Author and Illustrator, Patricia Keeler Takes On the Sky Pony Q & A

We’re excited for Spring weather and gearing up for the release of some amazing Spring books! To celebrate our excitement, we’re going to be featuring a month of Patricia Keeler! Stay tuned for some giveaways at the end!


 

Lizzie and Lou Seal is a beach mystery for the youngest kids. Lizzie races with her blow-up toy, Lou Seal, out of her beach trailer, across the boardwalk and down to the ocean. But Lou Seal is loosing her puff! A sharp-eyed reader will discover why! When will Lizzie notice? And can Lizzie fix Lou Seal?

Lizzie and Lou Seal will be on sale on April 4, 2017.

Questions for Patricia Keeler, Author and Illustrator of Lizzie and Lou Seal

 

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

I do picture books because the creation of new story ideas often makes me laugh. It’s just fun to write and draw stories that have blow-up seals for pets, bicycle wheels made of flowers, and rabbits in harlequin pants who carry umbrellas. Getting a story published is a wonderful way to share the joy!

 

Q:  Is it difficult to balance being both an author and illustrator?

Being an author/illustrator is a demanding job, so luckily I’m very good at keeping things under control.

Q:  What are you reading right now?

I’m loving the rhyming story of Leonard’s Beard by Nancy Cote and the button hoarding raccoon in Dewey Bob by J. Byron Schachner. And I want to be as adventurous as the Cinderella character who accidently leaves her pogo stick behind (that the prince finds) in the LOL book The Daring Prince Dashing written by Marilou T. Reeder and illustrated by Karl West.

 

Q:  What is your favorite place to create books?

I do my best work in my studio in Hoboken, New Jersey, in the middle of the night, in my pajamas. With jelly doughnuts.

 

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

When researching a picture book about African dance and culture, I came across an opaki. With the ears of a chihauhua, the body of a horse, and the legs of a zebra, this charming animal is actually in the camel family. An opaki can be found in the wild in the forests of the Congo.

It might be a squeeze to have an opaki in my tiny apartment, but there’s a story in the zeitgeist yet to be created about a magical African opaki!

Q:  What’s your favorite GIF?

Lizzie and Lou Seal wait, waiting for their new book!

 

Q:  Milk, dark or white chocolate?

Oh, no! Must I pick one? I love each one of their unique attributes!

 

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

My favorite book was the strange and wonderful Three Little Horses by Piet Worm. The main character, Peter, dressed up the three horses and took them to meet the queen. I wanted to grow up to ride horses or meet the queen, or both.


Let us know what was your favorite book as a child!

Leave the title and tell us why you loved it in the comment section below.

One entry will be chosen to receive Lizzie’s Favorite Flip Flop earrings!

And that’s not all!

Everyone leaving a comment in the month of March will have a chance to

win the grand prize of a manuscript critique

by Kylie Brien, Assistant Editor at Sky Pony Press!

Next Week:  The Making of Lizzie and Lou Seal

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ALA Mid-Winter Preview Post

Sky Pony is very excited that we’ll be attending ALA Mid-Winter this year. Here’s all the information you need to know about booth number, panels, signings, and giveaways.

For more on the books, look below the schedule.

Stop by the booth and say hi!  We can’t wait to see you!

ALA Mid-Winter

Friday, January 20 – Sunday January, 23

Booth #1944

Friday, January 20

6:00-7:00pm GIVEAWAY: The Ender Eye Prophecy by Cara J. Stevens, art by David Norgren and Elias Norgren (Middle Grade)

6:00-7:00pm GIVEAWAY: Gorillas in Our Midst by Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones (Picture Book)

Saturday, January 21

ALL DAY GIVEAWAY: Touch the Earth Mini Poster

10:00-11:00am GIVEAWAY: Rock Away Granny by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Mike DeSantis (Picture Book)

2:00-3:00pm AUTHOR SIGNING: Sarah Reida, Monsterville: A Lissa Black Production (Middle Grade)

4:00-5:00pm GIVEAWAY: Project Droid #2: Soccer Shocker! by Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser, illustrated by Mike Moran (Chapter Book)

