Category Archives: Childrens

Animal Book Giveaway for the Holidays!

Happy Holidays book lovers!

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and I are teaming up with a little giveaway to start the holiday season. I have four wonderful little books about animals to give away to one US resident. Entries are easy. Just enter in Rafflecopter and that’s it.

Here’s some info about the books:


Underwater Dogs
A picture book companion to the New York Times bestselling photography book, Underwater Dogs. Features over forty colorful photographs of doggies chasing their favorite toys underwater. Includes a full color poster and information about each dog breed (a great learning tool for young dog lovers!).


DOGGY KISSES 1,2,3 by Todd Parr

(who doesn’t love Todd Parr?)
Meet 10 colorful, lovable (and sometimes slobbery) canine friends! From one doggy kiss all the way up to ten, each page stars playful pooches showing love the best way they know how.


From alligator to zebra – there’s no better way to learn the alphabet than with animals…in underwear!

Brown_Mr. Tiger_Cover

MR. TIGER GOES WILD by Peter Brown
Mr. Tiger lives in a world that is inhabited by proper ladies and gentlemen, where manners and etiquette are of the upmost importance. Tired of being so formal at all times, Mr. Tiger runs away to the jungle to loosen up, have fun and be..wild. But will he go to far? From Caldecott Honor and New York Times bestselling artist Peter Brown comes a story that celebrates individuality and emphasizes that there is a time and place for everything..even going wild.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fred Patten Reviews Otto’s Backward Day


Otto’s Backwards Day
Authors: Frank Cammuso with Jay Lynch
Publisher: TOON Books
ISBN-10: 1-935179-33-0
ISBN-13: 978-1-935179-33-7

Disclosure: A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Otto’s Backwards Day is a charming 32-page beginner’s-reading book, age-rated for 4- to 8-year-olds, or preschool to the 3rd grade. It is a “real book”, a hardcover, which is in the format of a comic book, to make it more accessible to children familiar with the comics.

Otto, a little orange cat-boy, is having a birthday tomorrow. He wants his cake and presents today. His parents tell him that he has to wait for tomorrow, not to be officious, but that’s when his party is and all his friends are coming. Otto doesn’t want to wait; “Who needs family and friends when I have the important things? Cake, ice cream, balloons…” Otto’s father tells him that he has things backwards, and to go to his room to think about it. While there, someone steals all his cake, decorations and presents. Otto chases the thief into scientist Professor Barkwords’ house next door, where the Professor has just invented a dimensional doorway into the backwards world, where people wear their underwear outside their clothes and rats chase cats. Otto and Toot, the professor’s robot, chase the thief into the backwards world, and they have a colorful adventure there in which Otto learns that family and friends are more important than cake, decorations, and presents.

Otto is a spunky cat-boy. Children can learn from him that self-reliance is important, but so are family and friends. The dimensional doorway is named Palindrome, so children will also have their vocabularies increased from that and the palindromic words that Otto encounters, such as radar, kayak, and race car. The text alternates between regular prose and clever poetry that does not break the flow of the story.

TOON Books, an imprint of juvenile-specialty publisher Candlewick Press, consists of books designed to ease young children into reading. They are designed both to be read by children alone, and for parents to read aloud to children as a family activity. Their titles have received favorable reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews. Frank Cammuso and Jay Lynch are both professional cartoonists. Cammuso is also an award-winning political cartoonist, and has written for The New Yorker and The New York Times, among other publications. Otto’s Backwards Day is their second book featuring Otto, following Otto’s Orange Day. This is highly recommended for beginning readers, and to encourage children to start their own libraries.

Celebrate the Civil Rights Movement with Random House

I HAVE A DREAM_new cover with CSK seal


August 28th is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s landmark “I Have a Dream” speech, a watershed moment in the struggle for civil rights and Random House Children’s Books has been celebrating with a fabulous Civil Rights Movement blog tour. Today, it is my great honor to be part of that tour and I have a fabulous guest post here at AmoXcalli, by Matthew Olshan, author of THE MIGHTY LALOUCHE (illustrated by Sophie Blackall).  Random House Children’s Books has put together an I Have a Dream enhanced website featuring the new picture book by Kadir Nelson, I HAVE A DREAM.  The book is stunning, the paintings really pay tribute to the man, the movement and the speech.  The book also contains a CD with the full speech.

Please join AmoXcalli, Random House Children’s Books and all the others on the tour in celebrating the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King’s historical speech.


The Promise of Freedom, Then and Now by Matthew Olshan

The word “freedom” blazes an incandescent trail through Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” but what does he mean by it? What, exactly, is the freedom he dreams of, the kind that will ring from the mountaintops, that will cause the American people to join hands and sing ecstatically, “Free at last!”

