Myles (10 yo) and his fantastic adventures in modern day Greek mythology!

Meet Myles, our last Book Butterfly for the school year! Myles is an absolutely voracious reader; similar to our previous Book Butterfly Loden (listen here). Myles even has special support from his school librarian to help him have a constant stream of awesome books. This week Myles reviewed his favorite book: Percy Jackson: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan. Did YOU know this much about Greek mythology? It’s super cool.

Kieran (6 yo) and barbarians, bears, and goslings, oh my!

Meet Kieran, a fantastically endearing Book Butterfly. His two favorite books are ‘Great, Now We’ve Got Barbarians!’ by Jason Carter Eaton and Mark Fearing, and ‘Mother Bruce’ by Ryan T. Higgins. If you’re looking for giggles and heartwarming messages then these books are for you. PS. How many times do you think we said ‘ducklings’ instead of ‘goslings’? Oh fooey, I guess we’ll need to go to the beach!

Product Review: The Lunii Storyteller

One of the coolest things about interviewing kids for the Book Butterfly podcast is getting a quick peak into the lives of the kids I interview. Throughout my time interviewing I have noticed a few things; first, that everyone loves books (hooray for us all!), and second, that imagination is going full throttle. And I’m not talking full-throttle to beat the yellow light at an intersection; I’m talking full-throttle to get the spaceship to the moon and back. It’s totally cool.

The third key thing I’ve noticed is that there’s a balance between what a young child, say between 3-6 years old, can read on their own and what they can read with their parents or older siblings.

Obviously, there’s huge value in having those special moments when you’re sitting with your family and giggling/crying/joking/talking about a book. I wouldn’t trade my own moments with my family for the world. But there’s also the fact that you, as a parent or caretaker, are trying to balance so many things on top of story time. There are a lot of solutions out there: tablets, phones, computers, donuts, ‘go play outside for a minute’, ‘go clean your room’, and a plethora of other things. But what if you’re not into screens, or if you just want another option that doesn’t involve you supervising, which also allows your kid/kids to have a story time, and even has the added bonus of independence and imagination?

Sounds like a long list, I know, but I found one option for you.

It’s called the Lunii Storyteller. It was brought to my attention by Emma (our resident Mutasia fan – listen here) and her mother. I was interested to know more about it and share it with you. It’s actually pretty straightforward and a cool idea. It’s based on a few key principles:

  • Your kid gets to pick variables (think the main character, the setting, etc.) with prompts from the Lunii
  • Different voices, sounds, and settings are triggered for each of the 48 different story lines which also trigger their imagination
  • Each story is about 4-5 minutes long
  • Your kid can independently decide the storyline
  • The Lunii doesn’t have a screen and has a pretty basic interface: it’s made for listening
  • When I looked at reviews the cost was mentioned a few times. It’s roughly $60-$70, which sounds like a lot. But if you think about it, that’s roughly 4-5 picture books. So if you’re looking at how many stories you can set up your kid with, it’s actually a pretty good deal.

So, what, I don’t think the other options are good? Not at all, I think they’re all fantastic options. Listen; when you’ve had a long day and for some reason bed time is when hyper time kicks in, I am 100% on board with the best way to get those little minds calm and ready for bed. I also care about options, so here’s one more for your toolkit.

See if the Lunii is a good fit for your family. Get ready to hear: Do you want to create a new story? Who will be the hero of your story? (Buy it here)

Here’s a quick sample from our Emma. You can tell I am more confused than she is (standard), but I actually got pulled into the visual journey, too. Enjoy!

 

Emma (6 yo) and her favorite whacky creatures on Mutasia

Do you ever wonder what would happen if a gecko-crab-rhino ended up as one animal? Have you ever told a little white lie? Then you need to order “Figley’s Little White Lie” by Suzanne Cotsakos and Ryan McCulloch immediately. Our Book Butterfly, Emma, shows us this unique and imaginative book which follows Figley on his misadventure through the repercussions of a little white lie (plus a few other lies). Get your giggles and imagination going!

Ps. If your kids are into singalong songs, check out Mutasia’s youtube channel and find some silly songs to get singing. (Emma may have taken us through a few of these and LOVED them.)