4:00-5:00pm GIVEAWAY: Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella by Cerrie Burnell, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson (Chapter Book)

Sunday, January 22

10:00-11:00am AUTHOR SIGNING: Melissa E. Hurst, The Edge of Forever (YA)

12:00-12:50pm PANEL: “YA Gets Real: Character Driven Contemporary Fiction” at the Pop Top Stage – J.C. Davis, author of Cheesus Was Here (YA)

2:00-3:00pm AUTHOR SINGNING: J.C. Davis, Cheesus Was Here (YA)

4:00-5:00pm GIVEAWAY: That Burning Summer by Lydia Syson (YA)

4:00-5:00pm GIVEAWAY: Abigale Hale by Lauren A. Forry (Adult)

Monday, January 23

10:00-11:00am GIVEAWAY: Secrets of an Overworld Survivor Book #1: Lost in the Jungle by Greyson Mann, illustrated by Grace Sanford (Chapter Book)


Throughout the weekend we will be raffling off a

SPECIAL EDITION LIMITED giclee print from TOUCH THE EARTH.

You must be an attendee at the show to win. Stop by our booth for a chance to win! 

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The Ender Eye Phrophecy by Cara J. Stevens, art by David Norgren and Elias Norgren

This advenEnder Eye Prophecy 9781510714830ture series is created especially for readers who love the fight of good vs. evil, magical academies like Hogwarts in the Harry Potter saga, and games like Minecraft, Terraria, and Pokemon GO!

Peace has finally been restored in Xenos, but Phoenix longs to return home to her family of miners. Sheltered by the monks who guard the border world, she spends her days searching for clues about her real identity.

Just when Phoenix is losing hope that she’ll ever discover the truth, two miner ambassadors arrive at the monastery, looking for a girl from their ancient legends who is said to wear an enchanted Ender eye necklace and is destined to save their village. Could that girl be Phoenix?

Determined to follow every clue that could set her free, Phoenix decides to join them on their quest to restore peace to their land. But along the way, zombie pirates attack, capturing Phoenix and taking her to the Nether. Now it’s up to Xander to convince the villagers and miners to put aside their differences and come to Phoenix’s rescue. The fate of their world depends on it.

Fans of Minecraft will be on the edge of their seats in this thrilling follow-up to Quest for the Golden Apple and Revenge of the Zombie Monks!

 

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Gorillas in Our Midst by Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones

Gorillas can be hard to spot, because they are masters of disguise and really good at hiding. Gorillas often have jobs where they get to wear masks—that’s why so many gorillas are surgeons, astronauts, scuba divers, and ninjas. There are adult gorillas and kid gorillas. There are even gorillas that go to school with you. You may think you’ve seen a gorilla swinging by before, but it’s much more likely that he was an orangutan—orangutans are terrible at hiding. You will know when there are lots of gorillas living in your midst because the grocery stores will be entirely out of bananas. In fact, you should always carry a banana with you, because you never know when there might be a gorilla around.

Gorillas in Our Midst is all silliness and fun, and is destined to become a new favorite. Comic artist Richard Fairgray’s illustrations are filled with wonderful details for kids to discover with each read. Kids will love spotting the gorillas on each page and are sure to laugh out loud at the gorillas’ many disguises. And, of course, a story like this can’t end without a surprising twist!


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Touch the Earth by Julian Lennon and Bart Davis, illustrated by Smiljana Coh

Jump aboard the White Feather Flier, a magical plane that can go wherever you want. Just press a button printed on the page, and point the plane up in the air to fly, or down to land it.

The Flier’s mission is to transport readers around the world, to engage them in helping to save the environment, and to teach one and all to love our planet.

Fly to the top of a mountain. Send clean water to thirsty people. Dive deep into the ocean (the Flier turns into a submarine!) to pick up pollution and bring back the fish.

Explore the planet, meet new people, and help make the world a better place.
An inspiring, lyrical story, rooted in Lennon’s life and work, with beautiful illustrations that bring the faraway world closer to young children.

The book includes words to a special poem written by Julian Lennon, specifically for Touch the Earth.

Touch The Earth is the first book in a planned trilogy.