Freedom from what? Freedom to do what?

Freedom from injustice, certainly. Freedom to pursue the American Dream.

For Dr. King, the American Dream is rooted in what he calls its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

He says this knowing all too well the irony in those sacred words from the Declaration of Independence. The men who wrote them didn’t really believe that men were created equal. Many of the Founding Fathers owned slaves. And slaves weren’t created equal. You couldn’t own someone who was your equal; therefore, slaves weren’t men. At least, not fully. A slave was some fraction of a man. Call it three-fifths.

But those imperfect, 18th Century men were dreamers, too. They invented a country that promised more than it could deliver. They drew up a constitution with the goal of forming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, mind you, but a more perfect union. They understood that we live in the world; that the world is full of injustice, greed, and cruelty; that people generally want to do the right thing, but aren’t always strong enough to do it.

Ours has been a history of forgetting our promises, then remembering, and lurching, sometimes violently, towards the light.

Even some of our greatest triumphs have fallen short. Take the Emancipation Proclamation. Church bells rang out across the land on January 1st, 1863. Freed slaves and abolitionists alike were overjoyed. Surely there were ecstatic cries of “Free at last!”

But the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free all the slaves. President Lincoln couldn’t risk losing the border states. The slaves in Maryland, Delaware, and Kentucky may have heard distant ringing that day; alas, the bells weren’t ringing for them.

The century that followed the Emancipation Proclamation saw many gains for people of color, but also great backsliding. In states like Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama, equality wasn’t simply an impossibility; in huge swaths of the country, it was no longer even a dream.

Dr. King’s speech, smoldering with anger and yet brimming with hope, was meant to remind Americans of their creed, that promise of equality dating back to the Declaration of Independence.

Our union is certainly more perfect now. The scourge of slavery is long past. The worst abuses of Jim Crow are over.

But their legacy remains.

We’ll always need voices like Dr. King’s — righteous, melodious, idealistic, and stern — to remind us of the nation we were; the nation we are; and the nation we hope to be.

History shows us how easy it is to forget.

Matthew Olshan is the author of several novels for young readers, including Finn and The Flown Sky. The Mighty Lalouche, a collaboration with the award-winning illustrator Sophie Blackall, is his first venture into the world of picture books. Their next collaboration, Henry and Henri, which will be published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, is the story of the first international flight: a balloon ride across the English Channel in 1785, taken by an Englishman and a Frenchman who absolutely hated each other.??Matthew also writes serious literary fiction for adults. Look for Marshlands, a novel of military occupation and empire, due out from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in February, 2014

The #Cybils and the 7-Year Itch

It’s my seventh year with the Cybils and I’m still madly in love.  No seven-year itch here.  So why am I so in love?

Every year towards the fading of summer, a Yahoo Group email starts flooding my inbox.  This group includes us category organizers and the dynamic, brilliant women that do all the technical wonder and behind the scenes stuff that makes the Cybils work – things like databases, website stuff, forms, spreadsheets and logos.  The discussions are lively and fill my day.  We talk about what we learned from previous years, go over our notes from then, discuss ways to make the Cybils better and occasionally veer off to talk about our personal lives, triumphs and joys, stumbles and falls.  We’ve become a tightly-knit and comfortable sweater of a group; friends that support and cheer each other on in our endeavors all while keeping strong to the business at hand – that of the Cybils.

These women I have the honor of being in a group with are amazing.  They care so passionately about children, about books, about libraries, about literacy.  Some are teachers or librarians – my heroes.  They battle shrinking budgets and find ways to engage, inspire and promote the love of reading to the communities they service and it consumes their time in and out of work, yet they find a way to carve out time for the Cybils.  They are passionate about this award too, you see and believe in it wholeheartedly.  They do this every year and by the conversations I see that start the Award season, they do it with love and uncensored devotion.

And so I am in love.  I am in love with this award, the process of making it better and no matter the cost to my personal or work time.  I too, am devoted to it and to the amazing superheroes that make it happen year after year.  I’m in love with the bravery of the intrepid souls that dare to sign on for our judging panels knowing full well they will be reading stacks and stacks of books with no reward, other than virtual chocolate.  I am in love with the humor, the passion and the prodigious knowledge of the written form.

Seven-year itch?  Not even close.  I’m in it for the long haul.

Please consider applying to be one of our judges.  It will be the best decision you’ve ever made and one the most rewarding things you do.  If you apply to be on the Young Adult Nonfiction panel, I promise to give you lots of virtual chocolate and email you to talk about what you’re reading.  I’m taking e-books this year too, so come with Kindle or other e-reader in hand.

