"The Adventures of Lovable Lobo: Lobo’s Howliday" by C. L. Murphy

NEW RELEASE and GIVEAWAY
The Adventures of Lovable Lobo:
Lobo’s Howliday
by C. L. Murphy
The Adventures of Lovable Lobo: Lobo’s Howliday will be FREE to download from iTunes on 18 December only. You can also enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $100 iTunes gift card or PayPal cash! This book blast is brought to you by Mother Daughter Book Promotion Services.
Description
It’s almost Christmas and Santa finds himself in quite the predicament due to unintended consequences as a result of trying something new. Lobo, and his raven sidekick, Roxy, travel to the North Pole to help the jolly ole’ one and are guided by the Arctic animals. The colors of the season delight along the way and make for a howling good holiday. Can you howl Ho Ho Ho?
Book Trailer
Review
The Adventures of Lovable Lobo: Lobo’s Howliday is a children’s book written by C. L. Murphy. Lobo and his friend Roxy, the raven, are surprised when an owl comes to see Lobo with a special delivery. Within the bag is Arty, an Arctic mouse who has an urgent request from Santa. Santa needs Lobo’s help this year, and the three of them set off for the North Pole. Along the way, they meet an Arctic fox, who lets them stay the night in his den and a polar bear who transports them across icy water. An Arctic wolf accompanies them for the rest of the journey to Santa’s Village, where an Arctic hare is waiting for them. Santa has updated his method of delivering gifts on Christmas, but he’s got a problem that Lobo can help him with.
I was spellbound reading The Adventures of Lovable Lobo: Lobo’s Howliday. C.L. Murphy’s artwork is simply amazing. Each page is filled with images you can get lost in: lush green forests, sparkling night skies, snowy expanses, and the animals have personality and incredible appeal. If you’re lacking in Christmas spirit this year, no matter what your age, spending some time with Lobo, Roxy, and Arty will soon change your attitude. Lobo’s Howliday is also a great way to introduce a child to the Northern Lights, the Arctic, and the amazing animals that live there (see if you can find the Orca!). I’ve already recommended The Adventures of Lovable Lobo: Lobo’s Howliday to friends who have children or grandchildren. It’s a very special book. ~ 5 Star Review, Jack Magnus, Readers Favorite
About the Author
While new to the children’s book writing and illustrating scene, C. L. has been doodling her way through life since she won a school wide poster contest in the third grade. She’s had the pleasure of working as an artist in residence, creating cartoons and painting murals with the children at local elementary schools. She adores the wonder and curiosity of young children. For years, she filed picture book ideas away, until the reality of the empty nest syndrome sunk in and she decided to bring her favorite one to fruition.
She based the character Lovable Lobo on something very dear to her heart, a real wolf that she’s raised for the last 13 years. She’s felt the need to protect him his entire life, primarily due to the preconceived notions that wolves are to be feared.
She lives amongst the wildlife in an enchanted forest in the beautiful Oregon wilderness. She has always appreciated nature and animals have always played a major role in her life. She was that little girl who brought home the strays asking “Can we please keep it?” At an early age she realized her connection with animals by training a wild bluejay to appear on command to take food from her hand.
Check out her book series and discover that you, too, will find Lobo lovable.
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $100 iTunes gift card (or PayPal cash) and a wolf stuffie.
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"A Path Toward Home: The Annals of Avonea 1" by Heather R. Lorenz

FREE 14-18 December
A Path Toward Home:
The Annals of Avonea 1
by Heather R. Lorenz
Description
Constance waited eagerly for her mother’s vivid bedtime stories. They were truly children’s literature in action and told so convincingly of a magical land that Constance could almost believe her mother had been there and returned. If they had been put in writing, there is no doubt they would be children’s classics. By age 6 Constance was living with her Aunt and Uncle in Canada and struggles for a time. Travel adventures are not her lot as uncle is a very contented homebody.
A teenager now, she no longer reads children’s fantasy books for kids. By age 9-12 she had in fact given up believing in fairy tales and fantasies. Life in Saltwater is routine and boring when her best friend moves away. One day she was swinging on her mother’s old swing ….when suddenly it was dark with whispering voices in the background.
When she next opened her eyes, where in the world was she? Living In some children’s adventure books? By age 9-12 she had put such thoughts behind her. Now she wasn’t so sure. Soon she meets her rescuers who concoct a plan to take her home. Will it be successful and what about her uncle? He must be frantic with worry. Meanwhile there are things to do and places to go.
Prince Drinian and his trusty mentor Woodphere are determined to help her return to her world. Barely into the journey, Constance encounters a young man who says an alternate route which will be much faster. Who should she believe? Constance learns that even close friends may disagree especially when they are exposed to the harsh realities of nature. They are able to resolve their difficulties and forge ahead. Soon she finds herself in a competition not of her choosing.
Scary terrain, a near fatal injury and a mysterious manor lie ahead. What secrets are behind those doors and can the secretive old man give them the answers they seek? Just ahead lies enemy territory and a princess with an attitude. A close encounter with thieves and robbers hastens their departure to the young prince’s boyhood home.
But for Constance the journey is not finished. Join her and her newfound friends as they embark for their destination: The Circle of Return.
Excerpt
Moolow’s manor loomed before them, dark and mystical. Constance, Drinian, and Woodphere strode up the dark marble steps to the huge bronze door. As Woodphere pulled on a long rope near the door, a gentle sound like wind chimes played, as the door creaked open.

“Have you ever been here, Drinian?” Constance asked.

“No, I haven’t. Moolow always came to my father when we needed him,” Drinian replied.

The door was now completely open, and much to Constance’s surprise the interior was not dark and gloomy. Instead, it was very elaborate with marble stairs that led up to the second floor, red carpet and light wood furnishings.

“It’s beautiful in here!” Constance exclaimed, as she looked up at the thousand diamond chandelier that hung from the ceiling.

“Indeed,” Drinian replied, in awe.

An old man was standing at the foot of the stairs. He was dressed in a long red robe, and his long white beard hung to his waist.

“Greetings to you travelers,” He said in a deep raspy voice.

Woodphere and Drinian bowed and Constance curtsied as best as she was able.

“Your clothes are shabby and you look in need of a refreshing bath.” Moolow said with a kind smile.

“Thank you sir, but we can’t stay long and it is very important for us to talk to you,” Drinian said.

“We will conduct business after you bathe and change your clothing, Your Majesty. Now, follow me.”

 ***
Moolow headed up the winding staircase to the next floor, and led each to private rooms where a bath awaited each of them.

After Moolow closed the door, Constance wondered, how could the old man have baths awaiting them, when he didn’t even know they were coming?

Constance glanced about the darkened room at the pulled curtains and the three flickering candles. The steaming tub of bubbly water in the corner looked delightful. But what was that bulge on the far wall? Constance picked up a candle holder, walked briskly to the wall and gave a firm push. With a sharp creaking sound the wall opened, revealing a secret opening.

Constance eyes were wide with excitement as she entered, candle in hand. It was a long hidden passage that reminded Constance of the old castles she had read about. The stone walls were musty and damp and felt cold against her hand as she guided herself along the wall.

It seemed that she walked for hours until she reached a dead end. Why would a tunnel come to a dead end? Constance lifted her candle against the wall to see if she could find a handle or lever. Spotting an odd looking torch above her head, she seized it in both hands and spun it downward as the wall opened! She hesitantly entered a massive round room with shelves reaching as high as 40 feet with bottles and books neatly arranged on them.

Constance stepped up to a round table with bottles of all shapes and sizes. Was this the lab of some mad scientist? She picked up a container with green liquid and read, a potion to make your freckles disappear. Next, she picked up a bottle labeled, the potion to regain arm strength, and another for growing a thick beard. I don’t think I would like that one, Constance thought, glancing about the room. A book that lay open on a small table gave instructions for creating potions. One line read, use lemon, lavender and clover to get rid of warts.

“This is amazing! How in the world did Moolow come up with all these concoctions?” Constance whispered aloud.

“It took me many years,” boomed a voice from behind her.

“Oh Moolow, I’m sorry. I should not by prying.”

“I don’t mind, as long as you can keep this place a secret.”

“I promise, I won’t tell anyone, not even Drinian or Woodphere.”

“I believe you. Now what can I get you? You surely do not need a beauty potion.”

“No, I don’t need anything. But how did you invent all these potions?”

“I experimented on many different people,” Moolow replied. There are over 2,000 remedies here.

“How do you get away with doing that?”

“I tell people that I am trying a new experiment. If it works, I start selling it and they get half the profits. So they let me do it.

I did feel bad one time when I was creating a potion to grow hair. A bald old man was the guinea pig and it ended up turning the top of his head blue!”

“Oh my!” Constance exclaimed smiling.

“Actually, you would be perfect for my next experiment. I want to see if my potion of changing hair texture works.”

“No thank you. I don’t want to end up bald like Woodphere.

“Very well then. But perhaps you could use a poison snake bite healing potion?”

“How did you know about my snake bite?”

“Drinian told me and wondered if there was anything I could give you. And over here’s just the thing,” Moolow said, as he walked over to his desk and picked up a clear bottle with red liquid.

