New Release: Scaredy Bat and the Sunscreen Snatcher

My oldest read and really enjoyed Marina J. Bowman’s two Legends of Pineapple Cove books, and so I joined the Code Pineapple email list on her behalf. Not too long later, I got an email inviting people to apply to part of the Scaredy Bat #2 Launch Team; I applied, was accepted, and read the e-ARC with my 8 and 6 year old daughters. And today, on Launch Day, I’m sharing it with you! Get your copy FREE or $0.99 from today through May 31!

Scaredy Bat and the Sunscreen Snatcher (Scaredy Bat: A Vampire Detective Series Book 2) by [Marina J. Bowman]

“Scaredy Bat” is actually a 12 year old vampire named Ellie, who loves solving mysteries. But she scares easily, and when she does, she turns into a bat. Each installment of the book follows Ellie as she both solves a mystery and overcomes a fear, while working closely with a group of supportive friends. In Scaredy Bat and the Sunscreen Snatcher, Ellie overcomes her fear of clowns, learns not to judge people by appearance (or, rather, smell), and remembers the importance of working closely with others as a team.

My kids LOVED it, and each gave it five stars. My rating is more like a three – it was a fun book for the kids, with some wholesome and important lessons. It made a great read-aloud and bridged the age difference between my girls, which is hard to do sometimes. The publishers describe the book as an early chapter book geared for kids ages 8-12, but it feels more appropriate to me for the 6-8 crowd, and kids who are ready to move up to early chapter books like the early Magic Treehouse series. Advanced readers and older kids will likely find it simplistic to read on their own, but the storyline will hold their interest as a read-aloud.

I guess to be fair I have to average the ratings, which gives us four stars!

The Quick Queen of Quincy and her Quacking Quackeroo: Board Books I Still Love After 8 Years

My son is 18 months old and just now starting to let us read him an entire board book in one sitting. Up until a week or two ago we got…maybe a page? And he’s known to tear apart paper books (there’s one waiting on the counter to be fixed right now)… So today while I was reading him the same books over and over, I started thinking about how we’ve had most of them since my oldest (now eight) was a baby, and how I definitely have my favorites. There are some I just don’t get tired of reading, and others…I’m not sure why we still have. So I thought I’d share my favorite board books that we have at our home, in no particular order:

Dr. Seuss's ABC (Beginner Books(R)) by [Dr. Seuss]

Dr. Seuss’s ABC – Some of you may recognize this one from the title of this post. I have loved this book for eight years now, and could probably recite it to you. We now have two copies, which is good because the first has been well-chewed (ew). And yes, I know the board book is not the full text of the original book. I’m offended by other shortened versions, but this one I like.

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear (Child's Play Library)

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood – I LOVE this book. I fondly remember my now three-year-old saying, “BOOM BOOM BOOM” when we got that page. So fun!

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown – A good friend sent this to us when my oldest was a baby, saying, “It’s way better than Goodnight Moon.” While Goodnight Moon will always be one of my childhood favorites, I have to agree. and I love that it’s illustrated by Felicia Bond (think If You Give a Mouse a Cookie). My oldest always had to count the bantam hen’s eggs. It does tell you to, after all… “Count them. There are ten.”

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea – Friends gifted this to us, and it’s lots of fun. Dinosaur can defeat all challenges (even talking grownups!), but he loses to bedtime. Oh, and be prepared to say, “Roar.” A LOT.

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Dan Santat – We all know kids can go from perfectly fine to MEEHHHHRRR in an instant, about seemingly nothing. Meet “Crankenstein,” the monster those kids turn into. We’ve been affectionately calling our kids Crankenstein since we got this book.

We have SO MANY board books that I have to be forgetting some that I love, but these are the ones that came to mind today while I was reading on the floor. On the rare occasions that I get to choose what we’re reading, these top the list!

What board books do you or your kids love?

Who am I?

Isn’t that the eternal question? Who am I? What makes me ME? Is it my history? My ancestry? The sum of my actions? My thoughts? Fears? Aspirations? I think this is a fundamental human question, something people the world over ask themselves, regardless of their life circumstances.

