Normal Norman

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Title of Book: Normal Norman

Time length to read: 4-6 min

Age recommended: 5 and up

Author: Tara Lazar

Illustrator: S. britt

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books

Best place to purchase: Affiliate link: Amazon (Click word for direct link)

Price: $10.88 (Hardcover)

Hello Everyone!

Today, I bring you a perfectly “normal” picture book. By now…you probably all are like, what is that mean exactly? 😉 Well, keep reading and you’ll find out! Normal Norman, by Tara Lazar, is about a young scientist girl and her mission throughout the book to show how this Gorilla named Norman is normal, and he tries to help her define “normal” throughout the book. The only problem she comes across, is how Norman is not really normal, by what she thinks. She tries to show Norman the normal way he should live his life, however, she soon discovers that the only way Norman can be normal, is to to let him live as his “not normal” self. She learned that we can’t define the world normal to everyone, because normal to one person may not be normal to another.

This book is one word: awesome! In a world today where the definition of “normal” is thrown at everyone, this book really helps show children and even adults that you don’t have to fit in that category of “normal”. That is such an important message to have today in a world where the word “normal” is trying to be depicted everywhere. Everyone’s “normal” is different and it’s a great thing! :) What a great message to have in a picture book.

The illustrations from the book were very well done. The colors throughout the book were really colorful and it depicted every page of the book very well.

So in my opinion? This is one of the best picture books I have seen with a positive message to children and adults. If you are looking for more books like that to add to your collection, this would be a good one.

And today you all get a little bonus! I was able to do an author interview with the illustrator of Normal Norman, S. britt. Check it out below!

Illustrator, S. britt

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Originally from Louisiana, I come from a fairly large family (three sisters, one brother) of self-taught artists and have been doodling ever since I can remember. We moved around A LOT growing up, so I was always the new kid that drew all over everything. I guess some things never change, as I recently relocated from Minneapolis to Athens, Georgia and I’m still drawing on anything that isn’t tied down… and even a few things that still are!

What do you do when you are not illustrating?

I’ve always had a real passion for restoring old automobiles, but lately my interests have switched to riding and repairing vintage British motorcycles. I currently have a 1971 BSA Thunderbolt and I always try to find a way to sneak a motorcycle rider into one of my books. If you look carefully in NORMAL NORMAN you’ll find one!

What inspired you to start illustration?

It’s just something that came very naturally, like walking, talking and reading the telephone book. Like I said, growing up in a house filled with artists, it would’ve been quite rebellious to shun all that and decide to become a CPA… not that there’s anything wrong with it!

Where do you get your ideas?

I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I typically go with the very first silly thought that pops into my head! When reading a manuscript for the first time, it’s relatively easy for me to visualize the entire scene immediately – all the characters, the backgrounds, the colors, etc. I’ve found that if I take my time and try to scribble out other ideas from a different angle or perspective, I’m never as satisfied with them than I was with the initial idea. I dunno if that makes me stubborn, impulsive or simple, but it’s got me this far, so why question it!

What books and or illustrators have most influenced your life most?

There are a lot of amazing children’s book illustrators in the market today and I feel that the entire field is experiencing quite a renaissance, but I still find myself going back to my old childhood favorites. William Steig, Richard Scarry, Roger Bradfield, Ellen Raskin, Ed Emberley, Tomi Ungerer, and so on. However, if I had to pick which book inspired me to pursue a career as a children’s book illustrator, it would have to be Mark Alan Stamaty’s “Small in the Saddle.” I never owned this book as a child, but rather I would continuously check it out at the public library over and over again and just stare at it for hours. Since then I’ve managed to track down my very own copy (an ex-library book in fact!) and I still pull it off the shelf and pore over each and every glorious spread and discover something new each time I look at it. I just hope that some child somewhere has a similar experience with one of my books someday!

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to go into illustration?

