Monday, August 14, 2017

5 with Kathy Strahs author of The Lemonade Stand Cookbook

"Give life a squeeze"

There is truly something special about the idea of a lemonade stand. It is an idea that has ignited excitement and action in kids for decades. The Lemonade Stand Cookbook is a the perfect guidebook including information on finances, advertising, following the law, safety, and of course lots of delicious recipes and creative crafts.

As author Kathy Strahs explains at the start of The Lemonade Stand Cookbook, there may be specific laws in your area to follow about Lemonade Stands. Regardless this collection of simple and enticing recipes with easy to follow instructions for drinks, treats, snacks and crafts stands out as one to share with young makers and bakers.

This cookbook includes pictures, anecdotes and testimonials from a diverse group of girls and boys ages 5-11. Even details like using a range of skin tones in the illustrated images for instruction steps are not overlooked. Young readers are sure to see themselves and find inspiration in The Lemonade Stand Cookbook.

Today author Kathy Strahs stopped by to answer my 5 questions. 

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

1. You have written multiple cookbooks for adults, what drew you to create one for young readers?
My own children, who are 7 and 9, inspired me to write this book. I observed how much fun (and learning) they were experiencing at their lemonade stands with friends from our cul-de-sac.  It was more than just kids selling lemonade. They were collaborating, strategizing, preparing drinks and food, shouting to attract customers. Most importantly, they were having a blast. As a cookbook author, a parent, and an entrepreneur I wanted to help kids everywhere have experiences like this.

2. Lemonade Stands... allow kids to get creative, raise money, and learn important life lessons – all while having a ton of fun.

3. What surprised you during the writing and creating of The Lemonade Stand Cookbook?

I was surprised by just how many lemons it takes to write a cookbook about lemonade stands!

4. I hope readers of The Lemonade Stand Cookbookare inspired to set up their own lemonade stand and experience the satisfaction of becoming a creative entrepreneur. I hope that it helps pave the way for them to confidently pursue their goals – whatever they may be – in the future.

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 books is actually a cooking reference book, called The Flavor Bible. It’s a big, thick book that lists a whole bunch of different ingredients along with the flavors that pair well with them, according to well-known chefs and others with great palates. For example, under “chocolate” it recommends bananas, cinnamon, and mint as excellent complementary flavors. As someone who loves to cook, it’s been an incredible resource when I’m creating new dishes.

Thank you, Kathy!

Visit The Lemonade Stand Cookbook Website:

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Author Kathy Strahs:

KATHY STRAHS is the author and publisher of The Lemonade Stand Cookbook. She founded Burnt Cheese Press in 2015. A former marketer with a Stanford MBA, Kathy entered the food world first as a blogger (Panini HappyCooking On the Side and Sunny Days Good Food) and later as a cookbook author (The 8x8 Cookbook and The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook). The 8x8 Cookbook earned the Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book - Nonfiction at the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Benjamin Franklin Awards in 2016.Kathy has been named one of the top Mom Food Bloggers by several times. She is also a frequent cooking contest judge, including the Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles and the World Food Championships in Las Vegas.Kathy is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), Les Dames d’Escoffier, San Francisco Professional Food Society, IBPA, and Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA). Kathy, her husband Michael, and their two children live in the Silicon Valley.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Episode 22 - Erin Soderberg - PCS Reads

Author Erin Soderberg visits PCS Reads and shares about writing under multiple author names and her Puppy Pirates series

Visit to listen and for more details about the episode, or subscribe to PCS Reads through iTunes/Apple Podcasts.

Monday, July 24, 2017

5 with Fracaswell Hyman author of Mango Delight

"I was feeling something I had never felt before,
a feeling I thing I could call absolute triumph."

Seventh grader Mango Delight enjoys track, Beyonce and hanging with her best friend, Brooklyn. An unexpected win for her on the track team seems to make her best friend jealous. Then Brooklyn gets an expensive new phone, and Mango feels a strange distance growing between them. When Mango accidentally breaks her friend's new phone, she suddenly finds herself the target of Brooklyn's plans for revenge.

Hoping she will embarrass herself, Brooklyn secretly signs Mango up to audition for the school musical--something totally out of Mango's comfort zone. Instead of embarrassing herself, she lands the lead. This puts her on a path to figure out what kinds of friends she really wants in her life, and what kind of friend she wants to be.

Mango Delight is filled with realistic, complex, diverse characters. Readers will be drawn in by the drama of Mango's situation and find themselves rooting for her to be confident in who she is.

Today author Fracaswell Hyman stopped by to answer my 5 questions. 
Be sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of Mango Delight below the interview.

Welcome, Fracaswell Hyman, thank you so much for visiting LibLaura5!