A portion of the proceeds from books sales will go to support the environmental and humanitarian efforts of the White Feather Foundation.


 

Rock Away Granny by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Mike DeSantisRock Away Granny Cover (2)

Getting dropped off at Grandma’s house could be a total snooze. Hours of sitting in the rocking chairs. But not this Grandma. Up she hops to wheel out the record player. And then, with kitty as the DJ—a dance party! The twist, the swing, the Monster Mash—they rock, rock, rock, at Granny’s house tonight.

Then right as Mom returns, everyone crashes out in the rocking chairs. Just another boring night at Grandma’s (Mom thinks). Wink!

Includes pictures of easy to follow dance steps like the side pass, cuddle, and underarm turn.

 


monsterville-9781510707337Monsterville: A Lissa Black Production by Sarah S. Reida

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.

 


Soccer Shocker 9781510710191

Project Droid #2: Soccer Shocker! by Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser, illustrated by Mike Moran

When Mom tells Logan that Java is joining his soccer team, the Purple Wombats, he’s not thrilled. It’s a lot of work teaching his new robot cousin how to act like a human—and keeping him out of trouble—and Logan needs a break.

Still, being programmed for success means that Java’s also great at scoring. He might just turn the Wombats into a championship team, beating Sherry and Jerry Silverspoon and their Red Polar Bears . . . if he’d just let the other kids play, too. After being replaced as the Wombats’ MVP, Logan’s had enough.

But when Java gets wet and goes on the fritz, can the whole team—even a short-circuiting Java—come together to score the winning goal?

The second in a fantastically funny new chapter book series by internationally bestselling author Nancy Krulik and her daughter, Amanda Burwasser, Soccer Shocker is destined to win tons of fans.


Harper and the Scarlet UmbrellaHarper and the Scarlet Umbrella by Cerrie Burnell, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson

Once there was a girl named Harper who had a rare musical gift. She heard songs on the wind, rhythms on the rain, and hope in the beat of a butterfly’s wing.

Harper lives in the City of Clouds, an enchanting place where it rains every day and an umbrella is always a good idea. With her Aunt Sassy, her beloved cat, Midnight, and all of her neighbors in the Tall Apartment Block, every day is full of possibility.

But when every cat in the city goes missing—including Midnight—Harper is determined to find all of the precious pets. And she’ll need a magic, flying umbrella to help in her search. Recruiting friends from her building to help, the magic umbrella whisks them into the sky on the trail of the cats and adventure.

They stumble on the Midnight Orchestra—tabbies on triangle, Siamese singing, Persians on piccolo—all under the direction of its fearsome, wild conductor. But can the group use their talents, quick thinking, musical skill, and a little magic to stage a rescue like no other?

Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella is a spellbinding tale of friendship, music, and magic featuring a diverse cast, brought to life through stunning illustrations. A perfect book to be shared and treasured.


The Edge of Forever by Melissa E. HurstEdge of Forever 9781632204240

In 2013, sixteen-year-old Alora is having blackouts. Each time she wakes up in a different place with no idea how she got there. The one thing she is certain of? Someone is following her.

In 2146, seventeen-year-old Bridger is one of a small number of people born with the ability to travel to the past. While on a routine school time trip, he sees the last person he expected—his dead father. The strangest part is that, according to the Department of Temporal Affairs, his father was never assigned to be in that time. Bridger’s even more stunned when he learns that his by-the-book father was there to break the most important rule of time travel—to prevent someone’s murder.

And that someone is named Alora.

Determined to discover why his father wanted to help a “ghost,” Bridger illegally shifts to 2013 and, along with Alora, races to solve the mystery surrounding her past and her connection to his father before the DTA finds him. If he can stop Alora’s death without altering the timeline, maybe he can save his father too.


Cheesus Was Here Cover Cheesus Was Here by J. C. Davis

Sixteen-year-old Delaney Delgado knows miracles aren’t real—if they were, her kid sister wouldn’t be dead. So when the image of baby Jesus appears on a Babybel cheese wheel, she’s not buying the idea that God’s got a dairy obsession. Soon, religious signs begin turning up all over Del’s hometown, tiny Clemency, Texas. Overnight, news vans fill the streets and religious pilgrims start searching for God in the discount aisle of the grocery store.

