Welcome to the Bookshelf Detective, a site for readers and writers of children's literature. Thank you for visiting, and please let me know how this blog served you.
Kim Tomsic

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

AUDIOBOOKS for 8-13-year-old Readers: Who, What, Which, Where, How

I'm excited to welcome guest blogger Michelle Pendleton. Michelle is an avid reader and one of my trusted source for book recommendations, especially middle-grade novels (books for 8-13-year-old readers).  When I saw Michelle tweet about audiobooks, I knew I had to ask her to guest blog. However, before I post Michelle's article, please allow me to shamelessly plug my new audiobook, The 12th Candle which was released by HarperCollins and narrated by the fabulous Cassandra MorrisThe 12th Candle has a funny and magical Freaky Friday-ish plot about two 12-year-olds who juggle pranks and a magic candle while risking everything to try and manage a family curse.  Now back to Michelle. You're in for a treat, so get ready to add to your "to be read" listthe family edition!

Audiobooks Can Make Reading A Family Affair by Michelle Pendleton
Our family has been socially isolating for seven weeks now. Like a lot of people, I thought I would be spending more time reading, but in fact, it has been very hard for me to even crack open a book, much less spend time losing myself in one. 

However, our family has still been reading with audiobooks. We have been audiobook readers for nearly four years now, and I know it has helped us read more, especially now. As a bonus, when we listen together as a family, we have a shared experience that we can talk about.

If you haven’t tried audiobooks before, this might be a great time to start. When my kids were younger, I used to read books out loud to them. It was great, and I truly enjoyed it, but when we started listening to audiobooks together, it was a whole new world. I found that I loved being read to as much as my kids did, and the professionals who do audiobook narration are amazing. In addition, our family could still enjoy a book together, but we didn’t have to find a time when I wasn’t busy. We now listen when I’m working on dinner or when we are doing other chores.

Where to get audiobooks
The first place I would start is your local library. There are several apps that connect with libraries that lend out audiobooks. The three that I know the best are Overdrive, Libby and Sora. I would say that about 80 percent of the books our family has listened to have been borrowed from the library. And because most middle-grade books are three to eight hours long in audio, it’s very easy to finish a book within the library’s loan period.
You might also look to see if your school district has a digital library. Our district does, and although it doesn’t have as many audiobooks as our city and county libraries, there are plenty of options; often, I find that there’s no wait to borrow a book, or there’s a much shorter wait list.
Sometimes a book I want to listen to just isn’t available at any of our libraries, or there’s a very long waiting list. Sometimes there’s a book that we like to listen to again and again, or a book is so long, there’s no way we can listen to it within a two-week borrowing period. That’s when it’s time to purchase an audiobook.
There are several services that sell audiobooks, and some of them offer discounts if you sign up for a subscription. If you are thinking that you might buy a book a month, I would recommend libro.fm. Their monthly subscription and discounts are the same as other services, and part of your purchase goes to an independent bookshop.

What book should I start with?
I love giving audiobook recommendations. Last summer, a friend asked for recommendations for a summer driving trip. I sent her an email, and by the time I was done, I had suggested 95 books.
Our family listens to a wide variety of books. I often start with recommendations from the Texas Library Association’s Bluebonnet List and Lone Star List. The books on these lists have been widely commended, and they cross a range of genres. They also introduce us to authors who we may have not read before. I also get a lot of recommendations from authors I follow on Twitter and through the MG Book Village. Sometimes, I have picked a book just because it was available to borrow—that happened a lot when we first began listening to books.

In addition, I look for books that would appeal to both my 9-year-old daughter and my 13-year-old son, and if we have listened to something pretty serious, we often will follow that book with something a little more lighthearted. There are also some books that are stand-by favorites that we will listen to again and again.
With that said, here are some different books to get you started.

