Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hello! Welcome to Stephanie Lisa Tara's children's book blog!

You know what I mean...
A trip with the kids to the children's department of a bookstore has the propensity to render us all speechless!
(Voices call out from all corners: giggly verse, prosaic truths, scientific facts... then there's the picture book wall - abstract covers wave wildly between storybook characters who've amazingly sprung to life as large statues!)

Which to choose?!

The 100 acre wood sits to one side: Pooh's corner has become a stage with small chairs and tables - stacked high with books, books, books, and the wee ones are gathered around... paging through everything with big eyes...

The bookstore is a fantastical place that our kids love to visit, but how to sift through millions of volumes with clarity and vision? What's good? WHat's really not? How best to entertain, teach, inspire? Simply - what creates a love of learning through books that spans lifetimes?

Lifetimes... just remember yourselves, parents:
who hasn't giggled over Shel Silverstein’s wondrous verse, and felt the wisdom in Dr. Suess’s awareness stories, been soothed by Margaret Wise Brown’s lyrical bedtimes tales, or marveled at the perfection of Beatrix Potter’s farmyard communities? Books touch lives, hearts. Choosing them is great fun, and serious business.

As a mom and children's author, I decided to create this blog in the hopes of starting an ongoing discussion about these sorts of topics, questions and ideas... what is it we think of children's literature today, yesterday and tomorrow.... what sorts of books kids seem to enjoy.... what sorts of books impress parents, teachers, librarians... what works, what doesn't and why... feel free to express your truest feelings, and be sure to check www.stephanielisatara.com for announcements about all my books, newest releases, reviews, book tours and the coming-soon online shop — where my characters will themselves spring to life in plush-form!

My very best,
Stephanie Lisa Tara


Snowy White World To Save, 2007, buy at www.stephanielisatara.com

Gwynne, Fair and Shining, 2006, buy at www.stephanielisatara.com

Little Library Mouse, 2006, buy at www.stephanielisatara.com

I'll Follow The Moon, 2005, buy at www.stephanielisatara.com

Book Reviews:


Kirkus Reviews, September 2005
Gorgeous watercolors chronicle the journey of a baby sea turtle from its hatching to its first swim in the sea.

Gillian Richardson, CM Magazine, September 2005
This attractive book is an enjoyable way to introduce young listeners to a fascinating cycle in nature. [A]n enjoyable read-aloud.

BOOKVIEWS, November 2005
[A] comforting story that assures a child they will always be able to follow the light of a mother's love.

Janie Magruder, The Arizona Republic
[S]weetly told....Tara uses soothing repetition to hook young listeners, and Fodi's drawings are divine.

2006-2007 Chocolate Lily Award Nominee
Chocolate Lily Award congratulates Stephanie Lisa Tara and Lee Fodi (illustrator) for the book's endearing production and storybook appeal.

2007 Chocolate Lily Award Winner
Chocolate Lily Award congratulates Stephanie Lisa Tara and Lee Fodi (illustrator) for I'll Follow The Moon's 3rd place showing!

I'll Follow the Moon, May 9, 2006
By HappyReader "HappyReader" (Raleigh, NC, USA)
I stumbled across this book quite by accident, and I found it to be a treasure. The verse is lovely and calm, as are the illustrations. It also depicts fairly accurately a remarkable natural phenomenon. As a new mom who longed for a child for many years and eventually adopted internationally, I found the symbolism achingly beautiful. I have since given the book to several friends who have also waited for their children to find them. This book is far too beautiful to be limited to the adoption genre, however. It is very meaningful on a number of different levels!

One of the best...., January 29, 2007
By Charlotte Marie Troilo

This is one of the best children's books I have ever read! My [...] son, who loves turtles, is inpired to read with this book. Stephanie Lisa brilliantly incorporates the adventure of a baby sea turle hatchng from his egg to his trip into the sea, all the while following the moon to find his mother. The illustrations are beautiful. A must read!

A new Stephanie Lisa Tara fan, July 27, 2006
By A Very Thankful Mom (San Francisco, CA)
A neighbor sent me the link to this author's website and I immediately became entranced with her style, it is unique, captivating and totally engaging - my kids (5, 6 and 8) LOVE it! I sent the web site link to all my friends - everyone adores her books, they are fun, inspirational and this mom wants to put the word out for others: With the oversaturated, overabundant children's picture book market, why not choose books with sweet, thoughtful and positive messages?! It helps us moms do our jobs better! From one mom to another - thanks Stephanie Lisa Tara!

A soothing bedtime read!, December 1, 2005
By Armchairinterviews.com (Minnesota)

All children want to have security, and they love animals. I'll Follow the Moon by Stephanie Lisa Tara is about both.

On a serene, quiet sandy beach a baby sea turtle breaks free from its egg and begins the journey to find home and mother, all the while saying, "I'm coming, Mama, I'll see you soon. I know just how...I'll follow the moon." And follow the moon to Mama is exactly what the baby sea turtle does.

The simple words and gentle rhythm makes this a wonderful bedtime story. It is soothing and subtly conveys the message that Mother will be there for the child. The watercolor illustrations are solid, yet soft. They beautifully portray the beach and sky in an inviting way that adds to the soothing nature of the book.

Armchair Interviews says: Not only is this a wonderful story for parents to read to their little ones, but it is a book that grandparents will welcome as they care for their grandchildren. I'll Follow the Moon can help them assure their beloved grandchildren that their parent's absence is temporary. It is a lovely book that will be read and reread.

A Mum's Favorite, November 8, 2005
By Harriet Stone "Hetty" (London, England)
I am a mum and I must say to everyone who reads this, that this tale is just exceptional. I cant read it without a tear slipping down my cheek, my twin three year olds adore it. There is something so genuine about the rhythm, the pictures, the message. I read an American review on the book that spoke of the light of a mother's love being ever present for her children. Just beautiful. Tops. Looking for more titles from this lovely author.

Metaphors in Blue, October 29, 2005
By Miss Flanders (Berkeley, CA)
As a preschool teacher I have found this book to be a marvel in my classroom, not only as a teaching aide but as an enjoyable interactive tool that my students ask for on a daily basis. The use of "blue" as metaphor - a complicated subject to understand, is brilliantly depicted both in the poem (dream in blue/fine blue glow of moon/blue ocean/mother's blue eyes) and in the exquisite watercolor illustrations that accompany the poetry. My students identify with the baby turtle, hearing the poem spoken in his voice and I hear them singing the repeating refrain on the playground to each other through my open window. A magnificent and delightful book! Bravo!

Poetry in motion, October 28, 2005
By Earnest Emily "great story collector" (palo alto, california) - See all my reviews
A lusciously written, easy to read-along-with-mom-or- teacher, gorgeous book that instructs and inspires and is just a joy to hold in one's hands.
The refrain invites little listeners to join in and participate. Three bold words introduce each verse stanza, ingeniously grabbing attention, holding it carefully - just long enough for the lilting refrain to renew itself.
Children's verse at its most enjoyable, fulfilling all we come to associate with storytime. Paintings speak for themselves, perfectly executed - beautifully rendered!
This author/illustrator duo is top-notch.

Delightful, October 4, 2005
By J. Savastano "Chief Tucker-Inner" (New England) - See all my reviews

This is the perfect book to read to your little ones as they drift happily off to sleep. The pace, the repetition and the story line all imprint warm, loving thoughts to a child.

The graphics are very good and early readers will pore over the detail on every page.

This is a book that I will share with many friends and loved ones. I look forward to the author's next project.

I'll Follow the Moon, September 30, 2005
By Barbara S. Glazer - See all my reviews

A perfectly delightful story. The magical words along with the soft and charming illustrations create a lovely story to tell to all preschool children before bedtime. This book is a must for all children.

By Jetty Webb "JW" (Memphis) - See all my reviews
A nice, quiet tale to read your child during bedtime. Soft, tasteful pictures fit perfectly to a story about a mother's enduring love. Sweet.


Alan Caruba, Bookviews
"[T]here is not a child who would not be enraptured by the illustrations and entertained by the easily comprehended text."

Kim Peterson, Reader Views
"[A] winner with children and parents...library mouse introduces children to the greatest adventure of all--reading."

MetroActive Newspaper, Patricia Lynn Henley; November 2006
"...magical ability of books to transform readers in time, place, personality is beautifully presented through the short, pleasing rhymes...illustrations..."

Imagination, a Wonderful Think, February 13, 2007
By Shirley Labusier "Book Talk" (Ashley, IL)

Even when you are little you can imagine big, so begins this adorable book. Written in rhyme, the story begins as the clock goes tick-tock, is that the key in the lock? It is the end of the day and the library is closed. A white mouse dressed in a purple suit begins to tell of his adventures, of all the things he can be.