Hell-bent on proving the so-called miracles are fake, Del convinces her best friend, Gabe, to help her find the truth. While Gabe’s willing to play detective, as a preacher’s son he’s more interested in finding evidence that supports the miracles. But when the whole town becomes caught up in religious fervor and even the late-night talk show hosts have stopped laughing and started to believe, finding the truth might cause more trouble than Del can handle. This novel is neither pro nor anti-religion, and will appeal to fans of contemporary YA novels that explore deep themes with an element of humor. The voice and characters are funny, strong, and full of heart. This is a book for anyone who loved Saved!


That Burning Summer by Lydia SysonThat Burning Summer 9781510711723

It’s July 1940 on the south coast of England. A plane crash-lands in the marsh, and sixteen-year-old Peggy finds its broken pilot—a young Polish airman named Henryk. Afraid and unwilling to return to the fight, Henryk needs a place to hide, and Peggy helps him find his way to a remote, abandoned church.

Meanwhile, Peggy’s eleven-year-old brother Ernest is doing his best to try to understand the war happening around him. He’s reading all the pamphlets—he knows all the rules, he knows exactly what to do in every situation. He’s prepared, but not for Peggy’s hidden pilot.

Told in alternating points of view, this is a beautifully written story about growing up in wartime and finding the difference between following the rules and following your heart.


Abigale Hall FINAL

Abigale Hall by Lauren A. Forry

Amid the terror of the Second World War, seventeen-year-old Eliza and her troubled little sister Rebecca have had their share of tragedy, having lost their mother to the Blitz and their father to suicide. Forced to leave London to work for the mysterious Mr. Brownwell at Abigale Hall, they soon learn that the worst is yet to come. The vicious housekeeper, Mrs. Pollard, seems hell-bent on keeping the ghostly secrets of the house away from the sisters and forbids them from entering the surrounding town—and from the rumors that circulate about Abigale Hall. When Eliza uncovers some blood-splattered books, ominous photographs, and portraits of a mysterious woman, she begins to unravel the mysteries of the house, but with Rebecca falling under Mrs. Pollard’s spell, she must act quickly to save her sister, and herself, from certain doom.

Perfect for readers who hunger for the strange, Abigale Hall is an atmospheric debut novel where the threat of death looms just beyond the edge of every page. Lauren A. Forry has created a historical ghost story where the setting is as alive as the characters who inhabit it and a resonant family drama of trust, loyalty, and salvation.

 


Secrets of an Overworld Survivor #1: Lost in the Jungle by Greyson Mann, illustrated by Grace Sanford

Will has spent his whole life in the shadow of his older brother, Seth. Sure, his brother is a master buildLost in the Jungleer who is known throughout the entire Overworld, but Will knows he could make his own mark in Minecraft if anyone would give him the chance to prove himself. So when Will gets the chance to go on his first solo adventure, he jumps at the opportunity.

Seth urges Will to stay at home where he’ll be safe, or at least take some time to prepare for the journey, but Will knows he has the courage and strength to face whatever strange biomes or hostile mobs the Overworld has in store for him.

Will’s quest gets off to a great start when he meets Mina, a fellow adventurer, and they decide to look for excitement together. But when the two get separated and night starts to fall, Will realizes he is lost. With spiders and creepers spawning all around him and no shelter in sight, can Will survive the night all on his own?

Beginning readers—and gamers—will be on the edge of their seats in this thrilling first installment in the Secrets of an Overworld Survivor chapter book series!

 

 

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Your Black Friday Book Shopping Guide

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Need some help? We’ve got you covered for the book lovers in your life! Check out our suggestions below!


Best book for werewolf fans: Earning My Spots by Mark Eastburn

Summary: Sam and his family are the only werehyenas in their town, and he’s often told that he’s inferior to all the other kids of shifters. But as tensions rise between shifters and humans, it becomes clear that Sam is the only one who can stop a war that’s on the brink of erupting.

