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This weekend, the Literary Festival came to me at the Hunt Library at NCSU.10150555_10202785590973871_549481845_n

There were so many cool activities and authors, and the library itself was a spectacle to look at.


 There are also tons of really cool authors doing readings there such as John Claude Bemis, R.L. Stine, and Kelly Starlings-Lyon.

There are also cool workshops, like a comic-making workshop, and a book-making workshop.


There were so many fun activities for kids of all ages, like making your own comic, or recreating a scene from your favorite book with Legos (I did Divergent!), and 1606956_10202785587493784_1897744004_n
finding out how literacy fits in with Math.

One of the coolest things I saw on the first day was the StoryUp! Aerialist group, who recreated some of our favorite fables and stories using aerial silks. Paperhand Puppet Intervention was there, too.



There are so many fun things to do at the Literary Festival for everyone in your family. Sadly I didn’t get to do all of things mentioned above because I was out of town part of Saturday, but those were some of the things they offered.


Move over DC (National Book Festival) — you’ve got competition! (and goooooo Wolfpack!)

Bonus: Our friends from our favorite bookstore, Quail Ridge Books & Music were there with a pop-up bookstore!

Oh, look at the time– I gotta get over to NC State for today’s activities!  ~LitKid



Postscript from AKid@Heart: Who doesn’t love  building with Legos? While LitKid made her cool Divergent scene, I decided to try to create a setting from my kids’ novel manuscript … the rooftop of the main characters’ city apartment building, complete with Tiki shelter (and gliders below), a garden and night-time lights. (Kids have no idea how basic Legos used to be!)


Screen shot 2014-01-27 at 12.32.21 AMWacko Academy: Book 1

by Faith Wilkins ~ Arundel Press 

We’re proud to be part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and I loved being picked to review this book!

Wacko Academy tells the first installment of the adventures of Lilly Mason and Dustin Wackerson.

Dustin mysteriously shows up at Lily’s middle school in the beginning of her 8th grade year, instantly becoming a girl magnet with his good looks and sense of humor. They become really close to each other and go to the school’s harvest dance, which quickly turns from dance to disaster. It turns out that Dustin really came to her school to recruit her to his dad’s extremely fancy, high-tech boarding school.

Once Lily gets settled in, it starts to seem better, she and Dustin repair their friendship and he becomes her personal trainer. She advances quickly and is sent of to the school’s on-campus boot camp, where she meets True & Cattie, the two friends she will make there.

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Afterwards they make the disturbing discovery. A mysterious tall building. Dustin says he has seen unconscious kids wheeled in there before, often never to return. If they do return, they usually have some sort of injury or just can’t remember what happened.

When they relay the story, everybody is purely horrified and definitely on board with their plan to get those kids out of harm’s way. To do this, they will need some fancy technology and a cover.

You will have to read the book to find out all of the juicy details!

I liked this book because of the adventure and excitement was always there at every turn of the page and never failed to leave me in suspense. The plot is beautifully put into place. The personality of each character brings wit and humor to the book.

The pump of adrenaline is apparent page by page, and the writing could not be more humorous, adventurous, and overall really good quality. I liked the conflict the best because it added the most suspense and excitement. If I ever wrote a book, I’d want it to have an air of suspense, excitement, and adventure like this book.

Faith Wilkins (who is only 16 years old!)

Faith Wilkins, who is only 16 years old!
(photo ~ Arundel Press)

People like Faith make a big impact by encouraging more kids to share their ideas with the world; Faith is a role model to other kids who think they shouldn’t share their ideas with the world. This wonderful piece of literature gives those people hope. You should always share what you believe in, like your manuscripts, or short stories, or poems. You can be like the wonderful Faith Wilkins and make your impact.

  ~LitKid (12-year-old co-blogger at Lost in a Book)

Read more about Faith.

Read more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

summerbooksHere are some recommendations for 2013 summer reading that were handpicked from my own collection.

I hope you enjoy your summer and keep checking back for more reviews to be posted as soon as possible!

  • School of Fear, Gitty Daneshvari
  • Wonder, R.J. Palacio
  • The Apothecary, Maile Meloy
  • Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, by Wendy Mass
  • The Mother Daughter Book Club: Pies & Prejudice, Heather Vogel Frederick
  • Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, James Patterson
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley(for 11+)
  • Autumn Winifred Oliver does things different, Kristin O’Donnell Tubb
  • The Penderwicks, Jeanne Birdsall
  • Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys
  • Probability of Miracles, Wendy Wunder (for 11+)
  • Out of My Mind, Sharon Draper
  • The Secret of the Old Clock, Carolyn Keene
  • Divergent, Veronica Roth (for 11+)
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E. L. Konigsburg
  • Bliss, Kathryn Littlewood
  • Prairie Evers, Ellen Airgood
  • The One & Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate
  • Septimus Heap Series, Angie Sage

~LitKid (12-year-old reviewer and book lover)

photo-2We thought it might be nice to give our kind followers a look at what’s currently filling LitKid’s two, tall, skinny “library” bookshelves.

More books are scattered across our house, but these photos give you a good sampling of the books she’s read over the years or will be reading in years to come – a mix of picture books, fiction and nonfiction … new and classic.


(Guess who read the Harry Potter series first and then donated the books to LitKid’s library??)

Up top: Many picture books, including some vintage ones that once belonged to AKid@Heart, including The Hat
Bottom: LitKid had a chance to interview Pamela and Jon Voelkel, authors of the Jaguar Stones books, which include Middle World … She even got to read an advance copy of River of No Return.


