Monster Heroes — Review

Over four stories, Hoena and Bardin introduce young monsters who “wanted to be like superheroes and save the day.” There’s Will, a shy but brave ghost; Mina, a beet-juice-drinking vampire; Linda, a kindly witch; and Brian, a quick-thinking zombie who prefers tofu to brains. The stories are essentially identical: each of the four runs into trouble with members of his or her own kind (mean ghosts try to haunt new residents in town, Mina’s parents plan to take a bite out of their dinner guests) and the friends swoop in to help, but Hoena’s playful sense of humor and Bardin’s Cartoon Network–ready illustrations keep these three-chapter stories quick moving and entertaining.
—Publishers Weekly

Monster Heroes — Review

Four good-hearted monsters repeatedly save the day by concocting clever ways to foil the schemes of their evil families and schoolmates.

Their challenges range from getting the residents of Hill House (“across from Shirley Jackson’s tomb”) to laugh rather than scream at a trio of ectoplasmic pranksters to saving the Plasma family after vampire neighbors issue an invitation to…dinner. Happily, Will, Mina, Brian, and Linda—respectively, a shy ghost, a vampire who prefers beet juice to blood, a brainy zombie, and a curse-reversing witch — rise to every challenge by putting their heads and magical powers together. Bardin adds a zany element to the well-leaded narrative with daffy cartoon illustrations… Hoena tucks sufficient tongue-in-cheek references into the narrative to keep older readers amused, should they happen upon the book.

—Kirkus Reviews

More Mythology

Last fall, I had two mythology choose-your-path books come. This spring, there are three more!

Hades and the Underworld: The Underworld is the land of the dead and ruled by the powerful god Hades. It is not a place where the living are welcome, but that’s where you must go. You will need to cross the River Styx and face the three-head dog Cerberus. But once you are there and reach your goal, will you be able to find your way back to the living or be trapped forever?

The Quest of Theseus: You are the mighty Greek hero Theseus, on a quest to prove that you are the rightful heir to Athen’s throne. But your journey is filled with danger. A giant, an evil witch, and the half-man half-bull monster known as the Minotaur stand in your way. Do you have what it takes to find your long-lost father and make him proud?

The Trojan War: What happens when the gods disagree? They send the mightiest of heroes to fight a war. But which hero will you be, and who will you side with: Greece’s King Menelaus or Paris, a prince from the city of Troy? If the gods favor you, you just may survive the fighting.

Magic E

Start the New Year will a little magic from Magic E. He’s a wizard who knows some word trickery. With an E, he can change a cap into a cape, a tub into a tube, a cod into a code, and send Tim the porcupine back in time.

Chuck the Duck Was a Cool Dude: Chuck was a bit of a dud until Magic E turned him into a cool dude.

Rob the Mole and the Sneaky Gnome: Rob wanted to be a secret agent, so Magic E gave him a cod that could read any secret code. With some fishy help, Rob solved the case of the sneaky gnome.

Sam the Ape with a Cape: Sam wished to be a superhero. So Magic E turned a can into a magical cane and a cap into a magical cape, and off Sam flew.

Time the Time-Traveling Porcupine: Tim wanted to travel back and visit the dinosaurs, so Magic E sent him back in time. Pip want to play an instrument so Magic E taught him to play a pipe.

 

Jason and Odysseus

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a mythical nut, as in I dig mythology, seen Clash of the Titans (about 100 times), read Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson’s books, and plan to go to Greece one day to see all of the ancient ruins. So it will come as no surprise that I have two new books based on mythic heroes: Jason and Odysseus, and their famous quests. They are also in the choose-your-path format. Readers get to imagine that they are on an epic adventure battling fearsome monsters.

9781491481134Jason, the Argonauts, and the Golden Fleece—You are the mighty Greek hero Jason. Along with your crew of Argonauts, you are setting sail in search of the Golden Fleece. But your journey will not be easy. Sea monsters, powerful witches, and deadly beasts stand in your way. Can you survive and bring the Golden Fleece back to your kingdom?

The Epic Adventures of Odysseus—You are the mighty Greek hero Odysseus. The Trojan War has made you a hero. But now you must return home to your island of Ithaca. The journey back will not be easy. Deadly sea monsters, cunning witches, and a giant Cyclops stand in your way. Do you have what it takes to survive and make it back home?

Jokes and Jingles

When my sister’s boys were just little guys, we’d go on summer camping trips. With three nephews and three uncles, it was a great bonding time. And one of the things we bonded over was telling and making up jokes. On of my faves:

Q: What do you do if you get swallowed by an elephant?
A: Jump up and down until you are all pooped out!

