Friday, October 31, 2014

A Halloween Treat: Behind the scenes of recording an audiobook!

As a special Halloween treat, we're giving you, our wonderful readers (and the rest of the internet, I suppose...), a super-exclusive (and by that, I mean: open to the entire computer-literate world) insider's look at recording an audiobook!

Bill Harley is a two-time Grammy award-winning storyteller and the author of the Charlie Bumpers series. It only makes sense that he'd record his own audiobook.

So a few months back, armed with copies of The Squeaking Skull, lots of coffee, and our video camera, a couple of us from Peachtree headed to the ListenUp Audiobooks recording studio here in Atlanta.

In a dark room with orange padded walls, we (plus our awesome sound tech, Dante) carefully followed along, watching for mistakes, as Bill brought his characters to life.

This was one of the coolest things I've seen in book world, and I thought you might like to see what goes into recording an audiobook too. So here you go!

Recording an Audiobook Part 1: Getting Started

In this video--the first in a series of three!--Bill takes you on a tour of ListenUp's studio.

Recording an Audiobook Part 2: What makes a good narrator?

In Part 2, Bill talks about creating voices and what qualities make a good audiobook narrator.

Recording an Audiobook Part 3: Behind the Voices

In Part 3, Bill demonstrates the voices of your favorite Charlie Bumpers characters and tells us how audiobooks can be used in the classroom!

Pick up your copy of Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull at your local library or independent bookseller!

Have a safe & happy Halloween, readers!

Matt Bumpers' Ultra-Official Guide to De-Scaring

Matt Bumpers here with a Public Service Announcement.

Every one knows that Halloween is the most wonderful time of the year. The cobwebs, the ghouls, the candy...  but there is an affliction sweeping the nation, threatening to ruin Halloween for America's youth.

I should explain.

My kid brother, Charlie, is what you might call...a dorky chicken. He screams when lights go out unexpectedly, has nightmares from watching movies about vampires, and crosses the street when he sees a potentially haunted house. 

I'm sorry to report that this is not an isolated case. Dorkychickenitis is a growing concern, and this epidemic must be stamped out.

But I'll need your help.

I've compiled a foolproof toolkit for use in de-scaring any Dorky Chickens you may encounter. Good luck.
Dorkychickenitis Patient Zero: Charles Bumpers

Matt Bumpers' Ultra-Official Guide to De-Scaring

  1. Tell a scary story.  Tell a little bit every night; make each night's episode a little more terrifying. With some luck, you'll have your patient laughing in the ghoulish face of fear by the time Halloween rolls around.
  2. Watch a scary movie.  Okay, this one's kind of the same as the scary story tip. Building up to scarier and scarier movies will eventually have your patient immune to the palest vampires and hairiest werewolves.
  3. Change the name of the scary thing.  I have my little sister, Mabel, to thank for this one. Charlie is terrified to watch a movie called The Shrieking Skull. Mabel thought the name was "Squeaking" instead of "Shrieking," making the movie laughable. Good on you, Mabel. Gold star.
  4. Watch something funny right after something scary.  This will help you forget about the scary thing and focus on the funny thing instead. Easy-peasy. 
  5. Focus on the funny aspects.  Look, I know scary. Scary stories, scary movies, whatever; they all have something in common. They're funny! Underneath the ghosts and goblins and blood and guts, there's always a joke. If you walk into a scary situation prepared to laugh, you will. 
  6. Embrace being scared.  C'mon, why do you think people keep making scary movies? They're fun! They give you the chance to scream, hide under the covers, and freak out your friends. Everyday life can get boring sometimes--getting scared is a great way to break up the monotony. 
  7. Pretend you’re not scared.  Basically: fake it 'till you make it. I wish Charlie would at least pretend he wasn't scared all the time.
  8. Be with friends.  Scary story + people to share it with = fun. That's just basic math.
  9. Realize it’s all fake.  You know what Halloween is about right? Getting scared. But at the end of the day, you know the stories, the monsters, and the ghouls aren't real.
Me, Matthew Bumpers, demonstrating Tip #1
Can you think of anything else?  Comment below if I missed any good tips.

Stay scary, people.

- Matt "Master of Horror" Bumpers

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Storytime Test

Will your kids sit still during a P. Zonka storytime? The illustrations have to read well from far away, and  they should tell a story along with the one told through the text.  Submitted for your approval is the Stand-Far-Away-Holding-the-Book-Cover-Test. How'd we do??

PS: Storytimes are even better if you're willing to do voices ;)

Monday, October 27, 2014

How to Tell a Scary Story

There are SO MANY scary stories out there. In fact, there are entire books and movies and magazines dedicated to them.

It may seem like spinning a spooky yarn ought to be easy as pumpkin pie, but, like tight rope walking, writing a children's book (Am I right, guys?), and drinking black coffee, telling a scary story is a skill that must be honed with years of careful study.

But, since Halloween is just a few days away, consider this Scary Story Bootcamp.


The only true necessity is a flashlight. Shine it under your face in the dark and give your audience a ghoulish grin. Works every time.

Other props might be things like a scary mask, a storyteller's costume (cape? tophat? pipe?), maybe some fake snakes or bugs, or spooky music to play in the background.


You might think the setting in which you tell your creepy tale story isn't important. Wrong. Atmosphere is vital. Here are some tips on working your audience into maximum fright before you even open your mouth.

  • Indoors: 
    • Make a blanket or pillow-fort. First off, they're awesome. Second, they'll hide all the light from outside the fort, leaving your flashlight as the only source of light. And third, forts are awesome.
  • Outdoors: 
    • Do you have an outdoor fire pit? The eerie light will flicker; the fire will crackle; and creatures of the night will skulk and slither in the shadows just out of sight...

The Story: 

You've selected your setting and collected your props; now it's time for the main event.

Speaking in front of an audience can be nerve-wracking. But just remember: it's important to seem confident in the story you're telling. Whatever the story is, it is true. If you believe it, your audience will believe it too.

But how do you pick one?

The best thing to do is to learn a few on your own, improve them, and then swap them with your friends. Pretty soon you'll have a good collection built up! Here are a few tried and trues to get you started:

Not Very Scary/Kinda Funny:
Moderately Scary:
Super Scary/Proceed with Caution: 
The Best Original Scary Story Ever:

Okay, that last one might be biased, but it is a great spooky story and you can read it (or hear it!) yourself in Bill Harley's third Charlie Bumpers book, Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull!

Did we miss any of your favorite stories? Have you made up an awesome one that you'd like to share? Do you have any more tips on how to tell them? Leave a comment below!

Warehouse Special Delivery!

Days like these are very exciting.  What was once an email attachment, "How about this design?" is now realized as a final picture book cover.  Behold the Advanced Reading Copy! Julie Paschkis makes cover design look E-Z.

Guess what?! The inside is just as lovely.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Farewell Fall 2014!

Thanks for following our Fall 2014 Blog Tour! It was a good three months, but all good things must come to an end.  We hope that you discovered some great kid lit bloggers along the way and got a sense of our exciting season.

Let's do a quick montage! Like they do in the movies!

In August we learned all about parrots, and learned a couple of football gambits from Jesse, Jay and Savannah.

In September Stanley had two full career changes! Pig and Small became lifelong friends! And Charlie Bumpers used desensitization techniques to overcome his Halloween fears!

We wrapped up in October with an animal parade, a skiing sock and pup, and a lifesaving dog

That wraps it up for this season, but we've got exciting changes in store for Spring 2015 titles.  In addition to reviews, we'll also be showing blog tour followers storytime ideas, crafts, flannel board patterns, discussion questions, and more extension activities!  You can thank our guest bloggers for that! As always, visit our website for free Teachers Guides.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Blog Tour for "Murphy, Gold Rush Dog"

An action-packed and heartwarming story of a dog in gold rush-era Alaska
All Murphy wants is a home and a loving family. After escaping from his brutal, merciless owner, he is taken in by a young girl named Sally. She and her mother have just arrived in Nome, Alaska, intent on joining the other gold seekers and making a new life for themselves, free from their wealthy but oppressive family in Seattle.
Yet, even with Murphy at their side, Sally and Mama find living in the mining town harsh and forbidding. When it seems they may have to give up and return to Seattle, Sally and Murphy decide to strike out on their own, hoping to find gold and make a permanent home. But dangers await them - not only blizzards and grizzly bears, but also Murphy's original owner, who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, whether it is an ill-gotten fortune or a valuable dog.

Alison Hart is the author of more than forty books for young readers, including Emma's RiverAnna's Blizzard, and the Racing to Freedom trilogy. Hart is a teacher at Blue Ridge Community College and lives in Virginia. You can visit Alison Hart’s website here.
Michael G. Montgomery has illustrated numerous children's books. He attended Georgia Southern University and the University of Georgia. Montgomery lives in Georgia. You can visit Michael G. Montgomery’s website here.
Follow Murphy on his Alaskan adventure: 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blog Tour for "Claude on the Slopes"

Claude is no ordinary dog - he leads an extraordinary life!
Claude and his best friend Sir Bobblysock go to the Snowy Mountains to swish down the powdery slopes. They throw snowballs, learn to ski, and enter a snow-sculpture contest. But when an avalanche threatens their winter wonderland, Claude must come to the rescue.
After briefly considering careers in space travel, cookery, and being a rabbit, Alex T. Smith finally decided to become an illustrator. He graduated from Coventry University with a degree in illustration and won second place in the Macmillan Prize for Children's Illustration. He lives in England.
You can visit Alex T. Smith’s website here.
School Library Journal warns children who have not met Claude and his best friend Sir Bobblysock to expect delightful mayhem and hilarity. Get to know Claude on this Blog Tour! 