GENTLE VIBE Perhaps with the pandemic, you need a book with a gentle vibe. Here are some great options:
     Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks series
     Karina Yan Glaser’s “The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street,” "The Vanderbeekes and the Secret Garden," and “The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue”
     "Saving Winslow" by Sharon Creech
HISTORY  If you are into history, these are awesome:
     Kirby Larson’s Dogs of WWII books: “Duke,” “Dash” and “Liberty”
     “Echo” by Pam Munoz Ryan has both fantasy and history, and I’d recommend listening to that one because the music in it is so, so good. This book is also set during World War II.
     "The Bicycle Spy" by Yona Zeldis McDonough is also set in World War II, but it takes place in France.
     Gennifer Choldenko’s Alcatraz books like “Al Capone Does My Shirts,” and its sequels are really good.
     "The Night Diary" by Veera Hiranandani is about the split of India and Pakistan when the English government withdrew from India as a colony.
FUN    Perhaps what you need is something that is just a lot of fun. Here are some series that my kids and I have thoroughly enjoyed:
     Stuart Gibbs’ series: Fun Jungle books, Spy School books and Moon Base Alpha books
     Geoff Rodkey’s The Tapper Twins series
     Mac Barnett and Jory John’s The Terrible Two series
     Suzanne Selfors’ Wedgie and Gizmo books
     Julie Falatko’s Two Dogs in a Trenchcoat books
     Honest Lee’s Classroom 13 books
     Neil Patrick Harris’ The Magic Misfits series. The first one in audio is especially good because Neil Patrick Harris narrates.
     Spencer Quinn’s Birdie and Bowser books are mysteries with a lot of action and fun, told from a dog’s point of view.
FANTASY AND SCI-FI   If you’re looking for something to get away from the real world for a while, here are some fantasy and sci-fi audiobooks:
     “Circus Mirandus” by Cassie Beasley
     "Inkling" by Kenneth Oppel
     "The Wild Robot" and “The Wild Robot Escapes” by Peter Brown
     "Sweep: The Story Of A Girl And Her Monster" by Jonathan Auxier. The last I checked, it was an Audible original but totally worth it. I sobbed for the last hour of it.
     All of the Harry Potter books with Jim Dale as the narrator are fabulous.
     "The Last Last-Day-of-Summer" by Lamar Giles is a lot of fun. After we listened to that, we listened to "The Phantom Tollbooth," by Norton Juster, which has a lot of similar plays on words.
     "The One And Only Ivan," and “Wishtree” by Katherine Applegate
     "We're Not From Here" by Geoff Rodkey
     “Bob” by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass
     “The Strangers” by Margaret Peterson Haddix
     “Lelani Of The Distant Sea” by Erin Entrada Kelly
     “Sal And Gabi Break The Universe” by Carlos Hernandez
     “Midsummer’s Mayhem” by Rajani LaRocca
     “The 12th Candle” by Kim Tomsic

FAIRY TALE   Perhaps a fairy tale is more what you’d like. Here are some options:

     Liesl Shurtliff’s fairy tale backstory books “Rump,” “Jack,” “Red” and “Grump” are all wonderful. If you haven’t read them, definitely read “Rump” then “Jack” because there’s a great twist that you miss if you read them out of order.
     "The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo

REALISTIC FICTION   Some realistic fiction that we've enjoyed:
     “The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle” by Christina Uss
     "Front Desk" by Kelly Yang
     "Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus," “Momentous Events In The Life Of A Cactus” and “24 Hours in Nowhere” by Dusti Bowling
     "The Miscalculations Of Lightning Girl" and “The World Ends In April” by Stacy McAnulty
     "The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle" by Leslie Connor
     "Save Me A Seat" by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
     "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio
     "Song For A Whale" by Lynne Kelly
     "The Right Hook Of Devin Velma"  and “Greetings From Witness Protection” by Jake Burt
     "Shouting At The Rain" by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
     "The Remarkable Journey Of Coyote Sunrise" by Dan Gemeinhart
     "New Kid" by Jerry Craft
     "Harbor Me" by Jacqueline Woodson
     "The Science Of Breakable Things" by Tae Keller
     "Amal Unbound" by Aisha Saeed
     “Operation Frog Effect” by Sarah Scheerger
     “Hoot,” “Squirm” and “Flush” by Carl Hiaasen
     “Strange Birds: A Field Guide To Ruffling Feathers” by Celia C. Perez
     “A Wolf Called Wander” by Rosanne Parry
     “When You Reach Me” by Rebecca Stead
     Jason's Reynolds' Track series: “Ghost,” “Patina,” “Sunny” and “Lu”
I hope some of these recommendations will encourage you to give audiobooks a try. It might be a nice break from Netflix binge-watching, or it might be a nice thing to listen to while your family has dinner or does a puzzle. I know for our family, it has given us a nice break from the news and has been a way to stay connected to books.
Guest Blogger Michelle Pendleton

About Michelle:  Michelle Pendleton is a former journalism teacher who still has a love for education. She stays connected by volunteering at her children's schools (when they aren't distance learning), and her favorite work is reading with students. She is a fan of middle grade literature, the Northwestern Wildcats, and most sports. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, 13-year-old son, and 9-year-old daughter. You can find Michelle on Twitter at @mpendleton.

