face the real Monsterville, which is anything but a game.

Monsterville is a fusion of The Boxtrolls, Jumanji, and Candyland, weaving together friendship, family, and monsters into a funny fantasy-horror brimming with heart from a great new middle grade voice.


“What a fun read! The perfect book for the boy scout who wants to be prepared in Monsterville, for the monster who can’t decide what to become, and (of course) for the director who might have to take on a starring role.” —Kelly Jones, author of Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

“An absolute delight. Full of humor with a fresh voice, and just plain fun to read.” —Penny Warner, two-time award-winning author of The Code Busters Club series

“Chutes and Ladders with monsters—and an aspiring filmmaker determined to capture them all. Sarah Reida’s Monsterville is creepy good fun! —Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, Mark Twain Award finalist for Ordinary Magic

“This book is the best fun, overflowing with humor and fabulous in its overturning of many movie cliches. While adults are chuckling at the jokes, kids will love puzzling over the chain of clues that lead Monsterville’s lovable heroes through the world of Down Below.” —Claire Fayers, author of Voyage to Magic North


sarah-edited Sarah Schauerte Reida is a writer, lawyer, and ugly animal advocate. Growing up in the Midwest (Illinois, to be precise), she read everything she could get her hands on, as well as watched many, many movies during her parents’ “camping” trips involving electricity and s’mores in a microwave. A member of The Sweet Sixteens, Sarah’s debut middle grade novel, “Monstervile: A Lissa Black Production,” is her first novel.
A graduate of Saint Louis University (B.A). and Case Western Reserve University School of Law (J.D.), Sarah makes a living helping veteran business owners compete for federal contracts. She and her husband Scott live in the Atlanta area with their dog and four cats. By the time this biography reaches print, they will probably have acquired another animal.

For fun movie trivia and resources for teachers and young film-makers, visit Sarah S. Reida’s website at www.lissablackproductions.com  and follow her on Twitter at @SarahSReida.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Q&A with MONSTERVILLE author Sarah S. Reida

We’re delighted to have Sarah S. Reida, author of Monsterville: A Lissa Black Production joining us today on the blog. We can’t wait for her to share a little more about herself with us!

sarah-edited


stitch hi

1.. Why did you gravitate to the genre that you write in?

I grew up in a pretty rural area, and some of my best memories are of finding new hideouts in our woods, where I’d stay for hours to read. Fuzzy book memories!

Also, when I was in grade school, I connected so much with books. I was moved by them, read the same ones over and over, wanted to know the characters. . . . I write books for middle schoolers because of how much books meant to me when I was that age.

2. What are you reading right now?

Right now I’m reading The Clinet by John Grisham. I’m a lawyer, so it’s fun to read fiction about the legal field and be like, “THAT’S NOT HOW IT GOES DOWN!” Grisham’s pretty good, though. And hey, I like Legally Blonde, and we all know THAT’s not accurate.

3. If you could be a character in any children’s book, who would you be and why?

Hmm. Harry Potter came to mind first, but there’s so much responsibility for poor Harry. Probably Charlie Bucket, after he got the factory. Maybe my decision shouldn’t be based on candy, but when I was growing up, my dad owned a convenience store and we went to candy conventions every year. That was pretty much the best experience a kid could have.

 

candy ya

 

4. Where’s your favorite place to write? (Please include a picture!)

Aw, I don’t have some picturesque place to describe. Usually I hang out on my porch, or I go to Panera Bread Company and fill up on bagels and coffee. There’s also my office, but where’s the fun in that?

5. What’s your favorite classic movie?

I really enjoyed Whatever Happened to Baby Jane with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. They’re both so good in that! That’s one of the rare ones I think could be re-made successfully, though I hope that doesn’t happen because of the risk.

6. If you could have any animal as a pet (current or extinct), what would it be?

I immediately thought “squishy white bunny trained to hug and sleep in bed with me,” but that was followed by the image of what my cat, Wyatt, would do to it. So I’ll go traditional and stick with cats. I’m a writer. We’re cat ladies.

cat computer morning

7. Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Dark chocolate, unless it’s Christmas, and then white peppermint bark.

8.What’s your favorite holiday?

Guess!

Here are some hints: my husband and I were married on Halloween, my debut book is all about Halloween, and my first child is expected around Halloween.