Monday,10/13- Picture Book to YAThe Write Path
Tuesday, 10/14- Geo Librarian & Kit Lit Reviews
Wednesday, 10/15- Chat with Vera
Thursday, 10/16- The 4th Musketeer
Friday, 10/17- Librarian in Cute Shoes

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

DIY: Claude Sock Puppet

Do you ever wonder if Claude gets jealous of Sir Bobblysock?  

Think about it: Sir Bobblysock is both a sock and quite bobbly. I mean, talk about a double threat.

What if we leveled the playing field a bit? What if we made Claude into a sock?

There's a whole world of puppetry arts that we could explore... Claude could have his own adventure vlog... 

That's it. This is happening. Go grab your supplies and meet me back here in five.


  • 1 white sock
  • 1 black pom-pom
  • 1 red pom-pom
  • 1 piece of black felt
  • 1 piece of red felt
  • 2 googly eyes
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun


  1. Warm up your hot glue gun.
  2. Stick your hand inside the sock. Create the indent where Claude's mouth will be in the space between your forefinger and thumb.

            4. Cut out Claude’s ears and beret using shapes like this: 

             5. Using the hot glue gun, put a dab of hot glue in the following places: 
           tip: Adhere the pieces immediately and press firmly. Hot glue dries quickly.

a.       On the top of his head; attach his ears

b.      on the top of his ears; attach beret

c.      in the center of the top of the beret; attach the red pom-pom

d.      on Claude’s nose; attach the black pom-pom

e.       where his eyes will be; attach the googly eyes


We'd love to see your Claude or Sir. B sock puppets! Post your sock puppet theater videos on social and tag us, or send them to publicity [at] peachtree [dash] online [dot] com!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Blog Tour for "Can I Come Too?"

Join a tiny mouse as she searches for the biggest creature in the world.
A very small mouse sets out to find something special - the biggest creature in the world. Along the way she meets a menagerie of animals, including a frog, a badger, and a tiger. But which is the biggest of all? Follow their journey in this gentle cumulative tale from a world-renowned author and artist team.

Brian Patten is the author of The Big Snuggle-Up, as well as several poetry collections for children. He lives in England.You can visit Brian Patten’s website here.
Nicola Bayley has illustrated many acclaimed picture books for children, including The Big Snuggle-Up and The Jungle Book. She lives in England.

School Library Journal notes that this cumulative tale has "meticulously executed colored-pencil illustrations, whether of feather or fur, ferns or foxgloves, are so exquisite that children will become lost in them. Stunning art, paired with a simple poetic text, pulls readers along as they wonder which animal they will meet next."
Follow along the Blog Tour:

Friday, October 3, 2014


When I was in elementary school, the coolest thing to have (after Lisa Frank folders, Tamagotchis, and shell necklaces, of course) was the ability to tell a really scary story.

I vaguely remember tales of a girl with a ribbon necklace, an escaped hangman, and intruders impersonating dogs, but--and trust me when I say this--those have nothing on the story of The Long Fingered Man.

It's so creepy, so goosebump-inducing, that you need to experience it for yourself. Seriously, I can't even talk about it.

No stand alone copies of the story exist (the Long Fingered Man took care of that), but Bill Harley has captured the tale in Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull.

Since scary stories are better when they're told by grammy award-winning storytellers, let's make The Squeaking Skull audiobook our October #FreeBookFriday!

Enter below for your chance to win.

Meet Charlie’s spookiest nemesis yet in CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE SQUEAKING SKULL, the third laugh-out-loud audiobook in the Charlie Bumpers series, read by Grammy award-winning storyteller, Bill Harley.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fall Scavenger Hunt Printable!

In Can I Come Too?, animals band together to search for the biggest creature in the whole world.

While you may not have whales in your pond or tigers in the forest behind your house, you do have lots of Autumn nature to discover!

So, print out this Fall Scavenger Hunt list (or make your own!), grab your scarf, and head into the great outdoors!

Click HERE for your printable Can I Come Too? scavenger hunt sheet!