Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What's New for 2016 Part Two #fb #kidlit #nfkids

Do you have what it takes to be a super spy? Are you smart, sneaky, stealthy? Are you a master of disguise? Can you break a code in seconds flat? Take these quizzes and find out if you’re cut out for a life of intrigue and adventure.

I wrote Top Secret: Uncover Your Inner Spy as the Girl Power companion to my earlier The Quiz Book for Spies. Even though that book is not gender specific,it is indeed aimed at ALL kids, it somehow kept getting shuffled off to the "boy" book shelves. 

So my fabulous editor at Scholastic Canada, Tamara Sztainbok, and I put our heads together and came up with Top Secret, a very feminist version of that gender-neutral book. It's got all the humor and verve that we put into Spies. So what's different? Top Secret has 100% female spy references and trivia. For example, you'll learn about real life historic spies who were women, and why most espionage agencies think gals make the best spies in the world. Goodbye, James Bond. Hello, Kim Possible.

My goal with this book is to take back the power of pink - as it is with the other girl-oriented titles in my popular quiz book seriesThey all celebrate what girls really are - smart, capable, funny -  without suggesting for one red second that our interests or abilities fit into a corner (and that corner is filled only with makeup and cookery aids). 

Like many of my colleagues and friends, I deplore the pink-and-blue aisle thinking of our contemporary marketplace. We're all working to change it. But in the meantime, we can also use it - to deliver to girls the kind of material that makes them proud to be girls. To celebrate the accomplishments of incredible women like Barbara Lauer, Nancy Wake and Virginia Hall (If you don't know who they were, you'll have to read the book!). To give girls opportunities to use their smarts to solve logic puzzles and break codes. And to develop girls' belief in themselves, and their ability to become whoever they want, even if what they want to be is (shhhh!) totally top secret.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Silly, but not inane - that's me!

I am loving this review for Let Sleeping Dogs Lie from Kirkus!

"The author perfectly captures a middle school crush that is getting just deep enough to matter but not so much so that it's troublesome to either participant. The narrative is also peppered with the same spy jargon that made the first Dirk Daring adventure such a blast. This is a very silly book, but it never crosses the line into inanity."

My entire life purpose has now been fulfilled. 

Kirkus also says, 

"With a smart balance of humor and heart, this is a winning sequel."

If doesn't get better than that, does it? 

Friday, January 22, 2016


I am so pleased that Worms for Breakfast (Owlkids) has gotten a starred review from Kirkus.

Here's what they say:

"Monkey chow, mealworm mush, and predator popsicles, yum yum. Here's a lively introduction to the foods zoo and aquarium animals eat and some people who choose and prepare them. Becker opens her zoo cookery book with a recipe for an appetizer—platypus party mix (crayfish, earthworms, mealworms, and fly pupae, all live and wriggling—and a table of contents labeled "Menu." Each double-page spread is a chapter. There's a puzzle asking readers to match plated food with pictured animals and a spread describing a zoo kitchen. Further pages present additional surprising recipes, introductions to zoo nutritionists, and explanations of feeding methods—from formula for newborns to special treats for picky eaters—and parties, puzzles, and games mimicking feeding activities in the wild. The description of fish-feeding includes a shoutout to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's seafood guide, and the author emphasizes the conservation mission of today's zoos. Boake's humorous computer-generated illustrations look like animal photos set on animation cels. One spread features seven nocturnal animals helping themselves to midnight snacks from the refrigerator. Superimposed on the final image of humans and the primates who are our relatives are suggestions for supporting animals inside and outside captivity. With fascinating facts and a lively design, this is a surprisingly nourishing treat. (glossary, puzzle answers, index) (Informational picture book. 7-10)"

And here's what I say: Woohoo!!!