9. What’s your favorite emoji? OR What’s your favorite GIF?

To be honest, I’m not a fan of those, BUT when I was in law school and used IM a lot. I had an IM avatar that looked like a white baby seal with huge eyes that made the cutest expressions. I called him Mopsie.

animals baby snow white seal

(Editor’s Note: Not Mopsie, but terribly cute.)

10. What did you want to grow up to be when you were Lissa’s age?

Oh, I always wanted to be a writer. Always.

 


 

monsterville-9781510707337

Monsterville: A Lissa Black Production

Beware what lurks beneath your bed. . . . It could lead to a monstrous adventure!

Thirteen-year-old Lissa Black is miserable when her parents force her to move from New York City (the perfect home for an aspiring writer/director/actress) to Freeburg, Pennsylvania, nowhere capital of the world. There’s nothing to do there, except play her little sister Haylie’s favorite new game, Monsterville, and hang out with her new neighbor Adam.

But when a walk in the woods lands her face-to-face with a swamp monster hungry for brains and then a Sasquatch that moos, even Lissa can’t call her new home totally boring. With Adam’s help, she catches the culprit behind the drama: a shape-shifting goblin who’s fled from the monster world of Down Below.

And what do you do with a creature that can be literally anything? Make monster movies, of course! Lissa is convinced that Blue will the the secret to her big break.

But when Haylie goes missing on Halloween, Lissa, Adam, and the monster must venture Down Below to stage a rescue—and face the real Monsterville, which is anything but a game.


“The perfect book for the director who might have to take on a starring role.” —Kelly Jones, author of Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

“An absolute delight. Full of humor with a fresh voice, and just plain fun to read.” —Penny Warner, Two-time award-winning author of The Code Busters Club series

“Chutes and Ladders with monsters–and an aspiring filmmaker determined to capture them all. Monsterville is creepy good fun!”—Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, Mark Twain Award finalist for Ordinary Magic

“Overflowing with humor and fabulous in its overturning of many movie clichés. Kids will love puzzling over the chain of clues that lead Monsterville‘s lovable heroes through the world of Down Below.” —Claire Fayers, author of The Voyage to Magical North


Sarah S. Reida loves Halloween, classic movies, and fostering underdog animals. Growing up in the Midwest (Illonois, to be precise), she read everything she could get her hands on and watched many, many movies during her parents’ “camping” trips involving electricity and s’mores in a microwave. By day, she is an attorney and lives with her husband, dog, and four cats with big personalities in Marietta, Georgia. By the time this post goes live, they will probably have acquired another animal. Monsterville is her first novel.

Visit her online at www.lissablackproductions.com or on Twitter at @SarahSReida.


Not Blue and Haylie, but they could be:

boo monsters inc sully

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Which Bella Donna Character Are You?

Which Bella Donna character are you?

cat

1. What’s your favorite color?

A. Black

B. Green

C. Pink

D. Red

 

2. What spell would you most like to be able to do?

A. A memory-erasing spell

B. A spell to turn people into animals

C. A spell to turn everything pink

D. A spell to make yourself the center of attention

 

3. What animal would you want as a pet?

A. Cat

B. Do I have to just pick one?

C. A fluffy white dog with a pink bow

D. A snake

 

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you most want to live?

A. Anywhere my family is

B. Where I can study animals

C. In a big pink house

D. In my own place

 

5. What is your favorite type of cookie?

A. Snickerdoodle

B. Chocolate chip

C. Sugar

D. Oatmeal raisin

 


Mostly A’s: You are Bella Donna! You are a caring individual with a devotion to your pet and your family!

Mostly B’s: You are Sam! You love animals and exploring nature!

Mostly C’s: You are Angela! You love everything pink and you are very loyal to your friends!

Mostly D’s: You are Verity! You have a mischievous side but your ultimate interest lies in doing the right thing


Enter to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Bella Donna Too Many Spells 9781634501552Bella Donna Too Many Spells 97816345015529781634501552-frontcoverBella Donna: Too Many Spells by Ruth Symes, illustrated by Marion Lindsay

Bella Donna seems just like any other student at her school, but she has a secret: she’s really a witch! The other witches who live on Coven Road are having a spell casting contest, and Bella is determined to win. She’s trying to learn as many spells as she can, and that’s no small thing! It’s not easy to complete secret magic training while trying to live a normal-kid life. When strange things start to happen at school and begin to spin out of control, Bella wonders if she can really do it. Maybe there are just too many spells!

