HOLLOW CHEST blog tour!


Afflink - Click on the image to order! 

Debut author Brita Sandstrom arrives with a sweeping, unforgettable historical ghost story of the darkness around and inside us, and the courage it takes to keep hope alive.

Charlie has been having nightmares. Eyes watching him in the night, claws on his chest, holding him down. His dreams have been haunted for years, ever since German bombs rained down on London, taking his father’s life, taking his city’s spirit, taking his beloved brother, Theo, off to war in France. 

Now Charlie is left to take care of his grandpa Fitz while his mother works, waiting for the day when Theo will come home. And with World War II nearly won, that day is almost here. Grandpa Fitz warns Charlie that soldiers sometimes come back missing a piece of themselves, but Charlie isn’t worried. Whatever Theo has lost, Charlie will help him find it. 

When Theo finally does return, though, he is cold and distant. But Charlie refuses to accept that the brother he knew is gone, and soon, he discovers the reason for his brother’s change: war wolves. These are terrifying ancient beasts who consume the hearts of those broken by grief. 

The wolves have followed soldiers back home from the front. And if Charlie truly wants to save Theo, he’s going to have to find them and get his brother’s heart back. But can a heart that’s been eaten ever be replaced?

I read Hollow Chest and then I gave to my mom to read (retired librarian) who grew up right after WW2. Because she is a retired librarian she is very hard to excite sometimes when it comes to new books I put in her hands a lot, obviously times are a lot different now than they were when she was working - BUT her exact first statement to me about Hollow Chest was, "I can not believe this is a debut. The writing she does, and how she brings so much in is beyond well done. If I was a teacher in a classroom I would be going through this and highlighting this is important, this important, over and over, and then read it again and do it all over." 

For me, sometimes reading books that deal with grief in such a metaphorical way is the best way for me to relate to the loss of my dad (even being almost 3 years ago). Brita does something in the way she recognizes grief, experiencing trauma, and managing anxiety that is both honest and brutal, and overall just really great writing. If you are teaching a historical fiction unit, I would read aloud this story. The discussions that students can pull out I envision to be compelling, to say the least. There is so much in the character development to unpack, the themes are higher level and go much more beyond the surface. 

Guided Discussion Teacher Guide 

If you want to know more about the insight of Brita's writing adventure of Hollow Chest check out the first link in the blog tour to Nerdy Book Club - I LOVED what she shared about how this started as a "late" assignment turned into what she still claims "unfinished".

Brita Sandstrom is a graduate of Hamline University’s MFA program in writing for children and young adults. Hollow Chest is her first book. She lives with her family and a collection of cats in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can visit her online at www.britasandstrom.com



June 7 Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub

June 8 Bluestocking Thinking @bluesockgirl

June 9 Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers @grgenius

June 10 Teachers Who Read @teachers_read

June 11 Charlotte’s Library @charlotteslibrary

June 13 Storymamas @storymamas

June 14 A Library Mama @alibrarymama

June 15 Writer’s Rumpus @kirsticall



June 15: Help—Dino-Gro won’t stop growing bigger and bigger! From Matt Myers, the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Battle Bunny comes DINO-GRO, a laugh-out-loud story of a little sponge dinosaur that keeps growing...and growing...and growing....

Cole is very excited about his new Dino-Gro toy. He can't wait for it to reach its full size! But when Dino-Gro becomes much larger than intended, Cole goes so far as to put Dino-Gro on a liquid-free diet and an exercise regimen, which don't seem to make a difference! As Dino-Gro becomes so big that he can't fit in the house, Cole learns that growing up and getting bigger can have advantages too, even if you're not a dinosaur.


DINO-GRO falls into the “what-if” category of picture books—what seems like an ordinary story takes a turn into the extraordinary. For fans of Tiny T. Rex and We Don't Eat Our Classmates, this sweet and hilarious read-aloud is perfect for kids to learn the importance of growing up big and strong.


MATT MYERS the illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Battle Bunny, as well as numerous other children's books, including A Dog Named Doug and the Infamous Ratsos series. For more about the author, and to see a gallery of his work, you can visit him online at myerspaints.com, and on Instagram and Twitter at @myerspaints.

June 29: Bees can't ride bicycles, penguins can't pick up pennies, and zebras can't go zip-lining. No one is good at everything, but that shouldn't stop you from trying! T. REXES CAN’T TIE THEIR SHOES by debut picture book author Anna Lazowski and illustrated by Steph Laberis, is a fun and encouraging alphabetic book about all the things animals CAN'T do but kids CAN!

Follow a hilarious alphabet of animals and see all the things they can't do but kids can—from doing gymnastics to flipping pancakes to playing a xylophone. Along the way, young readers will learn that it's okay if they can't do everything; they can still have a LOT of fun trying!


Combining animals, humor, and social-emotional learning, this ridiculously funny alphabet book is ideal for back-to-school when preschoolers and kindergarteners are learning new skills, be it tying their shoes, riding a bike, or spelling their names. Parents teaching their young ones new skills will be happy to have this super-positive picture book on hand, because even though the animals in the book can’t do certain things, no one is ridiculed. Instead, a cheerful last scene shows all the animals helping each other out and having fun trying new things. Additional back matter includes a list of interesting animal facts and all the amazing things animals CAN do!


ANNA LAZOWSKI is an award-winning senior producer at CBC Radio, based in Winnipeg. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Western Ontario and a BFA (Honors) degree from the University of Manitoba. T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes is her first book. Learn more about Anna's writing at annalazowskibooks.com, and follow her on Facebook at @AuthorAnnaLazowski, on Twitter at @anna_lazowski, and on Instagram at @annalazowski.


STEPH LABERIS graduated from Rhode Island School of Design. She creates art for children's products and books, including the Grumpy Cat books for Little Golden Books, My Little Golden Book About Sharks, and My Little Golden Book About Dinosaurs. Learn more at stephlaberis.squarespace.com, and follow her at @StephLaberis on Twitter and @steph_laberis on Instagram

July 20: Grab a ticket and hop aboard the bus for a trick-or-treat bus ride! In THE WHEELS ON THE BUS AT HALLOWEEN illustrated by Sarah Kieley, the favorite children’s song “The Wheels on the Bus” gets a Halloween twist!

The ghosts on the bus go “Boo! Boo! Boo!” on a spooky Halloween!


Families will love creating a new Halloween tradition as they sing along to this joyful, boisterous version of the classic song “The Wheels on the Bus.” With a gaggle of adorable Halloween passengers—including pumpkins, witches, cats, and candy—this bright and festive book is sure to have children eager to read and sing it again and again!


The clever peek-through “windows” in the front cover will offer kids a glimpse at some of the characters inside the bus and children will love the fun holiday changes to the classic song, with a bus full of charming Halloween characters driven by a friendly monster bus driver. Sarah’s illustrations are delightful (and not too spooky), making the book perfect for families looking for a bright and cheery Halloween book to read together with toddlers and preschoolers.


SARAH KIELEY is an illustrator, comic maker, and animation designer from Toronto, currently living in Vancouver. She graduated from Sheridan College with a bachelor’s degree in animation and has since worked at many animation studios. Surrounded by a family of avid readers and artists, Sarah has always had a huge love for children’s books, comics, and beautiful illustration. See more of Sarah’s work at sarahkieley.com, and follow @magicalnarwhal on Instagram and Twitter.

May 4: Welcome to the biggest contest of the seas, where sharks from every corner of the ocean come together to find out who is THE greatest shark of all! In I AM THE SHARKNew York Times bestselling author Joan Holub makes a splash with bestselling illustrator Laurie Keller to deliver an entertaining undersea story filled with the greatest shark facts in the ocean!

Meet our contenders in this hilarious fish-out-of-water story:


Hi! I am the Great White Shark, and if you get this book, you’ll read all about ME—the greatest shark in the sea!


Not so fast! Greenland Shark here. I am the oldest shark in this book and that makes me the greatest.


Did someone say fast? I’m Mako Shark, the fastest shark in this book! Eat my bubbles!


