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    children's books, cover reveal, diverse books

    Cover Reveal: Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons

    Format: Hardcover

    Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons COVER REVEAL!

    In partnership with Lee & Low, I am excited to be revealing the cover for the forthcoming January 2020 book Dream Builder: The Story or Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons.  The cover is illustrated by Laura Freeman.

    • Total Pages: 40 pages
    • Publisher: Lee & Low Books
    • Publication Date: January 14, 2020
    • Recommended Ages: 9 – 12 and up
    • Pre-Orders: Available for Pre-Order Now!

    Synopsis

    Philip Freelon’s grandfather was an acclaimed painter of the Harlem Renaissance. His father was a successful businessman who attended the 1963 March on Washington. When Phil decided to attend architecture school, he created his own focus on African American and Islamic designers. He later chose not to build casinos or prisons, instead concentrating on schools, libraries, and museums–buildings that connect people with heritage and fill hearts with joy. And in 2009, Phil’s team won a commission that let him use his personal history in service to the country’s: the extraordinary Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

    Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon celebrates a contemporary black STEAM role model, a man whose quiet work enabled the creation of an iconic building reflecting America’s past and future. With a stirring text by Kelly Starling Lyons, vibrant pictures by Laura Freeman, and an afterword from Philip Freelon himself, it is sure to inspire the next generation of dreamers and builders.

    Check out Dream Builder when it publishes in January 2020!

    About the Author

    Kelly Starling Lyons is the author of numerous books for young readers including One More Dino on the Floor, Hope’s Gift, Ellen’s Broom, and the Jada Jones series.

    About the Illustrator
    Laura Freeman received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and began her career illustrating for various editorial clients, including the New York Times Book Review, the National Law Journal, and New York magazine, and previous titles include Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe and Hidden Figures. Laura now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and their two children. Find out more about Laura at lfreemanart.com.

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    connecticut, family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT

    Disclaimer: Thank you to Lake Compounce for providing me and my family with complimentary access to the park. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    Did you know Lake Compounce is the oldest, continuously-operating amusement park in North America?  It had its genesis more than 170 years ago in 1846..wow!  Lake Compounce is home to Boulder Dash, which has been voted the world’s #1 wooden roller coaster, as well as Connecticut’s largest water park.  It has over 400 acres of fun and is essentially like having two parks in one.  You get rides, games, food and roller coasters along with an amazing water park that is SO MUCH FUN – especially on a hot day.

    One of my favorite things about the park is how clean it is.  Plus, the lines are usually pretty quick and the staff is has always been very pleasant and helpful each time we’ve visited.  Our most recent family visit was a few weeks ago and as usual, Lake Compounce didn’t disappoint.  It’s definitely our family’s favorite go-to amusement park in the state of Connecticut.

    We like to get to the park as soon as it opens to try and avoid the mad rush.  As soon as you arrive all guests must go through a security checkpoint and bag check for safety reasons.  The lines typically move along pretty quickly although depending on the size of the crowd and time of day, the wait could be about 10 minutes or slightly longer.  Keep this in mind if you’re visiting with smaller children as they may get a little antsy.


    Once you get past security and the ticket lines, it’s time for the fun to begin!  We like to reserve island loungers on the Lake Compounce website prior to our visit.  You get 2 lounge chairs, a shaded straw umbrella, entrance to the exclusive island lounge chair area, and accommodations for up to 4 people. The island loungers are conveniently located right next to Bayou Bay which is one of our favorite attractions at the park.  The lounge chairs sit on a sandy area across from the lake making it feel like you’re spending the day at the beach.  Oh and the best part?  You can leave your belongings in the private island lounge chair area.  It’s always monitored by a Lake Compounce employee giving us peace of mind our stuff will be safe.  If you have a larger group of people you can rent a cabana.  The park currently has 5 Luxury Cabanas located lakeside by Riptide Racers, 6 Private Cabanas located by the entrance of Mammoth Falls, 2 located on the lake, and 5 located next to Bayou Bay.

    Our family likes to explore the water park attractions first, eat lunch and then head to the amusement park rides afterwards before heading back to the island loungers to pick up our belongings.  So far this year we had a chance to experience: The Dino Expedition, Croc-o-Nile, Boulder Dash, Zoomerang, Riptide Racer, The Wave Swinger and Down Time.  We also tried our hand at some the games which is always a blast.

