Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Episode 20 - John Coy - PCS Reads

Author John Coy visits PCS Reads and shares about Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice and Hope in a New Land.

Visit to listen and for more details about the episode,

Friday, June 23, 2017

Episode 19 - Brian Farrey - PCS Reads

Author Brian Farrey visits PCS Reads and shares about writing and his books including his Minnesota Book Award Winning The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse.

Visit to listen and for more details about the episode,

Monday, June 12, 2017

5 Questions answered about Welcome to Wonderland #2: Beach Party Surf Monkey by Chris Grabenstein

Chris Grabenstein's books, the Mr. Lemoncello's Library series and his many series coauthored with James Patterson like I Funny, Treasure Hunters and House of Robots, are well loved in my library

His latest book is Welcome to Wonderland #2: Beach Party Surf Monkey,
and I have the answers to 5 questions you may (or may not) have.

Published: May 23, 2017

1. Is Welcome to Wonderland #2: Beach Party Surf Monkey part of a a series?

The #2 may have given it away... Welcome to Wonderland #2: Beach Party Surf Monkey is the second book in the Welcome to Wonderland series. Last year Welcome to Wonderland #1: Home Sweet Motel introduced readers to P.T. Wilkie (named after P.T. Barnum) who lives at the Wonderland Motel--"a motel with a lot of wacky decorations and tons of incredible stories but not too many paying customers."

2. What if I read book #2 before reading book #1?

Book #2 is its own outrageously ridiculous story. This time P.T. and his friend Gloria have a plan to convince the Hollywood producers of Beach Party Surf Monkey to film their movie at the Wonderland Motel--a movie featuring teen celebrities and you-tube superstar, Kevin the capuchin monkey. They hope it will cement Wonderland Motel as a tourist destination and keep them from having to sell to their new neighbor Mr. Conch of Conch Reef Resort, the guy who ordered bulldozers to demolish their old neighbors, and the guy who wants to bulldoze Wonderland.

Reading #2 first will probably end up making you want to read book #1... and then you might feel like reading book #2 again, so in a way reading #2 first could maximize your reading time for outrageously ridiculous P.T. Wilkie tales.

3. Is the Welcome to Wonderland series really "outrageously ridiculous"?

Book #1 did just win the 2017 Sid Fleischman Humor Award.

Also it says it's outrageously ridiculous right in the book:

And you can see for yourself and read the first five chapters of Book #2 here:



4.  Is Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray celery flavored soda (a favorite of P.T.'s grandfather) a real thing?

Yes, it really is. 
And someone needs to update the Cel-Ray Wikipedia page to include the Welcome to Wonderland series in the "Cel-Ray was mentioned in" section. 

5. Will there be a book #3?

Yes! Banana Shack Shake Up is coming in January 2018.
This summer readers can enter the "Fun in the Sun Summer Reading Contest" to have a character in book #3 named after them and earn a chance for their school to win a virtual visit.

Have more questions? Ask Chris yourself.

Enter to win a copy of
Welcome to Wonderland #2: Beach Party Surf Monkey

Find Welcome to Wonderland #2: 

Beach Party Surf Monkey 

Thank you to Random House for sending me a copy of this book, and providing a copy to giveaway.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Episode 19 - Erin Downing - PCS Reads

The first episode of the second summer of PCS Reads is here to kick off summer reading!
Author Erin Downing shares about her new book Moon Shadow along with her recommendations for summer reading.

Visit to listen and for more details about the episode,

Monday, June 5, 2017

5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior

5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior is the beginning of an epic quest that unites three kids Oona Lee--a clumsy sand-dancer with a destiny, An Tzu--a musically magical boy from the poorest of slums who is slowly turning invisible, and Jax Amboy--a beloved Starball player with a big secret. Together they embark on a magic adventure connecting 5 worlds.
"One by one the five great beacons went dark and the Gods were gone. And none would ever again light the shining Beacons, save a Warrior of Sand, crowned with living fire..."

