Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hilde Cracks the Case: Hero Dog!


Title: Hero Dog! (Hilde Cracks the Case #1)
Author: Hilde Lysiak with Matthew Lysiak
Illustrator: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Release: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic
Recommended for ages 6-8

About the Author

Hilde Kate Lysiak is the reporter and publisher of the Orange Street News. Since starting her paper at the age of seven Hilde has written and published hundreds of stories in her hometown of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. Hilde has been recognized for her work in the New York Times, NBC Today Show, GMA, The Washington Post, and thousands of other media across the world.

 About Hero Dog!

Ten-year-old crime reporter Hilde Lysiak is starring in her very own Branches early chapter book series -- inspired by news stories Hilde wrote in real life! In this first book, there's been a break-in on Orange Street! Cupcakes have been stolen, and soon a pie goes missing, too. Hilde and her
sister/photographer, Izzy, must interview witnesses and follow the clues. Can Hilde crack the case in time to post her news story online? Joanne Lew-Vriethoff's personality-filled illustrations appear on every page, bringing Hilde's adventures to life for young readers!


Branches is a unique line of books specifically designed for newly independent readers, typically kids ages 5 to 8. The Branches line is here to help you foster a love of reading in your kids and give them the tools they need to become life-long readers. Each book includes: easy-to-read text, simple plot lines, plenty of context cues, cliffhanger chapter endings, and purposeful illustrations (on every page!) that aid in reading comprehension.  Feeling like a successful reader will bolster your child's
self-confidence, which will lead to an increased interest in reading.

My Review

We were lucky enough to receive an advance reader copy of  Hero Dog! (Hilde Cracks the Case #1) from Scholastic to share with you, my readers, and we get to host a giveaway with Scholastic for a copy of this book!

I was so excited to receive this book because I have heard such great things about the Branches line of books from Scholastic. My five-year-old is starting to read on her own. However, unlike my older daughter, she lacks the attention span to listen to me read a chapter book to her. She prefers picture books, but I can tell she craves a longer story. Sometimes, she comments how some of our picture books seem babyish to her, which is really her way of saying she wants to be like her big sister.

I introduced Hero Dog! (Hilde Cracks the Case #1) to Little J a couple of days ago. It took us two days to read the entire book, which has 89 pages of text. We loved it! The story was simple,  buoyant, and fun. There were no complex emotional story-lines to interrupt the reading, which has been a block to us reading chapter books if I am honest. Invariably when we read chapter books, there is some heavy subject that leads us off topic and distracts from the story, with just doesn't work my daughter's current emotional developmental stage. We didn't have any of those issues reading this book. My daughter was engaged, in particular because of the large number of pictures. There is a picture on almost every page in this book.

Here is an interview I conducted with my Little J. Now, bear in mind that my husband spent several years as a detective, so she equates any investigative work with being a detective.

And, what makes it even better. She asked to read it again tonight. You always know when a book is a hit when a kids wants to read it over and over again.

Let me show you some of the parts of the book that I love. The book essentially teaches kids the basics on how to be a reporter. Check out this "Reporter's Toolbox."

The book also focuses on recognizing the five W's and H questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how. As the book progresses, Hilde jots down the answers she gets after asking these questions while she is out on the trail of the case. Towards the end, she summarizes her finding with this illustration.
Finally, you get to see the final product- a finished story based on the facts Hilde gathers throughout the book. I love that the book takes the time to break out the parts of a new story: headline, lede, nut, quote, support, and kicker.
I can see this book being a huge asset to teachers teaching Writer's Workshop. Check out this discussion guide (that aligns with Common Core standards). I uploaded it to my Google Drive to share with you.

Miss M read the book in about 20 minutes. (She is almost 11 and an advanced reader). I interviewed her for her thoughts on the book. 

1. Who is your favorite character in the book?

My favorite character in the book is Zeus- the hero dog. 

2. What made this book interesting?
The fact that Maddy, the Meanager) stole from people to get money to go to a concert.

3. Where do you think you could investigate a story or be a reporter?
I could be a reporter in our neighborhood, some local place, or at a home, with permission.  

4. When do you think this kind of book should be introduced in school?
When kids are in first grade or at least know how to read.  