Hello there! I’m Hammerhead Shark. You don’t need my special eyes to see that there are a lot of great sharks in this book, so sink your teeth into I AM THE SHARK now!


Pairing one of the most popular nonfiction topics for kids—sharks—with laugh-out-loud prose, I AM THE SHARK is sure to deliver lots of giggles and entertain the littlest learners and their caregivers. With backmatter providing summary of unique facts of all the sharks featured, I AM THE SHARK is filled to the brim with fun and informative facts! Watch out for the second book in the series, I AM THE BEAR, coming in 2022!


Joan Holub has authored and/or illustrated over 150 children's books, including the Goddess Girls series and the Heroes in Training series (with Suzanne Williams); the New York Times bestselling picture book Mighty Dads, illustrated by James Dean; Little Red Writing, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; and Zero the Hero, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. She adores line dancing to the Jaws theme, reading Sharkspeare, and vacationing in Finland. joanholub.com


Laurie Keller is the author and illustrator of many books, including The Scrambled States of America, Potato Pants!, Arnie the Doughnut, Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners, the Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut chapter book series, and We Are Growing!, part of the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series and winner of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. When Laurie isn't busy making books, she enjoys playing the banjo, traveling, cross-country skiing, and splashing in Lake Michigan, where as far as she knows, there is not a single shark. lauriekellerbooks.com

*Click on the book covers to purchase! Afflink*

The Academy Saga Blog Tour

About The Academy Saga

• Publisher: BrandyLight Ink
• Paperback: 515 pages

Kate Connelly should be careful what she wishes for.

Just seventeen, she already feels like she’s suffocating. Since her mother’s death, her father’s basically checked out, so she’s stuck raising her brothers by herself out in the New Mexico scrub. All Kate wants is a little distraction from the same-ole, same-ole that is her life.

When two mysterious guys show up at the diner where she works, she thinks her wish has come true, until they start giving her a hard time. Like her life isn’t hard enough. Something about them niggles her, but she brushes it off. She’s never going to see them again anyway… right?

Then they appear in an alley one night to either rescue or kidnap her (she’s still not sure which) before disappearing like figments of her imagination.

Kate decides to put the bizarre encounters out of her mind. She has bigger problems to worry about: like that elite military academy that’s been pursuing her gifted little brother. When one of their cadets shows up at the high school, he creates instant pandemonium. And just happens to be one of those mysterious guys. Coincidence? Mama said there’s no such thing. And to always trust her instinct. But that might be kind of hard, because every time she’s around Cadet Peter Davenport, her gut starts flip-flopping on her. And her heart.

Can Kate keep it together long enough to stop Cadet Davenport’s mission? She’s about to find out. And—once again—how neatly life can be split into before and after.

My Review-Don't Miss This One!

This was a quick read that had me engaged from page one. Kate is trying to prevent her brother from being recruited into an elite military academy, and when a guy shows up to mentor him the trouble begins. With a fast-paced plot and an extremely likeable protagonist, readers will find this series a perfect start to your summer reading. 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

About CJ Daly

CJ Daly grew up on the scrabbly plains of Eastern New Mexico. When she was supposed to be helping her six siblings with chores on the family ranch, she was really sneaking behind dusty haystacks to read. And dreaming about becoming a writer.

After graduating high school, CJ moved to Big D (Dallas) where she quickly put herself through college while trying to rid herself of her country accent. She had better luck with college, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in English literature. After teaching a few years, and pausing to have back-to-back boys, she began writing in earnest.

A few years later, “The Academy Saga” was born. “The Academy” is her debut novel, and “The Academy, Cadet-in-Training” is the sequel. CJ is so proud that both books earned Readers’ Favorites 5-STAR seals of approval. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her running from one athletic field to another, feeding the array of wild animals that show up at her back door, or kicking back with her gal-pals to sip cocktails and gossip about favorite books and TV shows.

Please feel free to stalk CJ on social media or visit her at her website: https://www.theacademysaga.com and don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter: http://bit.ly/TheAcademySagaLove to get all the inside scoop, exclusive giveaways, & sneak peeks at what’s coming up next!