This series is destined to have well worn covers and never enough copies in my library. To start the word of mouth among readers in your life, hand 5 Worlds to fans of Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet or Faith Erin Hick's Nameless City.

You may know that I like to watch for 5s in kidlit and always enjoy a good #fivespotting.

So the first book in the 5 Worlds series had me intrigued right from the start with its beautiful swirly 5 on the cover.

While the 5 in 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior may have initially caught my attention, it was the following 5 things that made me a serious 5 Worlds fan:

1. Truly lucious artwork

2. Sand dancing!

3. Controlling plants with music!

4. An epic magical adventure that has already captivated the readers in my life

5. The promise of more in 5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince

Enter to win a copy of 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior

Find 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior on...

Monday, May 29, 2017

5 with Lisa Fiedler--Author of Ages of Oz: A Fiery Friendship

Don't follow the Yellow Brick Road... run along the Road of Red Cobble.
Gabriel Gale's Ages of Oz: A Fiery Friendship takes readers to an Oz before Dorothy on a new action filled adventure featuring a young Glinda.

Today author Lisa Fiedler stopped by to answer my 5 questions.

Welcome, Lisa, thank you so much for visiting LibLaura5!

1. What can you tell us about the Royal Historian of Oz, Gabriel Gale?
Any relation to Dorothy Gale?
Gabe is the creator of Ages of Oz and a true original!  Brilliant, quirky … and wow, what an imagination!  He does claim to be a relative of the famous Dorothy, and you know what? The more I get to know him, the more I believe it true!  He’s made some other, shall we say … fantastic … claims about his knowledge of the Land of Oz, but those who are familiar with Baum will know that when he was writing his books, he said that he received information for his stories directly from Oz by communicating with Dorothy over ‘the wireless.’   So as far as I’m concerned, anything is possible.  Rest assured that all of Gabe’s fanciful truths will be revealed in time as the Ages of Oz series goes on!  

2. Bringing Oz back to readers in a new series seems like a tricky endeavor. What was the hardest part?

The hardest but also the most rewarding part was staying true to the original canon of work.  L. Frank Baum set the bar awfully high and we wanted to honor that.  For example, we tried to include lots of clever wordplay, just as he did, and we gave our characters funny but meaningful names that reflected their personalities.  We’re hoping our readers will pick up on those, so keep an eye out for them.  And even though we are writing for young readers, we followed his example and didn’t shy away from powerful themes.  We took very few liberties with the material—our rule of thumb was that we could add, embellish and extrapolate but not flat-out change or alter, and our contributions all have some basis or precedent in Baum’s body of work or in his life. Oz has entertained us all in so many different iterations, and all of them have had such a wonderful (pun intended) impact.  We challenged ourselves to create something that we hope will be worthy of that tradition.

3. Glinda… goes from being a girl who follows the rules to being the girl who will one day make the rules.
One of the things that mattered most to me and Gabe was to portray Glinda as the younger version of the character Baum intended her to be—the most powerful sorceress in all of Oz.  To us that translated into two words:  GIRL POWER. We chose to introduce Glinda at the moment—on that precipice—when she realizes she can face anything.  Symbolically, it’s when she discovers her magic and combines it with her intelligence.  But readers will make the connection between the power of the magic and the power of Glinda learning to think for herself.  After all, that’s where success begins.

4. Do you believe in magic?

Absolutely!  A thousand times yes!  It has many different names—luck, talent, coincidence, friendship—but it’s definitely out there.  I find a little every day!

5. Sharing the books we love is a way we share about ourselves and connect with each other. What is one book that has been important in your life?

 When I was in third grade I read HARRIET THE SPY and life as I knew it was never the same!  Harriet was a WRITER!!  And I was a writer (even back then).  I didn’t live in a big exciting city like she did, but I totally understood her need to observe the world and comment on it in her own way.  She was funny, she faced heartache, and she was brave (something I never was … so she became my role model for having guts).  Here’s what I learned from Harriet M. Welsch:  WRITERS TAKE CHANCES.  Best advice I every got!  I actually go back to that book and flip through it every now and then.  I still laugh out loud!  And I still consider Harriet a friend.