    Lake Compounce has always catered to families with young children like ours, while offering high value thrills for the older kids and adults too.  Our kids love the variety of rides and games in the kiddie park including the Dino Expedition.  There are also plenty of seating/resting options for watchful parents and grown-ups who like to watch children ride and take photos.  The park is interesting enough and accessible enough for our family so naturally always purchase season passes for the amusement park and parking lot.  They pay for themselves on the second visit.  Season pass holders also get other perks throughout the year too like buddy passes and food/retail discounts.

    From the outside, Lake Compounce appears hidden and small, but trust me, you can spend all day inside and not get to everything.  Since they are constantly adding new attractions and features to the park, we still haven’t done everything there yet.

    Prior to our visit we read a few amusement park themed books like: Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee.

    A few other things to keep in mind:

    • Bring all of our summertime essentials if you plan to spend the day there: suntan lotion, bathing suits, extra clothes to change into, towels and strollers if traveling with smaller kids
    • Be prepared to walk – You’ll do a lot of walking from the moment you arrive at the park.  If you have a fitness tracker it’s a great way to rack up your step count for the day!
    • Admission for kids ages 3 and under is FREE
    • They have phone charging stations, family restrooms AND a nursing station for nursing mothers (Woohoo!)
    • Locker rentals are also available for securing your belongings
    • Shirt and shoes are required everywhere except Crocodile Cove water park.  Bathing suits are required for the water park area.
    • Outside food or drink is not allowed in the park (with exception of baby items, food allergies or other special dietary needs)

    I cannot recommend this place more!  Visit at least once to experience all the park has to offer for a fun family day adventure.

    Ready to head to the park?  Be sure to take advantage of my ticket discount by clicking here!

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    book reviews, diverse books

    Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin (A Book Review)

    978-0062798602 Published by Harper Kids Pages: 32
    Format: Hardcover
    Buy on AmazonBuy on Indie Bound
    five-stars

    Tameika is a girl who belongs on the stage. She loves to act, sing, and dance—and she’s pretty good at it, too. So when her school announces their Snow White musical, Tameika auditions for the lead princess role. But the other kids think she’s “not quite” right to play the role. They whisper, they snicker, and they glare. Will Tameika let their harsh words be her final curtain call? Not Quite Snow White is a delightful and inspiring picture book that highlights the importance of self-confidence while taking an earnest look at what happens when that confidence is shaken or lost. Tameika encourages us all to let our magic shine.

    Many fairy tales depict a world of predominantly blonde heroines with twinkling blue eyes and a fair complexion. This is problematic and an unrealistic view of the world we live in today.

    Seeing oneself is an affirming moment, but for little girls of color, this mirror image is as rare as Cinderella’s glass slipper fitting properly. We all crave representation and deserve access to reflections of ourselves, and that is why I’m excited by this book: Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin illustrated by Ebony Glenn.

    When little Tameika auditions for the role of Snow White, she overhears kids saying she’s “too chubby” and making comments about her having brown skin. They whisper and giggle and stare at her which in turn causes Tameika to second guess her decision about playing the lead role.

    I adore this book for so many reasons. It shows all marginalized kids that everything is possible. Tameika auditioning for the role of Snow White is powerful not only for readers of color, but for everyone, enabling us to see beyond the dominant images of White protagonists in childhood stories and fairy tales.

    It is revolutionary that fairy tales and stories represent children of all colors. With her brown skin, and kinky hair, Tameika is the furthest from classic Disney fantasies—but closest to my reality.  Hopefully all children (and adults) reading this book will realize that we can become our wishes and dreams, and that we’re worthy of being seen despite what others may think or say.

    I think this book is a winner! It has great read aloud appeal, beautiful illustrations that inspire, and messages about body positivity, acceptance, self-love, bravery, diversity and inclusion. Ages 4-8 and up.

    five-stars
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    children's books, cover reveal

    When Pencil Met Eraser by Karen Kilpatrick & Luis O. Ramos Jr. Exclusive Trailer Reveal

    When Pencil Met Eraser Trailer REVEAL!

    In partnership with Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, I am excited to be revealing the book trailer for the forthcoming May 2019 book When Pencil Met Eraser by Karen Kilpatrick and Luis O. Ramos Jr., illustrated by German Blanco.

    • Total Pages: 40 pages
    • Publisher: Macmillian
    • Publication Date: May 28, 2019
    • Recommended Ages: 3-6

    Synopsis
    Ever wonder why there’s a little pink eraser on every pencil? Find out in this funny, clever picture book that tells the true story of how Pencil and Eraser became the best of friends.

    When Pencil draws on the pages of this book, Eraser erases parts of Pencil’s work, and the book itself becomes a canvas for their different takes on creativity—until the two discover their artwork is even better when they work together.