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Best books for fans of Once Upon A Time: Roses: The Tales Trilogy, Book 1 and Feathers: The Tales Trilogy, Book 2 by Rose Mannering

Roses Summary: Her silvery appearance is freakish to the numerous inhabitants of Sago, and she is tauntingly named Beauty by those who torment her. After fleeing town in the wake of a violent uprising that sets out to massacre all Magics, she is captured by State officials who threaten to take her back to war-torn Sago. She manages to escape them during a blizzard by running into a deep, enchanted forest, where she meets a great and terrible beast who will bargain for her life. But can Beauty accept Beast?

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Feathers Summary: Outcast from birth for his ability to turn into a swan, Ode was forced to discover how to control his remarkable gift entirely on his own. But even with his gift, he cannot save his family from the oncoming war. The Magical Cleansing is spreading across the realm, and strangers arrive from foreign lands bringing with them bloodshed and fear. With the help of his gift, Ode flees to a distant island where answers, Magic, and a girl with golden hair await him.
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Best book for Shakespeare lovers and theater kids: The Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Summary: Cass is so excited for her leading role in The Taming of the Shrew at the summer apprentice program of a Shakespeare theater company. But her co-lead in the play, Drew, is a total troll—and Cass’s bunkmate has a huge crush on him. So Cass decides to “tame” Drew and give him a personality makeover. What could possibly go wrong?

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Best book for anyone who feels like an outsider: A Blind Guide to Normal by Beth Vrabel

Summary: Ryder has limited vision and a prosthetic eye. His wit and popular made him popular at the school for the blind, but this year for eighth grade he’s going to the mainstream middle school—and fitting in is not as easy as he thought it would be. Can Ryder find his way to a new—and possibly even better— “normal”?

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Best book for someone who needs more time in her day: Timekeeper by Tara Sim

In an alternate Victorian London where clock towers control the flow of time and a broken clock can stop time completely, a young clock mechanic races to save his father who is trapped in a Stopped town, and to prevent attacks that could cripple all of England.

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Best books for young readers who wish they had a robot to do their chores: Project Droid #1: Science No Fair! and Project Droid #2: Soccer Shocker! by Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser, illustrated by Mike Moran

Logan’s always wanted a kid brother, but when his inventor mom builds him a robot cousin, he realizes he’s gotten a lot more than he bargained for. Java is very literal-minded, and keeping his true identity a secret is going to be loads of trouble.

Science No Fair 9781510710184Soccer Shocker 9781510710191

Best book for a fan of science fiction: Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

For fans of The Girl of Fire and Thorns comes a story of betrayal, love, and loss—all on a technologically advanced alien planet where monarchy reigns, but lies rule.

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Best book for the dancer: Spin the Sky by Jill Mackenzie

Summary: Magnolia 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. When a nationwide televised dance competition posts tryouts in nearby Portland, Mags’s best friend, George, says they have to go and audition. This could be Mags’s chance of a lifetime—a chance to get her and Rose out of Summerland. But will the competition prove too steep? Mags will have to learn that following her dreams may mean changing her life forever.

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Best book for the video game addict: It’s a tie! Invasion of the Overworld by Mark Cheverton or Catching the Jigglypuff Thief by Alex Polan
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Best book for the teen who’s always prepared: Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca
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Best book for the varsity star: Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall

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Books We’re Thankful For

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Sky Pony team members are big fans of books. We love to read and we each have a memorable book in our lives that inspired us. Check out the books we’re thankful for below!


Alison Weiss, Editor

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

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I’m thankful for Shannon Hale’s Goose Girl. If I had to point to one book that jumpstarted me into a career as a children’s book editor, it has to be this one. When I was in college, I had time between classes, but not necessarily enough that it made sense for me to go back to the dorms. I spent a lot of time at the bookstore. (I’d expect that’s true of a lot of people in publishing!) But though I would browse the literature section—I spent a lot of time catching up on my classics, too—one day freshman year, I found myself wandering into the very bright and inviting children’s section. At first, I just took in the books I had read as a kid, the new books from authors who I had loved at ten and eleven and twelve. And then I saw the Goose Girl cover. I loved that cover. I spent weeks going back to the children’s section and that beautiful illustration would inevitably catch my eye. And then, one day, I bought it. And I read it. And then I ran to the bookstore and bought every other book they had by Shannon Hale. And then I started buying other middle grade and YA, too. And signing up for courses like Children’s Fantasy—where I revisited old friends like Michael Bond’s Paddington and A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and made new friends like Alan Garner’s Owl Service and Frances Hardinge’s Fly by Night. And I started writing papers in my English literature classes on topics like the loss of innocence through the window of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and representations of American children in Paris in literature. And then, one day, I was looking for something to do for a summer and read a testimonial for someone who had an internship at Delacorte Books for Young Readers, and I applied, and got a job, and the rest is history. I still pick up every Shannon Hale book I can get. But Goose Girl will probably forever be my favorite.

