Love Sugar Magic: A Mixture of Mischief Blog Tour + Giveaway

I was so excited when I was asked to be a part of this wonderful series newest book release blog tour! If you haven't read the first two, they desperately need to ALL be added into your library as soon as possible. 

Love Sugar Magic: A Mixture of Mischief by Anna Meriano. 
Walden Pond Press, 2020. Release date 2/4/20
“There’s power in something passed down through the generations.”
It’s spring break in Rose Hill, Texas, but Leo Logroño has a lot of work to do if she’s going to become a full-fledged bruja like the rest of her family.
She still hasn’t discovered the true nature of her magical abilities, and that isn’t the only bit of trouble in her life: Her family’s baking heirlooms have begun to go missing, and a new bakery called Honeybees has opened across town, threatening to run Amor y Azúcar right out of business.
What’s more, everyone around her seems to have secrets, and none of them want to tell Leo what’s going on.
But the biggest secret of all comes when Leo is paid a very surprising visit—by her long-lost Abuelo Logroño. Abuelo promises answers to her most pressing questions and tells Leo he can teach her about her power, about what it takes to survive in a world where threats lurk in the shadows. But can she trust him?

A little bit of sugar, A little bit of baking,
A little bit of... magic. 
The third installment of Love Sugar Magic: A Mixture of Mischief  is one that takes their bakery to a whole new situation.
What my 5th grade students are saying: 
"I never thought that baking and magic could go together at all, but it makes a lot of sense. I really like how her magic comes to be very important to get a grip on in this new story."
"The determination that I see in Leo makes me feel like I can bake anything...even if I am not a witch."
"I 100% felt her frustration when all the adults were telling her not to worry. Sometimes as kids, we still worry, and a lot." 
"Even though my sister and I fight, I definitely think we would've been just like Leo and Isabel and even with my best friend thrown in like Caroline, we would've been working like superheroes to save the bakery." 
"I think if you like magic and baking and your family, you should read this book!" 
"Being from Texas, I'm recommending this to everyone!!"
Anna Meriano is the author of the books in the Love Sugar Magic series, A Dash of TroubleA Sprinkle of Spirits and A Mixture of Mischief. She grew up in Houston, Texas, and earned her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in writing for children from the New School in New York. She has taught creative writing and high school English, and she works as a writing tutor. Anna likes reading, knitting, playing full-contact quid- ditch, and singing along to songs in English, Spanish, and ASL. Her favorite baked goods are the kind that open hearts. You can visit her online at

Follow along on the tour: 

January 27 A Library Mama
January 28 YAYOMG
January 29 Open Book Reviews
January 30 Teachers Who Read
January 30 Charlotte's Library
January 31 Nerdy Book Club
February 3 Storymamas
February 4 Latinos in Kidlit
February 6 Mixed-up Files
February 7 Kirsti Call
February 27 MG Book Village

Walden Pond Press is kindly offering a giveaway of this book for my American readers.  Please leave a comment with a way for me to get in touch with you by February 2 for a chance to win this book! (If you’re not in the US and want to chat about the book, that would be great, too!)


Bullet Book Review with @mrs_cmt1489 : ALA Winners!

Disclaimer: I'm a 5th grade teacher in south central Texas, what works for my kids may not work for your kids, and what does work; it may work the same or in different ways. In the end, they're all kids - they all need to be exposed to many lives, cultures, history, and experiences as possible. 

Song for a Whale
By: Lynne Kelly

For fans of: 
The Thing About Jellyfish, Out of My Mind, Rain Reign  
Authors: Elly Swartz, Gillian McDunn, Renee Watson

First Line(s): "Until last summer I thought the only thing I had in common with that whale on the beach was the name we shared." 

The author: 
About me taken from her website:
I live in the Houston, Texas area where I work as a sign language interpreter and write books for kids. I found both of those fields in a roundabout way.
In college I majored in psychology, but after taking some sign language courses, I decided that was a field I wanted to stick with. I’ve worked as a sign language interpreter ever since then. I still learn something new every day, and my work has taken me everywhere from classrooms to hospitals to Alaskan cruises.
I grew up in Houston, after my family moved here from Galesburg, Illinois when I was a baby. After graduating from college in East Texas, I lived in windier and colder places, like Kansas and Minnesota. I’ve been much warmer since 1996, when I made it back to Texas.
For a few years I was also a special education teacher. My favorite thing to do was read great books with great kids. I loved the students, and teaching, but didn’t love the paperwork. Plus, it turns out teachers have to wake up really early.
I’ve always loved reading, but it was during those teaching years I fell in love with children’s literature all over again and became interested in writing, so there’s nothing about that I’d change.
I still fill out paperwork every day, but this time it’s to fill pages with stories.

