Saint Ivy: Kind at all Costs Review and Interview


Sometimes, there are just books that you read and you immediately are taken back to your own 12 year old self. Saint Ivy was exactly that for me. I have loved ALL of Laurie's books since she started getting published in the last few years and this has definitely been my all time favorite so far. So much that I am asking for donations to use it with my 6th grade groups at the beginning of the year. (I am 6-8 reading interventionist and I love to start the year with empathy building and kindness). 

A thoughtful middle-grade novel about caring for others and for yourself––and what it truly means to be kind and vulnerable

Thirteen-year-old Ivy Campbell has always been a good kid: She supports her soccer-star brother, bakes with her nana, and puts her friends’ needs before her own. So of course, Ivy is 100 percent supportive when her mom decides to be a gestational surrogate, carrying and giving birth to her friends’ baby. But when Ivy finds out the surrogacy treatment worked and her mom is pregnant—and has been for weeks—she’s shocked that she’s jealous and worried about what others will think. And most of all, she’s ashamed that she isn’t reacting to this news in the right way. The Ivy way. Ivy is determined to prove to herself that she’s just as unselfish as she’s always believed, and she gets the chance to do that when she receives an anonymous email from someone who needs her help. But the more Ivy dives into helping this anonymous person, the further she gets from the people she loves—and from the person who she wants to be.

Laurie has provided the teacher's guide for us that you can download for free here at this link! 

Laurie Morrison taught middle school English for ten years and now writes middle grade novels. She is the co-author of Every Shiny Thing and the author of Saint Ivy (May 18, 2021) and Up for Air, which earned starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a Publishers Weekly Best Summer Read, and an Amazon Prime Book Box pick. She holds a BA in English from Haverford College; an MA in Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English from The University of Arizona; and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @LaurieLMorrison and visit her website at


On My Way Home by Joseph Trencher


Indiana Jones meets Wizard of Oz-esque fairy tale settings. Amen finds himself on an adventure for treasure (a fairytale all kids hope to have become a reality). As Amen is on the hunt for this treasure he starts in the harsh desert, moving through fantastical settings such as a dangerous forest, enchanted cave, frozen mountain peak, and a castle unlike anything he’s seen before up in the clouds. (think Disney movies - KIDS WILL LOVE). As he embarks on this journey, as with any journey in life, decisions are made. Lessons are learned. Lessons that impact a young boy for the rest of his time. Amen meets many new faces. Some of these faces are friendly and others, not so much (hello adulthood). This story is one to read together, as adults and kids. Reminds me of the perfect bedtime story, full of adventure and hints of fantasy, history, and real life lessons. Out on Amazon and currently 2.99 for kindle! 


Synopsis: On a day like any other, a young child named Amen is suddenly recruited by an old man to search for buried treasure. Amen’s journey starts in the desert markets, but winds through caves, jungles and mountains. This adventure of a lifetime challenges Amen and forces the child to overcome the most extreme obstacles imaginable. After a while, the main objective shifts from holding on to the treasure and simply becomes getting back home in one piece.On My Way Home is a fictional, fantasy story like the fairy tales we all heard in our youth. It follows a clever child who navigates difficult situations, both natural and man-made. It is a novel that families can enjoy together, with some important life lessons that are hallmarks of classic coming of age tales.


Chunky and Luna Howls At The Moon - New Releases We Love from Katherine Tegan Books

 Have you ever read books that you just KNEW were going to be hits with your students? After receiving these books from SparkPoint I started to see some buzz going around on social media about their popularity. Little did I know that everyone was right. After reading, I couldn't agree more and am so excited to book talk when we get back into the classroom. 


This graphic novel ranks up there with New Kid for me in terms of "GET IN THE HANDS OF STUDENTS!" I absolutely loved the message behind this story. The situations are so real, so much Hudi’s life, and I love that he shared these personal situations with kids especially. I know others wish he had support from someone in the story more than his imaginary friend Chunky, but in these situations sometimes an imaginary friend is all someone has until someone sees the reality, they read a book, or they find a teacher/mentor to support them.
Hudi mentioned in his acknowledgments he had support from his family, but he felt compelled to follow the trend of sports yet the arts is where his heart remained.

This story will resonate with so many. I can’t wait to share with students. Especially paired with Starfish by Lisa Fipps. 


In this full-color middle grade graphic memoir for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jerry Craft, Yehudi Mercado draws inspiration from his childhood struggle with his weight while finding friendship with his imaginary mascot, Chunky, as he navigates growing up in a working-class Mexican Jewish family.

Hudi needs to lose weight, according to his doctors. Concerned about the serious medical issue Hudi had when he was younger, his parents push him to try out for sports. Hudi would rather do anything else, but then he meets Chunky, his imaginary friend and mascot. Together, they decide to give baseball a shot.

Hudi has found the cheerleader he never had, as Chunky cheers him on even when Hudi barely makes the team. Baseball doesn’t go well (unless getting hit by the ball counts), but the two friends have a great time drawing and making jokes. While Hudi’s parents keep trying to find the right sport for him, Chunky encourages him to pursue his true love—comedy.

But when Hudi’s dad loses his job, it gets harder for Hudi to chart his own course, even with Chunky’s guidance. Can Chunky help Hudi stay true to himself, or will this friendship strike out?

