Sunday, September 30, 2018

~ MMGM BIOGRAPHY OF SECUNDINO FERNANDEZ ~

~ MARVELOUS MIDDLE-GRADE
MONDAY BIOGRAPHY 
FEATURE ~
--  'MY HAVANA: MEMORIES OF
A CUBAN BOYHOOD'  --
~AUTHOR ROSEMARY WELLS with
SECUNDINO FERNANDEZ~
~ILLUSTRATOR PETER FERGUSON~





ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:

A young Cuban immigrant eases his homesickness by re-creating the city of Havana in a poignant tale that will resonate with readers today.

"You’re always drawing in that notebook of yours," Dino’s friend teases. To the small boy, 1950s Havana is alive with color, music, and glamour, and he itches to capture it on paper. When Fidel Castro and the Communist Party take over the Cuban government, Dino’s family must move to New York, where the lonely boy pours his heart into making a model of Havana’s archways and balconies, buildings and streets. Rosemary Wells composes a tender ode to an immigrant boy who grew up to be a U.S. architect, while Peter Ferguson’s atmospheric paintings evoke two vibrant cities as they were half a century ago.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from Goodreads}:
Rosemary Wells is the author of a number of popular children's books, most notably the Max and Ruby series which follows the everyday adventures of sibling bunnies - curious three year old Max and bossy seven year old Ruby. She gets the inspiration for Max and Ruby from her two daughters and the experiences they have with friends and school. Her West Highland Terriers Lucy and Snowy have also worked their way into her books, as McDuff and insight for other characters. She has also written Noisy Nora, Yoko, Voyage to the Bunny Planet series, a Christmas Book called Morris's Disappearing Bag and a collected book of illustrations of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs. 


In April 2007, her children's book The Gulps featuring illustrations by Marc Brown was released. Also that year she published Red Moon at Sharpsburg, a historical novel featuring a young girl in the American Civil War. 2008 brings Otto Runs For President, followed by Yoko Writes Her Name, scheduled to be published in July. Wells grew up in Red Bank, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Helen Bamberger.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR {from Goodreads}:
ILLUSTRATOR PETER FERGUSON'S WEBSITE


MY THOUGHTS:
When I saw this title in our library catalog as I searched for books written by one of my favorite children's authors, Rosemary Wells, I knew I wanted to read this story. I'm so glad I did because this is a well-written, engaging book featuring an interesting individual who grew up to be an architect.


The story begins in 1959 Havana, Cuba, when the subject, who is also the narrator of the story, was eleven years old. Fidel Castro is on the television screen and Secundino's father predicts "he will be another dictator, much worse than the last one."

On the next page the reader finds a chapter entitled, 'Havana, 1952-1954'. In this chapter the narrator {Secundino} shares about his childhood in downtown Havana. His nickname is 'Dino'. He describes his family life and school life in great detail which provides young readers with an excellent background for what unfolds later on in the book.


Dino shares how he began drawing buildings when he was just old enough to hold a pencil. He is fascinated by doorways, windows, and other features of Havana's old buildings. Dino is small for his age and he wears thick glasses. He is teased by his cousins because he consistently wants to be filling his sketchbooks with images of the things he sees around Havana.

In 1954, Dino and his parents sail on a steamship to Madrid to help a relative who was injured in an accident. Dino's mother, Mami, is thrilled to be going to Madrid because it is where her parents live. The little family is does not receive a warm welcome from the customs police. 


When little Dino speaks up as the customs agents pilfer items from the Fernandez family's suitcases, he is whisked away to be strip searched. Later when he asks his father why the police were so mean and rude, Mr. Fernandez explains that these police officers are former soldiers of Spain's leader, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, from a 'long-ago war'.

Dino is very unhappy in Madrid. There are no flowers, palm trees, or ocean as in Havana. He stops drawing altogether. When his mother asks him what is wrong, he tells her people are not friendly in Madrid like they are in Havana. This opens up a long discussion about Hitler, Franco, dictators, oppression, etc. Hard lessons for a young boy to learn about and experience personally.

When the family is called back home to Cuba so the parents can resume running their restaurant in Havana, Dino begins to draw what he sees in Spain. 

The next chapter is called 'Home, 1956-1959'. Once home, Dino resumes drawing the palaces of Havana. But the Fernandez family is forced to make yet another major change in their lives due to the violent threats of the president of Cuba, General Fulgencio Batista.

In the middle of the night on December 31st, 1958, Batista's regime is 'chased out of Cuba' by Fidel Castro. His parents and other relatives explain all of these events and their ramifications to young Dino, who trembles with fear as he tries to go to sleep.