Becky Herrick, Editor

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

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I’m thankful for A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, which was one of my favorite books when I was growing up. I had an old used copy with a weird and ominous cover that my science fiction-loving dad had bought from a library sale and given to me. Because it looked so weird, it took me a while to actually want to read it for the first time, but one rainy day I was finally bored enough to try it. It was like nothing I’d read before, and the afternoon fell away as I got lost in the strange, faraway worlds and transformative experiences of Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace. After that, A Wrinkle in Time became my go-to book for when I was having a bad day—when I was sick in bed or just really upset. Even now I still have my battered copy on my bookshelf, and I return to it when I want to escape.

Cheryl Lew, Publicist

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

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This may be a bit cliché, but the book that I am most thankful for is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. While I had read books for school before (and picture books and chapter books when I was younger to improve my reading skills), Harry Potter was the first series that I read purely for enjoyment. I was definitely more of a Saturday morning cartoon kind of kid (which unfortunately—fortunately?—is still true, even in my old age).

But the second I picked up this first Harry Potter book, I knew it was unlike anything I had ever read before. Rowling’s incredible world building, the relatable characters, and the fact that I was the exact same age as Harry and the gang when the first book came out made it very easy to picture what my life would be like had I grown up in this world. Aging with the characters I loved over the course of 9 years made this series a huge part of my childhood, and one of my favorite series of all time. Every few years or so, I’ll re-read the series in its entirety, and while still incredibly enjoyable, I’ll always be jealous of my 10 to nearly 20-year-old selves for being able to read these books and discover this world for the very first time.

 

Kat Enright, Editorial Assistant

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

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So I’m going to pull the biggest cliché of girls my age and cite the Harry Potter series as the single most influential book series of my childhood. I was in elementary school when the books were first published in the US, and though I had always been a voracious reader Harry Potter captivated me in a way no other book did, and it’s stuck with me because I was lucky enough to grow up with Harry and his friends. As I’ve grown older and the world has changed around me, I’ve found that these books are even more relevant. Against a backdrop of whimsy and wonder, J.K. Rowling told a tale of finding an inclusive community, of fighting for the good in the world, and learning that part of growing up is learning to choose between what is right and what is easy.

And this Thanksgiving, more than any before, I am thankful that I grew up knowing what power hope and love held.

via GIPHY

 

Kylie Brien, Assistant Editor

Margaret Peterson Haddix

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I’m thankful for Margaret Peterson Haddix and all of the amazing books she’s written. I remember sitting in a circle and reading Among the Hidden with my sixth grade class . . . sneakily reading ahead because I was so captivated by the story. Of course, at eleven, I didn’t understand the complexities of the world that the characters lived in. I was compelled to keep turning the pages because of her fleshed out characters and gripping storyline that ultimately came down to life and death. I read every book available in the Shadow Children series and then started working on all of Margaret Peterson Haddix’s other books. I moved on to Running Out of Time, Just Ella, Escape From Memory, and Turnabout. I fell in love with all of her books and they helped shape me as a reader, a writer, and editor, and even as a person.

via GIPHY

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Behind the scenes of Leonard’s Beard with Nancy Cote

We’re so excited to welcome author and illustrator Nancy Cote to talk about her new book, Leonard’s Beard, and the real-life inspiration for the character of Leonard.


real-leonard

As a creator of children’s books, I find inspiration everywhere, especially through the people and places that I am most familiar with.

