Captain Underpants Movie: Video-palooza!

June 11th, 2017 by

In January, we excitedly shared a “first look” at the Captain Underpants movie. Well, now the film is finally out in theaters!

Apparently, the film is HUGE (just like Captain Underpants’ tighty whities) — with the movie coming in #2 at the box office over opening weekend. But if you’re like me and you haven’t had the chance to see the movie yet, I thought you might appreciate this video round-up, including clips from the film and coverage of fun stuff from the red carpet premiere!

Video #1: Features an amazing montage of George and Harold’s many pranks…


Video #2: The moment when Captain Underpants comes to life…


Video #3: With great power comes great responsibility — but try telling that to Harold and George!


Video #4: It’s man (kind of) versus ape (kind of) in this video clip:


Video #5: Some people say, “It’s the thought that counts.” But I’m not sure the recipients of Captain Underpants’ supposed “help” would agree…


Video #6: Introducing Professor Poopypants!


Video #7: Check out the official movie theme song by Weird Al Yankovic! (Warning: You may later find yourself humming this tune even when you don’t want to!)


Video #8: Somehow, these kids managed to get Captain Underpants videos created based on their wacky ideas — even without the use of hypnotism!


Video #9: Have you always wanted to watch movie stars and the author of the Captain Underpants books fling underwear through the air with all their might? Well, today is your lucky day! Search no further. The video of your dreams is below:


If all these videos don’t get you pumped to see the movie, I don’t know what could! Actually, I do have another idea: Read the Captain Underpants books while you wait for your trip to the theater! There are sooooooooooooo many books in the series — making it a great choice for summer reading too!

If you’re a Captain Underpants fan, leave a comment and share your thoughts on the new movie!

— Karen

If Karen became a superhero, she would definitely want to wear more than just underpants — maybe some pajamas for ultimate comfort and flexibility during battle!

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Books to Big Screen: Wonder Movie Trailer

May 30th, 2017 by

wonder-posterHere are my two favorite things in life: children’s books and food. So you probably won’t be surprised that when I attended a friend’s party recently, I spent a good amount of time stuffing my face and talking about the book I had just finished.

That book was Auggie and Me by R.J. Palacio, the companion to the critically acclaimed and totally beloved book Wonder.

Based on Wonder‘s popularity, you’ve probably heard of it. In fact, you’ve probably read it yourself! If not, I highly recommend it — and I’m not the only one: Check out these reviews from other young readers.

So, if you’re a fan of Wonder, then you probably already knew that a movie adaptation is in the works. And that’s what we were taking about at the party — which actors are in it, when it’s coming out, and how Auggie might be portrayed.

Well, now the first trailer is finally out! Watch it below:


So, what do you think?

Some people at the party guessed that the movie will start with Auggie wearing his space helmet, so that there is a more dramatic reveal later. If the trailer is any indication, the full movie may indeed take that approach.

Other people guessed that a good portion of the movie might be shot from Auggie’s point of view. The trailer does not support that theory, but who knows what isn’t shown here?

My personal opinion is that Auggie doesn’t look exactly as described in the book. But I tend to be a big stickler for faithfulness to the source material, and I always get annoyed when movie adaptations stray too far. So maybe it doesn’t matter that Auggie is not depicted in the movie precisely as he is described in the book — as long as the film gets the heart of the characters and the story right. And for that, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the final movie is like!

Are you planning to watch the movie? What do you think of the trailer? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

— Karen

Once a friend remarked to Karen, “I can’t believe how you always find people to talk with you about children’s books at parties.” Guess that’s what happens when you have narrow interests and a persistent demeanor!

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Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan: Book Review

May 14th, 2017 by

Short by Holly Goldberg SloanA few month’s ago, Nancy created a personality quiz to pair Kidsmomo readers with their Valentine’s Day Book Match. Obviously, I couldn’t let you guys have all the fun, so I decided to give it a try for myself. And guess what, you guys — Nancy’s quiz is GENIUS. Because I got matched with Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan, and I really, really, really, REALLY loved it!

The book is about Julia, who is in middle school but always gets mistaken for being younger. Why? Well — in case the title wasn’t a giveaway — Julia is short. In fact, she’s so small, she can still climb through the family’s doggie door!