With the help of books he can be a clown, a juggler, or a lady bug on a leaf. On the pages he flips, he finds good cheer in storybook trips. In winter he's snow spinning a silvery fable, frosted wilderness-white on the library table. He's a king, he's a queen, and upon all words he stands tall.

He's red, he's yellow, and he's iridescent blue. Short stories are rainbows of sharp color and hue. He is paper, he is ink. He becomes any book he reads. He can read, he can imagine so can you, take a look

If you want to stimulate your child's imagination this is the book for you. It is colorful and fun to read. Who doesn't love cute little mice, as long as they are illustrated in books? Each page is filled with fantasy and wonder.

A new Stephanie Lisa Tara fan, July 28, 2006
By A Very Thankful Mom (San Francisco, CA)
A neighbor sent me the link to this author's website and I immediately became entranced with her style, it is unique, captivating and totally engaging - my kids (5, 6 and 8) LOVE it! I sent the web site link to all my friends - everyone adores her books, they are fun, inspirational and this mom wants to put the word out for others: With the oversaturated, overabundant children's picture book market, why not choose books with sweet, thoughtful and positive messages?! It helps us moms do our jobs better! From one mom to another - thanks Stephanie Lisa Tara!

A creative and encouraging tale, July 12, 2006
By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)
With illustrations from Alex Walton, Little Library Mouse by Stephanie Lisa Tara is a creative and encouraging tale of an illustrious mouse who lives in a library and when the library is closed and locked at the end of the day carries his little furry mouse friends through fun and imagination driven adventures to be found in the library's many books. Enrapturing the minds of its young readers, Little Library Mouse combines a poetic text with full page works of art in presenting his adventurous endeavors throughout the night of the darkened library through pages and pictures of some very interesting books. A perfect choice for all school and community library picturebook collections, Little Library Mouse is very highly recommended for young readers and their parents seeking to instill in their children a love of reading and an appreciation of libraries.

A Special Ed English teacher's top choice!, June 13, 2006
By Miss Whittaker (Boston, MA) - See all my reviews
Finding innovative and evocative ways to stimulate, inspire children - is the key to effectively teaching special education -- a colleague handed me this big beautiful purple book last week, its joyful large-type rhymes had me giggling. Then I put it to the real test and read it to my students.

It is rare that I have such a huge response -- Little Library Mouse instantly became everyone's favorite. My students repeat the bouncing lines back to me, they speak openly about the book's concepts; of words, sentences, poems, stories... of books taking the imagination anywhere it wishes to go, regardless of physical handicaps.

Skillfully told, beautiful illustrated, this teacher gives it a large gold star! Brilliant work from Stephanie Lisa Tara.

Wonderful!, April 20, 2006
By Armchairinterviews.com (Minnesota)
What do a mouse, a trapeze and a library have in common? The answer lies within the pages of the Little Library Mouse, by Stephanie Lisa Tara.

A nameless mouse jumps into action, through rhyme, as the library is closed for the evening. We're invited on a journey as the mouse "sails on a sentence" and becomes library book characters, including a ship, a wild animal and a circus act.

Tara enchants us with her storytelling as she makes a library tour exciting, encouraging literacy and reading. Little Library Mouse is to be applauded for its light-as-a-feather rhymes, a style Tara undoubtedly perfected while earning a B.A. in English.

The illustrations, by Alex Walton, are bold, confident, full-page drawings of a mouse as he takes on the identity of the story he becomes.

This exciting adventure is sure to please the preschooler set and would also make a great baby shower gift. It would also be an excellent jumping-off point for parent/teacher and child to create new rhymes, based upon Tara's format.

Armchair Interviews says: This story, as with the Man on the Flying Trapeze, "floats through air with the greatest of ease." Bravo, Little Library Mouse...bravo!

A winner!, April 11, 2006
By Reader Views "www.readerviews.com" (Austin, Texas) - See all my reviews
Reviewed by Kim Peterson for Reader Views (4/06)

At the local library when the lights go dark, a little mouse slides out of his hole. He launches his evening adventures as soon as the key turns in the lock. Library mouse steps into the pages of the books and turns into the heroes and heroines in these delightful stories. He pretends to be royalty, a clown, a chef, a detective and more. No longer a tiny rodent, library mouse imagines himself as a ladybug on a leaf, a snowflake on the wind, even winter itself.

Little library mouse takes young readers along on his quest to become new characters and visit new places. Children will enjoy the escapades told with rhythm and rhyme. Each stanza's antic includes an aspect of the world of books, introducing young readers to terms like sentence, glossy, page, and paragraph. Each vibrant, colorful full-page illustration depicts a book and mice involved in that story's delights.

Tara's picture book should be a winner with children and parents encouraging the love of books and the use of their imaginations. After all, library mouse introduces children to the greatest adventure of all-reading.


Book views, March 2007
"Who can resist a fairy tale with a happy ending? Let us welcome Gwynne, Fair & Shining by Stephanie Lisa Tara ($16.95, Brown Books Publishing Group, Dallas, TX) and illustrated by Lee Edward Fodi. Gwynne is a little maid in a dark castle who overcomes a nasty old knight to become a beautiful princess, learning in the process that "Whatever you feel is just what you are. You've always been fair, a bright shining star! Whatever you think is what you shall be. So believe you are strong, and then you are free!" The text is delightful verse and the artwork is magical. For someone who sees many such books, I can tell you this one stands out from the crowd."

Gwynne Fair & Shining is an upbeat children's picturebook with truly standout illustrations , June 10, 2007
By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)
Gwynne Fair & Shining is an upbeat children's picturebook with truly standout illustrations that literally sparkle from the actual glitter from sparkling, golden and reflective material impressed on the page to enhance the cartoony illustrations. The rhyming story tells of a young girl's magical journey and the importance of learning to believe in oneself. Author Stephanie Lisa Tara evokes the power of the fairy tale in this charming read-aloud story especially recommended for young girls.

Marvelous, recalling a 19th century golden age of children's literature!, May 14, 2007
By Penelope Sandringham "children's poet" (San Francisco)
The beginning of the golden age in children's literature can be tenaciously placed around the 1860s, when playful/nonsensical verse became infused with "lessons", read aloud as entertainment. These joys of old world story-poem verse, Stephanie Lisa Tara reinvents for us today, recalling a time now passed where tv and movies did not exist and parent and child spent long hours together in connective bonding before fairy tale books. This verse of yore confidently and purposefully sticks its tongue out at grammatical rules and didactic foundations: its structural strictness was often quite replaced by semantic chaos and polysemy. Who hasn't marveled at the genius of Jabberwocky? It is the creative mind that takes such risks, as it ever was and always will be thus. I adored this book, as did my kids, and everyone who has seen it. Such a joy to see a departure from the shock effect choices on the shelves today, and a return to lyrical flow that takes its time with no need to rush, and words that spill off the tongue! Shall we rush through our story times with our kids? If you haven't read Stephanie Tara's other books, make a point of doing so. All ring at the same lovely pitch and all speak to the heart of connecting with children, speaking to them, inspiring them to dream, make new rules, think new ways! A big bravo! And, more, more, please!

Charming Book, March 22, 2007
By Gwynne Larabee

I love this book!!! It is charming and endearing. Everyone at my house has read it and the youngest is 15 years old. My grandson asks me to read it to him. He is 3. The illustrations are precious. This book will be in our library for years to come.

All about believing in yourself, January 28, 2007
By Armchairinterviews.com (Minnesota)

Things were not good in the castle. It was cold, dark, dim and grim. It wasn't any better outside either. It was a sad, sad place.

Then Gwynne heard the soft and gentle voice of her grandmother, who had once reigned in a spirit of love. Grandmother's voice was followed by the sound of the magic flute. Gwynne's sad heart began to soar and she started to sing. But the knight discouraged her songs. But the magic took hold of Gwynne and she 'sought her own way.' She began to believe in herself. And that's such a grand thing.

Gwynne Fair & Shining by Stephanie Lisa Tara is a delightful story in rhyme. The message is powerful and encourages children to follow their hearts, their passions and to believe in themselves.

The illustrator, Lee Edward Fodi has created a masterpiece in his twenty-four illustrations. The soft colors draw in the reader. The scenes are whimsical and inviting. And, there are sparkles on all of the pages. Oh, the little ones will love that.

Armchair Interviews says: Gwynne Fair & Shining is a winner. Children will want this read, over and over again.

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