LitKid reviewed the acclaimed book Wonder in 2012 and read Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech in her 5th grade book club along with her reading partner – her 83-year-old Grandma!


More picture books and some of LitKid’s favorite contemporary reads


Can you pick out the books that are bordering on being ANTIQUES??


Many great contemporary reads, plus some classics (Charlotte’s Web)

This year I have cashed in my one-way, no-backing-out ticket to middle school. One of my middle school joys is Battle of the Books, where we meet after school and discuss books.

Also during the meetings we come up with questions for the competition that will be held in February. There is a list of about 26 books, give or take a few (I had already read some of them, so I had a head start!). Our mentor, Ms. Carley, is really nice.

After long and hard thought, I have decided to include the list for your viewing pleasure***:

Middle School Battle of the Books List, 2012 – 2013, Wake County, NC

Title                                            Author

Airborn                                    Kenneth Oppel

Bronx Masquerade                  Nikki Grimes

Chicken Boy                           Frances O’Roark Dowell

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two        Joseph Bruchac

Dead End in Norvelt                 Jack Gantos

Death Cloud                              Andrew Lane

Diamonds in the Shadow           Caroline B. Cooney

Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie    Jordan Sonnenblick

Everlost                                        Neal Shusterman

Flush                                             Carl Hiaasen

Freak the Mighty                          Rodman Philbrick

George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War                      Thomas B. Allen

The Graveyard Book                    Neil Gaiman

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life        Wendy Mass

Just Ella                                         Margaret Peterson Haddix

Left for Dead: A Young Man’s Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis   Peter Nelson

The Nine-Pound Hammer              John Claude Bemis

Out of My Mind                             Sharon M. Draper

Peak                                                 Roland Smith

Peter and the Starcatchers               Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science- John Fleischman

Saraswati’s Way                              Monica Schroder

Stones in Water                               Donna Jo Napoli

Storm Warriors                                Elisa Carbone

Under the Mesquite                          Guadalupe Garcia McCall

The Wednesday Wars                       Gary D. Schmidt

White Fang                                       Jack London

~LitKid (11-year-old reviewer)

*** Please keep in mind some of the content in some of the books can be scary for those 9 and below; you should get your parents to background-check the books before you read them if you are that age.

P.S. You can visit this link on the Quail Ridge Books and Music web site to download this year’s middle school and elementary school Battle of the Books lists.


 By R.J. Palacio

August “Auggie ” Pullman has been homeschooled forever.

Until now.

He is different from other kids, because he has a facial deformity.  His doctor has called Auggie a miracle, because they weren’t sure he would survive.

His first day at Beecher Prep is a good and bad day.

He gets stared at. But he has Jack Will, a friend he met touring the school. Everything is going great. Until Halloween, when he overhears his best friend saying something mean.

The lesson Auggie learns is that you should choose the friends that are right for you. Friends that you can be yourself with. Friends that are loyal to you.

One reason I liked this book is because it conveys a message not just for kids like Auggie, but for everybody: Stand up for what you believe in.

Won’t you sign a pledge to CHOOSE KIND?


Watch the Wonder book trailer.

Learn more about R.J. Palacio.


LitKid dressed up as one of her favorite children’s book characters a few Halloweens ago.

… Which week do we appreciate?!

Children’s Book Week!!!!!!!!!

It’s here once again ladies and gents, and we (LitKid and AKid@Heart) have a lot in store.

One of the many things we’ll be doing this week is an interview with Laurel Snyder, author extroardinaire, who wrote Bigger Than a Bread Box.

And we’ll have a whole slue of reviews to celebrate this week.

There might even be a giveaway …!

~ LitKid (our 10-year-old book lover)

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 4.20.53 PMAnita Silvey’s wonderful “Cat in the Hat” backstory on her Children’s Book Almanac site yesterday reminded me of another anecdote about this classic that I will never forget.

I heard this “Cat in the Hat” story from a favorite writer during a book tour stop a few years ago. I can’t do it justice from memory, but this is the gist:

When he was very young and couldn’t read yet, the writer asked his grandfather to read “The Cat in the Hat” to him; he was thrilled to find that the story became more entertaining each time they sat down with the book.

After his grandfather had read the story to him a few times, the writer brought the book to his mother one day and asked her to read it. After a few times reading “The Cat in the Hat” with his mother, he was very disappointed: When she read the story, it was EXACTLY the same every time. He didn’t understand; his grandfather’s “Cat in the Hat” took on exciting and unexpected twists and turns with each reading. Why was his mother’s version so dull?

Only after the writer was much older did he figure out the reason – his grandfather could not read. But by relying on those quirky Dr. Seussian illustrations and his imagination, he managed to make “The Cat in the Hat” come alive for his grandson in a new and colorful way every time.

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing many writers talk about their work and influences at our local independent store (Quail Ridge Books and Music) over the past few years, but this is the story that has stuck with me.

I was moved by the fact that the grandfather didn’t make up excuses and sidestep his grandson’s “Cat in the Hat” request. Instead, he improvised and made use of one of his innate skills – imagination. And what a great (and unexpected) payoff it brought – his improvisation made him a storytelling master in his grandson’s eyes.

I work as a writer, but I’ve always been awed by the storytelling power of illustrators; so many vivid images from childhood books (mine and my daughter’s) are stored in my memory along with the stories they accompanied. But these days, most of the books waiting on my bedside table contain page after page of words and only words, and as my daughter has gotten older, the same can be said for many of the books in her reading stack.

In the midst of all of those words, this story always reminds that inspired images (mixed with a lively imagination) have the power to conjure up endless stories without a single written cue.


image courtesy of

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