Do it because you absolutely love it and can’t think of anything else you were put on this earth to do. It’s not always the easiest way to make a living, but it can definitely be one of the most rewarding in a multitude of ways. Knowing that your artwork has left a positive, lasting impression on someone is a truly wonderful feeling; something that money could never buy.

The Big Book of Hugs: A Barkley the Bear Story

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Title of Book: The Big Book of Hugs: A Barkley the Bear Story

Time length to read: 3-6 min

Age recommended:  6-9 yrs old

Author: Nick Ortner & Alison Taylor

Illustrator: Michelle Polizzi

Publisher: Hay House

Best place to purchase: Affiliate link: Amazon (Click words for direct link)

Price: $9.17 (Kindle) $9.65 (Hardcover)

Loves and Hugs are in the air! Well…ok, maybe they were yesterday because it was Valentines Day! I hope you all had a great one! Since it is only the day after Valentines, I thought it’d still be a good one to share in honor of yesterday. :) The Big Book of Hugs: A Barkley the Bear Story, by Nick Ortner & Alison Taylor, is about a bear named Barkley who learns from his Papa Bear, the importance of hugs and the many ways you can give them. Barkley had just celebrated his birthday and was finally old enough to continue the tradition his family had of giving out hugs.

This book is a really cute book with a lot of positive and important messages in it. Not only does it teach children about the importance of hugging, it shows the many different ways you can give hugs, depending on the scenario. It even shows what you can do when you can tell someone doesn’t want a hug, which is definitely another important thing to know.

The illustrations were excellent in my opinion. It had that watercolor type of approach with very detailed drawings of all the animals in the story, as well as the different hugs they were portraying.

So if you are looking for a positive, uplifting book for your child or just a kid lit lover like yourself, this is one to check out. Hopefully it will have you hugging your friends and family a little more often! :)

Till next time!


Bike on Bear!

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Title of Book: Bike on, Bear!

Time length to read: 4-6 min

Age recommended: 4 and up

Author: Cynthea Liu

Illustrator: Kristyna Litten

Publisher: Aladdin

Best place to purchase: Affiliate link: Amazon (Click word for direct link)

Price: $10.99 (Kindle) $16.29 (Hardcover)

Did you ever have a time where you tried something new and no matter how hard you tried to master it after practicing, it seemed impossible? Well, that is exactly how Bear feels in this book I bring you today. Bike on, Bear! by Cynthia Liu, is about a little bear who starts to learn to ride a bike. After many attempts though, he just can’t seem to get the hang of riding it. So he goes to the library to study more about riding a bike. However, he still has no luck and starts to think he’ll never master it. Then one day at the park, he notices a goat “kid” calling for help, as he is starting to fly away with his kite after some wind picks up. So, bear swings into action and without thinking about it really, hops on a bike to hurry and save the goat kid. Without realizing it, he just rode the bike and finally mastered it. Sometimes when were not concentrating on mastering the new thing we’re trying, is when we truly master it.

This book was really cute and has such a great positive message that can be directed towards children and even adults. There are several children who probably face the same thoughts when learning to ride a bike, and bike on bear will give them the positivity to keep going. It is also said about mastering other things down the road. From learning to drive, or learning a sport, this book will give you encouragement during those frustrating learning moments. I also enjoyed the positivity throughout the book. In the book, bear’s friends always keep encouraging him and telling him he’ll get the hang of it, despite him being frustrated. That is such an important message to kids as well, to show that if you see a friend struggling with something, help lift them up!

The illustrations, done by Kristyna Litten, were very cute and definitely matched the story to the imaginative setting it gives. It’s very colorful and vibrant. It looks like a cute cartoon show you might see on television.

