Not Your Typical Bus Ride

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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.

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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

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.

 

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

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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.

 

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© 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!

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© 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

FlorenceAnnRomano

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, TheSixThirty.com. 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?

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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?

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“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 MonsterNeeds.com Website!

Buy the book here:

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

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Celebrating 10 Years of Stink Moody With a Three Book Giveaway!

Stink10We’re celebrating the 10-year Anniversary of Stink Moody with Candlewick Press!

Candlewick press has reprinted two previous Stink Moody titles in paperback form and has published a new hard cover title, and today we are giving away a copy of all three of these books to one lucky winner. There’s a brand new, interactive Stink Moody website too, that will entertain readers for hours. There’s a heck of a lot to celebrate here, so let’s get going!

Scroll to the bottom for giveaway rules.

STINK Logo used with by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

“I Stink, therefore I am.”

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In case you are unfamiliar with Stink Moody, first came the incredibly popular Judy Moody series. Stink is Judy’s younger brother, and he felt he deserved a series all of his own. . .

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Book #1

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STINK & THE SHARK SLEEPOVER. Text copyright © 2015 by Megan McDonald and illustrations copyright by Peter H. Reynolds, Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Stink and the Shark Sleepover

•    Targeted Audience: Lower & Upper Elementary (Ages 6-9)
•    Genre: Fiction, Early Chapter Book
•    Author: Megan McDonald
•    Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
•    Publisher: Candlewick Press
•    Publication Date: (Reprint) February 10, 2015
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 5.5″ x .7″
•    Printing: Black & White
•    Length: 176 Pages
•    Retail: $4.99
•    ISBN: 978-0763676780

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STINK & THE SHARK SLEEPOVER. Text copyright © 2015 by Megan McDonald and illustrations copyright by Peter H. Reynolds, Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Candlewick Press Synopsis

In this title in the Stink Series, when Stink and his friends get to sleep over at the aquarium, it’s a science freak’s dream come true. Stink loves the sea-creature scavenger hunt, the jellyfish light show, and the sand tiger sharks with razor-sharp teeth. But after some spooky stories around the virtual campfire, can he manage to fall asleep thinking about Bloody Mary, the mutant Frankensquid that’s supposed to be on the prowl?

Book #2

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JUDY MOODY & STINK: THE BIG BAD BLACKOUT. Text copyright © 2015 by Megan McDonald and illustrations copyright by Peter H. Reynolds, Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Judy Moody & Stick: The Big Blackout

•    Targeted Audience: Lower & Upper Elementary (Ages 6-9)
•    Genre: Fiction, Early Chapter Book
•    Author: Megan McDonald
•    Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
•    Publisher: Candlewick Press
•    Publication Date: (Reprint) March 10, 2015
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 5.5″ x .7″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length: 144 Pages
•    Retail: $6.99
•    ISBN: 978-0763676650

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JUDY MOODY & STINK: THE BIG BAD BLACKOUT. Text copyright © 2015 by Megan McDonald and illustrations copyright by Peter H. Reynolds, Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Candlewick Press Synopsis

The whole Moody family hunkers down with beans and batteries, ready to wait out a storm. But along with massive rain and strong winds that knock the lights O-U-T out, Hurricane Elmer throws down ghosts, squirrels, and aliens. Spooky! But musical board games, s’mores, and some good old-fashioned storytelling turn bad weather into a happy memory in Judy and Stink’s third full-color adventure.

Book #3

StinkMasterofDisaster

STINK MOODY IN MASTER OF DISASTER. Text copyright © 2015 by Megan McDonald and illustrations copyright by Edwin Madrid, Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Stink Moody in Maser of Disaster

•   Targeted Audience: Lower & Upper Elementary (Ages 6-9)
•    Genre: Fiction, Early Chapter Book
•    Author: Megan McDonald
•    Illustrator: Erwin Madrid
•    Publisher: Candlewick Press
•    Publication Date: March 10, 2015
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 6″ x  9″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length: 64 Pages
•    Retail: $12.99
•    ISBN: 978-0763674472

StinkMasterDisasterSpread

STINK MOODY IN MASTER OF DISASTER. Text copyright © 2015 by Megan McDonald and illustrations copyright by Edwin Madrid, Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Candlewick Press Synopsis

Look up! Look out! A comet is coming, a comet is coming in this brand new Judy Moody and Friends title! Stink is camped out in the backyard with his sister, Judy, and he can’t wait to lay eyes on P/2015 OZ4, also known as the Sherman-Holm Comet. But then news of an asteroid hitting Russia reaches Stink, and suddenly he’s feeling squeamish (and squash-ish) about close encounters of the outer-space kind. Will donning an aluminum-foil cape and building a bunker in the basement help keep him safe? Can this fearless Asteroid Boy save Earth from disaster?