And the first review for Let Sleeping Dogs Lie Is IN!!! #fb #kidlit #mglit #humor #spy

It's always great when the first review for a new book comes in with three stars attached! CM Magazine really likes Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, the sequel to Dirk Daring, Secret Agent! Here is an excerpt.:

" Darren Dirkowitz is back, and this time he has a full spy team, including his older stepbrother (Code name: Waldo), Opal (Code name: Agent Jewel) and even his ex-best friend, Travis (Code name: T-Bone). This time the Wolf Lords, a group of older kids who go to Northern, are wreaking havoc on the group. Because of Dirk Daring’s success in shutting down the Detention Gang at Preston, the Wolf Lords aren’t raking in the cash any longer, and they put it on Dirk and his team to pay up each week. Meanwhile, rumors of a school merger between Preston and Northern circulate the school, giving the team the added pressure of formulating a plan to stop it.

     Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, Dirk Daring is well-written, like Dirk Daring, Secret Agent, the first book, and is thick with sarcasm, humour and wit. Unlike Dirk Daring, Secret Agent, which focussed on Darren feeling ostracized among his peers and bullied by Waldo for his interest in spying, this book focuses more on the friendships Darren has built within his group. It is also nice to see him work with his stepbrother, rather than against him....a great recommendation for reluctant readers as the pages are filled with diary entries, code logs and interview excerpts, making it a fun read.

You can see the full review here. And you can buy the books at your favorite indie bookstores everywhere!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Get Yer Book Signed at OLA! #fb #OLASuperconference #kidlit

It's less than a week away: OLA Superconference!

I'll be signing hot-off-the-press copies of Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, at the Orca Booth at 11 AM on Friday.

I'll be signing equally sizzling copies of Top Secret: Uncover Your Inner Spy at the Scholastic Canada booth directly after that, at 11:30.

Please come by and say hi!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What's New in Science Trade Books for Kids - Join Me at OLA!

If you'll be in Toronto, next Wednesday, please join Gillian O'Reilly and Jan Thornhill  and me bright and early as we present an informative and fun session (There will be giveaways!) at the OLA Superconference. 

Here are the deets:  

When: Wednesday, Jan 27 | 9:00 am - 10:30 am
Location: MTCC 206C
Days: Wednesday. Event Types: Session. Sectors: School Libraries. Subjects: Children's Resources and STEM.

Nonfiction for children, that under-appreciated workhorse of the literary world, is currently undergoing a Renaissance. Print resources, especially in STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, are more innovative – and useful – than ever. Did you know, for example, that breaking news in science frequently appears first in children’s books? Canadian authors are at the leading edge of the trend, producing ground-breaking, award-winning books that turn fact-finding into an adventure, and stimulate critical thinking skills with first-rate scholarship. In this session, we will shine white-hot laser beams on contemporary trends, explore how to evaluate science-related children’s books and determine how to highlight them in your collection. You’ll also receive a hot-off-the-press annotated list of science-related books by Canadian authors, keyed to curricular topics. This session will be led by the bloggers at  where you can find the latest news related to science issues for children in Canada. PLUS: FREE BOOK DRAW!
Learning Outcomes
Learn about game-changing contemporary trends in children’s nonfiction, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics STEM
Learn techniques for evaluating the new style of print nonfiction for children, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics STEM
Receive a detailed, comprehensive list of Canadian science books for children, keyed by curricular topic, and links to on-line resources to make selecting science resources for children faster, easier, and more reliable.

New for 2016 - Part One!

Have you got what it takes to survive?
Would you survive an attack by intergalactic microbes? What about sentient robots? Ghost cats? Or a Sharknado? In my 7th title in the popular quiz book series from Scholastic Canada, you'll get to find out the truth. See how you stack up against evil masterminds, giant scorpions, and the neighborhood bully! Rate your bravery, confidence, musclepower, and find out if you can master your own inner demons.
Reader tip: Don’t open the book without a firm grip on your security blanket. You’ll need every extra bit of bravery-boosting possible!

Because: Science!