Friday, March 20, 2020

The Boogeyman: A Great Read During Perilous Times

Looking for something to keep your kiddos occupied during the Coronavirus scare? And to keep their brains from turning to mush while the days tick by without school?

The Boogeyman: A Monstrous Fairytale by Shane Berryhill will take their minds off COVID-19 and creep them out in a safe, fun way. In times like these, fiction can be a lot more fun than reality and can help us find the courage to face our real-life troubles.

In The Boogeyman, readers will find spine tingling thrills when thirteen-year-old Puck discovers a shady character emerging from his closet then apparently engaging in nefarious activities in the Mortal world. Puck doesn't know what to do.

But he can't just pretend he didn't see what he saw. He can't just close his eyes to a dangerous creature preying on his neighbors. No, Puck must take things into his own hands and save his family and the neighborhood. Except...the boogeyman is not what he seems.

In a fast-paced exciting tale, Puck and the boogeyman find themselves uniting to protect both the Mortal and Fairy Realms from terrible threats. This book is chock full of humor and plot twists that will tickle readers. It also shows that hope can come in unexpected ways and we can find courage even when we feel small.


About the Author

Shane Berryhill is a novelist and comic book writer. His work has been praised by Publishers Weekly, NPR, NBC, Wired magazine, Horror World and others.

He's been a guest speaker at events ranging from the national Council of English Teachers conference to San Diego Comic Con. Find Shane online at amazonGoodreads, and Facebook.

Monday, March 16, 2020

15 Ideas, Activities, and Resources to Explore during School Closures

These are strange times. Many of us are juggling concerns about our own physical or mental health, the health of our loved ones who may be high-risk, and the well-being of our communities and countries in general. Meanwhile, our days are filled with challenges to our routines, work life, social life, and more.

Personally I’ve found it tough to stay focused on creative work, with news of the public health situation changing constantly. But, we must adapt—and we will. We’ll get through these days, supporting one another in appropriately socially-distant ways!

Already I’m seeing loads of support being offered in the form of free resources for those of you self-isolating or being “socially distant” at home with school-age kids. Today I’m sharing a collection of these links, ideas, and activities that I hope you’ll find useful.
  1. Bonus reading time! Free reading—whatever you want, as much as you want. Can’t get to a library? Perfect time to try e-books and audiobooks.
  2. Check out the Middle Grade at Heart book club archives for author interviews, discussion questions, and activities for their monthly picks.
  3. Write to an Author – we’ll write back! Check out the #writetoanauthor hashtag on twitter (initiated by Laura Shovan) to find mailing addresses for participating authors.
  4. Poetry activities from author and poet Laura Shovan 
  5. Sharing Our Notebooks – new notebooking video each weekday with author Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
  6. Read-alouds and interviews with Canadian authors, from Canadian Children’s Book Centre 
  7. Read-alouds and resources, collected by Kate Messner 
  8. Read-alouds, activities, and more from KidLit TV
  9. Imagination-boosting activities from author/illustrator Jarrett Lerner 
  10. Daily sketch diary with author/illustrator Remy Lai on instagram
  11. Free online cartooning classes 
  12. Virtual museum tours 
  13. Educational videos on YouTube, such as Crash Course Kids 
  14. Video games such as Minecraft that promote creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving
  15. Hands-on brain-boosting activities such as Lego and play-dough
The list could go on and on, of course. Got a good idea? Please share in the comments!

However you spend the challenging weeks ahead, may you discover unexpected joys as you experience community in new ways. Stay well, my friends.

Monday, March 9, 2020

First Look Interview: Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski

Today, I'm thrilled to give readers a first look at the new middle grade novel by the writing team of Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski, Whispering Pines!!! Welcome Heidi and Kati! We'll show off that beautiful cover soon, but first can you pitch your new book to us Twitter-style, in 280 characters or less?

X-Files meets Stranger Things in this contemporary horror MG about a UFO-obsessed girl determined to find her missing father, and a ghost hunting boy now being hunted by a ghost of his own—that of his older brother—who team up to save their town from supernatural forces.

Yes!!! I love everything from that pitch! Aliens, ghosts, mysterious supernatural forces. Why do I feel like this book was written specifically for me? Next, I challenged Heidi and Kati to finish these sentences about the book:

The one thing Rae Carter wants is to...
KATI: Find her missing father.
HEIDI: Couldn’t have said it better myself. ;) In the meantime, she also wants to learn how to fit into Whispering Pines.

Caden Price knows more than most about the mysterious town of Whispering Pines, including…
HEIDI: …the fact that there is a world hidden beneath their own, and his town serves as the gateway.
KATI: Unfortunately for Caden, he’s not the only one who knows this. Just as he’s not the only one who’s figured out that the Price family holds the key to unlocking that world.

My first thought when I saw the cover was…
HEIDI: Wow! So delightfully creepy!
KATI: Same. I loved it immediately. Diana Novich is such a talented illustrator.

And, without further ado, let's take a look at that gorgeous cover:

So beautiful and mysterious! I love the lighting, and did you catch that ghost hand?

Can readers expect more adventures set in Whispering Pines? 
KATI: We are currently working on an as-yet-unnamed sequel.
HEIDI: Yes, lots more planned for Whispering Pines!

Yay!!! Looking forward to it! WHISPERING PINES releases September 1st, 2020 through Aladdin/Simon & Schuster. To read a longer interview with Heidi and Kati, head over to the full post at


Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski are a writing team of two sisters. Heidi is afraid of all things that go bump in the night, but watches shows like the X-Files and Stranger Things anyhow. Kati enjoys reading about serial killers and the apocalypse, but secretly sleeps with a nightlight. They believe that the best way to conquer fear is to share it with as many people as possible, so between the two of them, they love creating stories full of all the things that scare them most. They are the co-authors of the Mystic Cooking Chronicles trilogy.

Find Heidi on twitter and instagram: @hidlang
Find Kati on twitter and instagram: @ktbartkowski
Or visit their website:

Monday, March 2, 2020


I am a sucker for a time travel story. 

And if you send the main characters back to ancient Egypt, you will for sure grab my attention.

So when MG Minded was offered the opportunity to read and review THE ORDER OF TIME by Scott P. Southall, I was all in.

The Premise:

Anastasia and Edward Upton are eleven years old twins who are different in almost every way. Despite this they are inseparable and the best of friends. They tackle the highs and lows of sixth grade together whether they are fending off bullies at the elite Blake Academy or examining rare antiquities as the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Then: life gets complicated.

They discover that their friend and mentor, Dr. Gregorian, is part of a secret society called the Order of Time. It turns out that time is not fixed, it’s a fluid continuum where changes to the past can create ripples all the way through to the present. It unwittingly falls to the twins to travel back through time to ancient Egypt where they must overcome deadly assassins, evil high priests and vengeful gods in order to prevent disaster. Together Anastasia and Edward must navigate all obstacles to preserve the past and find their way back home.

The Review:

This book is filled with adventure: time-travelling, danger, famous characters from history.

Southall does an excellent job of world-building and paints a vivid picture of ancient Egypt.

The main characters, Anastasia and Edward, are likeable, and Southall does a wonderful job with the personalities of the other characters, including Dr. Gregorian and the Egyptians.

The story moves at a good pace and is filled with plenty of cliffhangers to keep the reader engaged. 

It is reminiscent of Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles, and while this book doesn't flow quite so well and is clunky here and there (but then who can write a page turner as well as Riordan?), I think fans of Riordan and other adventure books may like this adventure very much.

You can read more about author Scott Southall here