My recommendation? Check out this book! It’s has everything a good picture book can offer :)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Publishing Company, in exchange for a fair, honest review and book spotlight. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When You Give an Imp a Penny

Title of Book: When You Give an Imp a Penny

Time length to read: 5-7 min

Age recommended: 6 and up

Authors: Henry Herz, Josh Herz & Harrison Herz

Illustrator: Abigail Larson

Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company

Best place to purchase: Amazon (Click word for direct link)

Price: $16.99 (Hardcover)

Today I bring you another book from Henry, Josh and Harrison Herz. You may recognize their previous book that we spotlighted, Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes. Today, their newest book is: When You Give an Imp a Penny. This book takes a twist off of the beloved classic, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Once again the Herz’s have done it, giving this twist a mythological type of story with the creature called an Imp. With the Imp’s good intentions, it ends up mostly backfiring and leaving things a mess. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel…perhaps some gold maybe? 😉

I really enjoyed reading this book. It did remind me of their previous book that I reviewed for them, as mentioned above. This is a great book for children and gives a great message not only to children, but parents as well. I think all parents can agree that kids do things sometimes that drive them crazy, and end up leaving things in a big mess. However, sometimes the children do things like that out of trying to do good, like the Imp. This Imp definitely shows parents and children the message of patience and to look at the good though behind the messy action. 😉

The illustrations in this book were really well done. Again, giving the medieval/fairytale look. I really like how that sets these books apart from others.

So if you are looking for a good book to add to your 2016 collection, check it out! Another thing to check out is the Author interview that I was able to do with Henry Herz himself. His interview is below. I hope you all enjoy!


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Henry Herz earned an engineering BS from Cornell University, an engineering MS from George Washington University, and a political science MA from Georgetown University – none of which help him write picture books. Aided by his two sons, Henry authored the picture books MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES and WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY. He’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Henry hosts a blog on KidLit, fantasy, and science fiction at

He has three more picture books scheduled for publication. LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016) is an aquatic retelling of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD, but with a sassy cephalopod protagonist. MABEL & THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, 2016) is a bedtime picture book inspired by Mercutio’s soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet. Little Mabel was an expert at not going to sleep. But Mom had the Queen of Dreams in her quiver of bedtime tales. The Queen paints children’s dreams, so she only visits when their eyes are closed. DINOSAUR PIRATES (Sterling, 2017) is a comical mashup of two kid favorites. A T-rex with a piratey patois!? Cap’n Rex leads his dinosaur pirates in search of booty. As they encounter obstacles in their quest, the apex predator “encourages” his crew to think outside the box. When the treasure is found, Cap’n Rex wants to keep it for himself, but the clever crew turns the tables on him.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I like hanging out with friends and reading… fantasy! For turning off the brain, nothing works better than watching TV. Working in the yard is also very relaxing and gratifying. ‘m thrilled to be moderating a children’s literature panel at WonderCon in Los Angeles on March 26. The panelists will be award-winning authors and illustrators Bruce Hale (CLARK THE SHARK), Jon Klassen (THIS IS NOT MY HAT), Laura Numeroff (IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE), and Dan Santat (THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE: THE UNIMAGINARY FRIEND), and Antoinette Portis (WAIT).

 What inspired you to write your first book?

A few years ago, I wanted to share my love of fantasy with my young sons. They were too little for watching most of the fantasy and sci-fi movie classics, and there are only so many good fantasy books available for that age range. Struck by inspiration one day, I came up with a way to share the joy of entering the magical realms of fantasy. I would write a fantasy book for them.
What I did not anticipate was that my boys would give me feedback on the story. They devised some of the character (Nimpentoad) and creature (Neebel) names, and made plot line suggestions. And who better to help make the story appealing to kids than other kids? So, the goal of interesting my sons in fantasy transformed into also encouraging them to write.
Originally, I only shared the story of NIMPENTOAD with family, for their own enjoyment. My sister-in-law suggested that I consider publication because she felt the story was much better than many of the books she was seeing for her similarly-aged kids. We decided to give it a try, and that launched my writing career.

 How did you come up with the title?

I’m a huge fan of Laura Numeroff’s IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE. Being the fantasy geek that I am, I wanted to do a medieval fantasy homage to Laura’s work.

Where do you get your ideas?