Monday, December 2, 2019

GREEN ON GREEN by Dianne White Illustrated by Felicita Sala

GREEN ON GREEN is a gorgeous concept book that covers seasons and colors packaged in rich and captivating text and glorious illustrations. Author Dianne White and illustrator Felicita Sala have created a must-own treasure.

This is truly one of the most charming books I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

Every thoughtfully curated word will enchant readers  into the perfect rhyme and rhythm. Furthermore, the exquisite  illustrations deliver another lovely layer to the story and also a delightful surprise at the end.

Verdict: a MUST OWN.💚

Buying Links:
Changing Hands Bookstore
Tattered Cover
BookBar Denver

ISBN: 9781481462785
ISBN-10: 1481462784
Publisher: Beach Lane Books
Publication Date: March 17th, 2020
About the Author: learn more about Dianne here: https://diannewrites.com/about/

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

What is The #11111212Give

WHAT:  The #11111212Give is a daily giveaway running from November 11th through December 12th. Winners are selected by a random number generator, and then I double check that the winner followed the entry instructions (the three simple "HOWs").

THE PRIZES: are inspired by books (mine and others) **and/or** items in my books.
For example, on Friday, November 15th, the prize was a SPHERO SPRK because: (1) STEM-friday and (2) because in The 12th Candle,  Minerva's store (the eccentric shop in the story) sells SPHEROS. And (3) Megan in The 11:11 Wish loves math. Another example, the prize on Friday, November 22 : SPECDRUMS because innovating and music remind me of Les Paul and Guitar Genius (Chronicle Books, 2019).

HOW: To see the daily giveaway item, search the hashtag #11111212Give on Twitter and Instagram and follow simple instructions (usually three things: follow, share, comment).

WHO:  you can participate on Twitter and Instagram. Find and follow me here:

             Instagram =   https://www.instagram.com/kimtomsic/

INSPIRATIONS (the "WHYS" other than the fact that it's fun):

  • Inspired by my two novels for readers ages 8-13, The 11:11 Wish and The 12th Candle. Both books are light fantasy set in a contemporary school. They feature smart and funny characters who face impossible choices, magic, comedy, and the power of kindness.    
  • Inspired by this time of year to remember gratitude, thanks"giving", and kindness. 
  • Inspired by PERSEVERANCE and to have a STEM Friday prize because of my narrative nonfiction picture book (for readers ages 5-105), GUITAR GENIUS: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World! Les engineered the world's first solid-body electric guitar and created countless other inventions that changed modern music. No matter how many times Les was told something was impossible, he stuck with his vision. With a few tools, a lot of curiosity, and an endless faith in what is possible, Les brought engineering projects to life. 
  • Because it's fun!
  • Here's a sneak peek at just a few of the future prizes!  Specdrums pictured above, plus

Saturday, October 5, 2019

A family curse. An “innocent” prank. A magic candle THE 12TH CANDLE

(October 8, 2019 Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollinsISBN 978-0062654977

Since birth, Sage Sassafras has been plagued by the Contrarium Curse, aka the Curse of the Opposites, and it has pitted her against tall, rich, basketball star, Priscilla Petty. When Priscilla lands dunk shots, Sage throws bricks. When Priscilla has a good hair day, Sage gets tangles, and when Priscilla’s father lands a big promotion at work, things go really sour for Sage’s daddy.

So when Noodler, the biggest search-engine company in the world, challenges students at Goldview K-8 to the Doodle for Noodler art contest, Sage is determined to win fame before Priscilla can, and thereby change her reputation from infamous to famous. Plus, with a little help from the magic candle she received on her 12th birthday, she believes she can do even more! The candle brings pizza, art supplies, and new clothing—maybe it can change the curse, too, so Sage makes the ultimate wish—she asks for a curse-reverse.

When the consequences of her wish take a terrible turn, she has to team up with her frenimies and figure out how to break the curse and its reverse for good, she’ll be doomed to a life of opposites forever!

A thoughtful look at curse versus choice and an encouragement to youngsters to make their own paths.—Kirkus Review
“Friendship, magic, and pink lightning—this book is a wish come true!” —Lauren Myracle
 “This sweetly magical novel is a lesson in kindness. There is magic in all of us.” –Kristen Gilligan, owner, Tattered Cover Book Store
“A heartfelt and humorous story about the ups and downs of middle school, touching on the ways acts of forgiveness can change an entire community. The 12th Candle is a wish come true!” –McCourt Thomas, Head of Youth Services, Lyons Regional Library District
“An enchanting and heartfelt story for anyone who has ever tried to wish away their problems!” –Ida Olson, Library Media Specialist, McCormick Junior High School

If you would like a signed copy, please order through the following bookstores and let them know you'd like your copy personalized:


October 8th, 7:00 PM Tattered Cover Bookstore, 2526 E. Colfax Avenue, Denver

October 12th, noon, SCBWI Rocky Mountains

November 9th:  Boulder Connect, Boulder Colorado

School visits (not listed here) have been scheduled through:  BookBar Denver, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Boulder Bookstore, and Changing Hands Bookstore. 

