Friday, May 13, 2011

Juniper Berry Blog Tour: Review and GIVEAWAY

Juniper Berry
Juniper Berry by M. P. Kozlowsky
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Copyright Date: 2011
Age: 9-12
Review copy provided by the publisher

Publisher’s Summary: Juniper Berry’s parents are the most beloved actor and actress in the world—but Juniper can’t help but feel they haven’t been quite right lately. And she and her friend Giles are determined to find out why.

On a cold and rainy night, Juniper follows her parents as they sneak out of the house and enter the woods. What she discovers is an underworld filled with contradictions: one that is terrifying and enticing, lorded over by a creature both sinister and seductive, who can sell you all the world’s secrets bound in a balloon. For the first time, Juniper and Giles have a choice to make. And it will be up to them to confront their own fears in order to save the ones who couldn’t.

M.P. Kozlowsky’s debut is a modern-day fairy tale of terror, temptation, and ways in which it is our choices that make us who we are.

Disclaimer: I’m a teacher. I’m a reader. I’m a connector. I read books with teachable moments always in the back of my mind. My reviews are written from the prospective of a teacher looking for any opportunity to connect kids with engaging books.

Read alouds are one of the easiest ways I have found to help connect students with books...and it doesn't matter the age. Reading aloud is a non-negotiable in my classroom. I’ve written about it’s importance here on several occasions. I’m always on the lookout for middle grades novels that will spark my students’ imaginations, stretch their thinking, and sweep them up, carrying them away in the current of a significant story. When I received an ARC of Juniper Berry by M. P. Kozlowsky from Kellie at Walden Pond Press, I was thrilled to have found exactly that kind of book.

Imagine, if you will, twenty fifth graders sitting absolutely still, entranced actually, on a rug in front of you, completely captivated as you read aloud. You come to the end of the chapter and they beg…yes, beg…for you to continue reading. That doesn’t happen you say. Well that is precisely what happened when I read Juniper Berry aloud to my class. Now, while I’ve been told by some that I’m a “really good read alouder” I can’t take full credit for this book’s read aloud potential. I really can’t even take partial credit.

M.P. Kozlowsky has penned a chilling tale of good vs. evil whose descriptions are so well written the reader can easily visualize what is going on, leaving them with lasting images. The characters are believable, their voices so well written that they literally jump off the page during the read aloud. While I personally found the pacing of the story a bit slow at first, my students didn’t seem to notice and once the action got going, it was difficult to pull ourselves away. I appreciated that Kozlowsky didn’t water down the story with simple language. His use of rich vocabulary was done in a way that wasn’t condescending.

Based on the age old saying “Be careful what you wish for” the story line offers many themes worth exploring with students. During our read aloud of this book, we had thoughtful discussions about such themes as facing our fears, giving in to temptations, being your true self (even when no one is watching), our choices and their powerful consequences, loyalty and friendship.

Here’s what some of my students had to say after we finished this book:

“This book really keeps you hanging which makes you want to keep reading it!” Sierra

“The author didn’t just tell you everything at once. You had to read between the lines...go below ‘ the surface’! That kept me on the edge of my seat!” Jaden

“I loved that it was dark and scary! I really liked the way the author gave strong descriptions of the characters.” Dylan

“There seemed to be a surprise with every turn of a page!” Gabby

“I learned to expect the unexpected!” Jillian

Courtesy of Walden Pond Press I’m excited to be able to offer one reader a hardcover copy of Juniper Berry with a signed bookplate!  Leave a comment on this post and you are entered! It's that's easy. Please be sure to leave your email address so that I contact you if you are the winner.   The giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only.  Comment before  Monday, May 16, 2011 at 11:59 p.m.
But wait...there's more! To celebrate the release of M.P. Kozlowsky’s debut novel Juniper Berry, Walden Pond Press is inviting all writers aged 9-14 to write their own tales of terror and temptation in at least 500 words. One grand prize winner will receive an iPad, a library of Walden Pond Press eBook, paperback and hardcover novels, and his or her story published online at Author M.P. Kozlowsky will select the winner. To learn more:
Be sure to check all of the stops on Week 2 of the Juniper Berry Blog Tour:
Juniper Berry Blog Tour: Part II

Tuesday, May 10th - Interview and Giveaway at Another Gray Day
Wednesday, May 11th - Interview at Bri Meets Books
Thursday, May 12th - Interview at Book Yurt
Friday, May 13th - Review and Giveaway right HERE!!!
Saturday, May 14th - Review at MundieKids
Sunday, May 15th - Guest Post at Kid Lit Frenzy
Monday, May 16th - Review and Giveaway at Kid Lit Frenzy
Tuesday, May 17th - Interview and Giveaway at MundieKids
Tuesday, May 17th - Guest Post and Giveaway at The Cozy Reader


  1. I would love to win a FREE copy of this book. Jaden's comment made me curious to see exactly what is below the surface! Sounds like it would be a nice addition to McArthur Library's Kid's Room!

  2. Great review, I am dying to read this book!

  3. This sounds like a great read! My 4th grade group is always asking me to read aloud something creepy. Juniper Berry may be just what my students are looking for!

  4. Chris,
    It's the PERFECT creepy read aloud! Good Luck!

  5. Oh Oh. I hope somebody I know wins!

  6. I think Maggie would like this one! And, I'll have to look into that writing contest she may like that too!

  7. I think Alyssa would love this one!

  8. Would you recommend this book for the 4th grade level? Do I spy a read aloud for the month of October perhaps? Great review for someone who claims to be a reader more than a writer, by the way!

  9. This sounds like a great read-aloud for my 5th graders! I'd love to win a copy!

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Love the trailer and can't wait to read the book! (

  12. This book looks great!!

  13. I have been hearing only extraordinary things about this book so I really would love to win it. Fabulous review btw!


  14. I'm studying children's publishing right now, and I can't wait to read this one!

  15. Your students have me sold on this book! Can't wait to read it.

    (And Paul W. Hankins knows me (kinda) know...what he said!)

  16. Great review~does have me wanting to run to the library or store to get a copy but I'll wait to see if I win first!! Got me hooked on this one!

  17. I'd love to win. It would be the perfect book for my middle grade book review. dorwh (at) aol (dot) com

  18. I have been reading wonderful reviews (including yours) about this book and it sounds like a fantastic read aloud for my class.

    jodig_1 (at) hotmail (dot) com

  19. I love the book trailer! Thanks for reviewing this one-I hadn't heard of it and would love to win it.