This second installment in the sweet, spooky Bella Donna series will captivate young readers. Bella Donna: Too Many Spells is a combination of magic, adventure, and staying true to yourself. Marion Lindsay’s adorably simple spot illustrations bring even more magic to author Ruth Symes’s delightful tale. Fall in love with Bella Donna and her road to witchdom! And be prepared for her next big adventure!

Continue Reading

Quotable Life Advice and TWO Giveaways!

Coming this fall, Sky Pony Press is publishing a lot of wonderful titles. We pulled quotable life advice that we love from a few of them. Check it out below and don’t forget to enter our giveaways below for your chance to win an advanced reader copy of Spin the Sky or Earning My Spots!


Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie

“We need to think about us for a change. We need to be who we want to be.”

Spin the Sky 9781510706866Magnolia Woodson wants nothing more than to get her and her sister, Rose, out of the pitifully small, clamming-obsessed Oregon town that hates them—she just doesn’t know how. Forced to put up with the snide comments and hateful looks the townspeople throw at them, Mags thinks she’s destined to pay for the horrible, awful thing her mom did—and that she’s left her and Rose to deal with—until the day she dies.

But when a nationwide televised dance competition posts tryouts in nearby Portland, Mags’s best friend, George, says they have to go and audition. Not only have they spent the past fourteen years of their lives dancing side-by-side, dreaming of a day just like this, but also it could be Mags’s chance of a lifetime—a chance to win the grand-prize money and get her and Rose out of Summerland, a chance to do the thing she loves most with everyone watching, a chance to show the town that she’s not—and has never been—a “no-good Woodson girl,” like her mother. But will the competition prove too steep? And will Mags be able to retain her friendship with George as they go head-to-head in tryouts? Mags will have to learn that following her dreams may mean changing her life forever.

 

Earning My Spots by Mark Eastburn

“Be strong, be brave, and be smart.”

Earning My Spots 9781510707788Sam and his family are the only werehyenas in their town, and they do their best to keep up their cover in front of the humans while the other more aggressive shifters mock the werehyena family for being weak and passive. But Sam sees no other life for himself, as he believes what he is told: he is inferior to the other shifters.

One night, a pack of shifters raids Sam’s house and takes his family, leaving him all alone. With the help of some new friends, Sam sets off on a journey from Vermont to South America to rescue his family. Along the way, he meets various shifters who aid him on his quest. He even meets a tribe of werehyenas in Louisiana who teach him how powerful his kind actually is and how far his ancestry goes back. From them, Sam learns he has a great destiny to fulfill.

As Sam draws closer to finding his family, he begins to understand how different the world of shifters is that exists outside of his small hometown. Shifters are tired of humans destroying their homes, and they want not only revenge but also to force humans into submission. It becomes clear that Sam is the only one who can stop a war that’s on the brink of erupting.

Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall

“Don’t let anyone hold you back from who you are or what you love.”

Double Exposure 9781510711587Fifteen-year-old Alyx Atlas was raised as a boy, but she knows something others don’t: she’s a girl. Born intersex, Alyx has always questioned her gender identity and struggled to fit in. But it’s after her dad dies—and after she sustains a terrible beating from her classmates—that she decides she can’t live as a boy any longer. She and her mother move from California to Wisconsin to start a new life, and Alyx begins again, this time as a girl.

Alyx quickly earns a spot on the girls’ varsity basketball team, and for the first time in her life she feels like she fits in. But as the team racks up one victory after another and the state championships approach, a jealous teammate sets her sights on Alyx. Hotheaded and fiercely competitive, Pepper Pitmani is sure Alyx is keeping a secret, which Pepper is determined to reveal. If she succeeds, the truth could destroy Alyx’s one shot—not just to take home the trophy with her team but to live as her true self.

Honest, raw, and uplifting, Double Exposure is for every teen who’s longed to be seen, struggled to find the courage to be different, or dared to face adversity head-on.

Science No Fair, Project Droid #1  by Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser, illustrated by Mike Moran

There’s no I in team, but sometimes it’s okay if there’s a droid.