The final chapter of the book is called, 'New York, 1959--'. Dino's parents make a plan to fly to Miami. They will then travel to New York City by train to work in a relative's restaurant. Before they leave Havana, Dino wants more than anything to say goodbye to the buildings of Havana. 

Once they arrive in the United States, Dino hates American food and tells his parents he wants Cuban food. When they arrive in New Jersey, Dino is shocked and dismayed to find the trees there have no leaves, the temperature is colder than he's ever experienced, and it is 'sleeting'. Lots of unwelcome surprises for an eleven-year old.

Dino shares his experiences in public school in New York as a Spanish-speaker placed in an English-speaking classroom with readers. There are a lot of students from Puerto Rico in his class, but they were not helpful to Dino because they spoke a different kind of Spanish than he did. 

As a retired teacher, I was sincerely pained to read about how this young man was treated by his teacher. Miss Neubold was unkind in her words and deeds.

Meanwhile, Dino is homesick for Havana. He tells his parents he wants to go home--to Cuba. His father tells him "Havana is in the hands of madmen. New York is our home now."

Dino describes for readers how he began to build a model of Havana on his bedroom floor. He paints a map of Havana on a large piece of plywood and cuts his favorite buildings out of cardboard. He paints everything using the bright colors of Havana. He uses fluorescent paint to fill each window, streetlight, and porthole of ships in his harbor. When Dino turns out his bedside lamp, his Havana glows like his former Cuban home.

In the closing paragraphs of the book, Dino's Tio Manuel takes Dino and his friend, John, to Coney Island. On the Parachute Jump ride Dino sees the white sand beach of Sheepshead Bay and realizes New York is almost like Havana.

The artwork in this book is exceptional as it enriches each element of the story being told by Rosemary Wells and Dino Fernandez. I really loved this book.

Highly-recommended for readers of all ages! Fans of Latin American and Cuban history, immigration history, architecture, and biographies will enjoy this book. Teachers and librarians may find this book a valuable addition to their social studies curriculum.

I borrowed this book from the children's section in the local public library.


Find the links to read more great Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts from middle-grade authors and bloggers at Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' Blog.

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COMING UP SOON ON 'READING, WRITING & STITCH-METIC':
-- Wednesday, October 3rd: Blog Tour Stop for an inspirational historical romance, 'Lady of a Thousand Treasures'. Post includes book spotlight, excerpt, and giveaway. Tour hosted by JustRead Publicity.

-- Wednesday, October 3rd: Book Blast for a children's picture book, 'Santa's Dog'. Blast hosted by Singing Librarian Books.

-- Monday, October 8th: SPECIAL EVENT! It's the five-year anniversary of the release of my first book, 'A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom'. Stop by for a chance to win an ebook copy of this award-winning holiday novella. Event hosted by Author June McCrary Jacobs. Prizes provided by Cedar Fort Publishing.

-- Monday October 8th: Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday post. Title TBA.

-- Tuesday, October 9th: Book Blast for 'Rhapsody & Rebellion'. Book spotlight and giveaway! Event hosted by Clean Wholesome Romance.
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Thursday, September 27, 2018

~ CHRISTMAS WITH THE COWBOY ~

~ BLOG TOUR STOP ~
--  'CHRISTMAS WITH THE COWBOY'  --
AUTHOR TINA RADCLIFFE
~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight, Author
Bio, Excerpt & Giveaway~



Welcome to CHRISTMAS WITH THE COWBOY Blog Tour with JustRead Publicity Tours.

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Christmas with the Cowboy
Series: Big Heart Ranch, Book 3
Author: Tina Radcliffe
Publisher: Love Inspired
Release Date: September 18, 2018

Home for the holidays

A second chance at love on Big Heart Ranch

Former Navy SEAL Zach Norman has been avoiding his ranching roots—and the woman he couldn’t have. Back to visit his brother’s widow, Emma Maxwell Norman, and her adorable toddler twins, the bah-humbug cowboy is roped into helping prepare the ranch for the holidays. Working side by side, can Emma and Zach overcome their troubled past…and receive the greatest Christmas gift of all—love?

EXCERPT:  Link to Excerpt Courtesy of the Publisher

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | iTunes | Book Depository | BAM! | Book Bub

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina March 2018 2Originally from Western, N.Y., Tina Radcliffe left home for a tour of duty with the Army Security Agency (a branch of the NSA) stationed in Augsburg, Germany, and ended up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While living in Tulsa, she spent ten years as a Certified Oncology R.N. Her move to Colorado led to a career as a library cataloger. A freelance writer for over twenty years, Tina manages Seekerville, a thirteen-author blog which is starting its tenth year. Seekerville is a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers award winner.

