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

Image 4

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.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 8.49.17 PM

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

FB twitter

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.

Image 6

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?

Image 8

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.

Image 9

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:

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 8.42.36 PM

Buy the second book in the series:


Buy the first book in this series too:


Buy the Lola Plush Puppy here:

Image 7


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.

FB twitter

When Mommy and Daddy Have to Go to Work – Its Just Nanny and Me


Nanny and Me

•    Targeted Audience: PreSchool (Ages 2-5)
•    Genre: Fiction, Picture Book
•    Author: Florence Ann Romano
•    Illustrator: Sydni Kruger
•    Publisher: Mascott Books
•    Publication Date: May 5, 2015
•    Binding: Hard Cover
•    Dimensions: 8″ x 10″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length: 38 Pages
•    Retail: $14.95
•    ISBN: 978-1620867860

Note: This title will not be published until May 5, but you can pre-order it on the publisher’s website here!

Inspiration for This Book

Author Florence Ann Romano started caring for children before she was just twelve and continued through a portion of adulthood. Those experiences inspired her to write this book illustrating her favorite memories, while also preparing children and their parents for a nanny to come into their lives. The children in this book represent a combination of all the kids she cared for, and the little boy was specially created in the image of her younger brother, who has Autism.



© Copyright – Inside spread image courtesy of Mascot Books

Who Will Take Care of Me When Mommy and Daddy Go to Work?

Told from the point of view of a little girl with a baby brother, Nanny and Me was written to help young children adjust to having a new babysitter care for them when their parents go to work and to let them know that just because their parents have to leave them with a sitter, that doesn’t mean their parents don’t love them. The story takes the reader from the moment the parents leave for work in the morning to the moment they come home in the evening. What happens in between is the adventure the children have with their nanny throughout the day. . . First you’ve got to dressed, of course. But then it’s off to the zoo and the park before coming back home for a special lunch. In the afternoon it’s story time in a really cool fort, which takes you to far away places, then it’s nap time followed by a short math lesson, and then before you know it, Mommy and Daddy are back home!

“I’m pretty sleepy after Nanny finishes the story, so I know it’s time for a nap. I snuggle up with Nanny and we talk about where I want to go in my dreams. Sometimes I jump on marshmallow clouds or take a sailboat to the moon and count all the sparkling stars as we float by. We close our eyes really tight and off we go!”

Why You Should Buy This Book

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2013 that among married couples with children, both parents are employed in 59% of those families. So the reality is that millions of young children need to be cared for during the day while their parents are at work. Many children are sent to day care facilities, while others are cared for in their own homes.

It’s often difficult for very young children to understand that their parents must leave them all day to go to work and that a caregiver will come to take care of them. Nanny and Me not only explains why the parents must leave in language that is ideal for a very young audience, but it shows them how they will be cared for by a babysitter with lovely, colorful digital illustrations. This helps to take away some of the anxiety a child may have about a parent leaving the child for the first time. Parents have anxiety too about leaving their children, and this book reminds them everything is going to be fine! Nanny and Me is the perfect way to introduce your young kids to a new caregiver!

Any children who had Florence Ann Romano, a Modern Day Mary Poppins, as their nanny were very fortunate children indeed!


© Copyright – Inside spread image courtesy of Mascot Books

To download a full Press Kit for this title and read a Q & A with the author, click here.

About the Author


Born and raised just outside Chicago, Florence Ann Romano earned a degree in Performance Theatre at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. She is the owner of Trinity, LLC – a new family company that runs the Original Six Media production company; and the online publication, Romano started caring for kids before she was a teenager. Today she spends time working with nonprofit organizations. Inspired by her younger brother, whom is autistic, she is the founder and president of a junior board that supports awareness for children, adults and families touched by Autism. Florence currently lives in Chicago where she remains in close contact with each child she cared for.

About the Illustrator

EN-AR2XuSydni Kruger is an artist and illustrator, who at the age of fourteen, began an apprenticeship with a local painter. She learned traditional methods of large-scale oil painting and the dynamics of color, value, and shape. Later she enrolled in the painting program at Arizona State University. At first she specialized in portraiture and encaustic (wax based) painting, and now also working freelance as a children’s book illustrator and concept artist. Sydni Lives in Phoenix, AZ.

Monster Needs a Party: But Will He Ever Get One?

Image 3

Monster Needs a Party

•    Targeted Audience: PreSchool & Lower Elementary (Ages 2-6)
•    Genre: Fiction, Picture Book
•    Author: Paul Czajak
•    Illustrator: Wendy Grieb
•    Publisher: Mighty Media Kids
•    Publication Date: April 14, 2015
•    Binding: Hard Cover
•    Dimensions: 10″ x 10″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length: 32 Pages
•    Retail: $16.95
•    ISBN: 978-1938063558

What Child Doesn’t Love a Book About Monsters?

In 2013 I reviewed a previous title in the Monster & Me™ Series, Monster Needs a Costume for my Halloween Book Giveaway, and the mom who won the book contacted me to let me know her four-year-old son asked her to read the story to him over and over again. That’s how you know you’ve got a winner of a picture book.

In Monster Needs a Party, it’s time to celebrate the birthday of the loveable blue and purple hairy monster with big teeth. Naturally he wants to have a party, but when his little human friend calls his buddies, everyone is too busy to attend. This makes Monster pout – that is until his human friend takes him to Pirate Land where they have a blast on the rides and do all the other fun stuff one does in a theme park. Monster manages to have a terrific birthday without a party after all. Or does he?


“Monster, we can decorate with streamers and balloons. And wear a patch, a pirate hat, and puffy pantaloons.”