The Book: 
Twelve-year-old Iris has never let her deafness slow her down. A whiz at fixing electronics, she’s always felt at home in the world of wires and vacuum tubes.
School, on the other hand, isn’t quite as simple. Between her frustrating teacher Ms. Conn and her overly helpful classmate Nina, Iris can’t seem to catch a break.
But during science class, Iris learns about Blue 55—the loneliest whale in the world. Saddened by the animal’s inability to speak to other whales, Iris uses her tech skills to come up with a plan communicate with Blue 55.
One small problem: the whale is swimming off the coast of Alaska, nearly 3,000 miles from her Texas home. But, nothing stops Iris, and with her Deaf grandmother by her side, she sets out on a road trip to meet the whale and make sure he’s finally heard.

“At its luminous heart, Song for a Whale is a tale about longing for connection and finding it in the most magical and unexpected of places. Fascinating, brave and tender, this is a story like no other about a song like no other. A triumph.” —Katherine Applegate, Newbery Award-winning author of The One and Only Ivan
“At its luminous heart, Song for a Whale is a tale about longing for connection and finding it in the most magical and unexpected of places. Fascinating, brave and tender, this is a story like no other about a song like no other. A triumph.” —Katherine Applegate, Newbery Award-winning author of The One and Only Ivan

“A quick-moving, suspenseful plot takes her from junkyards to a cruise ship as she [Iris] gains the confidence to stand up for herself and take control of her life. Written by a sign-language interpreter, this story incorporates important elements of Deaf culture and the expansiveness and richness of ASL…this remains a satisfying, energetic read. Iris’ adventures will engross readers.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The strength of the book is its strong portrayal of Iris as a deaf girl in a hearing world and an intelligent 12-year-old in headlong, single-minded pursuit of her goal.” —Booklist
“Subtly and poignantly drawing a parallel between the girl and whale, Kelly (Chained), who has worked as a sign language interpreter, relays Iris’s venture with credibility and urgency. This finely crafted novel affectingly illuminates issues of loneliness, belonging, and the power of communication.” —Publishers Weekly
“Iris’s depth of empathy, the joy she feels working with radios, and the skillful way she navigates two different worlds of communication create an authenticity that will resonate with Deaf and hearing readers alike… An uplifting tale that’s a solid addition to most collections; especially recommended for libraries needing stronger representation of Deaf protagonists.” —SLJ
Reviews from myself and friends: 

Read it for + Teaching Points: 
Themes include: inclusivity, communicating, feeling heard, courage. 

Curriculum Guide Available Here:

New Kid
By:Jerry Craft

For fans of: Jason Reynolds. Raina Telgemeier. Kwame Alexander. Jeff Kinney.

A Look Inside: 

The book: 

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Gene Luen Yang, New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real, from award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Craft.

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

A New York Times bestseller! Winner of the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature!

Reviews by myself and friends: 

The author: 
JERRY CRAFT is an author and illustrator. New Kid is his middle grade graphic novel that has earned five starred reviews, including one from Booklist magazine, which called it “possibly one of the most important graphic novels of the year.” Kirkus Reviews called it “an engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America.”

He is the creator of Mama’s Boyz, a comic strip that was distributed by King Features Syndicate from 1995-2013, and won five African American Literary Awards. Jerry is a co-founder of the Schomburg’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival. He was born in Harlem and grew up in nearby Washington Heights. He is a graduate of The Fieldston School and received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts.

Read it for +Teaching Points: 
Empathy book clubs, understanding graphic novels, the impact moving has on kids, discussion of race.


IMWAYR: 1.20.20

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Day. And while that means fitting in an extra book-or two-it also means taking the time to talk with my kids about what today means. I've included a few extra guest readers on this post-my three kids and a few of the books we have in our house that feature Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 


Bullet Book Review with @mrs_cmt1489

Disclaimer: I'm a 5th grade teacher in south central Texas, what works for my kids may not work for your kids, and what does work; it may work the same or in different ways. In the end, they're all kids - they all need to be exposed to many lives, cultures, history, and experiences as possible. 