5. Why did you like or not like this book?
I like this book because it was easy to read and about mysteries.  

6. How do you think you could become a reporter?
I would start by researching how stories (news) have to be written.  

I agree with Miss M that this book would be ideal for a first grade (or maybe even a second grade) classroom.  And by the way, it is on sale on Amazon for only $2.42 for the paperback plus free shipping for Prime members. Skip that next latte and get your kid reading.

Now, for the fun part! We are giving away a copy of this book. Branches books help readers grow! Leave a comment on how you help your reader grow. 


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FTC Disclosure: Thank you Scholastic for sending me a copy of Hero Dog! (Hilde Cracks the Case #1) in exchange for a fair and honest review. This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase the books through these links, I receive a small portion of the payment, which I use to support this blog. Thanks for your support!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Bravest Worrier

A couple of weeks ago I found myself arriving way too early for an eye doctor appointment. To waste the minutes away, I walked over to the Barnes and Nobel and wandered aimlessly through the store. My mind spun round in a frantic state of worries- work, home, family. anything, and everything. A lot is going on right now- personally, professionally, and in the world- and my mind is moving at 100 miles an hour like a bullet train. Enter wonderfully Barnes and Nobel employee! She stops me and asks if I am alright. I nod and start to walk away. She looks at me with a "I am not buying it look"- the kind that only mothers can truly perfect and asks me to check out this book. My first thought is to quickly say no thanks and walk away. I have enough on my plate- I don't need someone selling me a book. But, something in my heart told me to stay and listen. This employee introduced me to a book by a local author about worrying. Meet author and illustrator of The Bravest Worrier- Angelique Monet.


Angelique Monet was born in upstate New York. She grew up with two older sisters and one older brother.  She has fond memories of jumping in huge piles of leaves left by her favorite season autumn. She loves the smell of autumn, the crisp cool air, and the beautiful colors of the changing foliage.  Autumn will always remind Angelique of the fresh beginnings of new school days.

At a very early age Angelique felt inspired to write poetry.  Unable to keep a journal, Angelique would write her most inner feelings down through poem after poem.  As she grew older, her friends would often confide in her with their personal stories and want Angelique to turn it into poetry.  Angelique found great enjoyment in helping them express what they could not. 

Angelique left the cold winters behind and moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she met her husband. Together they have built a family and a wonderful life that combines their passion for art, creative inventions, and the need to make a positive impact.  They designed and created successful iPhone games.  It wasn’t until her daughters began school that she felt inspired to write about those complex feelings of growing up again. 

Angelique spends her days writing and painting.  After writing several children’s books Angelique knew ‘The Bravest Worrier’ had to be illustrated first.  The Bravest Worrier was written in only forty-five minutes but was illustrated over the course of two years.  Angelique has always known she was a writer but only recently discovered that she was an artist as well. As a self-taught artist she has a love for 18th- century art.  Angelique thoughtfully planned out each page and would often get lost in the details, the lighting, and emotional aspect of her art.  She wants her reader to feel the story not just from the words but the art as well. 

Angelique could never imagine that her love for writing would lead to writing children’s books. 
She hopes to inspire and positively impact her readers’ for years to come.  


And now meet her beautiful and so needed book: The Bravest Worrier.

My Review

There are no shortage of things to worry about today- flooding, war, healthcare, yellow jacket stings, and if your friends are talking about you. These are all topics my daughter has brought up to me as things that keep her up at night. My oldest can worry so much sometimes that she becomes paralyzed by her fears. While we work together all the time to put the worries and fears in perspective, no matter what I say or do, there seems to always be new worries brewing. 

The Bravest Worrier tackles the myriad of worries that cross a child's mind head on in a gorgeously illustrated picture book that saturates your mind with imagery and pushes out all the worries.  Each page is full of little witty statements that exemplify what voices can be heard in a worriers mind. I find myself discovering new parts of the book with every new read.

The book also comes with a small poster titled, "The Bravest Worrier Worry's Secrets Revealed." This poster is chock full of useful life skills that help a worrier kick the worrying habit. I love this book so much, I am not going to keep it, but instead I plan on sending it in to my daughter's elementary school to give to her guidance counselor. This book should be in every school.

Check out the author's website: www.thebravestworrier.com to purchase your own copy of this beautiful book. Or- if you live in Cobb County Georgia- head on over to the Barnes and Noble at the Avenues of West Cobb on Dallas Highway where I was able to purchase a signed copy.

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