Posts Tagged ‘sports’

Meet Picture Book Author James Littlejohn (Interview)

Posted on January 12th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

Photo of picture book author James Littlejohn

Today it is our pleasure to introduce picture book author, James Littlejohn. He is the author of B is for Baller

You can connect with James here…
Publisher: Triumph Books

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of? James Littlejohn's B is for Baller

My book is “B is for Baller.” It’s a must for parents who love basketball and want to pass that love of the game along to their kids. I’m most proud hearing from parents who’ve told me it’s sparked conversations with their kids about players they grew up watching.

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Too many favorites to name, but Roald Dahl stands out. Loved the humor in his work.

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

We successfully launched “B is for Baller” on Kickstarter before finding a publisher, and I think the positive response we got from crowdfunding helped the publisher see its potential.
That said, “B is for Baller” wasn’t my first, second or third book — those ones still haven’t been published and likely never will be. So yes, it is difficult! If becoming an author or illustrator is an aspiration of yours, I think you have to accept that rejection is inevitable. There are too many talented people, and too few opportunities, for everyone to succeed at once.

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

I enjoy the creative process — coming up with new ideas and seeing those ideas come to life on the page is really satisfying.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author?

Other than finding a publisher… probably trying to write your own bio.

If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

I work full-time as a writer at an advertising agency. Keeps me creatively engaged, but also requires me to think a lot about marketing — skills I need and use often making and selling books.

B is for Baller: The Ultimate Basketball Alphabet at

B is for Baller: The Ultimate Basketball Alphabet at

James is available for school or library presentations. He is based in Los Angeles.

Anti bullying story for beginning readers – Justin and the Bully

Posted on December 5th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

cover art for Justin and the BullyJustin and the Bully written by Tony and Lauren Dungy, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
Anti bullying story for beginning readers published by Simon Spotlight

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Justin loves to play soccer and he is very excited when his mom agrees to sign him up for a team. His family shares his excitement and all is well until he goes to his first practice. When he gets to practice, he likes his coach and most of his teammates. He is disappointed when one of his teammates, Taylor calls him “Shorty” and criticizes his playing ability.

After practice, Justin is quiet and at dinnertime he announces that he doesn’t want to continue playing soccer. After a family discussion, Justin explains that Taylor told him he was too short to play.

At bedtime, Justin’s parents encourage him to try again. The following day, Justin’s mom accompanies him to practice and she speaks with the coach about the situation.

The coach called the team together. “We are a team,” he said. “Right?”
Everyone said, “Right, Coach!”
“And on a good team there are no bullies. Right?”
“Right, Coach!” everybody said.

Coach Harris goes on to ask “What is a bully?” and the children provide examples of bullying behavior.

The next weekend, the team plays its first game. The children work together and are successful until an unpleasant comment is made by Taylor. One of Justin’s teammates speaks up and tells Taylor that she is behaving like a bully.

Justin and the Bully is part of Simon Spotlight’s Ready to Read series. It is rated Level Two and includes both sight words and words that children will sound out. The story itself is compelling and the solution is realistic. It is noteable that the child who is being bullied is assisted by his parents and his coach. The situation is resolved when a bystander notices the bullying and speaks up about the bullying behavior.

Add this anti bullying book for beginning readers to your bookshelf –

Justin and the Bully (Ready-to-Read. Level 2) at

Justin and the Bully (Ready-to-Read, Level 2) at

Splinters by Kevin Sylvester is an Icy, Hard-Hitting Take on Cinderella

Posted on October 31st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Splinters, a picture book with a modern day hockey take on the Cinderella storySplinters – written and illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
Picture book published by Tundra Books

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Cindy loves to play hockey but it is an expensive sport to play and her family is poor.   Showing great determination and resourcefulness, Cindy is excited to finally earn enough money to join a neighbourhood team.  Unfortunately, at the rink, Cindy encounters three nasty Blister Sisters who make playing hockey very unpleasant. 

At her very first practice, she met the Blister Sisters. They could tell she was one good hockey player, and they were jealous.

They insulted her old equipment… Then they made her look bad on the ice… They could do this because their mom was the coach

Thank goodness Cindy has a fairy goaltender watching out for her. The fairy’s magic provides Cindy with a dazzling new uniform, gleaming skates and a Zamboni – to transport her to the all-star team tryouts. Cindy rushes to the rink and does not disappoint – she is a star.

Knowing that the magic spell will end once the final buzzer has sounded, Cindy rushes away from the rink, leaving a shiny skate behind.

Coach Prince is determined to match the shiny skate to the player who wore it during the tryouts.

Coach Prince went from locker room to locker room, trying the skate on every girl she could find. Finally she arrived at Cindy’s rink ensuring a happy ending for Cindy and her new team.

Splinters will have greatest appeal for children who are familiar with Cinderella. We love the idea of taking a familiar story, like Cinderella and retelling it with new characters and a contemporary setting. In a primary classroom, we suggest using Splinters as a jumping off point, inspiring young writers to imagine other situations for Cinderella to encounter.

Splinters at

Splinters at

Paul Romanuk has scored a winner with the Book of Hockey Lists

Posted on September 16th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

As hockey tryouts begin, we recommend a hockey-theme book that will score with playersAtom Rep (Hockey) tryouts are underway. Stinky gear is airing in my otherwise attractive front hall. meals and activities are carefully planned and pressure mounts as my youngest son attempts to “make” the top team in his division. It won’t be easy but we are cautiously optimistic that he will be successful.

To be honest, I’m hoping this year the rep try-outs will be more efficient than last when we drove him to the rink eleven times before learning which team he would play on. He had a fantastic season and really wants to play for the same coach this year… My fingers are crossed.

As summer winds down, I’m not really mentally prepared for the start of winter activities. Pulling my warm jacket out of the closet just doesn’t seem right. But, since nine-year-old thoughts have already turned to hockey, we picked up Scholastic Canada’s Book of Hockey Lists. It is a perfect choice for hockey-hungry nine-year-olds. We’ve checked out lists of player accomplishments, milestones, quotes and all sorts of interesting hockey trivia. The author, Paul Romanuk knows his audience and has scored a winner with this title.

Scholastic Canada’s Book of Hockey Lists at

Scholastic Canada’s Book of Hockey Lists at

Barnstormers’ Baseball, Will this Author Hit a Home Run Yet?

Posted on September 12th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Game 1 Barnstormers written by Phil Bildner and illustrated by Loren Long

Barnstormers' Baseball, Will this Author Hit a Home Run Yet? A while back, I had an opportunity to read and listen to the first book in a new historical fiction series for 7 -10 year olds. Game 1 (Barnstormers) introduces three siblings who travel with a barnstorming baseball team, The Travelin’ Nine.

Set in 1899, the first book in the series leaves us with more questions than answers: we know the children’s father died in the war and that he possessed a mysterious baseball but it unclear why the ball is significant. We also hear their uncle’s warning that great danger lies ahead but so far have only encountered mysterious visions and sounds.

For children who are fascinated with baseball and how it was played 100+ years ago,this series may yet prove very appealing. Personally, I was frustrated that the author left me stranded on second base – with many, many unanswered questions.

Game 1 (Barnstormers) at

Game 1: #1 in The Barnstormers: Tales of the Travelin’ Nine Series at

Gosh, kids who love ice hockey deserve better than this…

Posted on September 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

There are so many terrific books that I usually don’t bother to comment on those that disappoint. I’d much rather write about winners than losers……but, I’ll make an exception this time.

Last evening I picked up Sigmund Brouwer’s Timberwolf Hunt. My youngest boy plays ice hockey and I was interested to see how this writer approached the subject. Intended for readers aged 7 to 9, this easy-to-read chapter book opens with a hockey dressing room practical joke and includes a comment that, “Santa Claus is not real.” It is unclear why the character makes this declaration. There are no other references to Santa Claus in the book. My question is, why bother?

Before long, we meet a fill-in coach, whose son will play on the team so long as his dad is in charge. As one might expect, his son does not play ice hockey well and is not welcomed onto the team. Very quickly we learn that Coach Elwell doesn’t like to be interrupted nor does he put up with back talk. Unintentionally victimized by the aforementioned practical joke, he benches two Timberwolf players. When frustrated, he is not above kicking garbage cans or yelling at his hapless son.

Throughout the book, the author makes numerous references to “Stinky – The Stinkiest Dog in the World” who is responsible for innumerable “long rude noises that don’t come from the front end…. ”

Gosh, our kids deserve better than this. I know rude humor appeals to many boys (I’m raising two of them!), but this is ridiculous. For the record, I vote for books that depict volunteer coaches as hardworking, caring individuals who want only the best for the team (that’s the type of coach we’ve encountered). I also appreciate a book that celebrates accomplishments achieved through teamwork and effort. Authors who create funny situations are so much more clever than those who stoop to the same sad, odourous joke over and over again.

Leave this one to gather dust on the shelf.

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