Not Your Typical Bus Ride

The Bus Ride

•        Targeted Audience: Lower Elementary School (Ages 3-7)
•        Genre: Fiction, Picture Book
•        Author/Illustrator: Marian Dubuc
•        Publisher: Kids Can Press
•        Publication Date: March 1, 2015
•        Binding: Hard Cover
•        Dimensions: 11″ x  6.75″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 32 Pages
•        Retail: $15.95
•        ISBN: 978-1771382090

Marianne Dubuc is the author/illustrator of the best picture book I’ve ever read, The Lion and the Bird (Enchanted Lion Books).

It’s All in the Details

The Bus Ride is so much more than a ride on a bus. It’s an adventure that unfolds illustration by illustration and page by page. This is the story of Clara, a little girl who takes her first solo bus ride to visit her grandmother. Naturally, Clara’s not the only one on that bus; there are other creatures too, like wolves, a bear, opossums, rats, a sloth and more.  The story of the bus ride is whatever you make it to be. Marianne is a master of details, and the stories within this story are written in the illustrations. There are clues about what’s going on, on the cover of the newspaper someone is reading, and with each stop there’s someone new on board or someone leaving, and with each exchange comes a new adventure. In the end, little Clara has quite a story of to tell her granny when she arrives at her destination.


Illustrations that Will Charm Your Socks Off

51Ay1Hrem4LMarianne uses watercolors and colored pencils to create her signature illustrations. Her artistic methods afford her the ability to create enchanting details that entice you to linger on every page. What’s more, the book’s unusual trim size – 11 x 6.75 makes the visual experience extra special. When the book is open, it’s the ideal format for depicting a bus.

Why You Should Buy This Book

The Bus Ride. gives young readers the chance to use their sharp eyes and clever brains to determine what’s going on in the story. I read the book myself a few times before I caught all the little happenings on that bus. Kids love mysteries and figuring stories out themselves; they have a way of spotting details we adults just might miss. The story teaches kids about independence and it will make them want to pay closer attention to the world around them, wherever they may be. If you’re like me, you’ll be hooked on Marianne’s outstanding books and you’ll want to collect every last one.

About the Author

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Marianne Dubuc received her degree in graphic design from the University of Quebec, Montreal. She has created many different kinds of books for readers of all ages. She is an internationally acclaimed illustrator whose work has been published by major publishers in fifteen countries.

Read my interview with Mariannne here.

Buy The Bus Ride here

Lola and Tattletale Zeke Book and Plush Lola Giveaway

I can’t keep this adorableness all to myself, so I’m giving away one copy of Lola and Tattletale Zeke, along with a plush Lola toy. See entry rules below.

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Lola and Tattletale Zeke

•        Targeted Audience: Lower Elementary School (Ages 3-8)
•        Genre: Non-Fiction
•        Author/Photographer: Marcia Goldman
•        Publisher: Creston Books
•        Publication Date: June 9, 2015
•        Binding: Hard Cover
•        Dimensions: 8.5″ x 6.5″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 32 Pages
•        Retail: $16.95
•        ISBN: 978-1939547163

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Meet Lola, the Service Dog

Lola is a five-pound Yorkshire Terrier and a certified therapy dog. She and her owner, Marcia Goldman go to work together to help those in need, such as autistic children, struggling readers and the elderly in nursing homes. Lola is gentle and calm, loving and smart, and she touches the lives of all who are fortunate enough to meet her. Through her books, she teaches and inspires children everywhere.

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Lola’s in a Predicament with Her Tattling Little Brother, Zeke

In the first two books in the series, Lola goes to work helping others, but in Lola and Tattletale Zeke, Lola shares her personal real life challenges as a big sister to a younger – but physically larger – brother named, Zeke. The problem is that Zeke is a tattletale about everything. When Lola forgets to bring her toy bear in from outside, he tells on her. When Lola leaves muddy paw prints on the floor, he tattles. But when Zeke does something wrong, Lola doesn’t tattle because she knows it’s just an accident. When Isabel the black cat tells on Zeke for breaking his toy, Lola feels so bad for her distraught little brother she does all she can to make him feel better. Will Zeke repay the kindness the next time Lola has an accident?

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A Curriculum Guide with Activities

In the back of the book is a curriculum guide with vocabulary words and a list of questions to pose to readers, such as “What is the difference between telling about and telling on someone?” There are several suggested educational activities too, such as using puppets to playact different scenarios.