What Stink Moody Teaches

Stink is a pretty brainy third grade kid and Judy Moody’s younger brother. He is always seeking the truth on just about every subject imaginable – like science and history –  and it’s this knowledge that saves the day. This kid reads the encyclopedia just for fun. The facts in the books are all true too!

Stink books are not only entertaining to read, but kids ages 6-9 can hone their independent reading skills with these action-packed stories. There’s so much dialog that the basics of grammar are part of the learning experience, and before long readers get to know the proper punctuation for quotations! YAHOO!!

Children not only get hooked on the Stink Series, but these stories inspire them to want to read more books on a variety of different subjects. Teachers love using Stink in their classrooms too, and now with a new, interactive website, including teachers’ guides, there are so many ways to use these books as teaching tools. Kids can even design their own comics.

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© Copyright – Image courtesy of Candlewick Press

Why not collect every book in the series?

Why You Should Buy Stink Moody Books

Judy and Stink Moody are so popular, with millions of copies sold, because the books are hilarious and Megan McDonald has done an amazing job developing the characters. They’re super smart, but yet they’re kids through and through, and readers can associate with them on so many levels. The dialog in every book is engaging, and that – along with some cool made up words – keeps the reader’s attention. Peter Reynolds’ and Edwin Madrid’s eye-catching illustrations are super entertaining and help make the smooth transition from picture books to chapter books without a hitch. Megan McDonald writes with wit and humor in a manner young readers can understand – yet they are challenged and never patronized – and the stories aren’t predictable either. There’s nothing like a young reader who can’t wait for the next book in a favorite series to come out!

Happy Ten Year Anniversary Stink!

About the Author

4397.MMcDonald.bst.med.1 Megan McDonald has penned over 60 books for children and young readers, including the critically acclaimed Judy Moody series. These hilarious books have won numerous awards, ranging from a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and an International Reading Association Children’s Choice to the first-ever Beverly Cleary Children’s Choice Award. “Judy has taken on a life of her own,” the author notes, with millions of Judy Moody books in print worldwide. Recently, Megan McDonald has recalled some of her own childhood by writing about the warmth, humor — and squabbles — of three spunky sisters in The Sisters Club trilogy, wrapping up with Cloudy With a Chance of Boys. Megan McDonald lives and writes in northern California with her husband, a frequent collaborator.

About the Illustrators

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Peter H. Reynolds and his twin brother, Paul (now his business partner) made their first foray into publishing at the age of seven, when they began producing their own newspapers and comic books on their father’s photocopier.  Peter recalls that when he was approached about illustrating Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody, he jumped at the chance. For one thing, the feisty, independent Judy reminded him of his own daughter, who was eleven years old at the time. But it was Judy’s younger “bother”, Stink, who would strike the greatest chord within Peter.  Founder of the award-winning educational media developer and publisher FableVision, where he produces award-winning children’s broadcast programming, educational videos, and multimedia applications, Peter H. Reynolds was recently honored by Verizon as Literacy Leader of the Year. The author-illustrator lives with his family in Dedham, Massachusetts.

team2Erwin Madrid was born in the Philippines and grew up in San Jose, California. He earned his BFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, CA. During college he worked for DreamWorks Animation on the movie, Shrek 2 and later, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. He has also created conceptual art for video games and is the illustrator of The Scary Places Map Book by B. G. Hennessy, and of the four other Judy Moody & Friends titles. Erwin Madrid lives in California.

Check out the NEW Interactive Stink Moody website!

 Enter for a Chance to Win Three Stink Moody Titles!

  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 Stink Giveaway selected at random, residing in the USA. No books will be mailed outside the USA.
  5. This giveaway starts on Monday, March 16, 2015 and ends on Monday, March 30, 2015 at 4 pm.
  6. The winner will be notified via email on March 30, 2015.
  7. Book will be mailed by March 31, 2015.
  8. Follow us on our Facebook Page to learn about more giveaways and read reviews and interviews.

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