But at the moment, that’s not the issue weighing most on Julia’s mind. At the start of the story, she’s most concerned about the loss of her dog, Ramon. With her two best friends away all summer, it’s going to be hard for Julia to cope with Ramon’s recent death. And to make matters worse, her mother is forcing Julia to audition for a community production of The Wizard of Oz.

Julia is decidedly NOT interested in being on stage, but she’s compelled to go along with her younger brother (and talented singer), Randy. Lo and behold — both of them get cast as Munchkins. And soon, Julia starts finding her place as part of the theater community. I don’t want to give away any details, but I will say that I absolutely loved all of Julia’s behind-the-scenes adventures as she gets involved in things like costume design, flying monkey casting, and actor gossip.

To be honest, I always like stories that offer a peek into what goes on behind the curtains in the theater world. But in the case of Short, I particularly enjoyed seeing everything through Julia’s eyes — and through her unique and often hilarious narration. And not only is Julia a fully rounded character, but so are all the adults involved with the show — from the eccentric director with a particular vision, to Julia’s Munchkin partner, Olive, an actress with dwarfism.

I’d recommend Short to pretty much anyone who likes realistic fiction, but especially to fans of these kinds of books:

With the school year ending soon, you may be working on your own summer plans right now. I suggest you include reading Short on your list!

But also, what are your summer plans? Going to camp? Traveling somewhere fun for vacation? Staying home and taking cool classes like robotics or art or sports? Leave a comment and share what you’re up to!

— Karen

Karen doesn’t have any big vacations planned for the summer, but she wants to do some little weekend trips. Any suggestions?

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Moo by Sharon Creech: Book Review

April 30th, 2017 by

moo-sharon-creech April is National Poetry Month, so I decided to read Moo by Sharon Creech. I was all patting myself on the back, like: “Great poetry book pick, Karen!” But lo and behold — I soon realized it’s not actually a poetry book! Some of it is in poetry, but some of it is in prose. It’s kind of a combo novel.

Well, once I got over the shock, I realized that it didn’t matter. It didn’t feel jarring at all to move between poetic verse and paragraphs of prose. In fact, I found that I really enjoyed the unique approach.

In a way, my experience as I discovered Moo is kind of like Reena’s experience in the book. When she first meets Mrs. Falala, she thinks the old lady is super crabby and horrible — but then Reena realizes there’s more to her neighbor than she initially thought.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe I should tell you who Reena and Mrs. Falala are: Reena is the narrator in Moo. She and her family have just left behind big-city life and moved to Maine. Mrs. Falala is their new neighbor — and in a way, she becomes Reena’s boss. That’s because Reena’s parents volunteer Reena and her younger brother to help out Mrs. Falala on the farm. As you can imagine, scooping cow dung is NOT glamorous work. Plus, Mrs. Falala is not particularly friendly. So Reena is not at all pleased with the situation.

But over time, Reena’s feelings start to change. She starts to feel more comfortable on the farm with Zora the cow, Paulie the pig, China the cat, and Edna the snake. Not to mention Mrs. Falala! But there are still challenges, especially for a former city slicker like Reena, and I enjoyed reading about her adventures trying to wrangle Zora and settle into her new life.

I highly recommend this book to fans of Sharon Creech’s other books, like Love That DogGranny Torrelli Makes Soup, and Walk Two Moons.

And since Moo is about a kid finding her way in a new place over the summer, it’s also a great pick if you enjoy stories about people trying out new things during their summer breaks, like Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord and Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life (So Far) by Ann M. Martin.

Not sure you’re ready to spend time with a grumpy cow like Zora? You can check out an excerpt of the book on the author’s website!

— Karen

Like Reena at the start of the book, Karen is most definitely a city girl who prefers to be indoors. Maybe spending time with Zora would change that?

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Ghost by Jason Reynolds: Book Review

April 17th, 2017 by

ghost Despite its title, Ghost by Jason Reynolds is not a horror story. Ghost is actually the nickname for the main character (whose real name is Castle). There’s nothing supernatural or paranormal going on here.

But Ghost has known terror in his life — specifically, the moment when his father grabbed a gun and chased Ghost and his mother through their home and down the street, shooting to kill. Since then, Ghost has lived with a lot of anxiety and anger inside, but no place to put that energy.