Would you like to know about the author:
Please visit Kim Tomsic's Website:  http://kimtomsic.com/

ISBN 978-0062654977

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Max and the Mysterious Noise by Dr. Dianne Blomberg

In MAX AND THE MYSTERIOUS NOISE by Dr. DianneBlomberg, Max frets over the mysterious
“Clippity, Skippity, Hippity” sound traveling through his town, so he sets out to solve the dilemma of the puzzling noise. He says he has a few ideas about the strange sound. Instead of the adults hearing him out, Mr. Caramadgi (in true adult fashion) talks right over Max. Max tries again. He says he has a plan to figure out of where the noise is coming from and announces the princess can help them! Instead of exploring Max’s idea, the town adults call his proposal gibberish. But Max has grit, he won’t give up. Max climbs a light pole and yells for all to hear, declaring that the princess in town will know the solution. Rather than wait for validation and approval, Max trusts his instincts and marches to the castle to find the all-knowing princess—And here’s what I love—a kid with grit and a book with girl-power! 😊

The notion of a commanding princess who also represents diversity adds a nice boost to this perseverance story. Once Max reaches the imposing castle door, he knocks only to face another adult who blocks him. Read on as Max digs deep to overcome obstacles and tries to connect the “hippity” to the missing “hop.”

Furthermore, MAX AND THE MYSTERIOUS NOISE comes with a discussion guide, so readers can explore questions like “What words could’ve the adults used to include max in solving the mystery?” and “Do you have an example of a time when no one listened to you?”

*NOTE: 20% of all proceeds will be donated to Team Fox for Parkinson's Research

About the Author:

Dianne Lee Blomberg, Ph.D. is a freelance writer and public speaker. Her professional background includes teaching, communication consultant, and author. Published essays, short pieces, and non-fiction books can be located on her website. She has two children’s picture books, Sam and Gram and the First Day of School, (Magination Press) translated into Chinese and Korean and Max and the Mysterious Noise, (LuLu Press). She is the co-author of several books in the (Simon and Schuster/Pearson) series, The Psychology of Communication.
She belongs to SCBWI, Children’s Book Insider, The Colorado Author’s League, The Authors Guild, and the Denver Woman’s Press Club.
Her work has been cited in national publications, coast-to-coast, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Denver Post, Good Housekeeping, Newsday New York, and others.

Please visit her website, http://www.DianneBlomberg.com

Friday, November 30, 2018

Books to Build STEM Collection

Readers put themselves in the shoes of the protagonists, so why not encourage kids and teens to read about characters who are scientists, technology experts, engineers, artists, and mathematicians.  Here is a recommended reading list of 2018 and 2019 picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels. Links to these book are posted below. Please mark as "want to read" on your Goodreads page. Happy reading! 

If you are a U.S. teacher or librarian and you'd like to build your classroom collection, please enter the giveaway. Each author will mail one copy of their book to the winning teacher or librarian's school. Make sure you follow @bkshelfdetectiv on Twitter so I can contact you via DM if you win. Winner is listed in the Rafflecopter at bottom of this post.

Picture Books

(Eifrig Publishing 02/19/2019) 

From the publisher, “In this charming STEM book, children will see how the light of the full moon inspires Aliana to create a present for her brother Gustavo, which will surprise the whole family.”   Save on Goodreads by clicking here.

Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker  (Author), Dow Phumiruk (Illustrator) 
(Christy Ottaviano Book June, 2018)

From the publisher: “From Katherine's early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, Counting on Katherine is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.” Save on Goodreads by clicking here.

(Chronicle Books 04/09/2019) Save on Goodreads by clicking here

A perseverance story about Hall of Fame icon Les Paul and the struggles he faced to engineer many inventions that transformed the music industry. From the publisher, "This is the story of how Les Paul created the world's first solid- body electric guitar, countless other inventions that changed modern music, and one truly epic career in rock and roll. How to make a microphone? A broomstick, a cinderblock, a telephone, a radio. How to make an electric guitar? A record player's arm, a speaker, some tape. How to make a legendary inventor? A few tools, a lot of curiosity, and an endless faith in what is possible. Featuring richly detailed, dynamic illustrations by Brett Helquist, this unforgettable biography will resonate with inventive readers young and old."