Author Spotlight: Josh Funk

This week I’m shining the Author Spotlight on the first author of the Book Butterfly series: Josh Funk. Declan, our very first Book Butterfly, raved about the book Pirasaurs! (listen here if you haven’t already). It was hard not to love Declan, Declan’s review, or the book itself. When I got an alert after sharing the interview that Josh Funk had reached out on Instagram, I literally clapped with excitement. SO! Now it’s time to get Funk-y.

Image result for josh funk interview

I’m always curious about an author’s history, so I looked up a few interviews with Josh Funk. The interviewers asked a variety of questions but Josh’s responses stayed focused on some qualities I wanted to highlight: how fantastically positive and fun he is, how inspirational he is for other aspiring authors, how much he encourages folks to go after writing, and even how he is 17% psychic.

I also found that in addition to Pirasaurs!, Josh is the author of other great books including Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. Beyond making me slightly hungry, the title of his book made me wonder ‘where do pancakes and French toast come from anyway?’

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Cover Image

Well, I was surprised to find that pancakes may have been around for about as long as grinding tools have been around – 30,000 years or so. The theory is that if people were making flour, then it isn’t too much of a leap to see folks mixing said flour with a few ingredients, finding a hot surface and voila! A type of pancake was born. Personally, I’d like to salute the first person who made a pancake because I can think of few things more delicious than a Nutella-filled crepe at a Christmas market.

Now, what about French toast? They are a more recent culinary creation. I found one reference for bread prepared in this way (soaked in egg and cooked on a stove) as early as the 4th or 5th century. Equally delicious in my view and just as fair to pair with Nutella, the French term for French bread is ‘pain perdu’ which means ‘lost bread’. Doesn’t sound too appetizing, does it? And yet, can you imagine a brunch menu without it? French bread to me is all about transformation, resourcefulness, and embracing a variety of toppings.

Which brings me back to Josh Funk. How does a talented author translate Pancakes and French toast into literary characters? With a flare for creativity and a lot of hard work. Reading through his interviews and history, he mentions how many rejections from agents and editors he received for his books until he found what was right for him. Just like the first person to discover a new recipe, it takes trial and error, dedication, and optimism to end up with the right combination. (It also takes a little flair of crazy- to see or believe in something no one else has.)

I keep coming back to the phrase ‘lost bread’.  ‘Lost bread’ could have forever been just that – scraps for trash. But over the years it has been elevated in a number of ways thanks to great minds who tested and tasted things until they got it right. In this case, Josh Funk making two foods part of a children’s book. So, thank you, Josh Funk, for pushing through and sharing your books and elevating characters potentially overlooked.  I salute you (with a pancake-nutella-french-toast sandwich in hand.)

Info sources:

http://blog.bookbaby.com/2018/01/josh-funk-interview/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-henry-sterry/josh-funk_b_8185874.html

https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/where-does-french-toast-come-from

http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2014/05/21/hot-off-the-griddle-heres-the-history-of-pancakes/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_toast

https://www.joshfunkbooks.com/about

 

Remi (9 yo) and his epic battles found in nature!

If you ever think that nature is boring, think again. This week we interviewed our awesomely enthusiastic Book Butterfly, Remi, who loves the “Who Would Win” non-fiction books by Gerard Larry Pallotta. He knows ALL the facts and loves to tell you about them. We had a blast interviewing him. He reminded us that nature and natural facts are wicked cool, and more importantly, he reminded us not to surf near a hippopotamus.

Author spotlight: Kate DiCamillo

Welcome to our second author spotlight – oo lah lah! Your host gets très excited to have a reason to research authors and sing their praises. This week we’re shining our spotlight on an author storyteller who hardly needs it, but, definitely deserves it? Who ever said there was too much goodness in the world needs an extra squeezy hug. (humble opinion)

Kate DiCamillo has an impressive list of accolades across the wide range of books she’s written (including Mercy Watson as reviewed by our Alex), which I encourage anyone to look at via the links we provide below. Her career is a testament to a person with integrity, persistence, and an author who isn’t afraid of hard work. However, we’re going to talk about a few other things.

First of all, that hair. It’s fantastic, and as someone who loves her own hair but can’t get it hold a curl to save her life, I’m forever a fan of hair that’s curly, wavy, and all-around happy hairstyle.