  1. You come from a background of writing, directing and producing both for theater and television. This is your first novel for kids. What brought you to write Mango Delight?

I have a ten year old daughter, and I like to read what she is assigned to read in school, so that we can talk about the books and I can help her become a better reader. Through third, fourth and fifth grades, I noticed two things;
#1 – On average, only one out of four books assigned were about girls. Most of the books assigned were adventure stories about a boy and his dog, his horse, his survival skills or his sports dreams. In my experience writing for children’s television the prevailing “wisdom” was that ‘boys won’t watch what girls watch, but girls will watch what boys watch, therefore write for boys.’  I believe the same philosophy goes for  companies that publish books and has a lot to do with which books are chosen as a part of school curriculum. As the parent of a girl, I think that is unfair that girls have less opportunity to read about themselves, and it puts our boys at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding girls and women.
#2 – Very few, if any, books about African-Americans were assigned at all. If they were, they were about fleeing slavery, the civil rights movement, or some incident dealing with race. I wanted to write a book where a girl of color was at the center of the story, a book that was contemporary and a book that was about the kind of issues that I see my daughter and her friends facing today. I wanted to write a book that represented the diverse group of friends my daughter has, a book that invited boys, girls and readers of all ethnicities to experience, identify and enjoy the story.

  1. I hope readers of Mango Delight... like and identify with Mango. I hope they find her funny, confounding, emotional, thoughtful and real. I’d like the reader to begin to think deeper about the kind of friends they want to have and the kind of friend they want to be. Hopefully, the reader will reflect on the things that they do and say and how those actions affect others.

  1. Food is almost a background character in Mango Delight. I will definitely be trying to make grilled cheese ‘Mango style’ in the future. Where does your food inspiration come from?

I grew up in New York City, a literal melting pot when it comes to food. I was bussed out of my predominantly African-American neighborhood for school and because of that, I had friends of all ethnicities. One of the most vivid ways to explore our cultures was through food. Food that tastes good, whether Asian, Puerto Rican, Jamaican, Polish, Italian or Iranian welcomes you into another culture and broadens your ability to appreciate and identify with that culture. Mango is Jamaican-American and the food her family eats represent the mixture of Jamaican and African-American culture. Mango’s father is a chef and because of that her palate is a bit more sophisticated than the average middle schooler and she is encouraged to experiment and create her own recipes. I hope the readers feel empowered to try different foods and create their own unique recipes.

  1. Arts education for kids... is essential. The arts stimulate the right hemisphere of the brain where imagination, intuition, rhythm, feelings and visualization live. In schools today, especially areas that rely solely on government funding, the first thing cut out of the budget is the arts curriculum. I am convinced that that does a huge disservice to our kids. Yes, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are important, but without the arts how do we teach our children to take the leaps necessary to innovate? So, as I parent, I look for schools that add the “A” that turns STEM into STEAM, because the arts are what give our country the advantage when it comes to the ingenuity that has made America the world’s leader in innovation.

5. Sharing the books we love is a way we share about ourselves and connect with each other. 

What is one book you read and loved lately?
Trevor Noah’s, Born A Crime, is an amazing look at what life was like in South Africa for a mixed race boy. It exposes the idiocy of the racism, sexism and patriarchy of a  society built on the ability of one people’s misuse of force and laws to subjugate the “other”. Trevor Noah’s childhood experiences are harrowing, heartbreaking and, because he is such a brilliant entertainer,  astonishingly hilarious. Also, harking back to the whole idea of experiencing a culture through food, when I go to South Africa I am looking forward to eating a goat head, eyeballs and all.  

What is one book that has been important in your life?
The Learning Tree, by writer/photographer/director/journalist Gordon Parks had a huge impact on me as a boy. It was released in 1963, but I didn’t read it until I was about ten or eleven years old. I was compelled to pick up the paperback book at the library, because it had a boy who looked like me on the cover. It was the first book I was exposed to that was about the coming of age of an American boy who’s skin and hair were like to mine. The book is still important to me, not because of the specifics of the story, but because of how it made me feel to read a book about a character who looked like me. It was a validation to see that the life and experiences of a boy like me was acknowledged in print just like The Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown and all the other favorite characters I read about as a child. I think about that feeling when I sit down to write and I hope every child has the chance to read books that validate who they are, where they come from and what they can become.

Thank you so much for visiting, Fracaswell Hyman!

Visit Fracaswell Hyman's Website:

Mango Delight Discussion Guide

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Episode 21 - Gregg Schigiel - PCS Reads

Cartoonist Gregg Schigiel visits PCS Reads and shares about creating his graphic novel seriesPix. 

Visit to listen and for more details about the episode,

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

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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!

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