“Thank you, Moolow. How much should I use?” Constance asked as she took the bottle from him.

“Take it with you and apply it every two hours. Within three days your leg should be as good as new, without even a blemish.” Come, you should get changed before dinner.”

“Alright,” Constance replied, following him out of the circular room.

Once Constance had made her way back to her room she went straight to the closet which was full of many beautiful dresses. Constance chose a violet color dress with delicate cream lace around the sleeves, hem and neckline. She quickly put on the dress, combed her hair, put it into a neat bun before stepping into the hall where she was met by Moolow.

“Please, follow me Constance. Drinian and Woodphere are already waiting in the dining room for us,” said Moolow.

Constance followed him downstairs into a large dining room. The table was very long, and could sit at least ten people on either side.

Drinian and Woodphere both stood when Constance entered. They were both wearing dashing white shirts, with red vests and brown trousers.

“You look quiet elegant, Constance,” Woodphere said approvingly.

“Indeed you do,” agreed Drinian.

“Why, thank you! You two look quite handsome yourselves,” Constance replied.

“Please be seated and I shall bring out the food,” Moolow said, as he exited the room. Soon he returned with steaming platters of poached eggs and toast. After they had finished, Moolow passed his guests a brimming plate full of cheeses, crackers and meats for their enjoyment.

“Moolow we must speak to you,” Drinian said, taking a sip of juice.
Review
A Path Toward Home resembles the Narnia stories, in that the story is for kids, however entrances those of all ages. The main character is a young lady named Constance who is whisked away to the world of Avonea. The characters are very vivid and believable throughout the novel. This is a great story of adventure, fantasy, mystery and suspense in one tidy little bundle.
About the Author
Sixteen year old Heather R. Lorenz writes fantasy and adventure for children ages 10 and up. She is inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.




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"Monkey Fun!" by Julia Dweck

NEW RELEASE and REVIEW
Monkey Fun!
by Julia Dweck
Monkey Fun! is Julia Dweck’s latest release. You can read my review below. You can also read my earlier posts and reviews of some of Julia’s other books: Blucy (blog post), Mary had a Sleepy Sheep (blog post), Humpfree: The Humpless Camel (blog post), Faux Paw (blog post), and Zippity-Zoo (blog post).
Description
Monkey Fun! proves that you’re never too young to begin your learning adventure.
It’s a barrel of fun and chock full of interesting monkey facts written in easy to understand rhyming verse for toddlers ages 0-4.
Bold, colorful illustrations by Aida Sofia Barbawill capture the attention of young readers and aid in story comprehension. This is an edutaining rhyming adventure that offers fun learning resources in the back of the book including, Mrs. Dweck’s monkey facts and a monkey counting game.
Excerpt
That’s not a monkey who’s peeling a grape.
Bigger and tailless, he must be an ape.
Monkeys who live in a family group,
travel together and share with their troop.
Review

Ever wanted to know more about monkeys? Here’s a fun way to entertain and educate the kids at the same time. Find out where monkeys live, what they eat, and how they interact.
Aida Sofia Barba’s monkeys are extremely cute and the colorful backgrounds are stunning, a perfect complement to Julia’s rhyming verse. Comes complete with fun monkey facts and a counting activity.
About the Author
Julia Dweck writes children’s stories for digital and traditional publication. Her stories span the spectrum of humor, fantasy, and edutainment in rhyme and in prose. Check out her newest ebooks, Blucy, Mary had a Sleepy Sheep, Humpfree: The Humpless Camel, Faux Paw, Zippity-Zoo, and Monkey Fun!.
Julia’s background in elementary education affords her the opportunity to be in touch with what children want to read and what makes them giggle. She’s collaborated with leading artists in the world of children’s literature to produce over twenty Amazon ebooks. Her titles have garnered placement on Amazon’s bestsellers in children’s color picture books multiple times with two #1 bestsellers: Pie-Rits and Zombie-Kids. These titles have been chosen by Amazon Editors for the prestigious “Kindle Daily Deal.” Many of Julia’s titles have earned placement on Amazon’s top ranked lists based on customer review. In her spare time, Julia is a designer of educational adjuncts for children’s literature, and has worked with such notable publishing houses as Penguin Young Readers. She presented at the 2011 National Center for Family Literacy for her creative use of technology in the classroom.
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"Tumbleweed Christmas" by Beverly Stowe McClure