Soak up everything around you. View, listen, sniff, taste, and feel. Watch people (in public, not with a telescope from your house), read books (especially picture books), and watch TV and movies. Take notes. Even the most mundane situations can unexpectedly feed your muse. Combine elements into unlikely (and therefore hilarious) pairs, as in Doreen Cronin’s CLICK CLACK MOO: COWS THAT TYPE. Practice riffing on the things you soak up. I did a classroom reading where this boy had a torn-up sneaker. I thought, picture book title: The Boy With Exploding Sneakers. Let your creativity run free.

 Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

The theme of WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY is: it’s the thought that counts. The imp is really trying to be helpful, even if the results are quite the opposite. I’m a big fan of irony.

What books have most influenced your life most?

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and THE LORD OF THE RINGS made me a lifelong fantasy reader. From there, I became a children’s book writer.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I would direct you to read my animal-based advice at HYPERLINK “” Here’s an excerpt: Be A Dung Beetle: Be tenacious, even on crappy days. Becoming published isn’t easy. But it won’t happen if you stop trying. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a one step. Revise, revise, revise. But remember that perfect can be the enemy of good enough. At some point, you need to submit! Be An Armadillo: You need to be thick-skinned and learn to roll with the punches. Understand that a publisher’s or agent’s rejection isn’t personal, but it is highly subjective. Many great works of literature were rejected repeatedly before being published, so you’re in good company.

 Do you have anything specific to tell your readers?

My latest book is WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY, from Pelican Publishing. Before you lend an imp a penny, there’s something you should know—such a simple act of generosity could set off a side-splitting chain of events! A colorful picture book full of mythology, mischief, and magic, WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY shows us just what happens when an accident-prone—but well-intentioned—imp comes along asking for favors! The same writer/illustrator duo that brought you MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES brings to life a comedy of fabled proportions.
From tracking mud on the floor to setting the broom on fire, this clumsy little imp causes accidents wherever he goes, but he’s determined make things right again. The only thing it will cost his host is a little patience—and maybe a bit of time cleaning up some messes! It won’t be long before this troublemaker has won over the entire family (except for the cat) with his irrepressible charm.
Readers and parents can connect with me via:




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free in an electronic copy, from the author, in exchange for a fair review and book spotlight. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Hola: Let’s Learn Spanish

holaTitle of Book: Hola: Let’s Learn Spanish

Time length to read: 8-10 min

Age recommended: 7 and up

Author: Judy Martialay

Publisher: Polyglotkidz Press

Best place to purchase: Overstock (Click word for direct link)

Price: $14.47 (Hardcover)

So this week, I have brought you all a couple multicultural books, so I thought…what better way to end the week, than to bring you another one! :) Hola: Let’s Learn Spanish, by Judy Martialay, is a beginner book put together for children to start learning Spanish words. In the first part of the book, it starts out with a story based in Mexico and transitions from English to Spanish words. In the rest of the book, it continues to provide pages and a glossary of different words that are translated from Spanish to English, so that children may understand. It also gives a few pages into the culture in Mexico, by talking more about the food and activities that they do.

I thought this book was very creative and is a great beginner book for kids and even adults to begin to learn Spanish. I was a little confused at the beginning of the book where the story is, where it had certain words that transitioned from English to Spanish. For me, it was a little confusing the way it was portrayed throughout the story part of the book. I think maybe if the Spanish words were put in a parentheses, that would have helped with the confusion, but that’s just my opinion. Other than that, I thought this book was very informative and creative. It does a good job of not just introducing simple English words and phrases into Spanish, but also how it tells more about the Mexican culture. It even has a couple pages where it goes into detail about the Mexican masks in the culture and then gives two patterns for masks if children wanted to make one themselves. I thought that was very educational and well thought through.

The illustrations throughout the book were very simple, but good. Children will be able to relate to the drawings and colors that are portrayed.