Dog Driven
By: Terry Lynn Johnson

For fans of: Any of Terry's other stories. Hatchet. Dan Gemeinhart. 

First Line(s): "Whoever's behind me is coming fast."

The author: 
Terry Lynn Johnson writes middle grade adventures based on her experiences living in northern Ontario, Canada. She might have fallen through ice a time or two, been dragged by a dog team, blown up a wood stove, been attacked by a sloth (slowly), nearly drowned on a portage, and chased a bear with a chainsaw. She owned eighteen sled dogs, but now owns one border collie who is almost smart enough to type out her own adventures.

The Book: 
When you’re running, you can’t look too far ahead. You can’t look behind. You can only focus on the now.
Ever since her vision started deteriorating, fourteen-year-old McKenna Barney has felt out of place in the world. Out of place at home and school and even on the trail with her dogs.
Now, to help her younger sister with her own ongoing battle with eye disease, McKenna finds herself at the head of her team of eight sled dogs in a race she’s not sure she can even see, let alone win. For three days of shifting lake ice, sudden owl attacks, bitterly cold nights and frequent snow squalls, McKenna faces both the Canadian wilderness and her terrifying weakness.
But she hides the truth from everyone, including her toughest rival, Guy, despite their budding alliance. Will McKenna risk her survival as well as that of her team to keep her secret?
Read it for + Teaching Points: 
This is an action packed adventure with themes of surviving, trust, perseverance, integrity, all while speaking to those who have vision impairment. 

Johnson shared actual accounts from dog sledding years ago that would make for a great paired article idea for NF and fiction together. 

Pixie Pushes On
By:Tamara Bundy

For fans of: 

First Line: :"Daddy burned all Charlotte's bedding and blankets the day they took her away."

The book: 
A young girl learns bittersweet life lessons on the family farm after her sister gets polio, in this poignant and funny novel set in the heartland in the 1940s.

Pixie's defenses are up, and it's no wonder. She's been uprooted, the chickens seem to have it in for her, and now her beloved sister, Charlotte, has been stricken with polio and whisked away into quarantine. So it's not surprising Pixie lashes out. But her habit of making snap judgements--and giving her classmates nicknames like "Rotten Ricky" and "Big-Mouth Berta"--hasn't won her any friends. At least life on the farm is getting better with the delivery of its newest resident--a runt baby lamb. Raising Buster takes patience and understanding--and this slowing down helps Pixie put things in better perspective. So too does paying attention to her neighbors, and finding that with the war on she's not the only one missing someone. As Pixie pushes past her own pain to become a bigger person, she's finally able to make friends; and to laugh about the fact that it is in places where she least expected it.

"Pixie is full of heart! A laugh-out-loud book that also wades into poignant life lessons. A must read!"--Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of Fish in a Tree

"Pixie has bad luck--and is bad luck if you ask her. But she also has grit and gumption, so when her bad luck doesn't let go, she opens her eyes and her heart wider. Her world changes when she changes how she looks at her world. I loved Pixie and her story--a story filled with humor, hope, and everyday heroes."--Lynn Plourde, author of Maxi's Secrets

Review from my friend Sandy: “... the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.”
Pixie Pushes On is a story of friendship, family, and hope.
Pixie is struggling with the death of her mother and then her sister catches polio and is hospitalized. Not only that but she has been moved to a school town and school where she knows no one.

Along Pixie’s journey she learns to get to know others before judging them and to give herself a little grace. She is a protagonist that you will fall in love with and be rooting for.

Review from my friend Katie: Thank you so much to Tamara Bundy and Penguin Kids for sharing an ARC with our #bookexpedition group!

This historical fiction set during World War Two stole my heart. Prudence (Pixie) has endured a lot at her young age. Her Momma passed on from sickness, so she, her sister Charlotte and her Daddy moved to her grandparents’ farm. There, Charlotte is stricken with polio and must be sent to a hospital, and Pixie believes it’s all her fault.

Not only is she coping with that, but her neighbor Rotten Ricky, her teacher Miss Meany Beany, and classmate Big-Mouth Berta seem to have it out for her too.