My newest book, Leonard’s Beard, is a perfect example of how a writer taps into their familiar surroundings, and with an open mind, lots of imagination and a heightened sense of exaggeration, a story with universal appeal emerges.

The idea for my newest book, Leonard’s Beard, began on a windy day in the fall. Leaves were falling from the trees in my yard, and I jokingly remarked that there was no need to rake them, since they would all end up in my neighbor’s yard at the bottom of the hill. Suddenly, I envisioned my neighbor Leonard, who wore a large unruly beard, standing in his yard with leaves and debris trapped in his beard. My imagination took hold as I visualized not only leaves, but objects of all kinds, landing in that big red beard.

The story written in rhyme, blew into my thoughts as organically as the wind blew into my studio on that fall afternoon, and I was hooked.

My neighbor Leonard was a professional writer. He worked in a little studio behind his house, which was located at the bottom of a steep hill along the Taunton River in Somerset, MA. He was a free thinker and gentle soul who lived by his own standards.

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Because he looked a bit eccentric, he was somewhat misunderstood, and other than his family, Leonard never appeared to have many friends. We both enjoyed talking and sharing our appreciation for nature and animals and he was fascinated by my work in children’s books.

I had the opportunity to tell Leonard about the story I had in mind featuring him, and he was humbly honored. He invited me to visit his studio, which overhung the river, and gave me permission to take photos. It was during that visit that the story came together for me, but before I had finished the manuscript, Leonard unfortunately passed away during open heart surgery. From that moment on, I was determined that this story would be the best I could write and be published as a tribute not only to Leonard, but to freelancers and those of us, who sometimes find ourselves isolated due to life’s distractions.

In the story, Leonard is a happy and successful writer who is passionate about everything in life. He begins to isolate himself so that he can write more, but instead, he discovers that he no longer has anything to write about.

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As he becomes distressed over his situation, he doesn’t notice a storm that is brewing. When the wind blows down his door, it carries with it an array of outrageous objects from a can of peas to a wonderful cello which all land in Leonard’s beard.

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As he untangles the mess, the preposterous objects he removes all serve to help him to rediscover what’s really important.

Although the story was inspired by my neighbor, it is a story about the dangers that accomplishment and complacency can have on the creative process.
Simply put, we all need to find something to be passionate about, and never allow ourselves to lose perspective.

Writing and illustrating children’s books is a perfect outlet to deliver profound concepts in a simple way through joyful language and pictures.now-he-makes-time

It doesn’t have to take a wind storm to remind you to be yourself, but sometimes it helps!

 


Leonard’s Beard by Nancy Cote

Leonard is a writer with many stories to tell. In his house on a hill, with his dogs and his frog, he writes stories of adventures and excitement. He is so consumed with his stories, though, that he loses touch with all of his friends and feels very lonely.

Each day Leonard’s beard grows longer and longer, and more wild and untamed, as he fills up pages and pages of stories. His life becomes dull and much less exciting as he focuses too much on his writing. Leonard is so busy that he doesn’t notice a storm is brewing until the wind shakes the windows, the roof, and the floor and a strong gust knocks off his door. Once the storm passes, Leonard discovers just how out of control his beard has gotten. He finds strange things that have gotten stuck in there, including a mouse, a bird, and some apples. As Leonard removes the items from his beard, he comes to realize that being consumed with writing adventures has prevented him from having his own.

Leonard’s Beard is a story about discovering what is important in life. The rhyming text is perfect for reading aloud, and the illustrations of all of the silly things that wind up in Leonard’s beard will have little ones giggling on each reread!


About Nancy Cotenancy-cote-headshot

Nancy Cote is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator who finds joy in the smallest things. She is the author and illustrator for numerous picture books, including Watch the Cookie!, Watch the Birdie!, and Puddle Jumpers (all published with Sky Pony Press). Nancy lives along a river in the historic village of Somerset, Massachusetts.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

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Fandom Fashion: Spin the Sky

Check out this outfit inspired by the cover of Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie!


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Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie

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.

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Author Chantele Sedgwick takes on the Sky Pony Q&A

Chantele Sedgwick takes on the Sky Pony Q&A! Check out her answers below!