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Why You Should Buy This Book (and Plush Toy)

Lola is so cute, I can hardly stand it. And she’s loving and kind and always does the right thing when it comes helping others. Lola is a true leader and the youngest readers can so relate to her predicament with her brother.  Every child with a sibling has experienced the dreaded tattling problem or has been a tattler himself. Lola lets children know that it’s normal to experience sibling rivalry, and she teaches them that acting out of kindness is the best way to go. Getting along with others is a life lesson rarely taught in schools, but Lola is here to teach it to your children. With all three titles in this series, plus the new plush puppy, your child will get to know, love and respect Lola the adorable and irresistible therapy dog.

About the Author

JMGoldmanFound_012_v2_smMarcia Goldman has her Masters Degree in Special Education and has spent the last 25 years focusing on providing therapeutic-based programs for children with autism and their families. Marcia and Lola live in California.

Watch a video of Lola:

Buy the book here:

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Buy the second book in the series:


Buy the first book in this series too:


Buy the Lola Plush Puppy here:

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Enter for a Chance to Win The Newest Lola Book and Plush Lola Puppy!

  1. Enter the giveaway by Liking our Facebook Page (if you haven’t already).
  2. Leave a valid comment on this post on this website.
  3. Optional: Receive 10 extra entries by sharing this giveaway from our Facebook Page. Go to the Facebook page and from there, click share on the link to this giveaway. If you share it from your own Facebook status and not from the Smart Book Facebook Page, I will not know about it, so it will not count.
  4. There will be one winner for this Lola Giveaway selected at random, residing in the USA. No books will be mailed outside the USA.
  5. This giveaway starts on Friday, March 27, 2015 and ends on Friday, April 3, 2015 at 4 pm.
  6. The winner will be notified via email on April 3, 2015.
  7. Follow us on our Facebook Page to learn about more giveaways and read reviews and interviews.

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A New Title in the Popular Clementine Rose Series: Busy Day Book


The Clementine Rose Busy Day Book

•        Targeted Audience: Lower Elementary School (Ages 4-6)
•        Genre: Fiction Activity Book
•        Author/Illustrator: Jacqueline Harvey
•        Publisher: Random House Australia
•        Publication Date: August 1, 2015
•        Binding: Paperback
•        Dimensions: 9″ x 7″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 96 Pages
•        Retail: $14.99
•        ISBN: 978-0857984111

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This title will be released this summer. You can pre-order it here.

clementine-blog“Clementine Rose was delivered not in the usual way, at a hospital, but in the back of a mini-van, in a basket of dinner rolls. So begins the story of a lovely little girl who lives in Penberthy Floss in a large ramshackle house with her mother, Lady Clarissa, Digby Pertwhistle the butler and a very sweet teacup pig called Lavender.”
© Copyright – Image of Clementine Rose courtesy of Random House Australia
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© Copyright – Image courtesy of Random House Australia

The Loveable Clementine Rose Keeps Fans Busy with a Super Cute Activity Book

In this popular series of books, there’s always something exciting going in Clementine Rose’s large, ramshackle mansion. Now in this latest title, The Clementine Rose Busy Day Book rather than a story, Clementine Rose shares some fun activities for readers. Throughout the activity book, readers learn all about Clementine Rose’s family (and her pig of course) as well as details about her eccentric life at home and at school.

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© Copyright – Image courtesy of Random House Australia

Each reader can personalize her own activity book and do a myriad of activities like:

  • Color pages
  • Place  Colorful Stickers (included) in the Book
  • Complete a crossword Puzzle
  • Do a Maze
  • Do a Word Search
  • Finish a Dot to Dot
  • Spot the Difference
  • Match Lists
  • Bake Some Cookies (with recipe)

In addition, there are personal lists to make, like what things do you love best about your family and what would be your ideal pet and why? The interactive nature of the book revolves around what readers know about Clementine Rose from reading previous titles in the series.

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© Copyright – Image courtesy of Random House Australia

Why You’ll Love This Book

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 9.54.13 PMThe youngest readers love books that keep them busy. The Clementine Rose Busy Day Book is a clever way to keep children ages 4-6 engaged with a combination of activities and pages to read. They will love the character so much they’ll want to read the other titles in the series and get to know what Clementine Rose is all about (if they don’t already). What you’ll love about this book is that the message is very positive. There are tips for living a good life and information about many different subjects that will help make your little reader more worldly. Clementine Rose is likable and lives a fancy and fun life that little girls will enjoy reading about in all the titles of the Clementine Rose series.

© Copyright – Image courtesy of Random House Australia

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About the Author/Illustrator

Harvey, JacquelineJacqueline Harvey’s bestselling Alice-Miranda series began as an idea for a picture book but it soon became apparent that this perpetually positive seven-and-a-quarter-year-old had a lot more to say. The series has been sold to the United States, United Kingdom, Indonesia and Turkey and has been shortlisted for children’s book awards in Australia. Her first and only picture book, The Sound of the Sea was an Honour Book in the 2006 Children’s Book Council Awards. Jacqueline has spent most of her working life teaching in girls’ boarding schools and has been a Deputy Head and Director of Development. She is passionate about improving educational outcomes for Indigenous students. She lives in Sydney with her husband Ian and is currently working on more Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose adventures.