The story is told in Luna's POV (set in Austin, just right up the road from me!) - the dog on the cover. Luna is a therapy dog that helps 4 separate kids. Luna deals with some bullying from the other dogs for not being "THE BEST" (Her 50 visit pin) - Luna absolutely loves working with her doctor. Luna has moments where she does get confused in helping 4 different kids with 4 different situations. Therapy dogs are so important and at my old elementary we had a therapy dog on campus and it was the best for the kids - this story would be fantastic for those who are used to seeing a dog come in for support. The kids Luna works with she nicknames: a shadow, a knot, a waterfall, and a rock, their normal routine is disturbed by rock's absence, Luna and the other 3 kiddos set off on an adventure to foreign places to Luna while she's trying to protect them - it's the ultimate adventure. The first chapter is captivating and will hook readers through the writing style and emotions. A great book for a read aloud for 3rd/4th/5th. This book will appeal to readers 3rd and up. There is brilliant imagery which had me feeling all the emotions all the time. 


The award-winning author of A Dog Like Daisy returns with a moving middle grade novel from the point of view of Luna, a Labrador therapy dog who accompanies her group therapy kids when they set off on an adventure across Austin, Texas.

Luna has always wanted to be a therapy dog at Therapy Dogs Worldwide. Now she’s a whisker away from reaching her fifty-visit pin that will make it official. But when her “clients”—the children who visit her—are put into a therapy group, Luna’s routine is upended.

Like the moon, Luna shows different faces at different times. And her clients each have different needs—Beatrice is tangled in knots of anger, Caleb rushes like a waterfall, Amelia carries fear heavy like a shadow, and Hector is quiet as a rock. To comfort the kids, Luna can be what they need her to be, but can she be everything to them all at once?

When Hector doesn’t show up to a session one day, the kids set off on an unexpected quest to find him. Luna joins to keep them safe, and they must work together to almost learn the truth.


Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World through Writing

*Aff Link - You click to purchase and I will receive a small monetary payment. 

Throughout history, people have picked up their pens and wielded their words--transforming their lives, their communities, and beyond. Now it's your turn! Representing a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, Mightier Than the Sword connects over forty inspiring biographies with life-changing writing activities and tips, showing readers just how much their own words can make a difference. Readers will explore nature with Rachel Carson, experience the beginning of the Reformation with Martin Luther, champion women's rights with Sojourner Truth, and many more. These richly illustrated stories of inspiring speechmakers, scientists, explorers, authors, poets, activists, and even other kids and young adults will engage and encourage young people to pay attention to their world, to honor their own ideas and dreams, and to embrace the transformative power of words to bring good to the world.

"Interactive and inspiring, Mightier Than the Sword celebrates the stories of over forty diverse, trailblazing people whose writing transformed history"

 Having this book in my classroom will be such an amazing tool to use during nonfiction units. This is a great collection of intriguingly written biographies to use for educational purposes and/or to just learn and grow by reading about influential individuals from diverse backgrounds. There are a lot of writing activities that can be pulled from this text as well to use in middle grade/middle school rooms. I truly appreciate the work that Rochelle put in to inspire and empower young writers. 
The work that Rochelle put in is so engaging and takes you smoothly through the lives of historical figures - several you may have never even heard of, but ensuring to pull out the fascinating sides. Ranging from 978 AD to present day. The quotes that Rochelle included in the text are very thought-provoking. 
Themes interwoven include courage, tenacity, inspiring, motivating. 

Some of these reviews are truly impressive: 


The Conjurers Blog Tour

About The Conjurers #1, Rise of the Shadow

• Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers (July 28, 2020)
• Hardcover: 240 pages

Siblings Emma and Alex tumble into a secret world where magic is real and skilled illusionists can perform actual tricks–for better or worse. Perfect for fans of the Magic Misfits and the Land of Stories series.

After their parents vanished, Alex and Emma are sent to live with strict Uncle Mordo. Only Emma’s pet rabbit, Pimawa, keeps them company. But when flying skeletons called Rag-o-Rocs storm their once-quiet home, the kids escape just in time with Pimawa leading the way.

The rabbit takes the siblings to the Conjurian, a land where magic exists and Pimawa can talk. But the Conjurian is in trouble. Magic has been disappearing, and the Shadow Conjurer, the most mysterious sorcerer of all, is on the hunt for the Eye of Dedi, an object so powerful it could destroy the Conjurian and human worlds. The battle to control all magic has begun. There’s only one problem: Alex and Emma don’t have any!

Masterful storytelling and dozens of captivating illustrations fill author-illustrator Brian Anderson’s world with charm and intrigue. Fall under the spell of the Conjurers.

My Review:

It doesn't take long to fall head first into the magical land, the Conjurian. Action-packed, with monsters and smugglers abound, be sure to have the next book ready because this one has a cliffhanger!

Purchase Links

IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson is the creator of the syndicated comic strip “Dog eat Doug”, which enjoys an international fan base both on and offline. He is an optioned screenwriter and the author of several children’s books, including “Nighty Night, Sleepy Sleeps” and “Monster Chefs”. He is currently working on the upcoming YA series, “The Conjurers” with Crown Publishing.

Find out more about Brian on his website, and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.