Good Night Captain Mama


Good Night Captain Mama
Graciela Tiscareno-Sato (Author) , Linda Lens (Illustrator)
Publisher: Gracefully Global Group LLC; Bilingual edition (June 4, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0983476039
ISBN-13: 978-0983476030

I typically don’t review self-published books at all.  I have my reasons and the main one is that I’m just not keeping up with regular reviews like I used to.  To open myself up to a deluge of self-published or indie books is frankly something I can’t afford to do.  That said, I do make the occasional exception.  GOOD NIGHT CAPTAIN MAMA is one.

Why am I making an exception?  I’m doing this because I think this little gem is a very important book in a lot of ways.  I do have some critiques, but whatever the book’s problems it remains important.

GOOD NIGHT CAPTAIN MAMA is the story of a mother and child.  The mother is in the military and is explaining to the child what her various badges on her flight suit mean.  The mother is a Latina, a woman in a typically male industry and in a position of authority in what would also be a typical role that a man would fill.  That’s why the book is important.  Mama isn’t in the kitchen rolling out tortillas, or in the store shopping – it’s her son’s bedtime and instead of settling down for the night herself, she’s preparing to go on a mission.

So much of what we read and see about Latina women is stereotypical.  You’d think it was still the 1950s for how we are portrayed.  If we’re not cleaning a house, we’re either beauty queens or something a lot less savory.  I can’t remember a time where I’ve EVER read about a Latina Captain before.  That’s huge.  It shows Latino children that they can aspire to something more, be more.  Young women and girls will have role models that do more than shake their behinds and sing.

As mentioned above, I did have a few small problems with the book.  The author did a good job with description, but I would have liked to see more story and less show and tell.  It could have been absolutely riveting with a stronger story and I do think the author is capable of that.  She has a story to tell, a good one and she does it, though a little matter of fact and instructional.  I think given time, she will become more polished in her storytelling, more experienced and confident in her voice.  I’d love to see more Captain Mama stories in the future.  It would be a tremendous series and one of great value. I think our children need these books and Captain Mama is a wonderful character with tons of potential.

All in all, GOODNIGHT CAPTAIN MAMA is a must-have for any child, especially girls or children with parents in the military.  The book is bilingual (English and Spanish) with lovely illustrations and I think it should be in every library and school.

This review is part of the Condor Book Tour with the following participating blogs:

?    Mon July 1st NW Prime Radio Live Interview at 11am Pacific!
?    Tues July 2 Knitting and Sundries
?    Wed July 3 Latina Book Club
?    Thurs July 4 Mommy Maestra & NBC Latino
?    Fri July 5 Amoxcalli
?    *Mamiverse publish date TBD

You can purchase CAPTAIN MAMA on

Suggested hashtag: #captmama

About the Author

This book was inspired by a conversation the author had with her son the night before a Veterans Day event at his preschool. As Graciela donned her uniform, her son entered the room on his way to bed when he spotted her in her “costume.” His curiosity and the questions he asked led Graciela to write the first draft of the manuscript that same night.

Graciela Tiscareño-Sato is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. She completed the Aerospace Studies program as an AFROTC (Air Force Reserve Officer Training Program) scholarship cadet while earning her degree in Architecture and Environmental Design. During her active duty career in the U.S. Air Force, she deployed to four continents and dozens of countries as aircrew member, instructor and contingency planning officer. Flying many combat sorties over Southern Iraq in the NO FLY Zone after Operation Desert Storm earned her crew the prestigious Air Medal on her first deployment. She served with a NATO Battle staff in Vicenza, Italy, as a military liaison officer at the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador and much more. She earned a Master degree in International Management from the School of Global Commerce at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington before leaving active service.

After an international marketing management career with Siemens, she created her global marketing and publishing firm, Gracefully Global Group, LLC. In November 2010, she received “Entrepreneur of the Year” honors at the LATINAStyle Magazine Gala in Washington D.C. Graciela actively mentors students who need education and career roadmaps, a central focus of her four-time award-winning book, Latinnovating. She is a sought-after keynote speaker, workshop leader (personal branding for military veterans) and lecturer in classrooms, business schools, corporate events and conferences around the nation. Graciela and her family live in the San Francisco Bay Area.



Author:  Rodrigo Folgueria
Illustrator: Poly Bernatene
Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (March 26, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307981460
ISBN-13: 978-0307981462

This is one of the most charming books I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a while.  I fell in love the story of a pink pig who just wanted to make friends.  The illustrations on textured paper are big, colorful and comical.  Children, both in the age group it targets and a little older, will adore it.  The book shows that making friends isn’t always easy, but worth the trouble.  It also shows children that just because someone is different, that’s no reason to be suspicious of them.  Sometimes, people do just want to be your friend.  In a world gone a little mad lately, this simple message of friendship is very welcome and assuring.

