Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Monstore RV + Giveaway

Welcome back to the Kid Lit Blog Hop
Today Gigi and I are so excited we sound like we are have been sucking on helium balloons. SQUEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why you ask, because today we have the one, the only, the talented, TARA LAZAR joining us in cyberspace, to talk to us about her hugely popular book “The Monstore”
How did we attain this honour you ask, well, that is the beauty of Twitter. We first started following Tara when she posted her amazing cover for the Monstore. Gigi was probably only about 1 at the time so I can’t actually claim that she was monster obsessed back then and that was the reason. No, I think I have to take the blame, there, I just loved the cover, who would not want to read it.
So we followed Tara’s progress eagerly awaiting the release, and WHOLE YEAR LATER here it is…. Here is our Review
THE MONSTORE by Tara Lazar
Description from Amazon:
At the back of Frankensweet’s Candy Shoppe, under the last box of sour gumballs, there’s a trapdoor.
Knock five times fast, hand over the bag of squirmy worms, and you can crawl inside The Monstore.

The Monstore is the place to go for all of your monsterly needs. Which is perfect, since Zack definitely has a monsterly need. The problem? His pesky little sister, Gracie, who never pays attention to that “Keep Out” sign on Zack’s door—the one he has made especially for her.

But when Zack’s monsters don’t exactly work as planned, he soon finds out that the Monstore has a few rules: No Refunds. No exchanges. No exceptions.
First Impressions:

The moment this book entered the house, Gigi loved it. She asked us to read the "Monstore" 5 times before lunch and her eyes were glued to the page. Day 2 we couldn't leave the house without the Monstore. Day 3 she started paraphrasing the pages whilst flicking through them herself. As I started to write this review she saw the picture on screen and exclaimed "Monstore Mummy, go get Monstore" So we clambered up stairs to get it. I was trying to take a few pictures of our favourite pages but Gigi kept turning them so she could read it.  I couldn't wrestle the book from her chubby little hands. LOL So are you getting my point yet, THIS IS 100% TODDLER APPROVED… In the end I had to give up and ask Tara for a photo lol.
Check out a couple of our favourite pages. I just love Manfred. One because he is huge and red/orange our favourite colour, but 2,  I think I could possibly copy this one when Gigi insists we draw monsters every other minute of the day....

And then there's the Monstore.  WANT IT!

Our Review:

 Zack has a dilemma. A pesky younger sister in Gracie, but have no fear, Zack has a plan. He invests in the scariest monster called “Manfred”. You would think an enormous red beast would do the trick, but no, Zack’s plans go awry. Back he goes to the Monstore for a refund, where he finds he has failed to read the fine print… NO REFUND, NO RETURNS, NO EXCEPTIONS.

Zack is wooed by the Monstore sales pitch, so he takes home another monster, but yet again, his plans are thwarted. Buy, try, buy, try are clearly not working for Zack and eventually he finds himself with an entire house of monsters. What will he do? How will he ever scare his little sister into keeping out of his room? Well, I am not going to tell you, you will just have to read it.  I can tell you, you will have a monster chuckle when you find out what works. This is a delightful read with the most extremely awesome as Lola would put it illustrations. The toddler may not pick up on the attention to detail, but mum does and every page I find something else to giggle about.The detail in each page is just fantastic and this story is just so innovative and unique.  So there you have it. Any book that grabs a toddlers attention from the moment they make eye contact is a 10 STAR read for us.

But wait, there's more, did I mention a giveaway...

Well, you will have to wait a mo,  while I have a chat with the one and only


Now, Tara,  we want to know everything….Well, not everything, let’s start with
1. Tell us about your publishing Journey.
a. How did it start
b. Where did the idea for the Monstore come from
c. How long did it take you to write
d. Did you get an agent
e. Was this the first book you pitched
f. How long did it take to sign a book deal

My publishing journey started in the 70’s (what my daughters would call “the olden days”). Honest! That’s when I knew I wanted to be a children’s author, in elementary school. But no one told me it would take 30+ years! Geesh! But I didn’t begin writing with a career in mind until I had my second daughter. I was a stay-at-home mom by then and I felt I finally had the time to get serious. In 2007, when she was about a year old, I snuck out to evening critique meetings and SCBWI events. (Don’t worry, I left her with her father.)
The idea for “The Monstore” began with just the title. When I came up with it, I dashed to Amazon to search for it because I thought someone must have written it already. But they didn’t! It was mine, all mine!
It remained just a title for months, until I was forced to devise a premise for an agent. Then I thought, “a boy wants to return the monster he bought because it doesn’t spook his little sister.” The agent told me it was a winning picture book concept. Great! Now I just had to write it!
I was afraid to write it because I thought I might ruin a perfectly good premise. But when I sat down and began typing, it just flowed from my fingertips. And then The Monstore manager told me he wanted to say, “No returns, no exchanges” and the story fell into place from there.
I was chicken to submit it. I had given up on submissions for about a year at that point; I decided the rejections I had been receiving meant I wasn’t ready. My friend, author Corey Rosen Schwartz (THE THREE NINJA PIGS) told me, “This is it! This will sell!” I still didn’t believe her. Not until she sent the manuscript to another author friend, Jean Reidy (LIGHT UP THE NIGHT), who also deemed it ready. And yet another author friend, Boni Ashburn (HUSH, LITTLE DRAGON), also loved it. Corey and Jean referred me to agent Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, who enjoyed it and asked to see more of my work. Then Joan called me and offered representation. Amazingly, she sold “The Monstore” just four weeks later.

2. How did you land James Burks as your illustrator
a. Did you have an idea for each page mapped out
b. How involved were you with James during the drawing.
c. Did you have a specific vision for what Zack, Gracie, Manfred, Mookie and Mojo looked like
d. Were you just ecstatic when you saw the first drafts
e. What is your favourite page in the book

My editor and art director recommended James Burks. They showed me his online portfolio and said he could illustrate children and monsters equally well, which was a difficult feat. I immediately fell in love with his cartoony style and I agreed--hire him!
I wrote only two art notes in the entire manuscript. Otherwise, there was no art direction from me. I had no idea what my characters looked like. I like keeping my mind blank when it comes to the visuals. I know the illustrators are extremely talented and can do far better than anything I can imagine.
The first thing I saw were the character sketches when they were approved, about two years ago now. I was blown away and I thought The Monstore manager looked like Danny DeVito, LOL! Mojo had long, wavy arms—genius! Later on, James drew dozens more monsters, including “Peepers”, who’s the little blue eyeball guy. James hid Peepers on many of the pages, so look out for him!
My favourite page is a toughie! The opening page has an air of mystery, and I love how it seems to glow. It sets the right mood for the rest of the tale.
 Then the actual Monstore itself—wow! It looks very haunted-house-ish but not scary, more like a wacky-fun old-fashioned emporium. And when Zack has to leave his room—that scene of the monsters taking over is totally crazy! I love how Mojo is wearing Zack’s underwear on his head and how Gracie’s jump rope is actually a monster.

3. Tell us about your book launch
a. What did you do,
b. Who came
c. Were cupcakes involved
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a book launch. I don’t know—it felt totally frivolous and self-important to me. Plus I hate planning parties, it’s just not my thing. Which is funny since used to be owned by another Tara Lazar in North Carolina who was a wedding planner. People thought that was me! I would be the worst wedding planner in the world. I even eloped because I didn’t want to plan my own wedding!

4. The last page of the book ends on the toddler equivalent of a cliff-hanger, so my question is
a. Will there be a Monstore 2
b. When can we have it, today!!!!!!
c. How can Gigi and I get ourselves a cameo in your next book
d. Have you any other books on the horizon, we won’t be offended if we aren’t in them honestly….. you can tell us…….

I do have several ideas for a sequel (and a prequel), but it all depends upon how well The Monstore sells. We’ll see!
My next book is I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK, about an alien who crash-lands, spaceship and all, into the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Hilarity ensues when the bears try getting the alien back into his own book.
After that comes LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD, about Little Red as a figure skater. She desperately needs a partner for the pairs competition. I won’t tell you who she finds to leap and twirl with!

I have more projects on the horizon but I can’t announce them yet. Hopefully soon!

WOW, that was awesome Tara, thanks so much for joining me and Gigi all the way at the bottom of the pond. We loved this book and can't wait for more.