For me, it’s less a question of who I am than of where I belong. Thanks be to God, I know where that is: right where I am. If there’s one thing this pandemic has made abundantly clear, it’s that I am one blessed woman. My husband and my children are MY LIFE. Last year, we packed up and moved across the country. I was scared, but I knew that as long as the six of us were doing this together, I’d be fine. I can adjust to a new location, make new friends. But the core of my life is here with me. Even more so, now that we’re staying-at-home-all-together-all-the-time. Is it easy? No. Do we get on each other’s nerves sometimes? Yes. But do I doubt that we will come through it together? Not at all. My husband, my children, and the Grace of God will carry me; we will carry each other.

I haven’t always felt this at home. I had a profound identity crisis after becoming a mother – who was I if I wasn’t the smart woman who walked into work every day and did “important” stuff? If I couldn’t engage in my regular hobbies with my husband anymore (um, no rock climbing or backpacking with a newborn baby)? If I wasn’t the perfect student and had to give up grad school? I wrestled. For years. I suffered from PPD – multiple times. I reached incredible low points that I don’t wish on anyone. But I found me, I found home.

Perhaps it’s because I endured that journey that I am so interested in others’ stories as they search for what makes them them. I’ve had a chance to read a lot of books over the past bunch of days (self-isolating from your family does that, dratted pandemic), and there’s been a common theme across many of them: search for self.

A Drop of Midnight: A Memoir by [Diakité, Jason]Jason “Timbuktu” Diakite, a biracial Swedish rapper born of American parents, recounts his search for his identity in his memoir, A Drop of Midnight. I picked it up for free as part of Amazon Prime’s “First Reads” in February. I’d never heard of him before, I don’t like rap music, and I certainly don’t know what it’s like to experience a racial identity crisis. I’m a white girl from NJ. Very simple. So in many ways this was not a typical read for me, but I found it fascinating – which was certainly helped by the incredibly beautiful writing (hats off to the author and the translator!). It was moving, and while I can’t identify with his particular experiences, I can identify with Jason’s search for himself. I rooted for him as I read, praying he’d find that comfort in his own skin, that home he was clearly searching for. (I also learned a whole lot along the way, which is always nice.)

The War I Finally Won by [Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker]Ada Smith is a fictional 11-year-old girl with a club foot in WWII England. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s The War I Finally Won, a sequel to the Newberry Honor recipient The War That Saved My Life, takes us along on Ada’s journey as she finds her place in the world, a world that is constantly changing around her and full of heartache. She perseveres. She finds people who love her, she learns to love, and in doing so she finds home. It’s beautiful.

Austenland: A Novel by [Hale, Shannon]

On a more lighthearted note, Shannon Hale’s Jane “Erstwhile” Hayes (Austenland) takes a vacation to nineteenth century England to figure out who she is. It’s easy to call it a romance and move on, but it’s really one woman’s effort to figure out and accept herself so that she is capable of loving and being loved in return.

 

Rightfully Ours by [Astfalk, Carolyn]Finally, I just finished Carolyn Astfalk’s Rightfully Ours, a young adult, Catholic love story. It is beautiful in so many ways. In it we see Paul struggle through the hard work of adolescence, with the added burden of great personal loss. He grows from rotely following along with his childhood faith to true personal conviction. He finds who he wants to be, the courage to try to live his ideals, and the family to support him in that effort. For many, many reasons, this is a book I hope my children will read when they are old enough.

So, there you have four very different books that all speak beautifully to the human question who am I? There’s a fifth, too, but it’s an ARC and I can’t share it yet — wait ’til May/June. Who knows? We might even be able to go out in public by then….

Thank you for reading along with my musings. I am grateful that, for now, I have that question answered. I have no doubt that I will face many more trials and life changes that will challenge this notion – but right now, it is such a pleasure to read these stories, and learn from them, but not to feel that yearning, that seeking.

I am home, and it is beautiful.