That all changes one day on the track. Ghost happens to come across tryouts for an elite middle school running team, and he decides to show off a little — not because he wants to join, just because he can’t stand the smug looks on some of these athletes’ faces. But lo and behold, soon the coach has convinced Ghost to join the team.

Cue the happy ending? Not quite. This is Ghost’s first time as part of a group like this, plus Coach is pushing him to push himself to his own limits… and maybe even beyond — and Ghost is not used to it. Can Ghost find his place on the team, and maybe even find himself along the way? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially fans of Kwame Alexander’s books The Crossover and Booked. But you don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy Ghost. And you definitely don’t need to have a similar background to Ghost’s in order to appreciate his story.

In fact, I think it’s really important to read books about people and places that don’t mirror your own life — and that’s why I’m participating in the Reading Without Walls Challenge this month. One of the challenges is to read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you. I chose Ghost!

But even though Ghost has a completely different life than mine, it was easy to identify with him. The author does an amazing job of taking you into Ghost’s head. As I read the book, I felt like I was getting to know a very real person, not just a book character.

Ghost is the first book in a new series called Track, where each book will focus on a different member of the running team. I’m really looking forward to the next one about Patina (aka Patty)! Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until it comes out in August. But you’re in luck because you don’t have to wait at all for a taste of Ghost! If you’re interested, you can watch the author read the beginning of the book in the video below:

Are you a runner like Ghost, or do you play another sport (like basketball in The Crossover or soccer in Booked)? Leave a comment and share your sport!

— Karen

Karen is most definitely not a runner. The last time she tried to go running, she made it one block before turning around and going home. Swimming? Yes. Dancing? Yes. Running? No.

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Sunny Side Up: Book Review

March 19th, 2017 by

Summer vacation in Florida — what could be better? Well, you might not be so excited if you were staying with your grandpa in a senior home, without the rest of your family, away from your friends, and miles from Disney World. That’s exactly the summer facing the main character in the graphic novel Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm.

Still, Sunny Lewin tries to make the best of her summer away from home. And things start looking up when she makes a new friend — someone actually her age, as opposed to all the old folks. Together, Sunny and Buzz retrieve lost golf balls to earn some pocket change and discover they have a talent for finding lost cats. Plus, Buzz introduces Sunny to the joy of comic books!

Check out the official book trailer below:

But wait — there’s more to this book than shown here. Yes, Sunny is trying to maintain a positive attitude and she finds plenty of fun things to do. But her summer is also tinged with pain and confusion. There’s something bad going on with her family at home, and even though she’s miles away, Sunny just can’t shake it.

I don’t want to give away too much, so I won’t go into detail here. But let’s just say that Sunny, her parents, and especially her older brother are going through a hard time. I didn’t know about this aspect of the story when I first started the book, and I was happily surprised to find that Sunny Side Up is deeper than I expected. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom. Just like with life, there’s a balance between the sad side and the sunny side.

I highly recommend this book to fans of Raina Telgemeier’s books, like Ghosts, Sisters, and Drama. And, of course, if you’re already a fan of Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm from their Babymouse and Squish series, then you’ll definitely want to check out this book. To see a sneak preview of Sunny Side Up, go to the official website, which has a slideshow of the first few pages!

— Karen

Karen was in Florida a few months ago — but not anywhere near Disney World. Like Sunny, Karen was not too pleased about that.

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The Rock and the River: Book Review

February 19th, 2017 by

the-rock-and-the-riverLast week, we highlighted this year’s Coretta Scott King Award recipients. This week, I want to recommend a past winner: The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon. If you’re looking for a book that will give you a window into black history during this Black History Month, look no further.

The story takes place in Chicago in 1968, a time of great political turmoil and a pivotal time in the civil rights movement. Sam, the book’s protagonist, is the son of a famous civil rights leader who is aligned with Martin Luther King Jr.

But Sam’s older brother, Stick, is tired of speeches and non-violent protest. He joins the Black Panthers, another activist group that believes black people should reclaim their rights and provide for their own communities by more extreme means if necessary.

And Sam is caught in the middle. What will he do when a friend gets in trouble with the police — treated unfairly because of his race? Will Sam continue to support his father’s approach, or will he follow Stick on an exhilarating — but also scary and dangerous — new path?