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

I write young adult because I think teenagers are amazing, intelligent, wonderful people. Being a teen is hard. They have so many emotions zipping around their bodies, they’re trying to figure out their place in the world, and they deal with some pretty heavy things. I love first experiences and young adult fiction has helped me put some experiences teens go thorough on paper. I love the stories of first love. The first kiss. Going through trials and growing from them. Relationships with parents, friends, siblings. I love it all.

Q: What are you reading right now?

I just barely started Gemina (Illuminae Files book 2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I absolutely LOVED Illuminae, so I’m hoping the sequel will be just as awesome.

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

Hermione Granger. She’s loyal, brave, smart and can be fierce if messed with. Plus, she’s a witch and can do magic!

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?

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Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

The Sound of Music. Hands down. (I’m a big musical fan.)

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

Cheetah.

Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Milk. Although, I do love white too.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

Christmas. I love being with my family.

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

via GIPHY

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

I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I became a mother and an author instead and I love it.


Love, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick

love-lucas-revised-9781510709928A 2015 Whitney Award Nominee!

A powerful story of loss, second chances, and first love, reminiscent of Sarah Dessen and John Green.

When Oakley Nelson loses her older brother, Lucas, to cancer, she thinks she’ll never recover. Between her parents’ arguing and the battle she’s fighting with depression, she feels nothing inside but a hollow emptiness. When Mom suggests they spend a few months in California with Aunt Jo, Oakley isn’t sure a change of scenery will alter anything, but she’s willing to give it a try.

In California, Oakley discovers a sort of safety and freedom in Aunt Jo’s beach house. Once they’re settled, Mom hands her a notebook full of letters addressed to her—from Lucas. As Oakley reads one each day, she realizes how much he loved her, and each letter challenges her to be better and to continue to enjoy her life. He wants her to move on.

If only it were that easy.

But then a surfer named Carson comes into her life, and Oakley is blindsided. He makes her feel again. As she lets him in, she is surprised by how much she cares for him, and that’s when things get complicated. How can she fall in love and be happy when Lucas never got the chance to do those very same things?

With her brother’s dying words as guidance, Oakley knows she must learn to listen and trust again. But will she have to leave the past behind to find happiness in the future?

Chantele Sedgwick is a young adult author, harpist, wife to one and mom to four. She loves fairy tales, happy endings, Kit Kats, and (judging by her bookshelves) buying way too many books. She lives in Roy, Utah, with her family and can usually be found reading, or talking her husband’s ear off with her endless supply of book ideas.

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Meet the New Pony: Q&A with Editorial Assistant Kat Enright

Kat Enright was born in Middle-of-Nowhere Pennsylvania, and earned her BA in Philosophy (with a minor in Writing) from Gettysburg College. After college, she served for two years as an AmeriCorps VISTA Service Member in Boston, MA, before she moved to New York to start her career in Publishing. Kat always has at least one book on her (and sometimes upwards of ten, if you count all the e-books on her phone), and a notebook to jot down all the creative ideas that pop into her head.

Q: What type of books do you like to work on?

I love working on all types of books, from chapter books up through YA. But most particularly, I’m looking for #OWNVOICES stories that celebrate the diversity of the world we live in, and that don’t shy away from the darker, more serious aspects of the narrative. That said, I still do love adding in a mix of fantastical elements, from high fantasy to magical boarding schools to futuristic science fiction.

Q: What were your favorite books when you were growing up?

When I was young, I read anything I could get my hands on (I practically memorized the backs of cereal boxes at the breakfast table). But the book series that has had the most impact on me is the Harry Potter Series. It opened up a whole new world to me, and I was lucky enough to grow up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

And besides, Hermione Granger will always be my hero.

Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

This is an easy one! I grew up on the original Star Wars movies, and they are still one of my favorite film series. It combined the best elements of science fiction and fantasy, cause c’mon, Jedi are basically just wizards in space!  I also learned everything I know about love from Han and Leia, so based on The Force Awakens, I might be in trouble!

Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Dark chocolate, definitely! Milk will do in a pinch, but there is never any excuse for white chocolate.

Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Wait, who said I was a grown-up?

        

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