On one long car ride home, I remember doing the good ol’ interrupting cow joke. Only, we expanded it for every animal we saw: interrupting horses, interrupting roosters, and even threw in some interrupting uncles and interrupting nephews. After a week of camping with each other, we all had fodder for some friendly teasing.

That experience inspired me to write one of my latest series: Jokes and Jingles. I take classic knock-knock jokes and expand them into full stories, which were then put to music.

Boo Hoo?: A twist on the “Boo Who?” knock-knock joke in which a group of kids play hide-and-seek. 

JJ_HooWho_F16_cvr.inddHoo, Who’s there?: Peter the Squirrel goes scampering through the woods looking for Ollie the Owl. He’s listening for his friend’s familiar “Hoo Hoo.”

Knock, Knock Moo!: While doing his chores, the farmer’s animals play jokes on him.

Orange You Glad?: Susie wants a snack, but all she can find is an annoying banana that follows her around the house.

Tower of London

9781515725794Most everyone likes a scary ghost story. Now you can experience one in a choose-your-path book.

With its 1,000-year history, the Tower of London is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the world. Queen Anne Boylen was beheaded on the Tower Green, a lawn within the fortress’s walls. Hundreds of years later, visitors claim to have seen her ghostly funeral procession marching toward the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula. Then there are rumors of a ghostly bear wandering the grounds. It is believed to have been part of the Royal Menagerie, a collection of exotic animals that kings and queens kept at the Tower.

And those are just a few of the ghosts that you will encounter in my latest release, Tower of London: A Chilling Interactive Adventure.

Sound It Out!

In my writing career, I’ve been lucky. I have had the opportunity to write a lot of fun, exciting books, from graphic novels about space aliens to chapter books about monsters. I especially enjoy writing silly stories, and nothing I’ve published yet quite tops the four books in my Sound It Out! series for pure goofiness. Each of these outlandish stories focuses on one letter blend, which helps set up a lot of silly word play.

RSL_BHBlue_F16_CVR.inddBlake Has the Blues: What do you get when you combine the letters b and l? You have the bl sound. It lets you sing the blues, curl up in a blanket, and blow a harp with a blue jay.

Chocolate Chimpanzees: What do you get when you combine the letters c and h? You have the ch sound. It lets you swing through the trees with chocolate chimpanzees, chuckle at a funny joke, and join a chicken on a quest for cheese.


RSL_ShShyS_F16_cvr.inddSheila the Shy Sheep:
What do you get when you combine the letters s and h? You have the sh sound. It lets you meet a shy sheep, sip a milkshake, and hush a toothy shark who is hungry for some relish.

The Story of Stanley and Steven: What do you get when you combine the letters s and t? You have the st sound. It lets you tell a story, stomp around, and sing about some monsters.

Thud & Blunder

Friends and family know that while I was growing up, I loved fantasy stories—still do! I read tons of stories about dragons and knights, heroes and monsters. Reading those types of books actually inspired me to start writing my own stories. So I was more than excited to team up with fellow author and friend Sean Tulien to write about the adventures of two unlikely heroes: nine-year-old knights Thud and Blunder. There are dragons, knights, ogres, wizards, and lots of silliness.

The Not-so-Helpless Princess: Thud and Blunder are hired by the king to travel to Castle Kidnap’t and rescue the princess from a band of ogres. Only, the princess is not as helpless as they are led to believe, and she’s not the one who needs saving. The ogres are deathly afraid of her. But Thud and Blunder have been hired to do a job, which they hope will lead to fame and fortune.

9781496532190The Not-so-Heroic Knight: A knight in shining armor asks Thud and Blunder to join him on a heroic quest! He is head to the Sand Witch’s lair that is filled with treasure.How can two nine-year-old knights in search of adventure turn down such a Great Opportunity? But they quickly learn that their idea of adventure is different than their not-so-heroic companion. 

STEM songs

My wife is a STEAM specialist. That’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) with an Art component. And one of my publishers, Cantata Learning, was looking for some science type songs. I thought that would be a great opportunity for me to collaborate with Katie as she also has a music degree and is a lovely singer. So she was the brains behind our STEM series of songs while I was the wordsmith.

FSS_EngiPr_F16_cvr.inddEngineers Solve Problems!: Budding engineers will learn the steps engineers use to solve problems. As they sing along, students will solve a problem just like an engineer would.

Let’s Use the Scientific Method!: Budding scientists will learn how scientists use the scientific method to understand the world around. And as they sign along, students will work their way through an experiment.

9781632907387Math Saves the Day!: Math is important because we use it every day. As they sing along, students will learn that we use math when we bake cookies, go the grocery store, and play with our friends.

Technology Is All Around You!: Technology is more than computer tablets and smart phones. As they sing along, students will learn that technology is anything that solves a problem.