I should warn you: There is some violence in this book. But more than that, there are some parts that are really, really troubling and sad. (The publisher recommends this book for ages 9-14.) But that’s part of our country’s history we need to know. And though this story is fictional, I think it provides important insight into real-life events and struggles — which in turn reminds us what we should all continue fighting for today.

Have you been reading any new books for Black History Month? Leave a comment with your own recommendations!

— Karen

Karen also really enjoyed One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. If you’re interested in learning about the Black Panthers but you’re not sure about The Rock and the River, check out One Crazy Summer!

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The Scourge: Book Review

January 22nd, 2017 by

the-scourgeQuestion: What do you get when you combine the terror of a deadly epidemic with the suspense of a government conspiracy? Answer: A pretty gripping story involving mystery, bravery, friendship, family, prejudice, corruption, and snakes. (Yes, I do mean literal snakes. On fire. Just wait for it.)

The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen takes place in a country ravaged by a highly contagious, very painful, and absolutely fatal disease. To contain the spread of sickness, the governor has come up with a program of containment: Test people before they start showing symptoms, and anyone found to be carrying the scourge is sent to an island hospital to live out the rest of their days in quarantine.

One day, Ani and her friend Weevil get taken in for testing. They should be safe because up to that point, only townspeople had tested positive for the scourge; Ani and Weevil’s families and the other River People avoided interaction with the townspeople as much as possible. (Bigotry and oppression can do that.)

But soon Ani and Weevil are on their way to Attic Island, where they discover that the conditions are far from the rosy picture painted by the government. Why are patients being put to work instead of resting and healing? What happens inside the separate infirmary building? How come the wardens never get sick? Ani is determined to find out.

If you’re a fan of Jennifer A. Nielsen’s Ascendence Trilogy, then you will definitely enjoy The Scourge. Just like in that series, this book will keep you guessing with plenty of double crosses, hidden agendas, unexpected alliances, and political intrigue. (And even a little romance.)

This book also reminded me a bit of Icefall by Matthew Kirby and The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. All three stories feature a strong female protagonist who must unite a people and struggle against powerful forces — all in fictional countries/kingdoms far from our present day nation.

On the other hand, even though the country in The Scourge is fictional, I think Ani could be an inspiration to all of us living in America today. Ani is strong enough to stand up for her beliefs, insist that those in power be held accountable to the people, and work to bring her countrymen (and countrywomen!) together despite deep-rooted prejudice and inequality. I don’t know if the author was inspired by current events, but either way I think Ani and her courage would be a welcome addition to the real world.

Do you also have recommendations of books showcasing major girl power? Share yours in the comments below!

— Karen

One of Karen’s all-time favorite books is Because of Winn-Dixie, which features a strong female protagonist who changes lives in a way that involves no action/adventure but is still meaningful and dramatic nonetheless. Bringing together people in your own community is important too!

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Save Me a Seat: Book Review

January 8th, 2017 by

save-me-a-seatI have to admit, I judged this book by its cover. If you know anything about me by now, it’s that I loooooooooooooove food. Love it. LOVE. IT. So when I saw the lunch trays on this cover, I was like, “YES! I must read this book!” And I’m really glad that I did!

Save Me a Seat is told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Joe (written by Sarah Weeks) and Ravi (written by Gita Varadarajan):

Joe is having a tough time, now that his best friends have moved away; they were the main thing helping him cope with being bullied by the most popular boy in their class. And now things are getting even worse, ever since Joe’s mom started working as a lunch monitor at his school — embarrassing him on a daily basis. Plus, Joe’s new teacher this year doesn’t seem to understand that his Auditory Processing Disorder makes him anxious about speaking in class. Why couldn’t things just be like last year?

Ravi is facing his own challenges, having just moved to the U.S. from India. At home, Ravi had tons of friends and was top of his class. Given his popularity, and with English as his first language, Ravi thought the transition to his new life in America would be easy. But boy was he wrong! His teacher and classmates have trouble understanding Ravi’s accented English, and none of them understand the culture he’s coming from — just as Ravi starts to realize he doesn’t understand the culture and expectations at his new school. Why couldn’t his family just have stayed in India, where everything was great?

