Free Books! Free Event Kit! Monkeys Everywhere!

Posted by on Jun 17, 2016 in Book: Quick Little Monkey, Educators & Librarians, Events, Promotion | 0 comments


Lita Judge, the illustrator of the picture book, created this charming Little Monkey who can take a ride on a reader’s wrist. Thanks, Lita!

Happy Father’s Day! Here’s a perfect treat for a day celebrating dads: a FREE copy of Quick, Little Monkey and a marvelous monkey event kit for bookstores, libraries, and schools. Couldn’t be better!

The fabulously talented and creative firm Curious City has created a story hour event kit for Quick, Little Monkey. Send readers on a quest throughout your bookshelves to find their very own Little Monkey, one they can carry  home just like Papa Monkey carries Little Monkey through the rainforest.

And if this is not enough monkey madness, you can enter to win your very own FREE COPY of this sweet and tender picture book about a Little Monkey and her wise and protective Papa.

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School Library Journal STAR!

Posted by on Jun 8, 2016 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Ninjas | 0 comments

FLOWERS-175I’m doing happy dances in front of my computer (aren’t you glad you can’t see?) because Deadly Flowers got a STARRED review from School Library Journal!

Kata has been training since childhood to be the sly, disciplined ninja she’s become. She strives to live up to the standards Madame Chiyome has set for her “deadly flowers.” She has learned to trust no one, and is determined to not let anything or anyone deter her from her first mission as an assassin for hire. However, she never expected her target to be a young boy, and she suddenly finds herself confronted with the most difficult decision she’s ever faced–take a young boy’s life or accept the dire consequences of having failed her mission. This-action packed book will captivate both girls and boys and does a great job of portraying the importance of taking ownership for one’s life, despite the conflicts and social constraints one might face. Highly recommended.

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Posted by on Jun 2, 2016 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Japanese Demons | 0 comments

Neko-mata can be quite civilized, often wearing clothing and speaking in human language. This one is also apparently hiding its second tail under the kimono. Don't let down your guard, however!

Neko-mata can be quite civilized, often wearing clothing and speaking in human language. This one is also apparently hiding its second tail under the kimono. Don’t let down your guard, however!

I’m hard at work these days on the sequel to Deadly Flowers, and so I’m encountering a delightfully creepy new crop of legendary creatures from Japan.

Such as the neko-mata.

Now, I’m a cat person. It doesn’t feel right to fall asleep at night without something furry and warm and purring cuddled up close by. But if you ever meet a cat with two tails, or a single tail that forks at the end–watch out. This is no ordinary cat.

Neko-mata walk on their hind legs, they can awaken and control the dead, and they have a taste for human flesh. If a stray cat comes to your door and begs to be let in, be careful to count the tails first.

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Pygmy Marmosets–Really, so Adorable. Truly.

Posted by on May 17, 2016 in Book: Quick Little Monkey | 0 comments

Lita Judge, the oh-so-talented illustrator of Quick, Little Monkey! made Little Monkey so doggone adorable. (Plush toy, publishers? Come on, you know you want to make a plush toy.) Just so you can see that she did not exaggerate the cuteness of pygmy marmosets, the world’s smallest monkeys, I offer you this video.

Thanks to the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation for the video and for raising Ninita after her mother could not care for her. Just to note, she is not a pet (the pet trade is very, very damaging to species like pygmy marmosets).

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Deadly Flowers and the Critics

Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Ninjas, Press, Reviews | 0 comments

Deadly Flowers

Deadly Flowers

I’ve been so excited and happy about the reviews for Deadly Flowers. This review from the (*cough*notoriously picky*cough*) Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books has my favorite adjective string of all time: “clever, vivacious, dangerous.” I’m going to get it put on a t-shirt.

Ninja-loving readers will rejoice at this clever, dangerous, vivacious book about a group rarely mentioned: girl ninja. Kata was orphaned as a young age, so all she knows as home is her place with Madame Chiyome (a real historical figure who trained young girls to be ninjas in the mid 1500s). She works willingly, eager to be offered her first mission so that all of her torturous, exhausting, dangerous training can be put to test. She’s stunned to realize, though, that her first job is an assassination, of a young boy no less; when she encounters the boy and his protective sister, she can’t go through with the deed, and she ultimately helps the kids escape and search for their uncle. The siblings are also protecting a pearl that has supernatural powers, while trying to evade other assassins, demons, ghostly beings, and vengeful family members. It’s a lot, but just as the descriptions and social settings start feeling a bit too dense, there’s a great fight scene or a creepy-cool mention of a double-mouthed woman or trickster spirit to change the tone and add excitement. An author’s note offers brief details about female ninjas and what is actually known about their history, as well as some additional details on Japanese ghosts and demons.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

I’m also quite fond of The Horn Book for saying that the book first goes “from bad to worse” and then “from worse to much worse.”

First-person narrator Kata–in training since childhood to be a “deadly flower,” a female ninja, in Feudal Japan–sneers at rich new girl Saiko. When Saiko is assigned to assist in Kata’s very first assassination, Kata is dismayed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when the target is revealed to be Saiko’s younger brother, and Kata instead finds herself caught up in a rescue mission. Then things go from worse to much worse; someone is hunting the siblings to steal the wish-granting pearl Ichiro has recently inherited. This action-packed adventure blends historical fiction with intriguing supernatural elements drawn from Japanese folklore. While Kata herself–determined, stoic, honor-bound–has a somewhat limited emotional range, Saiko turns out to have unexpected depth and even more surprising motivations. An author’s note adds historical and mythological context.
The Horn Book

Other reviewers have also chimed in:

“Nonstop action, interesting characters, and a journey into another time and culture.”

“This mission turns into a coming-of-age lesson for Kata that forces her to challenge herself while she learns about deception, trust and friendship. The story unfolds with many twists and turns that keep readers intrigued, including many frightening encounters with demons and ghosts pulled from Japanese folklore that range from spooky to outright terrifying. Kata struggles to survive and keep others around her safe. This book is a great combination of adventure, fantasy, and horror, with two strong heroines who form an unlikely alliance.”

School Library Journal


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Things Ninjas Didn’t Do (That You Think They Did)

Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Ninjas, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Detail from Hokusai Manga

Infiltration–not an admirable activity in feudal Japan

#3) Be cool.

It’s hard to believe–I mean, what’s cooler than a ninja?– but ninjas were not respected during their time. They were, basically, the scum of the earth, about as low as actors or beggars or people who handled corpses for burial or cremation–all of whom had a hard time of it in feudal Japan.

How could somebody with the skills of a ninja be looked down upon? Well, the warrior ideal in Japan at the time was the samurai, riding boldly into battle, challenging a foe to single combat, preferring death to dishonor, etc., etc. It would have been entirely beneath a samurai’s dignity to sneak about in disguise, to knife someone in the back, to lie, to spy, or to steal. Which is why samurai and warlords hired ninjas to do these thing for them.

It would also have been shocking for a samurai to accept payment for fighting, or to serve more than one master. Both of these were things that ninjas frequently did.

So ninjas were despised in their day. But also very useful.

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Puzzles, Puzzles Everywhere

Posted by on Apr 20, 2016 in Book: The Eureka Key, Promotion, Uncategorized | 0 comments


No, you can’t just click this symbol. It’s a little harder than that.

Feeling a little bored? Need a challenge? Locate this symbol somewhere on my website and click on it to see if you can solve four puzzles related to The Secrets of the Seven. If you succeed, a reward beyond riches will be yours! (Well, there’s a reward. It’s kind of neat.)

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