Rhyming Verse and Adorable Illustrations With a Surprise Ending

Monster Needs a Costume is told from the boy’s point of view in clever and humorous rhyming verse. The monster is irresistibly adorable, and he seems to handle his disappointment about not having a party quite graciously. He has a great time at the theme park with the boy and is grateful for having had the opportunity to have a super fun day. Little does he know there’s a surprise in store for him.

Why You’ll Love This Book

Monster Needs a Party is a terrific way to get the youngest children interested in reading, because they love monster stories. The rhythmic rhyming verse makes a perfect read aloud experience, and the fact that this title is part of a series provides readers with familiarity of the characters. The message is one of joy and kindness, and it will warm you child’s heart and make him or her smile.

About the Author

czajakPaul Czajak got an ‘F’ with the words “get a tutor” on his college writing paper and after that, never thought he’d become a writer. But after spending twenty years as a chemist, he knew his creativity could no longer be contained. Living in Massachusetts with his wife, and two little monsters, Paul has rediscovered his passion for writing and looks forward to sharing his stories for years to come.

About the Illustrator

indexWendy Grieb is a storyboard artist, Illustrator, and teacher.In 2004, she won an Annie Award for storyboarding. She has worked  as an animation development artist, children’s book illustrator, and character designer for companies such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Sony, Klasky-Csupo, Scarletta Press , White Wolf, etc. Currently she teaches Animation at Cal State University Fullerton.

Visit the Website!

Buy the book here:

Image 3

Check out these other titles in the Monster & Me™ Series:




Hudson in Provence: A New Adventure for a Super Talented Pooch


Cover image – Courtesy of La Librairie  Parisienne

Hudson in Provence: A Paris Chien Adventure

•   Targeted Audience: Preschool, Lower Elementary (Ages 3-7)
•    Genre: Fiction, Picture Book
•    Author/Illustrator: Jackie Clark Mancuso
•    Publisher: La Librairie Parisienne (Distributed by IPG)
•    Publication Date: May 15, 2015
•    Binding: Hardcover
•    Dimensions: 8″ x 10″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length:40 Pages
•    Retail: $17.95
•    ISBN: 978-0988605848

FB twitter


© Copyright  Inside Spread – Courtesy of La Librairie  Parisienne

A Mutt Who Finds His True Calling

Hudson in Provence is the delightful sequel to Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog. Hudson takes the speed train from Paris to Provence with his human owner, where they stay in a quaint old stone house. Hudson reads his guide book about the area and decides he does not not wish to be a tourist there; rather he wants to do exactly what the working dogs do there – he wants to be a “Provencal Dog.”

Everywhere he goes, Hudson meets other dogs. His first friend shows him how to herd sheep, but that doesn’t work out very well for Hudson. Next he tries to learn how to hunt truffles, but all he can seem to do is dig up grass and find nothing there. When he sees the cyclists in the Tour de France, he hops on a bike and tries to keep up, but simply can’t. After his owner buys him some paints, Hudson starts enjoying himself, and before long his new canine friends are all asking him to paint their portraits. Could painting make him the true “Provencal Dog he wishes to be?”


© Copyright  Inside Spread – Courtesy of La Librairie  Parisienne

Illustrations Worthy of Provence

Jackie Clark Mancuso’s gouache illustrations are vibrantly beautiful and are ideal for a picture book about France. Cezanne, Monet, Renoir and other famous French painters of the Impressionist era would approve of these charming depictions of Provence. Jackie paints in a way that is playful, yet avant-garde, and children will be enchanted by the colors and all the different types of dogs illustrated throughout the story.


© Copyright  Inside Spread – Courtesy of La Librairie  Parisienne

What This Book Teaches

Hudson teaches readers that we lose ourselves when we try to be like others. We each have a unique talent, and that’s what we must nurture to find our purpose in life and true happiness. It’s okay to be different, and it’s okay to discover we simply can’t be good at everything. He also shows us that we must take risks and try new things in order have the fullest lives. In addition to these very important life lessons, Hudson teaches young readers about geography, traveling and even a little bit about speaking French with a one page French vocab list in the back of the book.


© Copyright  Inside Spread – Courtesy of La Librairie  Parisienne

Why You Should Read This Book

IMG_0252Well, for one thing, there are lots of dogs in this story and even a standard poodle. (I LOVE standard poodles, because I have one the size of a small horse myself.) The book is written for a young audience, with a lot of dialog and of course, with the beautiful illustrations, children as young as three will be happy to sit through the story to find out what happens next. The life lesson that Hudson learns offers a wonderful message to children. Plus readers will be introduced to the beauty of France and traveling in general. The ending of the book is heartwarming and clever and proves to readers that if they do what they love most, there will be great reward in it down the road. Hudson in Provence is simply a lovely little picture book that you’ll enjoy reading with your child. And rest assured, you’ll want to take a trip to France after you’ve finished the book.

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – My XXL standard poodle, Darwin Charles


© Copyright  Inside Spread – Courtesy of La Librairie  Parisienne

P1000771-1-Retouched-web_800About the Author/Illustrator

Jackie Clark Mancuso is a graphic designer and illustrator. She is the former Art Director at Parenting and Baby Talk magazines and has designed books for Weldon Owen/Pottery Barn, Sunset Books, and Nolo Press. She is the author of Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog. She lives in Los Angeles.

Further Learning:

  1. Find France on a map and specifically Paris and Provence. How many miles is Paris from your home and how long would it take to fly there?
  2.  Learn more about famous French painters.
  3. Watch the Book Trailer:

Buy the book here:


Be sure to buy the first Hudson book too: