Tara Lazar: Tuesday, October 15th

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All The Wonders This Week w/ Tara Lazar: October 15, 2019


Three new World War II books for young readers, two mythology-based middle grade fantasies, a favorite Dr. Seuss story coming to Netflix in November, & Nic Stone’s new tattoo. We’ve got all this and more. I’m Corrina Allen and this is All The Wonders This Week.

Joining me this week to talk about all things exciting and new in the world of children’s literature is Tara Lazar - a mom of two, a children’s book blogger, and author of several picture books including  7 Ate 9, Your First Day of Circus School, and - just out today - The Upper Case: Trouble in Capital City.



Upcoming Events


Today's New Releases

Picture Books

  • Another book that is getting some early Caldecott buzz is the collaboration between Academy Award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o from 12 Years a Slave and illustrator Vashti Harrison who did Hair Love and lots of other picture books!  This one is called Sulwe and is about a girl who has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.”
  • A picture book release that caught my attention today is Hello, Ninja by N.D. Wilson with art by Forest Dickison and the thing that intrigued me is that it looks like this title was released in board book form about 6 years ago but is being rereleased today and will be turned into a Netflix series soon!
  • And another title that is already rising in those best-selling ranks is Parker Looks Up - which captures the real-life inspiring moment of when Parker Curry looked up at Michelle Obama’s portrait on a visit to Washington DC’s National Portrait Gallery.
  • Corrina: And the picture book we are excited to celebrate with you today is YOURS Tara! The Upper Case: Trouble in Capital City is out today - happy book birthday!  Can you tell us a bit about it?
  • Tara: This book is the follow-up to 7 ATE 9: The Untold Story, again featuring hard-boiled detective Private I, but with a whole new mystery with the uppercase letters of Capital City MISSING! Punctuation like Question Mark and the Quotation Twins make cameos, as does our favorite waitress from Cafe Uno, B.

Chapter Books / Middle Grade

  • Rob Buyea’s third book in the Perfect Score series is out - this one is called The Perfect Star and carries on the adventures of Gavin, Natalie, Trevor, Randi, and Scott into 8th grade - their final year of middle school.
  • The third novel in W. Bruce Cameron’s Dog’s Purpose series, A Dog’s Promise, is also out today. 
  • M.P. Kozlowsky’s Rose Coffin looks really interesting - Publishers Weekly says it subverts the typical chosen one narrative in this creepy middle grade fantasy." 
  • If you have a middle grade reader who loves quirky mysteries, check out Elizabeth Webster and the Court of Uncommon Pleas by New York Times best-selling author William Lashner.
  • The Memory Keeper - about a girl who can remember just about everything that has happened to her and is trying to find a way for her grandmother to recover her memory is out today by debut author  Jennifer Camiccia

  • Alan Gratz fans will be delighted that his new book Allies is out - this one weaving various voices and stories together to tell a story centered around D-Day in World World II. 
  • Another WWII historical fiction novel that I keep hearing rave reviews about is  Under the Broken Sky by Mariko Nagai. It is a novel in verse about  a Japanese orphan’s experience in Soviet occupied rural Manchuria during World War II. 
  • Give and Take by Elly Swartz - this new book is about a girl who becomes a hoarder to deal with all the loss in her life (her grandmother passes away and her parents take in an infant foster baby and she has anxiety over the baby’s departure
  • Another Rick Riordan Presents title that you HAVE to check out is  Tristan Strong Punches a Whole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia - it’s called “a middle-grade American Gods set in a richly-imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods”
  • Another mythology-based fantasy out this week is The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao - this one inspired by traditional Chinese myths.

graphic novels

As far as graphic novels go, there is just one out today - the 3rd Wings of Fire graphic novel - The Hidden Kingdom.


  • If you know kids who like Where’s Waldo-type books, who love history, and diving into all those little details - definitely take a look at Castles Magnified by illustrator Harry Bloom and author David Long. It’s one of those books that you can just get lost in for hours! The two other titles in this series are Pirate Magnified and Egypt Magnified.
  • Two more titles available today that will help keep this younger generation culturally literate are both from the “What is the Story of” series (from the same folks who bring us “Who was” series - today we get What Is the Story of Doctor Who? and What Is the Story of the Wizard of Oz? 
  • Also out this week is a fascinating picture book memoir by artist Ashley Bryan that reveals his experiences serving in the segregated U.S. Army during World War II.  It’s called Infinite Hope and looks incredible and moving. (Layered art, various styles, sketches, drawings, photographs, paintings...gorgeously detailed)
  • The young readers edition of Planned Parenthood’s president and activist Cecile Richards bestselling memoir, Make Trouble is out today. The full title is Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead Kirkus says, "Richards lends solid practical advice for resisting and organizing while offering a fascinating window into contemporary social struggles. Gritty, accessible, and sure to strike a chord with action-oriented."

Other Media New Releases

Aside from books, there are a couple films and TV shows to be aware of this week -


Mistress of Evil - the second Maleficent movie is out this weekend. The first one was very popular and Angelina Jolie in the title role was universally praised, but the plot of the original was sometimes viewed as lacking so I’m interested to see what people think of this one.

I JUST saw that Netflix is releasing an animated 13-episode series of the Dr. Seuss favorite Green Eggs and Ham!  It comes out this November and I am VERY curious to see how they expand the plot of that book to 13 half an hour shows. (Is one week with a fox? And the next week is in a box?)

Currently Reading


  • I read adult fiction and non-fiction for pleasure; I think it’s important to explore other genres to stir up stylistic diversity in your own writing. Since I’ve been thinking about my great-grandparents immigrating to America from Italy in 1913, I’m also reading La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian-American Experience by Jerre Mangione and Ben Morreale. It contains sections on writers of various periods, from little-known poets like Pascal D’Angelo all the way to The Godfather’s Mario Puzo.





On my mind this week is Nic Stone’s new tattoo! She got it after her fantastic book, Dear Martin, was banned in one of the counties in her home-state, Georgia. She calls it a reminder to herself that all her heroes were troublemakers and the tattoo lists the mug-shot numbers of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Doris Payne, Malcolm X, Huey Newton, and.. Sirius Black!  LOVE it!


New this week in adult fiction is Olive Again, the sequel to 2009 Pulitzer-Prize winning Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, which I never read, never saw the miniseries, somehow I missed the whole Olive train. (In my defense I did have a toddler and kindergartner at the time.) But I learned it’s a collection of interconnected short stories. That intrigues me because I have been thinking about writing more middle grade (I started out writing MG but never finished!), but I write short and don’t think I could tackle a 50,000-word story without getting hopelessly lost, so maybe I can approach it from the linked short stories approach. So I am excited to read both Olive books and maybe brainstorm a new project. I’m uncertain if MG readers would have an interest in a short story collection, but I’m hopeful.

Thank You

Thank all of you for listening and sharing your Tuesday with us!

You can find an outline of the show and links to all the books and topics we chatted about at allthewonders.com.  If you have a question or comment, I’d love to hear from you! You can contact me at corrina@allthewonders.com or connect with me on Twitter or Instagram. And reviews on iTunes or Stitcher are always much appreciated.

The All the Wonders This Week podcast is brought to you by All The Wonders, where children's books are for everyone. Journey beyond the page with podcasts, videos, crafts, and more at allthewonders.com.

See you next week!

About the Author

Corrina Allen

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Corrina Allen is a 5th grade teacher in Central New York. She hosts Books Between, a bi-weekly podcast to help teachers, librarians, and parents connect children between 8 and 12 to books they’ll love. You can connect with Corrina on Twitter at @corrinaaallen or Instagram at @Corrina_Allen.

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