So where can you find Tara and The Monstore:

Now for that awesome giveaway...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Welcome to the 20th Kid Lit Blog Hop. Hope those of you in the Northern Hemisphere are enjoying your summer. For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, I am sending you many rays of sunshine! The Kid Lit Blog Hop takes place on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month. This Hop is a dynamic and engaged community of children's books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists, as well as parents seeking out their next great read. So, you are more than welcome to link in and take some time to make some new friends. Before we begin, I just wanted to let you all know (in case you hadn't seen it), that we are joining with Katie from Youth Literature Reviews in hosting the Best of Summer 2013 Kid Lit Giveaway Hop. If you are a children's, youth, or young adult book blogger looking to share copies of a fabulous book that you have read or are planning to read over July and August 2013 you are welcome to join this Hop. Authors, publishers, and publicists are, of course, also welcome to join in as always. In acknowledgement of our friends in the Southern Hemisphere who are experiencing the opposite season, you are more than welcome to grab some of our sunshine and link up as well!

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Best of Summer 2013 giveaway hop

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  1. Hi! I so want to win this book. It looks like so much fun and with Gigi's approval, who can go wrong. I love the interview, too. The party planner with the same name is a riot, Tara!

    1. Oh you will love this book Cool Mom. Can you believe we had Tara on our blog, squee!!!!!!

  2. Nice review. Love the assortment of illustrations. This is a great book. The cover says it all "GREAT PICTURE BOO-K"

    1. Thanks for stopping by Sue, this one is a winner

  3. Want it. This is second excellent review I've read. Great having the interview with the author as well. Thanks

    1. Thanks for joining us Kriss, yes we loved hearing from Tara, she is awesome

  4. Every time I read a review of this book, I want to read it more! Loved the in-depth interview.

  5. I will have to say Where the Wild Things Are :) The illustrations in Monstore look A-MAH-ZING. (I said that like Penny from Happy Endings, as should you lol).

    Also, I just have to agree that Twitter is magical. I have gotten freelance work, met amazing bloggers and authors, and kept in touch with lots of friends through it. And it's not even been around for 10 years yet! I got to attend an interview of Biz Stone, one of the creators of Twitter, hosted by David Letterman at Ball State, and it was SO COOL. :) Thanks for being a great KLBH hostess!

    1. WOWOWOWO Jaymie, that is awesome. Its so great. Who would ever imagine doing something called a tweet and then having an author feature of something called a blog. We love this techno world

  6. That was a great review and interview. I love the colorful illustrations. Our four toddlers would love it.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Capri, your 4 toddlers will fight over this one, better get a spare copy lol

  7. A favorite monster book would be Frankenstein..

    1. Thanks for stopping by Dorothy, that is so funny, as I guess Frankenstein was the original monster. Nowa days they are much more cuddly in manner of Manfried in the book

  8. This has been on our must read list too! I cant wait to get my hands on it. I totally enjoyed reading Tara's interview. She seems to be a down to earth monster loving mom like many of us here :) Thanks for sharing the excellent review J!

  9. My favorite monster book is Where the Wild Things Are, can't beat it. Awesome looking book and great, great post.

    Paul R. Hewlett

    1. Thanks for stopping by Paul, you know Gigi does not like that book at all, even though she is monster obsessed lol.

  10. This. Looks. So. RAD!
    My favorite monster book is Cream of Creature from the School Cafeteria by Mike Thaler. I'm so sad that it's out of print!

    1. Wow Katie, I have never heard of that one, will have to look it up. Maybe it will be at the Library. Thanks for stopping by

  11. Great review. Thanks for the giveaway and linking to the Kidlit Blog Hop. I like many monster books but one that is sticking out in my mind is My Monster Mama Loves Me So.

  12. We have this out from the library right now and we love it! And how fun to hear more of the background story - so many thanks to both of you! I'd love to own it... but my computer isn't playing nice with Rafflecopter right now. Maybe I can try again later!

    1. oohhhhh try again, you have to be in to win this one, it is so fantastic as you know. I hope rafflecopter works again, it seems ok our end. Thanks for joining us on the Hop

  13. Wow! That is an excellent post Julie! You have a future in this. lol My favorite monster book...hmmmm.... I would say Goodnight Goon, the spoof on Goodnight Moon - my kids and I love that book! Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop and I can't wait to win the copy of the book. lol

    1. Oh you truly made me chortle out loud. Oh, Goodnight Goon sounds fun, will have to pin that lol

  14. Where The Wild Things Are, my grandchildren loved it and the movie.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Melinda, funnily my little G doesn't like that book but she is only 2, maybe in another year.

  15. I am laughing out loud at your description of how much your little one loves this book! I'm so glad you shared about it at Booknificent Thursday! Hope to see you again soon.
    Tina from