    From Karen Kilpatrick, Luis O. Ramos, and illustrator Germán Blanco, When Pencil Met Eraser brings to life something kids use every day at school and at home. Engaging art, adorable characters, and a clever ending create a memorable message about friendship and creativity.

    More About the Book
    Like its artists, the book’s titular heroes wriggle out of their comfort zones as they learn to coexist in the same space and create together as one adds while the other subtracts. As Pencil and Eraser competitively draw and erase, the book itself becomes a 4th-wall-bending battleground between the two. Kids will delight in seeing how each spread uses both characters to create a work of art, with clever additive and subtractive scene manipulations.

    The ultimate message of embracing teamwork shines through the animated-style art, reminiscent of enduring classics like The Dot and the Line. Moreover, as the story experiments with composition, texture, and color, it serves both curious young artists and those just discovering the joy of collaboration.

    Check out When Pencil Met Eraser when it publishes in May 2019!

    About the Authors and Illustrator
    Karen Kilpatrick has been telling and writing stories for as long as she can remember. A former attorney who left the legal industry for the toy industry, she is also the author of the Pumpkinheads children’s book series and cocreator with her two daughters of the toy brand, MeBears. She lives in South Florida with her three kids.

    Luis Osvaldo Ramos, Jr. was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, and graduated from University of Central Florida and University of Miami Law. He’s an attorney at law and a kid at heart who practices law during the day and writes and consumes stories in his free time. He and his wife currently live in South Florida with their very cute but very demanding orange cat.

    Germán Blanco has been using pencils all his life. Erasers, too. He unknowingly began his artistic career as a kid by doodling in school whenever he was bored. (Sorry, Mom!) He later became a graphic designer but he found his passion in illustration. When he’s not drawing, he enjoys watching movies and playing football (AKA soccer).

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    connecticut, family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center in Southington, CT

    Spring has sprung here in the Northeast and is our area is now bursting with lush gardens and flowers in bloom. Mother Nature has certainly given us lots of rain this season so far. The rain has been great for all the plants, trees and flowers despite it dampening my mood and thwarting my plans at times.

    Two weekends ago, the kids and I had the pleasure of attending an event at Winterberry Gardens located in Southington, CT. Their 16-acre garden and landscape center is gorgeous! They have everything from native plants to unique plants all planted by certified growers.

     

    I will admit years ago I didn’t have a green thumb to save my life.  Every plant I had died. Now, I’ve learned how to take care of plants after much research, reading and watching videos online.  Now that I have Winterberry Gardens as an additional local resource that’s an added bonus!

    To help provide you with ideas for your home or garden Winterberry Gardens offers tours of their landscapes gardens and they host educational seminars. They also have a wide selection of hanging plants, trees, soil, mulch, perennials and annuals.  Oh, and did I mention they do landscaping too?  Yes, their expert landscape designers can create a plan for you that’s both stunning and easy to maintain no matter the size of your yard or budget.

    I’m so excited with the new plants I purchased from Winterberry Gardens and will be going back soon to buy more and attend their upcoming educational seminars.

    If you’re local in the area be sure to check out this amazing garden and landscape center.  It’s a one-stop-shop for all of your lawn and garden maintenance needs.  It would make an excellent educational field trip with kids and the local library (Southington Public Library) is just 10 minutes away.

    Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center
    2070 West Street
    Southington, CT 06489
    Phone: (860) 378-0071
    Email: info@winterberrygarden.com
    Web: http://www.winterberrygarden.com

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    blog tours, children's books, diverse books

    Titan and the Wild Boars: The True Cave Rescue of the Thai Soccer Team by Susan Hood and Pathana Sornhiran

    Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    Titan and the Wild Boars: The True Cave Rescue of the Thai Soccer Team by Susan Hood and Pathana Sornhiran, Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 48
    Age Range: 4 – 8

    Synopsis
    One afternoon, eleven-year-old Titan, his friends from the Wild Boars soccer team, and their coach rode their bikes to explore local caves. They crawled through the narrow tunnels in the dark to reach the center of the cave. When they turned to go home, heavy rains had flooded the tunnel. They were trapped!

    With rising waters and monsoon season upon them, time and oxygen were running out. The world watched with bated breath as rescuers from around the globe joined forces to try to free the boys. After eighteen harrowing days, in an unprecedented effort of international teamwork, they were finally saved.

    Reflection
    Eleven-year-old Chanin grew up being obsessed with soccer.  At the age of six he started playing and joined the Wild Boars soccer team a few short years later.  Nicknamed “Titan” by his family after the powerful giants of Greek mythology, he was known for his strength which made him an asset to the team.

