Tag Archives: summer reading

Picture Book Review: Elijah and the Key of Knowledge & Elijah and the City in Danger


Elijah and the Key of Knowledge starts this fresh take on exploring reading skills.

I had the pleasure of reading Elijah and The Key of Knowledge for this June’s featured children’s book to get your summer reading started. The author, Zachariah Rippee, does a masterful job of pulling readers into the idea that reading gives you knowledge. In fact, the whole Elijah series is full of themes to get kids reading.

The series begins with the picture book, Elijah and The Key of Knowledge. This book starts out with Elijah as an adventurer like in the Indiana Jones movies. He takes his animal friends, ie Calvin and Hobbes, on an adventure with many obstacles blocking the way. He has to enlist the help of his friends to best the things thrown into his path. It all ends when he finally discovers the secret to the key of knowledge. You guessed it, reading.


Elijah and the City in Danger is the second in the Elijah series.

The second book in the series I liked better than the first. It has Elijah now using his imagination to become a superhero in Elijah and The City in Danger. In this picture book, Elijah is now a masked hero charged with the safety of THE CITY. He must fight giant dinosaurs, robots and aliens to keep the City safe all while using his imagination, the biggest super power of all.

I really enjoyed the spontaneous joy in these two picture books. Mr. Rippee presents a fun, playful world in which a child uses his reading powers to create big adventures and be the star of his own imagination. The series would make a great read-aloud for teachers wanting to emphasis reading skills, and parents wanting to motivate their little ones to read. The Elijah series would be a great way to start off your summer reading as well.

Elijah and the Key of Knowledge is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Elijah and the City in Danger is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

-Tiffany Turner

Head writer and editor of the Indie Children’s Authors Connection

*Tiffany Turner is the head writer and editor for the Indie Children’s Authors Connection and author of her own middle grade children’s fantasy adventure series, the Crystal Keeper Chronicles. She has taught elementary students the love of reading and writing for 18 years, and currently has moved to writing full time. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and cat. The cat, of course, is the center of attention.




UPDATE: The Lost Secret of Time: Final Book in Crystal Keeper Series Due out Spring 2018


Working cover for the last Crystal Keeper Chronicles book, The Lost Secret of Time. 

I wanted to give everyone an update on the progress of the last book in the Crystal Keeper series, The Lost Secret of Time. I’m proud to announce that there has been a schedule set up for it’s completion. It is outlined, and has 9 chapters of the 14 written thus far. It’s scheduled with my editor for the end of October, and I’ve been working hard with the help of Camp NaNo to get it completed.

I have to thank all of my fans for your patience. I know this one is taking longer, but sometimes life throws things at you that can’t be planned for, like a heart attack, going septic in the hospital and having acute pneumonia. I’m just happy to still be alive and be around for a second chance to finally complete the series.

I also have to mention I did try to end the series with the third book, but the characters WOULDN’T let me. They insisted that the story carry on. So, that is why the third book ends the way it does in a cliffhanger. There was just more story to tell.

Plus, once I wrap up this series, I’m planning a prequel in which Brewford, the cat sorcerer, will be the main character. There are a lot of things hinted about his past in the series, and I want to write a prequel that explains it all. So, the ending of the Crystal Keeper Chronicles won’t be the end of Wanda’s fairy world. It will continue in other forms.

It has been an amazing ten year journey so far. I’m sure many of you fans have grown up waiting for the books to be written. If anything, you’ve learned that writing is a process and takes time, an average of two years per book at least. The biggest thing that a reader needs to possess is patience for your favorite books. I know your pain. I’ve gone through the same thing with my favorite authors, Anne McCaffrey, Anne Rice and Mercedes Lackey. I think the secret is having LOTS of favorite authors so you can switch between them between new book releases. It’s how I cope. 😉

Until then, take care, and I hope you enjoy your other favorite authors until the new and last book in the series is released next Spring. Stay tuned for fun summer reading activities and giveaways. Have a fabulous summer.

