Greetings from Witness Protection!

Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the free review copy of his book – all opinions are my own.

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I had so much fun reading this book and would find myself finding ways to sneak in a chapter here and there. Quite impressive for a debut novel, but it is obvious that Jake Burt knows his audience well (he teaches 5th grade). Totally not surprising that the book is already a BEA Editor’s Buzz Pick for 2017!

Nicki Demere is a foster kid who happens to also be a kleptomaniac. After getting sent back from her most recent family, she finds that while her background of crime hasn’t helped her win over families, the US Marshalls might have a need for her to help hide a family of 3 by making them a family of 4. Continue reading →

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Poetry for Kids

One of the most wonderful things that we can do for our children is to open them to the world of poetry. Poetry used to be a huge part of a child’s life when nursery rhymes were still popular, but poetry has gotten lost in the shuffle of modern life. It isn’t that poetry isn’t there, it is simply that we are not always as aware of it and classic poems are less often read to children. Poetry for Kids, a new series by Moondance Press, an imprint of Quarto Publishing, is hoping to change that.

Charles Nurnberg, Publisher at Quarto Publishing Group, explains this situation eloquently:
“Many years ago, my grandmother read poetry to me at a very young age, even Shakespeare. She felt, as I now can appreciate, that the emotion and mood of poetry, even when it is almost too hard to understand, is so essential to understanding the world around us. I’m hoping that this series, with its selection of a very diverse group of poets, and with art by some of the world’s best illustrators, will bring that all to life for a new generation.”

The edition on Emily Dickinson, one of my favorite childhood poets, is beautifully separated into seasons. The gorgeous illustrations lure the readers in and adds a lightness to poems that can sometimes be quite dark. Continue reading →

Let the Museum come to Life with Mr. Owliver

I love being able to talk to my daughters about art and share a love of viewing art. We don’t have a lot of access to museums where we live, so I have to supplement with books and through their amazing art program at school. To engage kids in art, you have to make it come alive. That is exactly what Carolyn Bracken managed to do in her upcoming book, Mr. Owliver’s Magic at the Museum.

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In this fabulous book, Mr. Owliver is a night watchman at the Animaltown Art Museum. He loves his job and is perfectly happy to have the night shift, considering he is an owl. His job starts when everyone is leaving the museum at the end of the day, so he spends his night being able to see famous paintings without any crowds and at whatever pace he wants. Over the years, he has come to see the characters in these paintings as his friends. Continue reading →

Diverse Books, Now More than Ever

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Diversity in children’s literature has always held a strong place in my heart and is something that I promote at every possibility. When Charlottesville happened, I couldn’t wrap my head around how our country had seemingly traveled backwards in time. I went back to check out books that focused on diversity, that focused on the experiences of racism that African-Americans have faced in this country, I took comfort in how far children’s books have come to show inclusion instead of exclusion. It wasn’t enough, but it was a start. Continue reading →

Sukkot – the Fall Harvest Festival

Every fall, Jews around the world come together to celebrate Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, also known as the High Holidays. Five days after Yom Kippur is over, another holiday starts again, this time, it is the wonderful holiday of Sukkot.

Picture Booksabout Sukkot

Sukkot celebrates the fall harvest and the exodus from Egypt. Many families build their own sukkahs  or have one at their synagogue. A sukkah is a temporary hut topped with branches and decorated with autumnal, harvest, or Judaic themes. One mitzvah of sukkot is to share a meal in the sukkah. Another is to shake a lulav and etrog and rejoice before God. The lulav is actually made up of branches from palm (lulav), willow (aravot), and myrtle (hadassim) trees and the etrog is a citron fruit. The four items are meant to represent the various personalities that make up the community of Israel, whose intrinsic unity is emphasized on Sukkot. More than anything, sukkot is a holiday of coming together.

Since Sukkot is a holiday of community, it is a great time to come together and read a book to understand the many meanings of the holiday. Continue reading →

Learning about Weather from Bel the Weather Girl

With all of the hurricanes swirling around the east coast, my girls and I were curious about weather, so we of course checked our local library. One series that we found does a really amazing job of taking complex weather systems and breaking them down in a way that any child can understand – Bel the Weather Girl.

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This creative series was written by Belinda Jensen, a meteorologist based in Minnesota. Believing that knowledge is power, Belinda developed a series of engaging and enlightening presentations that reveal the science behind weather, and discovered, just as she hoped, that children aren’t nearly as frightened when they are informed. We managed to get our hands on 4 of the 6 books in the series. They are a great way to educate children about big weather concepts and hopefully help them have less fears about harsh weather patterns. Continue reading →

The Branch – Sharing an Experience

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I often pick up books at the library simply because they have that enticing yellow “new” sticker on them. I’m not sure exactly what drew me to “The Branch” by Mireille Messier and Pierre Pratt, but this is a wonderful book to share.

What is extraordinary about this book is that it shows a special multi-generational friendship between the little girl and her neighbor, and it encourages children to up-cycle a cherished item by turning it into something else.

When an ice storm snaps a small girl’s favorite branch from the tree in her yard, she’s crestfallen. The girl’s mom says it’s just a branch. But not to her! “That was the branch I sat on, jumped from, played under. It was my castle, my spy base, my ship . . .” the branch 1Luckily, her neighbor Mr. Frank understands. He says the branch has “potential.” “What’s potential?” she asks. “It means it’s worth keeping.” And so, with imagination and spirit, and Mr. Frank’s guidance and tools, the girl transforms the broken branch into something whole and new, giving it another purpose, and her another place to treasure.

Continue reading →

Hug it Out

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Sibling love. Or rather, that constant scream a parent hears through the house – “Mommmmm!” If you have more than one child, there are bound to be times when you hear your children screaming at each other, unable to get along for one reason or another. Louis Thomas offers a great idea in his new book, Hug it Out.

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The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine

My younger daughter asked me what kind of books I like to read most the other day. She asked if I liked fiction, realistic fiction, or non-fiction. I had to think about that question for a while because I really had a hard time making a decision. I realized that these days, I seem to be drawn to realistic fiction. I blame the NC Battle of the Books for that and a slew of really amazing realistic fiction books both aimed at younger and more mature audiences. That said, books are still about escapism and fun, which is why I had a blast reading the new book, The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine, by Frank L. Cole.

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Book Description (from publisher)

An adventure novel about four lucky kids and a mysterious, but thrilling ride for fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Jurassic Park! Continue reading →

Learning with Usborne Lift-the-Flap Question and Answers

I am in the midst of getting ready for a book fair so I have been going through all of my books for Usborne Books and More (disclaimer – I am an Independent Consultant with UBAM). Because I’ve been making piles and packing up all of my baby and toddler books, E has been able to go through some of the other ones that she had sort of forgotten about. Her discovery of our Lift-the-flap series is an example of why these books simply rock.

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Our Lift-the-Flap books are a great way to teach children factual information while completely engaging them. E discovered two of the Questions and Answers series books and first read through them completely and then felt the need to ask us all of the questions. She got me last night with the book on time and sat at the table this morning quizzing her father on science knowledge.

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There is such a wealth of information in these books and it is presented in such a marvelous way. What is also cool is that when kids get excited enough to share these books with their parents we often learn things ourselves!

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The funny thing is that there is a definite push to have kids be reading informative texts, but in kindergarten and first grade they really still have to be lured into the subjects. There are times when they are going to gravitate to a specific non-fiction topic and might want to read a full book on it, but when they are just discovering all that there is to know, these books are a wonderful overview filled with amazing knowledge.

Want to learn more about our lift-the-flap Question and Answer books? You can check them all out here and I am always happy to explain the differences.

Happy Reading!