BOOK BLAST and GIVEAWAY
Tumbleweed Christmas
by Beverly Stowe McClure
Tumbleweed Christmas is a Christmas story suitable for children aged 3 to 7. You can read my review and enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a great prize. This book blast is brought to you by Mother Daughter Book Promotions.
Description
Christmas is the time for miracles, but sometimes, a child must make her own miracle, and one for her siblings.
Book Trailer
Review
Jackie’s family has no money for a Christmas tree or presents, and her father is sick in hospital. So Jackie sets out to buy a Christmas tree for her family with her last dollar, promising her little sisters, April and May, a surprise. She meets up with her friend Daniel who is having troubles of his own. Jackie’s mother has told her that Christmas is the season of miracles. Will Jackie and Daniel get their miracles this Christmas?
Illustrated by Bridget McKenna, Tumbleweed Christmas is a beautiful, heart-warming story about the belief in miracles, the love of family, and acts of selflessness. Although stated to be suitable for children aged 3-7, in my opinion it is suitable for older children as it deals with some harsh realities of life. Younger children may question the absence of in this story.
About the Author
Beverly Stowe McClure is a former teacher turned writer. When she was a kid, writing was the last thing on her mind. She loved music and played clarinet in the junior high and high school bands. She also was a majorette. She still plays the piano to relax. Her cats don’t appreciate good music, however, and run and hide when she tickles the ivories.
She lives in the country with Patches and Tiger (the cats), along with a variety of wild critters that stop by for a handout. Next to her sons, grandchildren, and great-grands, writing is her passion and joy. She also enjoys researching her family roots and snapping pictures of clouds, flowers, deer and birds, especially the roadrunner that visits on occasion and the hummingbirds that she feeds.
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.
Links

"Bird Song" by George Pessin

FREE 11-15 December
Bird Song
by George Pessin
Description
Bird Song is a heart-warming story for all ages. Two birds, one with a broken wing, the other blind, must fly together on their migratory journey south. They encounter various adventures along the way and learn first-hand the power of song.
Excerpt
The thrill of racing with the dawn outweighed any risk. In the speeding silence of muted colors there was a rush of clarity and exhilaration that Peep equated with the vitality of life. He would travel each day in a different direction, setting out in a straight line as far as the eye could see. At midday he abruptly turned homeward and raced back before dark.
On this particular morning, Peep was heading north. Lucky for him, an Owl had already eaten his evening ration of hamster and lark eggs and did not bother to fetch his prey after striking it from the air. Peep heard something break like a twig then passed out.
When he awoke he was laying on a bed of birch leaves in a forest he did not recognize. He did a full turn of his surroundings; high and low canopies intermingled, the sky was barely visible. Not a song was heard. He was on a sloped hillside, closer to the bottom than the top. Help would be at the top, water at the bottom, water first.
Review
This is an adorable story about the loving relationship between a bird with a broken wing and a blind eagle. The words are lyrical and fun and the illustrations are simple and sweet. Perfect length for a bedtime story or nap time. The little ones want to hear it over and over!
About the Author
George Pessin was born in New York though for the last 25 years has called Los Angeles home. He is the owner of Brain Guzzle Digital Marketing, School Garden Weekly, Stem Cell Directory, and Solar Energy Directory. In his spare time he volunteers as an L. A. County Master Gardener. Bird Song is his first book.
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"Dragon Defender: Dragon Defense League Book 1" by J. A. Blackburn

BOOK BLAST and GIVEAWAY
Dragon Defender:
Dragon Defense League Book 1
by J. A. Blackburn
Dragon Defender by J. A. Blackburn is a middle grade fantasy suitable for children ages 9-12. This book was a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association 2013 Literary Contest. You can enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card or $50 PayPal cash. This book blast is brought to you by Mother Daughter Book Promotion Services. The book will be on tour 6-26 January, and the author will stop by for an interview on 13 January.
Description
For over a thousand years dragons have existed in secret …
Peter Clark can build a robot from scratch and pick a lock in two minutes or less. But he can’t figure out why his mother left or why his grandma refuses to talk about her. When Uncle Dominick shows up on Peter’s twelfth birthday with a letter that hints at answers and an incredible story about dragons, Peter follows him, determined to find out the truth about his mother’s disappearance.
What he finds is a reality far different from what he ever could have imagined – where dragons live in hiding, hunted by poachers for their magical parts, and a small group of men and women work tirelessly to protect them. These are the Dragon Defenders. Peter’s uncle is one. So was his mother. Now it’s Peter’s turn.
The Buzz
“We read an advance copy of this book on kindle earlier this year and our 5th grade son read it twice and is anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. Great adventure, really kept our interest reading it together at night. This was one of the kids books I most enjoyed reading myself as well. The characters and the plot are well developed, and appealing to a wide range of kids (both genders). The writing is sophisticated but easy to understand, not ‘dumbed down’ like many kids books. The subject of dragons was so well crafted that it’s easy believe that dragons just might exist, after all.” ~ 5 Star Review, Leigh A., Amazon
“Reminiscent of the Fablehaven series (with just the right touch of Harry P.) this middle grade book is both an adventure and a pleasure…Fast-paced and full of wonder, this book takes middle grade readers on a vivid journey from the southwestern U.S. to Mexico; where jungles, ancient ruins and local folklore add to the enchantment that Peter finds when he discovers that dragons are in fact, real. As a former elementary school teacher, my strong feeling is that kids will eat this book whole, and then turn to searching for dragon eggs in their own backyards!” ~ 5 Star Review, Grace W., Amazon
“Dragon Defender was an absorbing action packed read! The author pulls you in from the first page and I’m not sorry to say I read it all in the first day. I’m 33 but still! This is a fun book for a chapter a night with your 5 year old (my son is loving it so far) or for yourself. The characters are well developed so you feel like you’re really there, and the dragon is so believable. I’d venture so far as to say I had to remind myself that dragons don’t really exist … or do they?” ~ 5 Star Review, MGC, Amazon
About the Author
J. A. Blackburn lives in Seattle, Washington in a small white house overlooking the sea with her husband, Jason, her son, Camden, and their dog, Bella. Dragon Defender is her first novel.




Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card or $50 PayPal cash.
Links

"The Ifs" by J. D. Pooker

BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT
The Ifs
by J. D. Pooker
The Ifs by J. D. Pooker is a middle grade fantasy. It is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour starts here today with a spotlight on the book. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Description
Landon and Broden are brothers.  Some days they DO NOT get along very well. They spend most of their time fighting, arguing and plotting ways to get revenge on each other.
Then, strange things start happening…
Noises in their room that are not the cat.
Homework is mysteriously finished.
A broken shoelace repairs all by itself.
Clothes are put in the hamper on their own.          
The brothers want to share their weird experiences, but they don’t know if they can trust each other. But when they find out who’s behind all the strange things around the house, they are called to battle.
Battle? Whoa! Right there in the forest by their house! A battle with the most unusual creatures and wildest of beasts. And when the battle turns more dangerous than they imagined, Landon and Broden must face their fears, put their grudges aside and learn how to work together.
Excerpt
CHAPTER 1
        “Good night, boys.  I love you.”  Mom smiled slightly as she blew each of the boys a kiss.
        “Love you, too, Mom,” the brothers said in unison.
        She clicked out the light and closed the door.
        Landon settled into bed and closed his eyes.
        He dreamt that he ran through the forest.  His breath came in pants, his legs were heavy and hard to move.  Something stomped behind him, breathing on his neck.  When he glanced over his shoulder, there was nothing but trees.  He turned back just in time to see a branch in front of his face.  He ducked just before hitting it, but the movement shifted his weight and threw him off balance.  He fell forward, rolling through dirt and leaves.  As soon as he stopped, he held his breath and listened.  The footsteps still sounded behind him.  He tried to push himself up, but he couldn’t move.  A puddle of mud surrounded him, and he sank into it.  He grabbed at the tree roots in an attempt to save himself.  Suddenly, the footsteps stopped.  Landon quit struggling and glanced around.  The forest grew darker, and someone laughed—a low, menacing laugh, like a villain in cartoons.  The renewed desire to pull himself out overwhelmed him, but his movements caused him to sink faster.  When the mud was about to cover his face, he jerked awake.
        His foot connected with something on his bed, and it thumped onto the floor before scurrying across the room.  Landon wiped the sweat from his forehead and rubbed his eyes.  Cautiously, he glanced over the edge.
        “Tiki?” he whispered.  “Tiki is that you?” 
He waited for the meow, but it never came.  He shrugged and hopped off the bed, walking to the bathroom to get a drink of water.  As he came back to his room, something clinked.  What was that?  He squinted in the darkness, hoping the gesture would allow him to see what made that sound.
“Tiki?” He walked to his bookshelves.  He was sure the sound came from that area.  “You know you’re not supposed to be up there.” 
He stood in front of the shelves, patting each shelf with his hand, looking for the cat.  A meow sounded behind him.  Tiki stood in the doorway.  Something thumped in the closet to his right.  His heart began to beat rapidly, and he jumped back into bed, throwing the covers over his head.  It was a zombie, he knew it.  Mom and Dad told him they didn’t exist, but he was sure they did.  What else would have made that sound?  It was going to come out of the closest, its eyes glowing red and teeth dripping with spit, and eat him.  The only protection he had was the force field created by his blankets.  Hopefully, they kept him safe. 
Landon listened intently, waiting for another sound to permeate the darkness, but nothing sounded.  He relaxed.  The zombie must have moved on.  It knew it couldn’t get through his shields.  His heart rate slowed; he took a deep breath.  Eventually, he fell back asleep.
His alarm woke him the next morning.  He poked his head out of the covers and glanced at the clock.  7:00.  He folded the covers to his waist and rubbed his eyes.  He didn’t feel very rested.  In fact, he was incredibly tired.  He wanted nothing more than to roll over and go back to sleep.  Landon finished rubbing his eyes and glanced down.  Tiki lay at the end of his bed, staring at him and blinking slowly.  Landon huffed.  Dumb cat caused a lot of issues during the night, and she looked at him like she was innocent and did nothing wrong.  It was her fault he was so tired.  But what could he do?  He had to go to school, and Mom would be mad if he hurt the cat.  The only thing he had to look forward to was that it was Friday.  He jumped onto the floor and turned to Broden.
