September 3 – It’s Read a New Book Month


About the Holiday

You’ve heard the saying “Too Many Books, Too Little Time,” right? Well, this truism has spawned not only one, but two Read a New Book Month celebrations! Both September and December have been designated as times to make special plans to search out and read new books. These can be books that are newly published or books that are new to you. And if you find yourself putting a few old favorites in the pile, that’s okay too! So, let’s get this book party off to an enthusiastic start with today’s book!

I received a copy of Juniper Kai: Super Spy from Two Lions for review consideration. All opinions are my  own. I’m happy to be teaming with Two Lions in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

Juniper Kai: Super Spy

Written by Laura Gehl | Illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis


Juniper Kai was a born spy. “She could crack ten codes before breakfast and find twenty-five clues before lunch.” She was a whiz with fingerprints and knew all about disguising herself. The trouble was that she had no one to play spy with. She used to play with her mom and dad, but lately they’d been too distracted. Juniper had even caught them “whispering to each other,” and she’d begun to feel left out.


Image copyright Alexandria Neonakis, 2019, text copyright Laura Gehl, 2019. Courtesy of Two Lions.

But then Juniper decided to make it her mission to discover what all the secrecy was about. Sporting a mustache, fedora, and “Super-Ear listening device,” Juniper overhears her mom talking with her grandma. She discovers three clues about something that’s exciting, a lot of work, and a huge change.


Image copyright Alexandria Neonakis, 2019, text copyright Laura Gehl, 2019. Courtesy of Two Lions.

From her treehouse, Juniper spies on her dad who seems to be making a jail in the guest room. Later, Juniper discovered a handwritten note from her mom filled with names. “It was obviously in code,” but even after using all of her best code-breaking methods, she “couldn’t decrypt the message.” In fact, none of her spying could help her solve the mystery. Juniper felt deflated. That night, though, she was alerted to her dad filling the garden shed with boxes.


Image copyright Alexandria Neonakis, 2019, text copyright Laura Gehl, 2019. Courtesy of Two Lions.

When her mom and dad were asleep, Juniper snuck out of the house, picked the shed lock, and “turned on her Spy-De-LIGHT.” What she saw cracked the case. The shelves of the garden shed were filled with baby gear. Juniper smiled. The next morning, she suggested they name the baby James. “‘James is a good name for a spy.’” She added. Her parents wondered how she knew. After breakfast, Juniper went up to her room to start getting all of her new “co-agent.” Not only did Juniper know that she was a good spy, she knew that “she was born to be…a spy-tacular big sister.


Image copyright Alexandria Neonakis, 2019, text copyright Laura Gehl, 2019. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Laura Gehl with have little spies (i.e. all kids) mesmerized with Juniper’s detecting skills and awesome gear from the very first page. When the dynamics at home begin to change, Juniper springs into action to discover the reason. Used to being the only child in her family and on her street, Juniper has a well-developed sense of independence and self-confidence that carries her through the process of putting the clues together while suffering setbacks along the way. Hints that Juniper is longing for a sidekick are sprinkled throughout the story, making her excitement at learning that she’s soon to be a big sister all the sweeter. Juniper’s sly way of letting her parents know she knows their secret rings comically true—from her acuity to their cluelessness. 

Alexandria Neonakis knows exactly how to capture the imagination of pint-sized spies as she invites them into Juniper’s bedroom, which is filled with high-tech surveillance equipment, two safes, a well-locked trunk, and an array of wigs and eyewear. As Juniper plays spy with her dad and mom, readers may notice the absence of fancy toys, a nod towards the power (and fun) of the imagination. Neonakis reveals Juniper’s inner sleuth through her expressive eyes that quizzically watch her dad as he’s uncharacteristically glued to the phone at breakfast, flash warily sideways while she tiptoes past her sleeping parents, and widen with surprise and delight at what the future holds. Plenty of silly disguises will have kids giggling, and lots of details (and clues) on the vibrant pages will engage readers in their own investigations of the story.

Fun for all kids, but an especially enthusiastic and welcoming story to share with new or soon-to-be big sisters and brothers, Juniper Kai: Super Spy is an original take on the topic that would be a favorite at story time.

Ages 4 – 8

Two Lions, 2019 | ISBN 978-1542043328

Discover more about Laura Gehl and her books on her website.

To learn more about Alexandria Neonakis, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Juniper Kai: Super Spy Giveaway

I’m excited to partner with Two Lions in a Twitter giveaway of:

One (1) copy of Juniper Kai: Super Spy written by Laura Gehl | illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis

To enter Follow me @CelebratePicBks on Twitter and Retweet a giveaway tweet.

This giveaway is open from September 3 through September 9 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on September 10.

Prizing provided by Two Lions

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | No Giveaway Accounts 

Read a New Book Month Activity


I Don’t Spy… Game


This twist on the I Spy game combines memory building with just the right amount of spookiness to make it fun for all ages. The game is best played at night or in a room that can become totally black when the lights are turned off. If you play during the daytime or in a partially lit room, just ask the players leave the room while you take objects away.



  1. Gather a number of small objects (the number will depend on the ages of the players. For younger players, gather 5 – 7 objects. For older players try 12 or more)
  2. Lay the objects on the ground or a blanket
  3. Tell the players to look at the objects for a certain amount of time. The time will depend on the ages of the players—a longer time for younger children, shorter for older kids (or to make the game more exciting)
  4. When the time is up, turn out the lights or send players out of the room.
  5. Remove 1 – 3 objects. To make the game more difficult rearrange the remaining objects
  6. Turn the lights back on.
  7. Let children guess which objects have been removed.
  8. Repeat until all the objects are gone
  9. For an alternate game, instead of removing objects, add one or two


You can find Juniper Kai: Super Spy at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review