Joe and Ravi are obviously very different from one another, and at first, that’s all that they can see about each other. But this book is about the importance of looking beyond surface level and getting to know other people’s many layers. At least, that’s what Miss Frost says is important when she meets with both Joe and Ravi at school. But can these two classmates move past their assumptions and come together as allies? Not until they can look deeper and understand the complex layers within themselves

I really enjoyed getting to know both Ravi and Joe. Each boy has his own unique voice and story, and I loved learning about their lives. Each character also opened up a new world to me: I was not familiar with Auditory Processing Disorder before reading Joe’s chapters, and I also appreciated the window into Ravi’s family’s background and experience as immigrants from India.

I was also really glad to discover that this book takes place over a single week. To be honest, when I read the book description, I was a bit concerned that this would be a heavy book, requiring me to follow the difficult lives of two students as they suffered through a tough school year. Instead, the short chapters and day-by-day frame of Save Me a Seat made the book a smooth, effortless read. Which is not to say that the book is simple — just like Ravi and Joe, it has layers.

And in case you were wondering, the food descriptions did not disappoint either! I perked up every time Joe mentioned his mother’s cooking, and my mouth watered as I read the descriptions of Ravi’s Indian lunches. Darn it, now I’m hungry! And I’m curious: What’s your favorite thing to eat for school lunch? Leave a comment with your answer!

— Karen

As a kid, Karen’s favorite school lunch was sloppy joes. Now that she no longer eats beef, Karen’s always in search of a good vegetarian version. Holla at her if you know a good place in New York! 🙂

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Cool Books for Cold-Weather Reading

December 26th, 2016 by

Happy Christmahanakwanzika! That’s Christmas + Hanukkah + Kwanzaa, in case you were wondering. This year, the three holidays are all very close to each other, which is awesome. But let’s not forget another very important December date that just passed: the winter solstice!

I know I’m at odds with popular opinion, but I much prefer winter over summer. I love stomping around in newly fallen snow. I love snuggling up with a hot seasonal beverage. I love putting a yule log YouTube video on my TV and pretending to warm myself by the fire. (Pro tip: Make sure you choose a video with “high quality crackling fire sounds.” Worth it.)

In other words, forget the holidays — winter itself deserves celebrating! So I’ve put together this list of seasonal reads so you can immerse yourself in the wonderful winter chill:

ophelia-and-the-marvelous-boyOphelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
When Ophelia’s father starts working in an expansive museum, she meets a mysterious boy who claims to live in the building as the captive of the evil Snow Queen. As Ophelia tries to learn more, she finds herself in great danger!



Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Just like in Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, this story follows the adventures of a brave girl (Hazel) who must save a boy (her friend Jack) from a malevolent Snow Queen. Although this book is much more closely connected to the original Hans Christian Andersen tale that inspired it, Breadcrumbs also folds in some relatable real-life growing-up stuff too.


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis
Since we’re on the topic of royal winter villains, I obviously had to mention this epic fantasy adventure about four siblings battling the powerful White Witch. Given that Narnia has been stuck in winter for ages, I’d say this is a perfect book for reading this season!


time-fetchThe Time Fetch by Amy Herrick
Nancy highlighted this sci-fi/fantasy book in her recent post about “Book to Screen Adaptations We Need,” but she didn’t mention the incredible timeliness of her choice: The book takes place in the days leading up to the winter solstice, and Nancy wrote her blog post just three days before this year’s winter solstice! I wonder if the oversight had anything to do with a real-life appearance by the time gobblers from the story!

absolutely-trulyAbsolutely Truly (A Pumpkin Falls Mystery) by Heather Vogel Frederick
I absolutely truly loved this book. Yes, that’s a corny pun — but it’s also the truth! Somehow I simultaneously gobbled up and hugged this book in a tight embrace the whole time I read it. Not even metaphorically! Okay, yes, metaphorically. But seriously, I really enjoyed Absolutely Truly — a mystery involving an undelivered letter in a valuable book. Icy winter weather also plays a big role in the story, in case you couldn’t tell from the cover.


If you’re looking for even more winter book recommendations, check out this Kidsmomo booklist: “A Wintry Mix of Books.” Of course, if you have your own favorite read for the season, please leave a comment and share! In the meantime, stay warm!

— Karen

Karen seems to have caught a cold over the last few days. What a perfect excuse for staying inside with a good book!

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