Science No Fair 9781510710184It’s a pretty normal day for Logan Applebaum—until his inventor mother announces that she’s built him a new robot cousin. And Java may be really smart, but he’s also going to be a major handful. No one can know about his secret. This is going to be a long school year.

With the third grade science fair coming up, though, Logan thinks maybe a super computer cousin could come in handy and he’ll finally have a shot at beating the nosey Silverspoon twins who win at everything.

But when Sherry and Jerry steal Java as their partner, and then start suspecting something is up with the new kid, can Logan think fast before this crazy experiment becomes an epic disaster?

 

Monsterville: A Lissa Black Production by Sara S. Reida

“That’s always when the monsters get you. When you think you’re safe.”

Monsterville 9781510707337Beware what lurks beneath your bed. . . . It could lead to a monstrous adventure.

Thirteen-year-old Lissa Black is miserable when her parents force her to move from New York City (the perfect home for an aspiring writer/director/actress) to Freeburg, Pennsylvania, nowhere capital of the world. There’s nothing to do there, except play her little sister Haylie’s favorite new game, Monsterville, and hang out with her new neighbor Adam.

But when a walk in the woods lands her face-to-face with a swamp monster hungry for brains and then a Sasquatch that moos, even Lissa can’t call her new home totally boring. With Adam’s help, she catches the culprit behind the drama: a shape-shifting goblin who’s fled from the monster world of Down Below.

And what do you do with a creature that can be literally anything? Make monster movies, of course! Lissa is convinced that Blue will be the secret to her big break.

But when Haylie goes missing on Halloween, Lissa, Adam, and the monster must venture Down Below to stage a rescue—and face the real Monsterville, which is anything but a game.


 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Continue Reading

A Great Year for the Great Outdoors

Author of A Weird and Wild Beauty, Erin Peabody, shares some information on National Parks. Check it out below!


A Great Year for the Great Outdoors

Heading to one of America’s national parks this summer? If so, in addition to packing a good camera, sunscreen and a pair of sturdy hiking boots, you might want to bring along birthday candles—100 of them to be exact.

That’s because the agency charged with caring for our national parks and other special places, the National Park Service, turns a century old this year. The agency manages many of our country’s most beloved landscapes and vistas: mountains, geysers and canyons from places like Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. The Park Service also oversees sacred historic spaces: the memorials, battlefields, trails of tears and other hallowed landmarks that tell our unique American story.

The “national park idea” has been hailed as one of the United States’ best inventions. Countries from around the world have followed our example, setting aside spectacular scenery and habitat for the benefit of all people.

Yet this grand idea wasn’t forged overnight. Hardly. In fact, the first white Americans, you may be surprised to learn, feared, even hated wild nature (quite unlike the country’s first residents, the Native Americans). It took time—and the efforts of explorers, scientists, philosophers and poets—before everyday people found beauty, adventure and solace in the great outdoors.

Through an act of Congress, the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, was created in 1872—just in the nick of time. Had lawmakers waited any later, the stunning region would have been overrun with poachers and profiteers out to make a quick buck.

For more about the struggle to save Yellowstone, please see my book: A Weird and Wild Beauty: The Story of Yellowstone, the World’s First National Park. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to read them at erinpeabody.com.


A Weird and Wild Beauty by Erin Peabody

9781634502047-frontcoverThe summer of 1871, a team of thirty-two men set out on the first scientific expedition across Yellowstone. Through uncharted territory, some of the day’s most renowned scientists and artists explored, sampled, sketched, and photographed the region’s breathtaking wonders—from its white-capped mountain vistas and thundering falls to its burping mud pots and cauldrons of molten magma. At the end of their adventure, the survey packed up their specimens and boarded trains headed east, determined to convince Congress that the country needed to preserve the land from commercial development. They returned with “stories of wonder hardly short of fairy tales,” to quote the New York Times.

With the support of conservationists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Law Olmsted, and John Muir, the importance of a national park was secured. On March 1, 1872, Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone Park Bill into law. It set aside over two million acres of one-of-a-kind wilderness as “a great national park for the benefit and enjoyment of people.” This important and fascinating book will introduce young adults to the astonishing adventure that led to “the best idea America ever had.” Today over 130 countries have copied the Yellowstone model, and billions of acres of critical habitat and spectacular scenery are being preserved for all of us to enjoy.