    On June 23, 2018 Titan and eleven of his teammates entered the Tham Luang Nang Non Caves along with their soccer coach in search of adventure. The storied “hidden city” within the cave excited the boys so they went in search of it.  Little did they know they’d be spending 18 days trapped (June 23 – July 10) there underground surrounded by stone cold water and little oxygen with no food.

    While reading this book I felt a range of different emotions from sadness to nervousness to sheer excitement!  This story is not only captivating, but it’s informative too.  It’s so interesting to read the details about how the team members all made it out alive.  What an incredible journey for the soccer team, their coach and all of the rescuers/volunteers involved!  This is an amazing story of bravery, perseverance, teamwork and community.  The illustrations by Dow Phumiruk are so vivid will take your breath away.  Each illustration really helps to bring the story to life.

    The back matter has more information about the cave rescue including a timeline and other fascinating facts.  For example: while being trapped in the cave, four of the boys missed their birthdays.  There is also a brief interview with British divers Chris Jewell and Jason Mallinson.  An inspiring non-fiction book not to be missed this year.

    Watch the Book Trailer!

    About the Authors
    Susan Hood is the award-winning author of many books for young readers, including Ada’s Violin, Shaking Things Up, and Lifeboat 12. She is the recipient of the 2017 E.B. White Honor Award, the 2017 Christopher Award, the 2017 Américas Award, and the 2017 Bank Street Flora Steiglitz Straus Award, given annually to “a distinguished work of nonfiction which serves as an inspiration to young people.” Visit susanhoodbooks.com.

    Pathana Sornhiran was born in Bangkok, Thailand, where she attended the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University with a major in English and French. She later completed her master’s degree in journalism in London, UK and now works as a journalist in Asia, traveling across the region to find and tell stories that matter.

    About the Illustrator 
    Dow Phumiruk was born in Bangkok, Thailand and came to the United States with her family when she was very young. Her mother was a nurse, and her father, a retired Royal Thai Air Force captain. He worked for Thai Airways for many years, which allowed her family many trips back to Thailand when she was younger. Dow currently lives in Colorado with her husband and three daughters. She is an author and illustrator of children’s books and has been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators since 2011. Dow is also a general pediatrician who teaches medical students part time. When she is not creating or teaching, she likes to hike the trails near her home. Visit her at artbydow.blogspot.com

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    book reviews, cover reveal

    Marvin’s Monster Diary 2: ADHD Emotion Explosion Cover Reveal

    Marvin’s Monster Diary 2: ADHD Emotion Explosion COVER REVEAL!

    In partnership with Familius, I am thrilled to be revealing the cover for the forthcoming August 2019 book Marvin’s Monster Diary 2: ADHD Emotion Explosion by Dr. Raun Melmed and Caroline Bliss Larsen.

    • Total Pages: 116 pages
    • Publisher: Familius
    • Publication Date: August 1, 2019
    • Recommended Ages: 7-11
    • Pre-Orders: Available for Pre-Order Now!

    Synopsis
    Meet Marvin, a lovable monster with a twelve-stringed baby fang guitar, a rambunctious case of ADHD, emotions that sometimes overwhelm him (and others), and a diary to record it all. While Marvin got it together in Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Attacks, his lab partner Lyssa’s emotional roller coaster is a bit out of control. Can he help her—and win the Science Scare-Fair—before she explodes?

    In the same humorous spirit of Diary of a Wimpy Kid comes Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Emotion Explosion Using the “monstercam” and “ST4” techniques developed by Dr. Raun Melmed of the Melmed Center in Arizona, Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Emotion Explosion teaches kids how to be mindful, observe their surroundings, and take time to think about their actions. Marvin’s hilarious doodles and diary entries chronicle his delightful adventures, misadventures, and eventual triumph in a funny, relatable way. It’s the series on ADHD that kids will actually want to read!

    Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Emotion Explosion also includes a resource section to help parents and teachers implement Dr. Melmed’s methods, plus ST4 badge reminders that kids can remove, color, and place around the house.

    Check out Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Emotion Explosion when it publishes in August 2019!

    About the Author
    Raun D. Melmed, MD, FAAP, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, is director of the Melmed Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, and cofounder and medical director of the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. He is the author of Autism: Early Intervention; Autism and the Extended Family; and a series of books on mindfulness for children: Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Attacks, Timmy’s Monster Diary: Screen Time Stress, Harriet’s Monster Diary: Awfully Anxious, and the next in the series, Marvin’s Monster Diary 2 (+Lyssa): ADHD Emotions.

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