Life on the farm begins to look up when she and Charlotte start exchanging letters. And her daddy brings home a baby lamb named Buster for Pixie to raise. Taking care of Buster requires persistence and dedication, and also helps Pixie realize that those around her are hurting, too.

I absolutely loved all the characters in this story. Pixie, her family, and friends will stick with me for a long time!

With themes of family, friendship and persistence,
this is a must add to school and classroom libraries when it publishes in January of 2020.

The author: Ever since I was a little girl in Columbus, Ohio, (that's me with the pigtails!), the power of "the right word at the right time" amazed me. 
One summer, when I was eight, my dad won a stuffed toy for me at the Ohio State Fair. He asked me to pick from the selection of teddy bears and unicorns displayed before us. I remember his look of confusion as I pointed to a giant stuffed pencil with the words, "I'm a Big Time Writer" on it. 
"Don't you want one of the animal ones?" dad asked. 
But I knew the stuffed pencil was for me because my biggest dream was to be a writer one day.

Read it for +Teaching Points: 
Historical fiction! 
The study of polio and diseases from the early days. 
Teachable moments for behaviors of kids - empathy, understanding, kindness - all of the above to truly help students understand what others are experiencing. 


Bullet Book Review with @mrs_cmt1489

Disclaimer: I'm a 5th grade teacher in south central Texas, what works for my kids may not work for your kids, and what does work; it may work the same or in different ways. In the end, they're all kids - they all need to be exposed to many lives, cultures, history, and experiences as possible. 

The Track Series
By: Jason Reynolds 

For fans of: Matt Christopher. Kwame Alexander. 

First Line(s): "Check this out. This dude name Andrew Dahl holds the world record for blowing up the most balloons.....with his nose. Yeah. That's true."

The series: A must have for all middle grade classrooms. 

From Simon and SchusterGhost. Patina. Sunny. Lu. A fast but fiery group of kids from wildly different backgrounds, chosen to compete on an elite track team. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves. Discover each of their stories in this complete collection of Jason Reynolds’s explosive New York Times bestselling Track series.

The author: Jason Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, National Book Award Honoree, a Kirkus Award winner, a two time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. The American Booksellers Association’s 2017 spokesperson for Indies First, his many books include When I Was the Greatest, Boy in the Black SuitAll American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely), As Brave as You, For Every One, the Track series (GhostPatinaSunny, and Lu), and Long Way Down, which received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor. He lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at

Read it for + Teaching Points: It's by Jason Reynolds - I mean anything he writes, kids cling to. He embodies what it means to truly understand kids and what they are going through. The Track series is one I use to get students HOOKED on books. It's been one of the best beginning of year read alouds I could ever choose. (So far)

Elements of Genius: Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray Book 1
By:Jess Keating

For fans of: I sell this by saying - it's like Avengers or Justice League as kids. Also, somewhat relative to the movie Spy Kids. 

First Line: "Okay, I can't really explain a lot right now because as you can see, there's a death ray pointed at my eye."

The book: Young readers are going to LOVE Genius Academy. I immediately thought about all those readers who love science and may not even know they love science, yet - thinking back to my adolescence science was my best subject and had no idea what I could have even done with that. The imagination route that Jess takes really had me hooked, too. Nikki Tesla is the main character, extraordinary, brilliant, bright, ambitious. She has a gift for inventing amazing things (again such a great STEAM novel), but of course, she struggles to make friends and feels this constant dark cloud shadow of the embarrassment of her father. Things he has done that seem to follow her around. She eventually captures the attention of this Genius Academy - a school for children with amazing gifts, with some pretty amazing individuals joining her, who train together and use their unique gifts to save the world. 

There's a great part at the back where then Jess leaves in her author's note to have the readers ask their librarian for more information on these amazing individuals she works with in the story. 

Can't wait for book 2 and 3! 

The author: Jess has some amazing nonfiction picture books out, as well as her fiction chapter books. Jess is an amazing artist, creator, inspirational human being. I have had the privilege to see and hear her speak at NerdCamp and I am blown away by what she does as an artist, writer, and researcher. You can read more about her here:

Read it for +Teaching Points: HUGE STEAM book. As a teacher I would be pulling out the individuals and merging it with nonfiction research. A culminating activity would then be an invention of some sort following in Nikki's footsteps.