So if you are looking for a beginner Spanish book, I’d check this one out. This book is not just for children and parents, but I think for teachers as well. This book would be excellent in a classroom setting. :)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author, in exchange for a fair review and book spotlight. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Chocolate Mixer

Title of Book: Chocolate Mixerchocolate mixer

Time length to read: 3-5 min

Age recommended: 6 and up

Author: Jason Armstrong

Illustrator: Vladimir Kirichenko

Publisher: Waldorf Publishing

Best place to purchase: Amazon (Click word for direct link)

Price: $3.99 (Kindle) $9.95 (Paperback) $3.46 (Audible) $19.95 (Hardcover)

New day, new book! And today I bring a book that helps children understand being multiracial, in a great way. Chocolate Mixer, by Jason Armstrong, is a story of a girl learning she is multiracial. The best way I can describe this book was actually a little summary on the back of the book, which I have included.

“While making her favorite snack with her Daddy, little Sofia makes an amazing discovery about herself! Her realization chances the way she sees this colorful world. Filled with wonder and questions, Sofia journeys into a world that isn’t just black or white, but a beautiful rainbow of colors.”

I really enjoyed this book. It kind of brought me to my own ethnicity. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am multiracial as well. My mother is from the Philippines and my father is a Caucasian boy from Idaho. I remember growing up, I did wonder at my young age why I looked different than my cousins, or why I looked a little tanner than my dad. A book like this will help children in the same situation understand what it means to be multiracial, and how cool and special it is. It will also help children that aren’t multiracial understand more about other children and people that are, so there are less questions and more understanding about it. There aren’t very many books out there that address this, so I thought this was a good informative book that children and parents can both enjoy and hopefully be more aware of being multiracial.

The illustrations in the book really fit the story well. Let’s just say without the illustrations, the story wouldn’t of been able to be brought to the life that it has.

So if you are looking for a good book that will help your kids understand more about being multiracial/multicultural, I recommend you check this out with them. I give it a big thumbs up! :)




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author, in exchange for a fair review and book spotlight. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Adventures of AbbeyLoo: AbbeyLoo and Gus the Talking Toad

toadTitle of Book: AbbeyLoo and Gus the Talking Toad

Time length to read: 5-8 minutes

Age recommended: 5 and up

Author: Tammy Cortez

Illustrator: Noemie Gionet Landry

Publisher: Waldorf Publishing

Best place to purchase: Amazon (Click word for direct link)

Price: $6.95 (paperback) $3.99 (kindle) $3.95 (audible)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone is having a good year and enjoying January 2016 so far! I know I am. Today I bring you a book full of imagination, which is the best place to be sometimes! :) AbbeyLoo and Gus the Talking Toad, by Tammy Cortez, is about a little girl who learns that she can communicate with a toad after coming across some magic fairy dust. She gets to see what it’s like to be a toad and even gets the chance to visit the “toad village” in which these toads live. Who knew that the life of a toad was so similar to ours. 😉

I thought this book was cute. It takes on a “dr. dolittle” type of approach by having the girl communicate with this toad. It’s just the type of plot line that you could see in a cartoon show. It challenges every child and brings out their imagination side.

The illustrations, which were done by Noemie Landry, were soft colors, but enough to make the pictures look clay like, which I thought was kind of cool. One page that I felt needed improvement was where AbbeyLoo is sitting around the table at dinner with her family, talking about what she was thinking. However, in that page of illustration, AbbeyLoo and the mom more so had a shocked look on their faces, when nothing shocking had happened. Other than that, the illustrations did depict the story very well.

The only thing that I would change is probably how the story was long enough that it looked more like an early reader chapter book, than a picture book. Maybe it would be good in that form too. In a picture book, I just usually see a few sentences of wording and then the pictures. However, this book had paragraphs on many pages. Nonetheless, the story is adorable. It is very similar to the kind of books I owned as a child.

So if you are looking for a book with a cute story and give your children some imagination, check this one out. It’s a “toad”ally great. 😉



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author in exchange for a fair review and book spotlight. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”