Thanks, Lisa!

Find Ages of OZ: A Fiery Friendship on...

Monday, May 15, 2017

5 with Laurel Snyder--Author of Orphan Island

"Nine on an island, orphans all, any more, the sky might fall."

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder pulled me in from the very first page. It begins with the ringing of a bell, and we learn that Jinny's life on the perfect island with the other 8 orphans is a about to change. The small green boat with a new orphan has arrived again. Every arrival on the island also means a departure--the Elder orphan, Jinny's best friend Deen, must leave. Now Jinny is the Elder with the newest, youngest arrival "her Care."

Orphan Island has a beauty in the language that begs you to linger paired with a story that compels you to race ahead. Since finishing I find my mind wandering back to the magic of the island. This is a book to treasure and share with many readers.

Today Author Laurel Snyder stopped by to answer my 5 questions.

On Sale: May 30, 2017

Welcome, Laurel, thank you so much for visiting LibLaura5!

1. Orphan Island is a very special book for readers. I understand it was a special book for you to write as well. What made writing Orphan Island unique?

Oh, thank you!

When I started writing poems and stories, I was 8 years old, and I wrote because I wanted to get the words and ideas. It was an entirely creative project. As I got older, and writing became my job, something in the process changed for me. It was still creative, but writing also began to feel like producing. Wordcounts and deadlines.

I knew that I wanted to get back to my 8 year old writer-self, and when I started Orphan Island, that was the goal. I sat down with a pencil and a yellow legal pad, and promised myself I wouldn’t think about writing a book I could sell, or pleasing an editor, or getting good reviews. It had to be personal. A book I needed to get OUT.

So it felt important to go back to the tools of childhood. To step away from my laptop.  I was actually talking about this with Emily Hughes (who is illustrating another book of mine) yesterday, and she said something about how important the sound of a pencil scratching on the page can be.  That feels true to me. That I wanted to call back the ghost of what it felt like to write when I was a kid. And that tactile sensations like sound or smell are probably helpful in that.

2. The Island… is not a place you can ever revisit.

3. Do you believe in magic?

I do!  

Well, I mean that I believe in the potential for magic. I believe in the potential for anything to happen. I have never seen a unicorn, but I refuse to rule out the possibility of unicorns. It seems to me that science is what we call magic when we figure out a way to explain it.

4. What question have you been asked the most by Orphan Island readers so far?

Oh, everyone keeps asking me what happens next. The book leaves a lot of questions unanswered. It’s interesting how people respond to that ambiguity in different ways.

The book that was really the initial inspiration for Orphan Island was The Little Prince. I remember talking with my kids about it after we finished reading, and they spent hours discussing the ending. Did the prince die? Did he go home? How could he have gotten there? How far was his home?  Was the snake evil? That book drove them nuts, but it also inspired so many great conversations.

5. Sharing the books we love is a way we share about ourselves and connect with each other. What is one book that has been important in your life?

One of my favorite all-time books is Dicey’s Song, by Cynthia Voigt. I think about it more and more, as the years go by. It’s so sophisticated, emotionally. And yet the book feels simple.

It’s really just about this girl living her daily life. The sophistication comes from allowing all aspects of that life into the book. It isn’t ABOUT boys, but there’s a boy. It isn’t ABOUT responsibility or family loyalty or anger or poverty or abandonment or social unease, but all that stuff is in there. The book trembles and bristles, the way I remember trembling and bristling in those years.

I’m very focused right now on the need for more good upper middle grade. I could spend an hour talking about it, but I feel like it’s a gap we need to fill. Dicey’s Song is one of my models for what upper middle grade can be.

Thanks again for visiting LibLaura5!
Thanks for having me!

Orphan Island Teaching Guide

Visit Laurel Snyder's Website:

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May 20: Book Monsters