Further Learning

    1. Check out the Clementine Rose Teacher’s Resources.
    2. Download a bunch of fun Clementine Rose stuff like computer wallpaper and coloring sheets!
    3. Read the Clementine Rose blog.
    4. Watch the Clementine Rose Trailer.



The Great Legend of the Fifolet

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The Fifolet

•    Targeted Audience: Lower Elementary (Ages 5-8)
•    Genre: Fiction, Picture Book
•    Author: Johnette Downing
•    Illustrator: Jennifer Lindsley
•    Publisher: Pelican Publishing
•    Publication Date: January 20, 2015
•    Binding: Hard Cover
•    Dimensions: 8.5″ x 11″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length: 32 Pages
•    Retail: $17.99
•    ISBN: 978-1455620364

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From The Fifolet by Johnette Downing, illustrated by Jennifer Lindsley, © 2015 Johnette Downing, illustrations © 2015 Jennifer Lindsley, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.

Steeped in Cajun Folklore

A fifolet is a folkloric term with a variety of meanings from different cultures around the world. But in Cajun-French it can be described as an “eerie ball of light that seems to dance and float above the water.” For centuries, the mystery of the fifolet has been thought to be a supernatural spirit, and in The Fifolet, author, singer, songwriter, Johnette Downing entertains readers with an incredibly original tale they shall never forget.

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From The Fifolet by Johnette Downing, illustrated by Jennifer Lindsley, © 2015 Johnette Downing, illustrations © 2015 Jennifer Lindsley, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.

“Through cypress trees and beards of moss, there is a fire spirit that you never want to cross. It will tease you and coax you and draw you near, but all the Cajuns know that you better beware.”

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From The Fifolet by Johnette Downing, illustrated by Jennifer Lindsley, © 2015 Johnette Downing, illustrations © 2015 Jennifer Lindsley, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.

A Tale of Greed

Inside a shack, deep in the Louisiana swamp, lives fisherman Jean-Paul Pierre. Night and day, day and night that fisherman fishes. He has no time for family and no time for friends; he fishes only for himself, and no matter how many fish he catches, he longs for more. One night in the distance, Jean-Paul sees the fifolt, dancing in the light. The light draws him in, putting him in an unbreakable trance. For he knows that wherever you see a fifolet a treasure exists. Day after day and night after night, he digs for treasure until one day he disappears from sight. Is he ever seen again?

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From The Fifolet by Johnette Downing, illustrated by Jennifer Lindsley, © 2015 Johnette Downing, illustrations © 2015 Jennifer Lindsley, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.

 An Eerie Story with Illustrations Like None You’ve Ever Seen Before

The Fifolet is told in some of the finest rhyming verse I’ve ever read. There’s a hypnotic rhythm to this poetry that makes  it ideal for reading aloud. The story itself is an eerie one, as the beady-eyed fisherman disappears in misty moonlit waters of the swamp, incredibly depicted with hazy watercolor illustrations, gloriously deep with purple hues. The images of the somewhat creepy trees set the tone for the mysteries of this folkloric tale.

“His body began to tremble with fear he could not shake, but the fifolet was enticing; its spell he could not break.”

Why You Must Buy This Book

ImageI must commend the author, illustrator and publisher on their originality. This is such an ingenious book in many ways and yet I love that The Fifolet evokes a mood similar to a Grimm fairy tale, with a great mystery left unsolved and an even greater lesson learned. In this case, that lesson is one of the consequences of selfishness and greed. You’ll enjoy the fact that your child will learn some big new vocabulary words (also listed in the back of the book) as you read this perfectly rhythmic story aloud. If you’ve never heard of a fifolet before, you’ll be truly enlightened by this folk tale. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that these are among the most unique and mesmerizing illustrations ever seen in a children’s book, and they are so fitting for this story. So if you’re looking for a totally unique, modern folk tale that’s a bit eerie (but not terrifying, of course) this is the book for you.

From The Fifolet by Johnette Downing, illustrated by Jennifer Lindsley, © 2015 Johnette Downing, illustrations © 2015 Jennifer Lindsley, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.

About the Author

JohnetteJohnette Downing is an award-winning and internationally recognized singer and songwriter. Her many accolades include eight Parents’ Choice Awards, four iParenting Media Awards, and four National Parenting Publication Awards. She wrote and/or illustrated There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Bugs, Why the Crawfish Lives in the Mud, How to Dress a Po’ Boy, Why the Oyster Has the Pearl, Why the Possum Has a Large Grin, Macarooned on a Dessert Island, and other Pelican titles. Downing lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.