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Second, Kate’s a dog lover. More than that, she’s an animal lover. Many of her books have animals in them and we couldn’t be more thrilled to see that. Pet ownership and caring for animals provides a myriad of benefits to children. It gives them responsibility, helps them experience compassion, and a sense of unconditional love. I grew up in a family full of pets and worked at animal sanctuaries and animal shelters, and can attest to the power of caring for animals. It’s magical seeing people come alive and connect just because some furry, feathered or scaly creature didn’t care what they looked like, talked like, or anything about the origin of their parents.

Our last ‘hooray!’ in our short author spotlight is on this quote she includes in one of author pages speaking to other authors:

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF—there is no right or wrong way to tell a story. This is one reason that writing is so wonderful and terrifying: you have to find your own way. Be kind to yourself. Listen to other people. And then strike out on your own.”

What if you’re not a writer? It doesn’t matter. You tell stories to your friends, family, coworkers, children, dogs, porcupines, Alexa, and *fill in the blank*. What you experience matters. What you hear matters. What you share with others matters. YOU matter.

Thank you, Kate, we love your attitude and can’t wait to see more of your success.

Mercy Watson to the Rescue

Links we referenced:

www.katedicamillo.com

www.facebook.com/KateDiCamillo/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_DiCamillo

https://www.parentmap.com/article/the-power-of-pets

Loden (11 yo) and his awesome adventure books!

Loden (not Logan, if you please!) is an enthusiastic reader. By enthusiastic, we mean SO ENTHUSIASTIC! He’s just the type of kid you want to talk to about adventure books, too. He reviewed the Ember Series by Jeanne DuPrau and the Land of Series by Chris Colfer, which are some seriously cool books. Interesting characters, detailed plots, and imagination abound. (And towards the end he interviewed your host a bit, too!)

Author Spotlight: Jessie Sima

We’re introducing a new piece of content for your enjoyment: an author spotlight. We’re really interested in what makes kids interested in the books they love, but those stories come from authors and illustrators (or author/illustrators). We’re taking this moment to appreciate who these authors are and what they do.

For our first author spotlight we’re shining that butterfly magic on Jessie Sima, author and illustrator of Not Quite Narwhal, which was reviewed by our little Book Butterfly Hazel. (In case you missed it, her review is here.)  There are too many things to love about this book; the colors, the light and airy feel, the humor, and the compassion for the main character within it. We all deal with feeling out of place at one time or another. It’s real, it’s human, and it’s not restricted to one age range. We have a choice in how we look at that discomfort, and how great is it that the voice within this book tells you ‘it’s okay – maybe consider having a party with rainbow ice cream, floaties, and lots of pointy horns’?  We’re given permission to enjoy being unique, being not quite one thing or another, and to feel happy when the worlds come together.

When we looked for information on Jessie Sima, the results were colorful and heartfelt. Jessie pursued art and storytelling through a number of paths, and wasn’t just born with a book deal (wouldn’t that be something?).

It took work, dedication, and an idea. Jessie apparently had Not Quite Narwhal as a concept tucked away for a number of years before finalizing and gifting it to the world. As an aspiring author, your host can empathize with the journeys stories take. As a reader, the words float off the page and into your mind (ideally) with ease, but it takes a lot of time, energy, tears (or maybe that’s just your host?), drafts (times a million), and

persistence.

The best part of Jessie Sima’s author profile is that she often wears a unicorn horn. Let us rejoice in this fact. It’s so easy to take everything so seriously, but taking a deep breath, putting on a unicorn horn and smiling in the moment is something we can all do more often. Power to you Jessie Sima, we can’t wait to read more of your books.

Sources of information:

Kidlit 411 Interview

Author Page  – grab all her social links and other published book links here!

Shael (8 yo) battles zombies and loves Big Nate!

Well, did we mention that we interview kids who LOVE to read? Did we? Just in case, we’ll tell you again. Shael is an avid reader and reads at all times of the day. (Word on the street from his dad is that he will forego sleep to read more.) This week we’re reviewing two awesome books: Zombies vs. Plants: Lawnmageddon by Paul Tobin and Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce.