I am pleased to welcome Leanne McGinty from Ahgoo Review. Leanne, tell us a little about yourself and your blog.
Thank you. I’m pleased to be here. Ahgoo Review is a book review site for children and their parents. My mission is to encourage early literacy and family reading in an effort to build readers for life. At 17, I won an award for my children’s book - The Doll House. Reading and writing have been passions of mine for as long as I can remember and with Ahgoo Review I hope to instill that passion in others.
I agree with you that early literacy is of critical importance. What are some ways it can be nurtured by parents?
Parents can spend as little as 15 minutes a day reading to their kids and the impact will be immense. In addition, parents can get creative and host Family Reading Nights complete with activities to bring the books alive.
Children's books can be of value to adults also, can’t they?
Children's books are chronicles of innocence. When I look at a children's book I see the images and they remind me of how a child's mind works. Those illustrations help a child develop a way to read books with no words. As an adult I still love children's books because they are works of art bound and distributed to the masses. There is nothing as special as a book for a child.
Tell us something about your book, The Doll House.
I wrote The Doll House when I was 12. I rewrote it several times as I do with most of my stories. When I was 17, I was approached by a publisher and my dream of having a published book came true. It's a story about two little girls that live inside of doll houses. They come to life and have adventures in the big house.
And now you have the Ahgoo Review. Who or what inspired you to want to become a book reviewer?
The birth of my daughter as well as my passion for books in general.
What genres and age groups do you prefer?
Ahgoo Review specifically reviews children’s books up to the Middle Grade (Tweens) reading level. I have been approached to review Young Adult but have not yet ventured down that path.
Typically, how many books do you read a month?
On average 30 to 40.
How does your rating system work?
The rating system I use is based on the fact that a book is not the product of a single individual. With that, said my rating system breaks the book down into five categories. Story, Illustrations, Format/Quality, Originality and Read-Aloudability.
What are your 10 favorite children’s books published in the past six months?
The Lemonman by Natasha Ferrill which is a story of a young Lemonman that has adventures in his town of Applenook
A Reel Cool Summer by Martha Rodriguez about three kids that enter a video contest in an effort to win enough money to buy a swimming pool.
The Bravest of Us All by Marsha Diane Arnold about a girl that appears not to be afraid of anything but hides a secret about a true fear that comes out during an unlikely tornado.
Old Bumpy Alligator by Pat Blanchard and Joanne Suhr about an alligator that loves to chomp and from the beginning of the story to the end goes from bumpy to stumpy.
Six Weeks to Yehidah by Melissa Studdard is a story of a girl that plays in a horrible rainstorm and winds up in a place on the other side of the clouds.
Back to School Tortoise by Lucy M. George about a tortoise that is nervous about the first day of school.
Dinner at the Panda Palace by Stephanie Calmenson is a creative book about counting and kindness along with animal recognition.
Jealous Ellis by Sandi Stallings is about a duck that becomes jealous when his sister offers to teach his best friend how to swim.
Bun, Onion, Burger by Peter Mandel is a simple book about grilling and cookouts that creatively teaches kids about the various ingredients used with hamburgers.
A Royal Little Pest by Anita Reynolds MacArthur about a spoiled little prince that has to learn that imitating people isn’t very nice.
What are your favorite classic children's books?
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - Kiddies; I always loved this book because instead of regular weather the sky rains and snows food. When storms blow in the weather goes crazy dropping large pancakes and other giant food from the sky.
Where the Red Fern Grows - Kiddies and Tweens; this is a touching book about a little boy and his two coonhounds. My father used to read this book to me and my sister before bed. It's a tearjerker and a great all around story.
Stuart Little - Kiddies and Tweens; this was the first chapter book I ever read. I always loved the idea of a animals being able to go on adventures and talk. I remember a scene where Stuart was in a little boat that I associated with the book every time I hear the name.
Nancy Drew Series - Tweens; Nancy Drew was my gateway series into the world of mystery. I still love reading Nancy Drew today and I love that a girl is shown as resourceful and innovative. She is a great role model for girls and shows them that they can do anything they put their minds to.
Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic - Kiddies; I love all of the poems by Shel Silverstein, they always made me smile. They are all so quirky and relatable to every kid. I love Sarah Silvia Cynthia Stout Who Wouldn't Take the Garbage Out and Sick. Those are my two favorite poems.
Do you have any projects in the works you would like to mention?
I am working on ways to further integrate the promotion of early literacy into my website. Also my book The Doll House has been re-released and can be purchased on my website or Amazon. In addition I am working on several children’s books and one YA book all in very early stages.
What do you do in your free time, if there is any?
Being a mom of a 17 month old I have very little free time, but in that time I write. What else would I do? Haha!
Thank you very much for your time, Leanne. Leanne will be back in about six months with her latest selections. Meanwhile, please visit her blog frequently. It's always interesting.