Tina is a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, a 2012 ACFW Carol Award finalist, a 2014 ACFW Mentor of the Year finalist, a 2014 Golden Quill finalist and a 2014 ACFW Carol Award winner. In 2016 Safe in the Fireman's Arms was a Holt Medallion Merit Award finalist and a Detroit Bookseller's Best finalist and a NERFA finalist. She has won first place in over twenty RWA chapter affiliated contests in her career. Tina is also a short story writer and has sold over twenty short stories to Woman’s World Magazine. She currently resides in Arizona where she writes fun, heartwarming romance.

TO CONNECT WITH TINA:  
website,  facebook,  twitter,  pinterest,  instagram, Book Bub

Tina also has a great newsletter filled with fun facts and great giveaways for her newsletter subscribers. Sign up for her newsletter HERE.

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TOUR GIVEAWAY



Tina has graciously offered (1) winner an awesome Christmas with the Cowboy prize pack that includes:
  • An autographed copy of Christmas with the Cowboy
  • LED Christmas Bulb Necklace
  • $50 Amazon gift card.
Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule shown below.  Complete prize open to US mailing addresses only.  For our giveaway rules and policy, click HERE.
Be sure to stop at a stop each day for extra entries!

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TOUR SCHEDULE

For the full tour schedule, click on either of the launch pages below.
(All stops expected to post by 12:00 NOON EST)

Launch Page @JustReadTours
Launch Page @JustCommonly

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COMING UP SOON ON 'READING, WRITING & STITCH-METIC':
-- Monday, October 1st: Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday Biography entitled, 'My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood' about the life of architect Secundino Fernandez. Post includes book spotlight and my review.

-- Wednesday, October 3rd: Blog Tour Stop for an inspirational historical romance, 'Lady of a Thousand Treasures'. Post includes book spotlight, excerpt, and giveaway. Tour hosted by JustRead Publicity.

-- Wednesday, October 3rd: Book Blast for a children's picture book, 'Santa's Dog'. Blast hosted by Singing Librarian Books.

-- Thursday, October 4th: Book Blast for 'Regency House Party: Summerstone Series'. Post includes spotlight and giveaway. Blast hosted by Singing Library Books.
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Monday, September 24, 2018

~ COVER REVEAL THE SONGS THAT BROUGHT ME BACK ~

~ COVER REVEAL ~
--  'THE SONGS THAT 
BROUGHT ME BACK'  -- 
AUTHOR MYLISSA DEMEYERE
~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight,
Author Bio & Giveaway~
  
Coming December 4th:


ABOUT THE BOOK:
'The Songs That Brought Me Back' by Mylissa Demeyere

Have you ever made a mistake? One so monumental you lost everything? I did, and I hate myself for it! All I want to do is close my eyes, and let the darkness consume me. Make it all go away. The end. 

Ainsley is drowning in the depth of her despair. One wrong decision left her alone, with only regret as her constant companion. To escape it all, she makes another choice. One she hopes will end everything. Instead, she’s thrown into a whole new world filled with opportunities she doesn’t believe she deserves. Ethan gives the appearance of breezing through life. But underneath his bright facade, he’s scarred by loss. When fate leads him into Ainsley’s world at the exact moment she needs someone the most, he can’t ignore the chance to right the wrongs of his past. Ainsley and Ethan will struggle to help each other heal and start anew. They’ll learn that the secret to conquering their pain lies within their power, if only they can do it together. Always together. Sometimes the ending is really the beginning. 

     


What Readers are Saying: 

--A heartfelt romance with a powerful message about the sanctity of human life. If you've ever simply needed a friend, The Songs That Brought Me Back will resonate--and leave you thankful for the people in your life. -Taylor Dean, author of I’m With You and Chasing Fireflies.   

--Another remarkable read by Mylissa Demeyere. Ethan and Ainsley had me laughing and crying as they face their own demons and fall in love while doing it. This book adds even more depth as it confronts suicide head on. Suicide has become an epidemic that some are afraid to address; Demeyere brings it to light from both the victims and the survivors giving us insight on the struggles of so many. It does not disappoint and I, again, am excited to see what comes next from this talented writer. – Amazon Reviewer 

--A beautiful sequel to The Songs of You and Me that cleverly illustrates that there are always two sides to every story and that it is never too late for love to overcome any challenge. – Amazon Reviewer

"This poignant redemption story about second chances and forgiveness yanked my emotions all over the place. I cried, I yearned, I hoped. A beautiful story about what true love is and does." - Charissa Stastny, author of Between Hope and the Highway and The Ruled Out Romance Series

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
 
   

Author Mylissa Demeyere was born in Belgium, and resides in the beautiful city of Ghent. She lives in a somewhat organized home with her four beautiful children and the love of her life. If she isn’t working, she’s writing, running, reading, or enjoying time with her kids, who are growing up way too fast. The Songs That Brought Me Back is her second novel in The Songs Series, with a third book releasing in the middle of 2019.