“Hey.” He shook Broden’s shoulder.  “It’s time to get up.  We have to get ready for school.”
Broden rolled over and swatted at his brother but missed.  Landon backed out of the way.
“I’m up, I’m up,” he said.
Landon felt ornery and punched him in the arm before running down the hall.  Broden yelled at him from the bedroom.  It wasn’t the nicest thing to do, but Broden needed some motivation to get up.  As he turned to go downstairs, he heard Broden right behind him.  Landon glanced over his shoulder, smiling.  He took the stairs two at a time and went into the kitchen.  Mom sat at the table, checking her email and eating a bowl of cereal.  Phew!  Landon was safe.
“Good morning,” she said between bites.
Landon was about to answer when Broden burst into the room.  He tried to smack Landon on the head, but Landon blocked it, and the two started a slap fight.  Broden must not have noticed Mom at the table, or maybe he didn’t care.  With her there, Broden could get into a lot of trouble for starting a fight.  After all, Mom didn’t see Landon hit Broden in the bedroom, so she couldn’t punish him for that.
“Boys,” Mom called over the melee.  “It’s too early for that.  Knock it off.”
“He hit me,” Broden whined.
“No I didn’t,” Landon protested.
“I don’t care who did what.  Knock it off before I hit you both.”
The two settled down and grabbed a bowl and a box of cereal out of the cupboard.  As they sat at the table, they kicked at each other.  Landon tried to whack his brother good, but he missed and hit the table leg.  He jammed his toe and yelped in pain.  Broden laughed.  Mom just stared at him, her lips pursed. 
“I hope that teaches you a lesson,” she said and stood, taking her bowl to the sink.  She walked out of the room without saying another word.
Landon put his foot on the chair and examined his toe.  It was red and throbbing, but there was no blood, so he would be fine.  Still, it upset him that Mom didn’t get Broden in trouble.  She was there, she saw him start the fight.  Landon didn’t know why he wanted Broden to get in trouble.  He was tired and grumpy, so it sounded like a good idea.  Maybe he wanted Broden to feel as bad as he did.  Either way, it didn’t work out, and that made him angry.  He wouldn’t have hurt his toe if it weren’t for Broden.  That made him even madder.
“See, that’s what happens when you mess with me.” Broden smiled.
Landon flipped milk at him.  There was no other way to retaliate.  Plus, he knew it would upset Broden.  He’d be sticky and dirty for school.
“Mom!  Landon’s throwing food!” 
“No I’m not!”
“Boys,” Mom called from downstairs, “you don’t have time for this.  Did everyone finish their homework?”
Landon’s eyes grew wide.  “Oh, yeah.  My math.”  He scarfed down the rest of his cereal and ran upstairs.
The night before, he’d been having a hard time solving a math problem.  He agonized over it and tried several way to find the answer, but he never did.  The paper was stained gray from him erasing his work so many times.  He was determined to finish it, but he never got the chance.  It was bedtime.  His only hope was that when he went upstairs, a new idea would come to him and he would be able to solve it.
Once in his room, he pulled on his clothes, ran into the bathroom to brush his teeth, then sat at his desk.  The anger and frustration from the morning faded away, replaced with determination to finish his assignment.  He opened his math book and pulled out the paper.  He grabbed his pencil and scanned down the paper, stopping on the problem he had been working on before bed.  Determination was replaced with confusion.  He was sure he hadn’t finished the problem, but as he stared at the paper, there were numbers filled in on the page.  The writing was crooked and light, as if whoever had written it had a hard time holding the pencil.  He scrutinized it for a long time.
Broden came into the room and pulled him out of his stupor.  Landon placed the paper back into his book.  He looked at his brother.
“Did you do my homework?”
Broden stopped getting dressed and looked at him.  “Why would I do your homework?”
“I don’t know.  To mess with me.  The writing is all sloppy.”
Broden cocked his head to the right.  “Landon, if I wanted to mess with you, I wouldn’t do your homework for you.  I’d flush it down the toilet.”
Landon shrugged.  “Well, someone did it.”
Broden pulled on his pants.  “Maybe it was Mom.”
Landon nodded.  “Maybe.”  He placed his book in his backpack.
“Boys,” Mom called from down the hall, “are you getting ready?”
“Yes,” they answered.
“Mom,” Landon yelled, “did you do my homework?”
“What?”
“Did you do my homework?”
Mom poked her head into their room.  “Why would I do your homework for you?”
Landon shrugged.  “I don’t know.  ‘Cause you felt sorry for me?”
Mom rolled her eyes.  “First of all, sweetie, I didn’t even know you were having trouble with your homework.  Secondly, I’m busy sleeping at night, not sneaking around in the dark finishing people’s homework.  Maybe it was the homework fairy.” 
