The Wash Rag, Winter 2007

The Reading Tub Newsletter, Issue 14, Winter 2007

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Welcome to the first newsletter for the year. Long-time Ragsters know that here in the Tub we work hard to minimize the junk that fills your mailbox. That’s why you only get a quarterly Newsletter! And very few other pieces of mail! You’ll only hear from us when we think there’s something valuable (or important) to say … to get more regular correspondence, be sure to link to our Blog to get updates!

Our goal for 2007 is to launch a value-added tool to arm parents, teachers, and other caregivers with tools that can help them help kids learn to read. One of the first projects is building a Parent’s FAQ. We want to answer some of the frequently asked questions parents have – in a way they can relate to them (without having an education degree!). If you have questions you’d like answered, be sure to send us a note. We’ll be happy to add it to our list.

What does 1,000 mean to you? Well, for us, it means we are close to reaching a R-E-A-L-L-Y huge bookbag. We are within 90 books of turning into a 4-digit collection of titles. It also means we’ve donated a lot of books to organizations who need books to help kids learn to read! As you know, we read and profile EVERY book we receive. If you are an author and send us book 1,000, we will feature you in our Author Showcase for free. If you’re a publisher … we will give you 30 days of advertising on our home page.

It seems that every quarter I talk about how excited we are to share some of our authors’ stories. Well, this quarter is no exception. The Reading Tub® has a special place for children’s writers who want to make a difference for kids and their parents, and this group is no exception.

Royce Adams is a prolific author. The Rairarubia Tales, a five-book fantasy series for 8- to 12-year-olds, were the result of his daughter’s simple request: write something I want to read. Royce, a college professor, had many titles (largely textbooks) to his name, but no fictional books for kids. In addition to The Rairarubia Tales, Royce has several coming-of-age books that boys, especially, will like: The Computer’s Nerd, Me and Jay, and Jay: A Sequel to Me and Jay. Click here to meet Royce and learn about what he hopes to achieve for kids through his writing.

Deborah Capone‘s books – Families are Forever, Dumplings Are Delicious, and Tooth Fairy Talesare picture books for 5- to 8-year-olds that celebrate cultural diversity. Deb is passionate not only about creating stories that have meaning for today’s multi-cultural families, but also for introducing acceptance and respect to children at an early age. Click here to meet Deb Capone.

Faiz Kermani, author of My Alien Penfriend, combines his personal love of space with his scientific curiosity to create a sci-fi fantasy about intergalactic pen pals for 8- to 12- year-olds. Like Deb, Faiz (a Brit) wants kids to think about themselves in a world (or galaxy) where no one’s life is quite like theirs. How would they feel if they were on “the other end?” Learn how Faiz drew on his own world travels to create My Alien Penfriend. Click here.

Spring is just around the corner, and in the next edition of the Wash Rag we’ll have interviews with these three authors (who also happen to be publishers, too!):

Lynda Bulla, author of Freedom Rings: An American Parable, Katydid, The Churkendoose, and The Old Clock on the Wall. Each of Lynda’s books has a lesson for kids; whether it’s self-esteem or finding success. They are messages kids can relate to.

Cheryl Block, author of The Rainbow Web and True Blue Friend. Cheryl’s books are meant to be hands-on. She combines a story with a CD that offers parents and kids opportunities for additional learning.

Nancy West writes books about hero dogs. She is the author of Kali Leads the Way, Bear: Heart of a Hero, and Chips the War Dog.

ADVERTISEMENT: It’s easy to be part of the Author Showcase for Summer 2007. We do all the work: the press release, the web pages, the links. All you have to do is answer a few questions. We still have an opening! Click here to learn more. Then send us an Email.

Well, we were plenty excited about Reading Tub Alerts, but no one else seemed to be. So we will go back to the drawing board to look for another way to let you know about great books to share with your kids. Do you have an idea? We’d love to hear it. Just send us an Email to our Contact Us address.

As you may remember, in last quarter’s newsletter, we listed Unicorn Races by Stephen J. Brooks as a book that looked interesting (read: we were anxious to review). Well, the verdict is in: our reviewer (and her parents) thought it was fabulous. In this magical picture book, Abigail (who’s supposed to be sleeping), puts on her princess gown and travels to the magical clearing for a night of Unicorn races and a feast with fairies and elves. Click here to read our review.

With summer just around the corner, authors and publishers are starting to market books that they hope everyone will be reading this summer. The pace of deliveries here in The Tub have picked up significantly since Christmas, and here are some new titles that have caught our eye.

If I Had a Magic Carpet by Laura Clarizio. Recommended age: 6 to 9. This is a chapter-book adventure fantasy series.