Small World by Ishta Mercurio illustrated by Jen Corace 
(Abrams Books for Young Readers (July 2, 2019) Save on Goodreads by clicking here

From the publisher: “When Nanda is born, the whole of her world is the circle of her mother’s arms. But as she grows, the world grows too. It expands outward—from her family, to her friends, to the city, to the countryside. And as it expands, so does Nanda’s wonder in the underlying shapes and structures patterning it: cogs and wheels, fractals in snowflakes. Eventually, Nanda’s studies lead her to become an astronaut and see the small, round shape of Earth far away.” 

Middle Grade Novels (ages 8-13)

The Splintered Light by Ginger Johnson 
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books September 4, 2018) Save on your Goodreads by clicking here.

From the publisher: “Ever since his brother Luc's disappearance and his father's tragic death, Ishmael has lived a monotonous existence helping his mother on their meager farm where everything is colorless. Until one morning a ray of light fragments Ishmael's gray world into something extraordinary: a spectrum of color he never knew existed. Emboldened, Ishmael sets out to find answers hoping his long lost brother might hold the key.”

(Random House Books for Young Readers (May 1, 2018)  Save on your Goodreads by clicking here.

From the publisher: “Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn't remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she's technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test--middle school!”

The 11:11 Wish by Kim Tomsic 
(Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins February 2018) Save on your Goodreads by clicking here.

Wishes, magic, and dares abound when a 7th grade math whiz tries to fit in at her new school by wishing on a magical cat clock only to suffer catastrophic consequences! In this funny "be careful what you wish for" story that features magic gone haywire, Megan Meyers turns to what she knows best—STEM—and uses the scientific method to try and sort everything out. 

(Random House, March 2018) Save on your Goodreads by clicking here.

From the publisher: “How do you grow a miracle? 
For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific method. But Natalie's botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that's important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has hope.”

Spin the Golden Lightbulb by Jackie Yeager Book #1 in the Crimson Five series 
(Amberjack Publishing January 9, 2018) Save on your Goodreads by clicking here.

From the publisher: “It’s the year 2071 and eleven year-old Kia Krumpet is determined to build her 67 inventions, but she won't have the opportunity to unless she earns a spot at PIPS, the Piedmont Inventor’s Prep School. Kia, who has trouble making friends at school, has dreamed of winning the Piedmont Challenge and attending PIPS ever since she learned that her Grandma Kitty won the very first Piedmont Challenge. After she and four of her classmates are selected to compete for a spot at PIPS, they travel by aero-bus to Camp Piedmont to solve a task against forty-nine other state teams to earn their place at the best inventor's school in the country. 

Tiny Infinities by J.K. Diehl 
(Chronicle Books, May 2018) Save on your Goodreads by clicking here.

When Alice's dad moves out, leaving her with her troubled mother, she does the only thing that feels right: she retreats to her family's old Renaissance tent in the backyard, determined to live there until her dad comes home. In an attempt to keep at least one part of her summer from changing, Alice focuses on her quest to swim freestyle fast enough to get on her swim team's record board. But summers contain multitudes, and soon Alice meets an odd new friend, Harriet, whose obsession with the school's science fair is equal only to her conviction that Alice's best stroke is backstroke, not freestyle. Most unexpected of all is an unusual babysitting charge, Piper, who is mute—until Alice hears her speak. A funny and honest middle-grade novel, this sharply observed depiction of family, friendship, and Alice's determination to prove herself—as a babysitter, as a friend, as a daughter, as a person—rings loud and true. (For ages 10 and up).

Young Adult Novels (teen and up):

The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo 
(HarperTeen September 2018) Save on your Goodreads by clicking here.

From the publisher: “Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas, is a strange place. For the past century, every girl has been born with a special talent, like the ability to Fix any object, Heal any wound, or Find what is missing. Best friends Rome, Lux, and Mercy all have similar talents, but to them, their abilities often feel like a curse. Rome may be able to Fix anything she touches, but that won’t help her mom pay rent or make it any easier to confide in Lux and Mercy about what’s going on at home. And Rome isn’t the only one. Lux has been hiding bigger, more dangerous secrets.”

What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra 
(Imprint September 2018) Mark as "want to read" on your Goodreads by clicking here.

From the publisher: “On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home―on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets. Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.”

The Disasters by M.K. England 
(HarperCollins, December 18, 2018) Save on your Goodreads page by clicking here.

From the publisher: “Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours. But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats. On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.”

Want to follow these authors on Twitter?  They are tagged in this tweet: https://twitter.com/bkshelfdetectiv/status/1068511797194309632

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