Landon chuckled.  “Mom!  You know there’s no such thing.”
“There is if you believe.”  She knocked on the wall.  “Now, c’mon, we’ve got to get to school.”  She left the room.
After the boys were dressed and ready to go, they met their mom in the living room.  They piled into the car and backed down the driveway.  The ride to school was silent.  Mom pulled in front of the building and turned to face the boys. 
“Have a good day, angels.” She smiled.  “Go straight home after school.  Your dad will be waiting for you.”
“Okay, Mom,” they said as the climbed out of the car.  “Love you!”
“Love you, too!”
Landon turned and waved as he walked toward school, but Broden was already half way to the playground.  They played until the bell rang, then headed into their classrooms.
The first thing Landon’s teacher asked for that morning was the math homework.  Landon turned it in, feeling pretty proud of himself that he had finished all of it, even if he had a little help.  He came to the conclusion that he must have gotten up in the middle of the night and finished it in his sleep.  It was the only way to explain it.  Surely, the zombie in his closet didn’t do it, so who could have?  And it would explain why he was so exhausted.
He went through the rest of his day without giving it a second thought.  By the time lunch rolled around, the only thing he thought about was getting onto the playground and playing kickball.  He ate his turkey and noodles as fast as he could, then ran outside.  On his way, his shoe came untied.  While retying it, the shoelace broke.  He held the string in his hand and stared at it.
“Oh, man.”
“Landon, c’mon!” his friends called.
He put the lace in his pocket and headed onto the field.  He’d have plenty of time to worry about it later.  Right then, the most important thing was the game.
Landon’s team was up by two points, and it was his turn to kick.  He was easily one of the best kickers in his class.  The game would be won by the bell.  There was a runner on second, and Landon was sure he could get him home.  He lined himself up at the plate and eyed the pitcher.  The boy watched him for a few seconds, his eyes narrowed to slits, before winding up his arm and tossing the ball.  Landon steadied himself and watched the ball approach.  He took one step forward and kicked.  His foot connected with the ball with a thump, sending it sailing over the other player’s heads, along with his shoe. 
At first he didn’t notice, the excitement of the great kick overwhelmed him, but when he started running, the gravel dug into the bottom of his foot.  Still, he wasn’t going to let it slow him down.  The runner on second base took off; Landon had to get to first.  He would, even if he had to limp.  He was half way there when he turned to see where the ball was.  The shortstop was crouched down with his arms out.  The ball bounced and he scooped it up, shifting it quickly to his right hand to throw.  Landon quickened his pace.  If he didn’t hurry, he would be out.  As his shoeless foot came down, he stepped on a rock.  Pain started in his heel and traveled up his calf, causing him to almost lose his balance.  He wanted to yell, but the pain took his breath away.   That, and he had to get to first base.  There wasn’t time to yell.  The shortstop cocked his arm back.  Landon braced for the blow.  Before it could come, the bell rang.  Landon stopped in his tracks, and he and the other kids groaned with disappointment.  He turned to get his shoe, then headed back into the building.
Landon was thankful to be able to sit down.  The heel he hit on the rock was on the same foot he jammed his toe.  His whole foot felt like it was pulsating.  He lifted his foot to his chair and slid his sock down.  The heel was already bruised.  A black circle surrounded by red covered part of his foot.  That was going to be sore for a while.  He was a little thankful that he couldn’t tie his shoe.  The pressure might have made his foot explode.  He replaced his sock and put his foot on the floor as the teacher handed back their homework from the night before.  Landon looked at his grade.  B.  He shrugged.  Not bad.  He glanced down the page to see which problems he missed.  The first one that caught his eye was the one he didn’t finish.  Not only was it checked, but the teacher had written a little note beside the problem.  It read:  “Please make sure I can read your writing.  This is a mess.”  Landon shook his head and stuffed the paper in his desk.
After school, Landon met Broden at the monkey bars, as usual, and they headed home.  They only lived a few blocks from school, but their mom liked to drop them off on her way to work.  They didn’t mind because that meant they got to sleep in a little bit longer.  They didn’t say anything the whole way home.  Landon’s foot was sore from the rock, although it didn’t hurt as bad as it had earlier in the day, and he had to concentrate on walking so he didn’t lose his shoe.  Broden was busy kicking a plastic bottle cap down the sidewalk. 