The Adventures of Riley: Operation Orangutan by Amanda Lumry and Laura Hurwitz. This is the upcoming title in The Riley’s World Series. There is plenty to learn and see whenever Riley joins Uncle Max, Aunt Martha and Cousin Alice.

True Blue Friend by Cheryl Block. This is an interactive learning book, that includes a story and CD with information about whales.

Kids Training Puppies in 5 Minutes by JoAnn Dahan. This book is chock full of photographs to help even pre-readers with the task of training the family pet.

Abadaba Alphabet: Learning Letter Sounds by Sheila Moore. The book uses a Montessori-like method to help kids learn their letters and sounds.

First, I want to thank the authors who graciously donated books to the Junior League of Charlottesville’s Literary Feast and Silent Auction The Silent Auction was a great success, with lots of interest (and winners) of children’s books. Thanks for helping the League serve its community!

As spring approaches, our heads are spinning with all of the things we want to do to make The Reading Tub® a valuable resource for everyone involved with children and reading: authors who write for them, the parents who read to them, and the teachers who want to get them excited about learning. Be sure to keep in touch, as there are lots of things just over the horizon, and we want you to be part of the splash!

The Bookbag, Books for Ages 4 to 8, January/February 2007

The bad news is we’re slow getting our short-list of favorites published. The good news is that we have been caught up in reading some really great books. So on with the show …

Exploratopia by Pat Murphy, et al. You may already know about the Exploratorium, an inter-active, hands-on museum for kids. Well, this is the do-it-home version of the museum’s experiments. Although billed for older kids, parents and teachers will find plenty of ideas for helping pre-readers study and understand the world around them. “This book is a valuable resource for [people] looking for interesting projects that capture student curiosity and reinforce the process of logical problem solving. Curious students will find the book a treasure-trove of fun things to do.” (Little, Brown and Company, 2006)

The Bee-Man of Orn by Frank B Stockton. The Bee-Man is an elderly, unkempt, recluse who has allowed swarms of bees to turn his small hut into a giant beehive. One day, a young “sorcerer-in-training” visited him and told the Bee-Man that once upon a time he was someone special and that he, the “sorcerer” would help the Bee-Man discover who he once was. “This book is a triple treat. Frank Stockton’s fairy tale is a model of the genre. P.J. Lynch’s illustrations provide children with unforgettable images. The DVD “Making Fairy Tales” that is included with the book adds to the thrill of the story.” (Candlewick Press, 2003)

Royal Koi and Kindred Spirits by Richard Wainwright. The Takeda family has raised world class Koi for generations. They have decided to start a joint venture with an American customer and friend to raise Royal Koi near Washington DC. Although saddened about leaving Japan, the Takedas are excited about their new venture. “This is as wholesome and positive a story that one can find. The author and the illustrator are masters of their respective crafts. This is children’s literature at its very best.”(Family Life Publishing, 2005)

Unicorn Races by Stephen J Brooks. Every little girl will see themselves as young princess Abigail. Mom thinks she’s asleep, but Abigail and Lord William (her lavender unicorn) have traveled far into the night to watch the unicorn races and celebrate with the fairies. “The illustrations are captivating … keeping our five-year-old glued to the pages for days on end.” (Purple Sky Publishing, LLC, 2007)

The Bookbag, Books for Ages 8 to 12, January/February 2007

There weren’t a lot of finished profiles that hit the threshold of making our short list this time. We have already had a couple for March that you’ll be seeing shortly. Still, there are some worthwhile reads.

Exploratopia by Pat Murphy, et al. This book is so great it is worth mentioning in both of our Bookbags. For curios pre-teens, there is no end to the hands-on opportunities to learn. (Little, Brown and Company, 2006)

Mia the Meek: The Mia Fullerton Series by Eileen Boggess. Mia Fullerton has reached high school. She’s set goals for herself, not the least of which is getting rid of her nickname “Mia, the meek.” Lucky for us, Mia is taking us along on her journey. “The author clearly understands the trials and tribulations that face adolescent girls. This is a wholesome and enjoyable read for adolescents and adults. This is a great read for adolescents and parents. ” (Bancroft Press, 2006)

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper. Grace and Conner Tempest, 14-year-old twins, have unexpectedly become orphans. No sooner had they taken the family boat to start a new life when disaster struck. A great storm capsizes their boat, leaving them to be rescued by pirates (Connor) and vampires (Grace). “Stories with vampires and pirates typically rely on blood and gore to attract and excite the reader. Not so with this story. It is entertaining and fast paced. The characters are believable and the vampires and pirates prove themselves to be empathetic and caring in regard to the twins.” (Little, Brown and Company, 2006)