This book has a wonderful ecological and historical message for readers ages 12 and up. No book about Yellowstone’s founding has been written for this age group before, yet Yellowstone National Park is a major destination for many families, so many readers will likely have heard of Yellowstone or even have visited there. This is a great book for any school library or for history or science classrooms in middle and high school, where information can be used for research projects.

 

Continue Reading

Swedish Fairy Tales

Swedish Fairy Tales-NEW

Young adult and children’s book authors love to write fairy tale retellings, and the rest of us love to read them. On the Sky Pony list we have Rose Mannering’s Roses and Feathers and David Clawson’s My Fairy Godmother Is a Drag Queen. Everyone knows the stories of Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella, but it’s less common to come across a fairy tale you haven’t read before. Swedish Fairy Tales by John Bauer and illustrated by Holger Lundbergh is a gorgeous collection of fairy tales you won’t recognize at all.

These are stories filled with wicked magicians, troublesome trolls, teasing magpies, and solemn tomtar. In Swedish fairy tales, frogs become beautiful fairy girls, troll girls marry troll princes, kings transform into woodcutters, and little boys go searching for adventure in the forest. They’re stories filled with humor and bits of wisdom and they’re so much fun to read.

This world of wonder and mystery is brought to life by the spellbinding art of one of the greatest illustrators of fairy tales, John Bauer. His big-nosed, good-natured trolls are sure to delight, while his heroes and heroines shine brightly, bringing hope and goodness to dark places.

Check out some of the art below, and then go find your own copy of Swedish Fairy Tales to cozy up with.

page ii

page 27

page 126page 224

page 210

Continue Reading

Learning Magic is as easy as Abracadabra!

AbracadabraSummon your inner Houdini and learn simple magic tricks that will wow your family and friends!

Abracadabra!: Fun Magic Tricks for Kids by daughter and father duo Kristen Kelly and Ken Kelly (and featuring photos by mother Colette) reveals secret magic techniques with step-by-step photographs and demonstrate how you can perform tricks that look impossible but are, in fact, very simple to master! You’ll also learn one of the most important secrets about becoming a magician—how to use your confidence, personality, and presentation skills to enchant and amaze your friends and family.

With Abracadabra!, you’ll see that you don’t have to be an adult to perform magic!


This fun and informative book is filled with great tricks, including Kristen and Ken’s favorite: The Magic Vanishing Milk Illusion!

The Milk in a Hat magic trick is very funny. In it, the audience will think that you are learning your very first magic trick from an instruction card, so this is a great one to start off your magic show!

Effect (What the Audience Sees):magic trick
You tell the audience that you are about to learn a new trick for the very first time.

The instructions for the trick are printed on a piece of paper. You read them out in a loud voice as you put a plastic cup into a hat. You then notice that the glass is not clean so you remove it from the hat, clean it, but forget to put it back in the hat.

You read the instructions again and tell the audience that you must pour milk into the cup in the hat. The audience can see that the glass is on the table and not in the hat, but you pretend not to notice. This is very funny for the audience because they think you have made a mistake.

You then notice that the glass is not in the hat. Whoops! You look into the hat, pretending that you have made a milky mess inside—this is a great opportunity for you to act as if the whole trick has gone wrong. However, you are a magician, of course! You put the glass back into the hat and wave your magic wand. Abracadabra! In the blink of an eye, the milk appears inside the glass and the hat is dry. Take your bow as the audience goes crazy with applause.


Vanishing Milk TrickAbout the Kellys

Kristen Kelly is an eleven-year-old who has been surrounded by magic all her life. She won her local talent competition, Warrington’s Got Talent, at age six for her magic show. Ken Kelly has been a professional magician for over thirty years, ever since he received his first magic set from his grandmother at age six. He co-runs the blog MagicTricksForKids.org where he shares his passion for magic with other young magicians. Colette Kelly, wife of Ken and mother of Kristen, adds her own magic touch to MagicTricksForKids.org with her photographs, videos, and graphic design. They all live in Warrington, England.

To learn more about Abracadabra!, head over to Kristen and Ken’s website, and to book them for shows and parties (in the UK), click here!

Continue Reading