When they got close to the house, Broden turned and kicked the cap at Landon.  It hit Landon in the hand, and even though it wasn’t going fast enough to cause real damage, it still stung.  Landon’s gaze flicked up from the ground.  Broden smiled, then took off running.  How dare he!  He would pay for that!  Landon tried to follow him, but his shoe kept falling off, preventing him from running.  He would have taken it off, but that would make his foot hurt even more.  It didn’t really matter.  There would be plenty of time to get revenge.  Broden didn’t have anywhere to hide.
Landon walked into the house and noticed Broden hugging Dad around the waist.  He would have to wait to get back at his brother.
“Hey, sport,” Dad said.  “How was your day?”
Landon set his backpack by the couch.  “Good.”
Dad smiled.  “We’re going to go play some football in the backyard.  Do you want to come?”
He nodded enthusiastically.  “Yeah.  Let me change my shoes real quick.” 
He ran upstairs and kicked his shoe into the room.  Sitting on Broden’s bed, he took off the other one and pulled on a pair of old sneakers.  He ran back downstairs and joined his dad and brother outside.
Playing with Dad was always fun, but Landon’s foot still hurt, so he wasn’t overly excited.  Still, he tried his best.  Broden caught the first throw, so Landon promptly tackled him.  The second one was his, and Broden whacked him hard.  Broden’s shoulder dug into his back, which hurt, then when he hit the ground, the air got knocked out of him.  That was painful, too.  It took him a few moments to get to his feet.  When he did, his arm was around his waist to help with the pain.  He thought about quitting and going inside, but then Broden would tease him.  He could stick it out for a little longer.
Mom got home a few hours later, and the family ate dinner and watched a little TV.  Broden didn’t tackle him hard again, and Landon was thankful.  By the time they sat on the couch to watch cartoons, Landon was so tired, he forgot about getting revenge on his brother.  Landon and Broden went to bed at 9:00.  All night, Landon kept dreaming that someone was poking his foot, right where he stepped on the rock, with a small stick.  At one point, they poked it so hard, pain radiated through his leg, causing Landon to jerk awake.  His foot throbbed again.  He rubbed his heel for a moment, barely able to keep his eyes open.  Right before falling asleep, he couldn’t help but think something weird was going on.
Review
The story is about two brothers, Landon & Broden, who discover that mystical little creatures called the Ifs are, indeed, real. According to their mother the Ifs, “if they existed would be about 6″ tall, they would help with problems, and you wouldn’t really know they are here.” When they think there is an If, or two, in the house, the boys devise a plan to catch one. Little did they know that the little man they catch, Slade, is there on a mission. Slade is the leader of a village of Ifs and they are being threatened by a rogue clan. In order to defeat the rogue clan, Slade calls Landon and Broden to arms. While Slade is organizing his battle group, the boys are approached by another If named Gage, from a different clan. Gage also needs help from the boys to battle the same rogue group of Ifs. When Landon and Broden realize that one of the Ifs deceived them and Broden is kidnapped, Landon must join forces with the good If (who is the brother to the bad If) and save his brother.
This a great story about two sets of brothers (each set of brothers come from different backgrounds; Ifs or humans) that sometimes get along, but like most siblings, tend to disagree a lot, too. The plot was exciting and well written. The entire book kept me engaged and interested in the characters and what was going on. J.D. Pooker wrote an amazing book that fantasy lovers of all ages would enjoy. This would make a great gift for boys or girls to put in their personal library; whether you purchase the paperback version or an ebook.
About the Author
J. D. Pooker lives in wonderful Wyoming with her husband and two sons, along with a black lab named Ryder and a sweet kitty named Alia. J.D. likes to spend time with her family and go camping, fishing, and snowmobiling.
Her sons are the inspiration for writing children’s stories. She wants to encourage them to be readers and show them how powerful and exciting the imagination can be. She wants them to see that countless worlds exist, and all it takes to get there is a good book.
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5 December – Books Direct– Spotlight
6 December – Fantasy Book Lane– Review
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30 December – Tanya’s Book Nook – Review