 
$25 Amazon Gift Code or $25 in PayPal Cash 
Ends 10/9/18 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or gift codes via Amazon.com. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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COMING UP SOON ON 'READING, WRITING & STITCH-METIC':
--  Friday, September 28th:  'Christmas with the Cowboy' by Tina Radcliffe Blog Tour Stop. Post includes book spotlight, excerpt, and giveaway. Tour hosted by JustRead Publicity.

--  Monday, October 1st:  Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday Biography entitled, 'My Havana:  Memories of a Cuban Boyhood' about the life of architect Secundino Fernandez. Post includes book spotlight and my review.

--  Wednesday, October 3rd:  Blog Tour Stop for an inspirational historical romance, 'Lady of a Thousand Treasures'. Post includes book spotlight, excerpt, and giveaway. Tour hosted by JustRead Publicity.

--  Wednesday, October 3rd:  Book Blast for a children's picture book, 'Santa's Dog'.  Blast hosted by Singing Librarian Books.

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

~ MMGM HISTORICAL FICTION DASH DOGS OF WWII ~


~ MARVELOUS MIDDLE-GRADE
MONDAY HISTORICAL FICTION
FEATURE ~
-- 'DASH' --

AUTHOR KIRBY LARSON



 
LEARN MORE ON GOODREADS

A FUN SIDEBAR BEFORE WE BEGIN THIS FEATURE:
Recently, I carried a hardcover copy of this book to an appointment. While I was checking in at the front desk the receptionist said to me, "That is such a cute picture! What are you reading?" 

I turned the book over to see what she was pointing at on the back cover. It is a black and white photo of the front cover image. I showed her the front cover and said, "It's a great middle-grade historical by one of my favorite authors". 

She scrunched up her face and said, "Isn't it kindof weird that you're an adult and you read kid's books?" 

I restrained myself from telling her that I am a real freak because I write middle-grade novels and short stories, blog about middle-grade books, and spend a lot of my time reading middle-grade fiction and non-fiction. 

"What kind of books do you read?" I asked.

"Oh, I haven't read a book in probably ten or fifteen years. I like to binge-watch movies and TV shows instead," she replied. 

Happy reading, fellow middle-grade book fans, authors, and bloggers!  😁

ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:
What happens when a war comes between a girl and her dog?

New from Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson, the moving story of a Japanese-American girl who is separated from her dog upon being sent to an incarceration camp during WWII.

Although Mitsi Kashino and her family are swept up in the wave of anti-Japanese sentiment following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mitsi never expects to lose her home—or her beloved dog, Dash. But, as World War II rages and people of Japanese descent are forced into incarceration camps, Mitsi is separated from Dash, her classmates, and life as she knows it.

The camp is a crowded and unfamiliar place, whose dusty floors, seemingly endless lines, and barbed wire fences begin to unravel the strong Kashino family ties. With the help of a friendly neighbor back home, Mitsi remains connected to Dash in spite of the hard times, holding on to the hope that the war will end soon and life will return to normal. Though they've lost their home, will the Kashino family also lose their sense of family? And will Mitsi and Dash ever be reunited?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from Goodreads}:

 


Kirby Larson went from history-phobe to history fanatic while writing the 2007 Newbery Honor Book, HATTIE BIG SKY. Her passion for historical fiction is reflected in titles such as THE FENCES BETWEEN US, THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL, as well as the sequel to HATTIE BIG SKY, HATTIE EVER AFTER, and her two latest titles, DUKE--which was nominated for 5 state Young Reader Choice awards as well as being a finalist for the Washington State Book Award-- and DASH--which has garnered two starred reviews, a NAPPA Gold Award and a Capitol Choices nomination.

In 2006, Kirby began a collaboration with her good friend Mary Nethery resulting in two award-winning nonfiction picture books: TWO BOBBIES: A TRUE STORY OF HURRICANE KATRINA, FRIENDSHIP AND SURVIVAL, and NUBS: THE TRUE STORY OF A MUTT, A MARINE AND A MIRACLE.

Kirby lives in Kenmore, Washington with her husband, Neil, and Winston the Wonder Dog. When she’s not reading or writing Kirby enjoys beach combing, bird watching, and traveling. She owns a tiara and is not afraid to use it.


--LINK TO MY REVIEW OF A BOOK ALSO WRITTEN BY KIRBY LARSON:
'CODE WORD COURAGE -- DOGS OF WORLD WAR II, BOOK 4' : https://authorjunemccraryjacobs.blogspot.com/2018/07/mmgm-historical-fiction-code-word.html


--LINK TO THE GOODREADS' LIST OF THE FOUR BOOKS IN THE 'DOGS OF WORLD WAR II' SERIES:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/179592


MY REVIEW:
I am a huge fan of Kirby Larson's historical fiction. Her books are well-written and well-researched. Her characters are multi-dimensional and her settings are so well-developed they become like characters in and of themselves.

This past summer I read her Young Adult historical series, 'Hattie Big Sky' and 'Hattie Ever After'. Those stories are set in 1917 in Montana. I read and reviewed her fourth book in this 'Dogs of World War II' series, 'Code Word Courage'. The link to my post on that book is shown at the end of this review.

 
One of the things I enjoyed about each of these books, including 'Dash', is the author's ability to capture a reader's attention and interest right from the start! In this book, we are introduced to the main character, Mitsi Kashino, and her beloved dog Dash in the first paragraph of the book. The story opens in Washington state right after Christmas, 1941.

Upon returning to school after the Christmas break Mitsi and the other students of Japanese descent are met with anger, resentment, and hatred from the majority of their classmates. The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, fueled these negative feelings about the Japanese in the United States.

I believe this theme is an important historical issue to introduce to and discuss with middle-grade readers because we live in a diverse culture. Respect and acceptance are keys to thriving in our society. As I've mentioned previously, I feel fiction can reach out to youngsters and touch their hearts in ways merely telling them to show 'respect' or 'be kind' cannot.

Throughout this moving story Mitsi navigates the serious issues of shame, prejudice, loss of friends, evacuation from her home, and internment in two Japanese relocation camps. She meets many cruel and insensitive people along the way. I found the author's portrayal of these unkind individuals to be realistic and frankly, heart-wrenching.

The depiction of the depolorable conditions at the internment camps is accurate as far as my research into and knowledge of this subject matter. Family life at the camps was not easy for the internees because of the rustic/crude living conditions, lack of privacy, unfamiliar food, and severe weather conditions. I could almost taste the grit from the dust blowing around everywhere and smell the horrible odors in the latrines as described by this author.

A theme in this book which I especially appreciated was the kindness and understanding of several of the surrounding characters who were not internees.

Miss Wyatt, Mitsi's school teacher, is a lovely person who does whatever she can to make Mitsi's situation a little more bearable for the eleven-year-old. Mrs. Bowker, the Kashina family's widowed neighbor, is loving and compassionate toward Mitsi and models what being a good neighbor and friend is all about. Some of the workers at the camps go out of their way to smile at and treat the internees with kindness. And then there is Dash, Mitsi's loyal best friend! The two shared a deep bond and were both heartbroken when they were separated when the Kashina's were evacuated.

Highly recommended for teachers, librarians, and parents/grandparents. Fans of World War II/American/California history and stories with diverse characters will appreciate this richly-layered story, too.


I borrowed this book from the children's section in the local public library.

Find the links to read more great Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts from middle-grade authors and bloggers at Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' Blog.

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COMING UP SOON ON 'READING, WRITING & STITCH-METIC':

--  Friday, September 28th:  'Christmas with the Cowboy' by Tina Radcliffe Blog Tour Stop. Post includes book spotlight, excerpt, and giveaway. Tour hosted by JustRead Publicity.

--  Monday, October 1st:  Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday feature on a biography entitled, 'My Havana:  Memories of a Cuban Boyhood' about the life of architect Secundino Fernandez. Post includes book spotlight and my review. 

--  Wednesday, October 3rd:  Blog Tour Stop for an inspirational historical romance, 'Lady of a Thousand Treasures'. Post includes book spotlight, excerpt, and giveaway. Tour hosted by JustRead Publicity.

--  Wednesday, October 3rd:  Book Blast for a children's picture book, 'Santa's Dog'.  Blast hosted by Singing Librarian Books.

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~ MMGM IGGY & OZ THE PLASTIC DINOS OF DOOM

~ MARVELOUS MIDDLE-GRADE MONDAY ACTION & ADVENTURE FEATURE ~ --  'IGGY & OZ:  THE PLASTIC DINOS OF DOOM'  -- AUTH...