Click above to purchase! Check out all the books coming in the series!!





Written by game designer and author of the Samantha Spinner book series Russell Ginns, PUZZLOOIES! is perfect for readers in grades 2–6 who love Brain Game for Clever Kids, the A to Z Mysteries, and Mad Libs! The first four books in the series will be published on May 11, 2021, right in time for summer vacation.


Each stand-alone PUZZLOOIES! book mixes word searches, secret codes, brain teasers, optical illusions, and other puzzles with a wacky story packed with jokes and humor. Every book culminates in a final challenge that requires readers to call on puzzle solutions from previous chapters. The series is perfect for readers who like to write, decode, cipher, and trace their way through a story, and for parents looking for a new puzzle-book series their child can binge-read (and solve!).


The Puzzlooies! series will launch its first four titles on May 11, 2021, including:


Puzzlooies! Space Cats to the Rescuewhere readers head to deep space with a ragtag crew of astronaut cats on a desperate mission to prevent our planet from being pulverized by an incoming giant meteor

Puzzlooies! Mystery at Mallard Mansiona hilarious whodunit where readers cross eggs-amine witnesses to discover the bird responsible for the murder of the most famous web-footed movie star, Marvin Mallard

Puzzlooies! One of Our Giant Robots Is Missing, where readers will go on the lam with a 500-foot-tall robot that escaped from the RoboWorld theme park

Puzzlooies! The Last Donuta mouthwatering race to find the yummiest, gooiest, tastiest, and most valuable baked treat to ever come off the glaze line

RUSSELL GINNS is a writer and game designer who specializes in puzzles, songs, and smart fun. He has worked on projects for a wide variety of organizations, corporations, and publications, including Sesame Workshop, Girl Scouts of America, Nintendo, and Scientific American. Russell lives and writes in Washington, D.C. He is the author of the Samantha Spinner book series, among others. To learn more about him, follow @rginns on Twitter.


Brave as a Mouse - Picture Book Review


Click on the image to PREORDER!

OUT MAY 25! 

Upon first glance at this story, I was so taken away by the illustrations - they are so clean and smooth, it just felt good to look at. The anticipation build up of the shadow images of cats wanting to play with the fish, too - I can only imagine the inferring discussions I could be having with my students. The mouse leading the cats with his trickery, so clever. In the classroom I would be using this moment to come up with some figurative language to describe what the mouse is up to - then by using all of the adjectives the story used, students can come up with their own examples as well. The ending was not at all how I expected the story to take a turn. Loved it. Beautifully done.

A goldfish and a mouse become fast friends as they play in and around the goldfish's bowl.

But when three cats crash the party and terrify the poor goldfish, the brave little mouse gets an idea. She leads the three black cats on a wild and epic chase up and down and over and around until they find themselves surrounded by absolutely irresistible food in the pantry. The cats gorge themselves so much that they fall into a deep sleep, but the mouse knows they won't sleep forever. So the brave little mouse gets another idea to keep the goldfish out of harm's way for good!


This is a heartwarming story with a simple text and gorgeous illustrations about the lengths one brave mouse will go to in order to save her friend. Perfect as gifts and for the classrooms, this book is packed with an inspiring message—it is not always easy standing up for someone; but with tenacity and quick thinking, even a mouse, the smallest of creatures, can defeat a much larger enemy.


Nicolò Carozzi is an up-and-coming author-illustrator to watch. His lyrical and cinematic art style is new, yet familiar. While he started illustrating in 2013, BRAVE AS A MOUSE is his debut picture book in the US. Pairing Nicolò’s rich and beautiful illustrations with a time-honored tale of cat and mouse, this story has the makings of an instant classic.

Nicolò Carozzi is a Veronese architect, teacher, and illustrator. He was awarded first prize for the EurHope illustration competition in 2013 and has been a shortlisted illustrator for three Folio Society competitions. He made his illustration debut with the Italian picture book The Magic Lamp of Aladdin by Davide Calì. See more of his work at nicolocarozzi.com