-Tiffany (Mrs. Turner)


$0.99 Children’s Books For Summer



The deals are on! 19 children’s books are on sale for $0.99 for the next two days through the website Lazy Saturday Reads. Several of the authors have been featured in past events on my website including Rachel Elizabeth Cole, author of “The Rabbit Ate My Homework”. Get your summer reading off to a good start. Load up for the Fourth of July weekend.

Here is the link: http://www.lazysaturdayreads.com/promo


**Come back for another set of deals at the end of June. Happy Summer Reading!

Vacation Pairs With Learning in Allie Gator and the Seven Stones


Allie Gator And The Seven Stones by Sean Eckenrod

Allie Gator And The Seven Stones by Sean Eckenrod

The next installment for the summer reading book review series is Allie Gator and the Seven Stones by Sean Eckenrod, a Middle Grade novel that will inspire learning while visiting that next river or beach. Allie is frustrated with being the only kid while the grown ups drag her to different activities only adults would love. She’d rather be swimming in the Myakka river, throwing stones, or exploring in her purple with orange flower flip flops. Her love for the river is revealed as fate, when she falls in and discovers a world in turmoil. The animals of Charlotte Harbor need her help to save them all.
Featured Indie Book and Author

Featured Indie Book and Author

Allie discovers that seven stones must be recovered to put the real world to right. With an alligator companion, a catfish, gar, and three wood storks, Allie faces each new challenge to find the seven missing stones. She must overcome her self doubt, puzzling characters and obstacles, and learn that sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to deal with it head on.

I enjoyed this Middle Grade novel since it helps teach about the animals in Charlotte Harbor, Florida combined with self confidence. Anyone that has felt like the black sheep of any family may relate to Allie. As she goes through each challenge, new habitat and animals are revealed.

It was a learning experience for myself. I learned what a gar is. It’s a bottom feeder fish that lives mostly in brackish water. So, I have to say, everyone will learn a new nugget of wisdom while reading this book. I felt I was along with a park ranger in the form of an alligator while experiencing difficult tasks with Allie.

For more information and maps on the areas of Florida that are in the book, please visit Sean Eckenrod’s website. Book Club questions can also be found. Also on the website are chapter links that tell about each animal featured for each chapter in the book.

Turn the summer into an opportunity for learning about new habitats, animals in Florida, and a little kindness towards other living things. It’s a lesson that is so important to share.

**** Rating

Allie and the Seven Stones can be purchased at Amazon.com as a paperback or Kindle ebook.

To continue with your INDIEpendence Day Blog tour event, link back to the Indibles Writers Blog.

Get On The Train To Health


Chew Chew The Food Chain Train by Janet Michelson

Chew Chew The Food Chain Train by Janet Michelson

As part of my summer reading series, I’m starting off this first post with a great book to get your children or grandchildren eating healthy for the summer. “Chew Chew The Food Chain Train” by Janet Michelson is a wonderful picture book to help keep your little one on a healthy track. Speaking as a teacher, this is a great book to introduce children to the idea of eating healthier. Kids always want ice cream and candy. Teaching them why they need to eat other snack foods will help save many of today’s next generation from obesity or diabetes.

This story gives the role model to grandparents as they take their grandchildren out to a special restaurant that features “Chew Chew”, a buffet train, that rolls by with healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetables, and nuts. The children have to select healthy food choices for their dinner. This is a great way to promote why healthy snacks are a better choice. Plus, how to choose those foods is always hard to explain to little ones. This is a great way to do so, and have fun exploring some of the knowledge after the book is read.

“Chew Chew The Food Chain Train” is a great way to introduce younger children on how to eat healthy foods. Choice is important, especially in helping to preserve the health of the new generation. Teaching wise snack choices is necessary, and this is a great way to do it.

**** Four Star Rating

“Chew Chew The Food Chain Train” is available on Amazon.com as a paperback and Ebook. It’s available at Barnes and Noble for the Nook. Bilingual editions available in German and French.

Summer Reading For The Goblin In Your Life


Goblin Brothers Adventures Vol 1 by Lindsay Buroker

Looking for good summer reading for your child? Here’s a great fantasy adventure with a twist, the main characters are goblins. Not your ordinary goblins; the kind you might think that smell bad and maybe eat cats. No. These are a book worm and science obsessed pair of goblins that will win you over. Enter the world of Goblin Brothers Adventures by Lindsay Buroker. Enjoy short stories of how two goblin brothers get into and out of all sorts of trouble.

From saving human children, surviving bullies, or even almost being turned into goblin slaves, these two brothers get into all sorts of problems. But there seems to be an underlining theme to all the stories, they stick together. No matter what problems they encounter, Malagach and Gortok never give up. Their interest in books and science are a charming balance of skills they use to solve their problems.

I would recommend this book for children that still enjoy a good fantasy read, but may have trouble focusing on a full chapter book. The short story adventures can be read aloud and enjoyed one at a time. This is especially wonderful for kids that have trouble reading. Your child will enjoy this as a start to their summer reading adventure.

**** 4 Star Rating
Available as a Kindle and Smashwords editions.
An interview with the author, Lindsay Buroker, is available in the Interviews Section of this blog.

For more information on Lindsay Buroker, visit her website at: http://www.lindsayburoker.com.

#SampleSunday June 12, 2011 Summer Reading Tribute


I was out on my porch enjoying the summer weather, when it dawned on me. This is the time that my first book, The Lost Secret of Fairies, takes place. What a perfect time to put up the beginning of the story to get everyone into the summer reading mood.

Before the excerpt, I will share the inspiration for this part of the story. As a kid, I would love to hop the fence and read in quiet seclusion in the middle of the orchard behind my house. I grew up in the Silicon Valley before all the orchards were torn down and turned into computer companies.

Back then, it was more often called the Santa Clara Valley. I was lucky enough to grow up with an orchard that was the starting point of many kid adventures. Throw in a creek nearby, and you have a perfect run-around adventure playland.

My books include many of the childhood adventures come to life. At the start of the first book, Wanda is reading in the orchard behind the fence. Many summers started out in the same way for me as a kid. I invite you to enter into that world of adventure with an added bonus, fairies and cats. They seem to go well together.

Excerpt from The Lost Secret of Fairies pages 7-9:

So, you want to know how I became a Keeper? I’d probably have to explain the last few years. I guess I could begin at the beginning, but that would be too much like a fairy tale. This is anything but your average fairy tale. But then, the fairies always say “There is a beginning to every ending,” so maybe I should start there.

Let’s just say my name is Wanda, and no one understands me. That’s why I was out there in the middle of the orchard that first day I had free from gymnastics practice. It was the end of June, you know, that time you’re finally free from school. You know, when no one bosses you around.

I had escaped from my mom long enough to sneak over the back fence of my house and hide in the orchard. I was reading my favorite fantasy series at the time. Nothing much different than what I normally do.

I didn’t notice the air smelled extra fresh. I remember my hair tied back in a ponytail because of the heat, and wanting it to be a different color than my stupid, boring brown. I’d make a better outcast if I had some cool off the wall color hair, like jet black or cherry red. I’d studied the bottles carefully in the drug store.

I didn’t notice the sun doing strange reflections as I walked out to my favorite spot to read. I mashed down the grass into a perfect fairy bowery. The kind that is perfect to read in, hidden and secluded. I could see around the orchard at cat level. Nothing was crawling or walking around. There was just a slight breeze to disturb the tall grass growing around my hiding spot.

I remembered the last scene of my current book-de-jour. The princess was escaping from Landau, the dark sorcerer who was trying to take over her kingdom. Now, what would she do?
Would she use her secret power of flight? Or would she some how find the way to the locket she needed to free her frozen Mother Queen?

Yes, she’s going to have to fight him. I checked to see how many pages were left. Twelve. Good, I’m getting close to the climax.

I wiggled to get more comfortable in my grass hide-away. Glancing up, I blinked as the sun above me looked no different than before. A sharp bright flash came to the side of my vision. I shrugged, and figured it was a reflection of my glasses. Back then; I thought most things were just a flash, or something that I imagined. I know better now. But back to the story, or it just won’t make sense to you later.

I closed my eyes to listen to the breeze drifting across the grass. I was feeling pretty free right then. No more Jessica Newark to bother me. I hated her making fun of my fashion sense. Like I really cared about their group of popular trends and know-it-all about boys. What point was there? I liked being a loner. It was easier.

I was going to have to see them at gymnastics class. Thing with being in the same area of school and community center, sometimes the two overlapped. But for now, I could ignore them as long as I stood on the other side of the gym. Too bad Michelle moved. Emailing isn’t the same as being there. Good friends are hard to find when you’re fighting to save the world. But that comes later in the story.

Like I said, I was enjoying the summer weather, in my favorite reading spot, alone, how I liked it. I heard a little swoosh of something approaching. I thought it was my cat Brewford coming out to visit me, so I looked up.


I was startled by the bird squawk. Shaking my head, I tried to find the source and saw nothing. Oh well, time to get back to where the princess was just about to make her move out of her hiding place to reach for the magic locket and….


Not again! I looked around for the source of the awkward noise. Nothing. I shrugged, looked down to read and…

“Caw. Caw!”

A great black bird hopped into the grass alcove I had created. The bird stalked forward with a grace that gave him authority. His large beak dipped down as he pointed one eye to look at me.
This was odd, but I wasn’t scared. Animals can be friendlier than people most of the time. “What are you doing here crow?” He continued to eye me, twisting his head back and forth. Then hopped up next to my arm. Now, this got me to back up a little. Mind you, it was only from being startled. I mean, how scary can a crow be? Except that normally crows didn’t act like this.

“Caw.” He fixed his eye on me again.

I was afraid to make any movement. Mostly, I was fascinated why the crow was doing this. Was I in his territory? Was it a female crow guarding her nest? I looked around for something in the grass. I thought of my butt crushing her eggs. Oops.

The crow came forward and dropped something that sparkled as it landed in my lap. It hopped backwards and looked at me with puppy dog eyes. This was definitely a strange bird.

I picked the thing up by the cord, and let it dangle in front of me. The crow watched, moving its head to follow the crystal pendant.

“Caw.” He/she/it continued to eye me sideways as I looked at the pendant.

The leather cord was worn, but still strong. It wrapped around a clear quartz crystal. Hints of sunlight sparkled as I turned it in my palm.

Definitely weird. “Curiouser and curiouser” kept repeating in my head like from a bad “Alice in Wonderland” cable movie. I turned it over watching the crystal catch the light. Etched into the crystal were lines or maybe writing, but it was nothing I’d seen before.

If I had known better, I would have dropped the crystal, and ran for my backyard fence. I could have never looked back. But I didn’t want that. And that Alice in Wonderland movie in my mind kept playing. Where did curious get her?

“Is this what you’ve been cawing so much about crow?” I held up the crystal.


“Are you trying to tell me something,” I felt like one of the heroines in my books. Strange. I sat down leaning closer to the crow.

“Caw.” He hopped away from me and looked back. “Caw.” He began to bob up and down, moving back and forth.

“You want me to follow?” I kept my voice calm as the crow bobbed again, seemed to nod, and turned hopping through the tall grass.

That’s when I took a moment to think. I mean, this could have been my way out? But my sense of adventure was sparked. What was going on? Crows didn’t turn up out of nowhere, drop a crystal pendant in your lap, and hop away beggin’ you with a look to follow? That stuff only happened in movies or books.
I wanted to see what was going on. It could be a trained crow out drawing unsuspecting kids to some weirdo’s house. Like what they show on the news. Or even some new reality show catching unsuspecting kids in orchards. You know, cameras in the bushes somewhere. I tried to look around for something mounted on a tripod. But I doubted it. Nothing that exciting could happen to me. So I thought.

I looked at the crystal. It winked back a flash of light. Was there movement in it? What would the princess do? I had a choice, I guess, like her. I could go after the crow, or go back to reading.

I looked around. There was a rustling movement along the tops of grass stems as a flutter of black feathers rose above the jungle of high grass.

I got up, brushed off the clinging grass stems. I placed my book down under a half-covered rock, and held the crystal in my hand. I felt the wire wrapped tightly around the crystal.
Something began to puzzle me. I guess that’s why I decided to follow. Why was the crow doing this? What was this pendant? And if the crow was leading me on an adventure, it might be more exciting than just sitting here and reading. There was only one way to find out. I headed out after the crow and towards my destiny.

**The Lost Secret of Fairies is available on Amazon.com with paperback and Kindle editions. Also available at Barnesandnoble.com as paperback or Nook editions.

Summer Reading: Important Practice for Any Age


Not often do I go on the day job soap box, but as a teacher I know how important it is to keep your children reading during the summer. So many school budgets have been cut that summer school is becoming a luxury. As it is, only the really low and needy kids will make it into summer school these days. But all children need to practice their reading during the summer. They lose important skills they learned during the school year if they don’t.

So here is a list of some things to consider from a 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade experienced teacher to help you navigate where to start in your child’s reading needs:

1) Let them read for enjoyment.
A lot of parents try to force books on kids which tends to turn them off. Of course, sometimes it’s hard for a child to find what they like. This is actually part of the reading process, and trying lots of different kinds of reading is a skill they practice in school. Take them to the library and let them explore. Try not to limit.

These days there are a lot of different kinds of books to try. New classics have come out since you were a kid. The “Wimpy” kid series, lots of fantasy, graphic novels are some of the new popular areas that were absent 20 years ago. Let your kid “Go for It” and explore. You might discover some new fabulous novels as well.

2) Reading anything is good.
A lot of kids don’t find they enjoy books. But they might enjoy gaming magazines, code books, Highlights for Kids, or other reading enjoyment. Even the internet has vast amounts of reading to explore. Reading has changed it’s venue, and even Ereaders to phones have reading opportunities. Trying lots of different things is key. The summer can be a wonderful time to explore all these vast storage areas of new reading.

3) Practice makes perfect.
Kids are not perfect readers, and need practice. It’s called Independent Reading, and it’s the third prong of reading development. Kids need to read on their own for enjoyment. The summer is a time to really practice and make this third area of reading development key. The more reading children do, the better they will get.

4) Setting up a reading time is helpful.
Kids need routines. Just a basic time for Independent Reading time is a wonderful structure to get kids to practice. It can be chosen by the child or structured into their regular day. 20 minutes seems to be a good starting amount, but can be increased 5 min. each year. I wouldn’t go over 30 minutes during the summer unless your child wants to. Reading Time shouldn’t be torture, but for enjoyment. And if your child starts to want to read longer than the set time, brilliant. They should start to choose more reading time on their own so it doesn’t become a punishment.

In the end, your child should start to be able to enjoy reading whether it’s on the internet, with a book, on the Ereader or even a magazine. Reading should be for fun, and the more practice your child has at that, the more they will want to read.

Tiffany Turner is working on her third book “The Lost Secret of Dragonfire”. Her first and second books, “The Lost Secret of Fairies” and “The Lost Secret of the Green Man” are available on Amazon.com as a paperback and a Kindle Edition. She teaches during the school year in a California Elementary school, and has 13 years teaching experience.