About the Illustrator

616rcjen-1ecd17096908960aJennifer Lindsley is an artist, illustrator, and art instructor based in Louisiana. She earned her Associate of Arts degree in acting from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and her Bachelor of Arts degree in design technology from the University of Northern Colorado. She is the proprietor of ACME Studios, LLC, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She teaches children and adults the basics of art technique and instructs them to apply specific skills to a variety of media. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, “down the bayou,” just like Monsieur Pierre.

Further Learning

  1. Find Southern Louisiana on a map.
  2. Learn more about Cajun superstitions and spells.
  3. Cook up some traditional Cajun fare with your child.
  4. Lear more about swamps and marshes.


Pipsie Nature Detective: The Disappearing Caterpillar One Day Giveaway

Congratulations to the winner of this giveaway, Stephanie Jacobsen from Maine!

Spring has just arrived, and soon it will be time to discover butterflies in your garden just like Pipsie. Today I am giving away this new book by Two Lions Publishing to one lucky winner. Simply leave a comment on this post. If you share my Facebook post about this giveaway on your Facebook status, you’ll receive TEN extra entries. I will announce the winner at 5 pm today, March 24, 2015 on our Facebook Page. The winner must email his or her mailing address within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected. So check Facebook and/or your email at 5 pm!

Thank you to Two Lions – Amazon Publishing for making this giveaway possible!

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Cover image – Courtesy of Two Lions

Pipsie Nature Detective: The Disappearing Caterpillar

•    Targeted Audience: Lower Elementary (Ages 5-8)
•    Genre: Fiction, Picture Book
•    Author: Rick DeDenato
•    Illustrator: Tracy Bishop
•    Publisher: Two Lions
•    Publication Date: March 31, 2015
•    Binding: Hard Cover
•    Dimensions: 8.5″ x 11″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length: 38 Pages
•    Retail: $17.99
•    ISBN: 978-1477826300


© Copyright – Inside Spread Courtesy of Two Lions

A Metamorphosis Mystery

Pipsie is a curious little girl who loves animals and solving mysteries. One day Pipsie notices that Alfred, her turtle has some mysterious yellow and black stripes on his head. With her magnifying glass, she discovers that it’s a small caterpillar! She names her Frannie, and she sure is a hungry little insect. She eats non-stop and grows 1000 times bigger in just ten days! But one day, Frannie is nowhere to be found. Pipsie and Alfred look everywhere for their caterpillar friend but just can’t find her. Looking for answers, they go to the zoo to ask the bug expert about caterpillars, and he shows them what a chrysalis looks like and explains what is happening to Frannie. But can Pipsie and Alfred find Frannie’s chrysalis in their backyard? Or is Frannie gone forever?

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© Copyright – Inside Spread Courtesy of Two Lions

What This Book Teaches

What I love about Pipsie is that she shows readers that it’s wonderful to be smart and curious about the world. By asking questions and seeking answers, there are so many wonderful facts about plants and animals just waiting to be discovered. In addition to the charming story, there are facts about the life cycle of the monarch in the back of the book.

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© Copyright – Inside Spread Courtesy of Two Lions

Why You Should Buy This Book

Kids love a mystery, and along with Pipsie  readers can try to figure out what happened to the caterpillar, and all the while learn about the life cycle of the butterfly. Children will love admiring the colorful, lovely watercolor illustrations too. Pipsie Nature Detective: The Disappearing Caterpillar offers the perfect combination of entertainment and education to keep budding scientists interested in the story. This book encourages kids to get outside to explore the natural world around them, and isn’t that the best kind of book of all?

About the Author

A1zT6yc04pL._UX250_Rick DeDonato started writing and drawing storybooks for his two kids, Alexis and Matt, when they were little. They’re grown now, but Rick is still creating stories! When he’s not dreaming up adventures for Pipsie, he’s an award-winning creative director in advertising. Born in New Jersey, he now lives in Wilmington, Delaware, with Nancy McAleer; their two dogs, Tugger and Nacho; and their turtle, Alfred E. Turtle!

About the Illustrator

a2e0e18bc0d27fd5-96-1Tracy Bishop won an art contest in kindergarten, and she’s been creating art ever since. A graduate of San Jose State University, she is also the illustrator of Not the Quitting Kind by Sarra J. Roth. She lives in San Jose, California, where she is inspired on a daily basis by her son, husband, and a hairy dog named Harry.

Further Learning

  1. Check out this amazing book about bugs called Bugs: A Stunning Pop-Up Look at Insects, Spiders, and Other Creepy Crawlers.
  2. Learn how to attract butterflies to your garden.
  3. Learn about the life cycle of the butterfly.