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.

Monster Heroes

Last fall was a busy, busy time for me, and so it’s looking like August and September are the months that all my hard work will come to fruition. I have many, many books being released, starting with my Monster Heroes series. These books are a mashup of two of my favorite things to write about: monsters and super heroes. Will (the ghost), Mina (the vampire), Linda (the witch), and Brian (the zombie) are friends who share a big secret. Instead of haunting people, sucking their blood, cursing them, or eating their brains, these four monster want to be like super heroes and protect people. Each of them has a special talent that they put to good use to help save day!

9781496537553The Ghost Trap: Most ghosts love to scare people. But Will is not most like ghosts. He is shy and quiet and hates attention. When he hears other ghosts talking about haunting an old house to scare kids, he knows he needs to stop them. See if Will is brave enough to stop the scary ghosts.

Veggies and Vampires: Mina is a vibrant, veggie-eating vampire who hates blood. As you can imagine, this is a problem. Mina’s parents invite humans to dinner to test Mina’s vampire skills. Find out if Mina is able to keep her secret.

9781496537546Witch’s Brew: Linda is a good witch. Sadly, most witches aren’t like Linda including her scheming sisters. They have created a new evil potion and are ready to use it on innocent pets. Can Linda and her friends stop her evil sisters?

Zombies and Meatballs: Most zombies are not very smart. However, Brian is different. He is a smart, book-loving zombie. When a zombie horde gathers, Brian knows nobody is safe. Can Brian stop the dangerous zombie horde? Better yet, can he stop them by using meatballs? Follow Brian through this crazy adventure.

The Muffin Man—Review

9781632903648_int01From the Tangled Tunes series of Cantata Learning, “The Muffin Man” is a delightful storybook/music/CD combo package that sets the scene for the song story about “The Muffin Man,” who bakes and sells delicious muffins, and lives on Drury Lane. Bright, comical, stylized illustrations reminiscent of the 50’s and 60’s decorate each page of treasured song lyrics, encouraging children to imagine the tale themselves as they hear and sing along with the song. A funny brown dog named Cupcake accompanies the Muffin Man throughout his day, cleaning up stray crumbs and spills with hilarious efficiency, and shepherding the baker home from his shop when the day is done.
—Children’s Bookwatch

Magic E

owlRecently, I’ve been working on a series of books involving Magic E, an owlish wizard who knows a little word trickery. With a wave of his wand and a flick of his wrist, he changes the vowels sounds of words like pin, tub, can, and cap by adding an E to the end of them.

The book in this series are going to be outlandish stories with some fun word play. In one story, Magic E sends Tim the porcupine back in time—get it, add an e to Tim and you get time! In another, he teaches a cod to read secret codes. Chuck the Duck goes from being a dud to a cool dude, and Sam has his cap turned into a magical cape.

These stories really allowed me to let some of my goofiness out into the world. And to top it off, I once again get to work with the amazing Luke Flowers. He’s illustrated my retelling of The Muffin Man, and also worked on a few titles that will be coming out this summer. His work is incredibly fun, and from the initial sketch of Magic E, I can tell he’s going to capture the playfulness of this series.

Stay tuned for more.

The Muffin Man — Review

9781632903648_cvrMost adults know the muffin man by now, but many will have never heard the story in quite this way! Author Blake Hoena has given the intrepid baker and his beloved Drury Lane bakery a new daily routine, turning the Muffin Man into an early riser who makes a wide variety of muffins to tempt the passers-by. At the end of the day, the store is empty and everyone is happy. This cute picture book is written in such a way that every page can be sung to the melody of the classic children’s song; in fact, the book even includes a CD featuring a recording of the full song, complete with toe-tappingly catchy music. Illustrations by Luke Flowers are delightfully cartoony, full of bright colors, and young readers will be smiling along with the people in the book as they go through every page. This is a fun addition to the library of any young reader . . . Great for the preschool crowd.

—San Francisco Book Review