The illustrations really are beautiful.  The expressive faces of pig and frogs are wonderful.  They say it all and the text/story provides a little extra detail.  The pig’s rather large face is completely lovable and cute.  I can see small children falling in love with it.  The text is wonderful too – it grows larger as the ribbits do and provides emphasis to the story.

When the pig ends up in a tree with lots of little bird friends my middle-grade grandchildren laughed aloud in pure enjoyment.

Lovely, charming and highly recommended.

Book Description from the publisher:

A group of frogs are living happily in a peaceful pond, until they discover a surprise visitor: a little pink pig. Sitting contentedly on a rock in the middle of their pond, the pig opens his mouth and says: RIBBIT! The frogs are bewildered at first, and then a bit annoyed—”What did that little pig just say?”, “Does he think he’s a frog?”, “Is he making fun of us?”

Soon the pig draws the attention of all the nearby animals; everyone is curious to know what he wants! After much guessing (and shouting) and a visit to the wise old beetle, the animals realize that perhaps the pig was not there to mock them after all—maybe he just wanted to make new friends!  But is it too late?  This is a warm, funny, and beautifully illustrated story of friendship, with boisterous RIBBIT!s throughout—perfect for reading aloud.

About the Author & Illustrator

RODRIGO FOLGUEIRA studied art at Buenos Aires National School of Fine Art and works as an author and illustrator, specializing in children’s books. He lives and works in Argentina.

POLY BERNATENE graduated from Buenos Aires Art School and has worked across many different genres including advertising, animation, and comic books. He has published more than 60 children’s books all over the world. He lives and works in Argentina.

Scholastic Discover More: World War II


Scholastic Discover More: World War II
Author: Sean Callery
Publisher: Scholastic Reference (March 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0545479754
ISBN-13: 978-0545479752

I’m quickly learning to love the Scholastic Discover More series of books. The grandchildren love them and for me, they are a wealth of information.

In World War II, a visual history of the world’s darkest days, there are plenty of full color photographs, as well as some stunning black and whites and infographic type pages laid out in a way that is appealing to most children. Also provided is a free digital companion book that kids and parents can access either on Mac or PC through Scholastic’s Discover More website. Continue reading

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest


The Cats of Tanglewood Forest
Charles de Lint (Author), Charles Vess (Illustrator)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316053570
ISBN-13: 978-0316053570

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest is a fairytale that reads like those old epic stories that tell of someone seemingly ordinary, but who has an extraordinarily kind heart. In the old stories, that was your hero who went on a long quest, filled with adventure, mystery and danger. At the heart of this tale is Lillian, a red-headed girl who loves to run and play in the forest, seeking out fairies and daydreaming under trees. She’s close to the earth and her kindness shows. She has respect for nature, respect for magic and is a lover of tales. You immediately love her and are drawn into her world with the beautiful writing of Charles de Lint, an expert at telling tales. His words paint a vivid and marvelous world full of magic. Charles Vess’ artwork, as always is dreamy, lush and gorgeous. His colors and brushstrokes pull you farther into this world that seems so real. The story makes you feel at home and it also takes you back into your childhood, reminding you of those hours you spent curled up with an old fairytale adventure, being transported into that world. Continue reading

Holiday Gift Guide from Random House Children’s Books

It’s that time of year again.  The highly anticipated and highly dreaded holiday season.  We here at AmoXcalli can think of nothing better to give than books – a gift that will last a lifetime, even if the actual books don’t.  Our friends at Random House Children’s Books have put together a handy list of their titles in a downloadable PDF document for your holiday gift giving and what wonderful titles they are.  I highly recommend any of these for the kids in your life.  Just click the link below to download the list of titles.

Holiday Titles and Gift Guide from Random House Children’s Books


Shannon Muir Reviews Batula



Writer: Steven T. Seagle

Illustrator: Marco Cinello

Publisher:Man of Action Studios/Image Comics

ISBN-10: 160706572X

ISBN-13: 978-1607065722


Livingston is a fruit bat in a country orchard who feels out of place. So, despite warnings, he goes one day to check out the big city. In the city, he finds a bat in a cage that he thinks needs help… but instead this mean bat bites him and makes him a vampire bat! Finding it even harder to fit in, Livingston runs away from home again and finds a spider mentor who helps him hone his new skills and create the identity of BATULA. When an unexpected crisis arises, can Livingston use the new skills he’s learned as BATULA to save the day? Written by Steven T. Seagle (part of Man of Action Studios), and drawn by Marc Cinello (whose credits include work on SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS), this book is both humorous and touching for young audiences.

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review via Netgalley, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.