Monthly Archives

April 2016

    connecticut, passport to CT libraries

    Passport to Connecticut Libraries Week 3

    We had a busy week during the third week of this month which meant we didn’t have the chance to visit most of the libraries I had originally planned.  We’re still pressing on though and I’ve decided my goal of libraries to visit this year will be 20.  So far we’ve visited 17 libraries around the state and we’re having a blast seeing the different libraries and experiencing some new kid-friendly places.

    Passport to Connecticut Libraries Week 3

    Here are the libraries we visited during the third week of the Passport to Connecticut Libraries Program:

    • Wilson Branch Library (Windsor)
    • Brainerd Memorial Library (Haddam)
    • Manchester Public Library (Manchester)

    We had a FREE museum pass to Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester that we scored from our local library so we headed there before going to the Manchester public library.  I haven’t taken the kids there is about a year so it was interesting to see how much more than enjoyed it now that they are a bit older.

    While in Haddam we went to Haddam Meadows State Park.  The park overlooks the scenic Connecticut River and offers opportunities for boating, fishing, and picnicking.  It was a bit chilly the day we visited and there wasn’t much for the kids to do except run around in the open field of grass.  We ended up taking a walk around and then left shortly after.  It’s a nice calming and very scenic park, which would be great for summer picnics or boat rides.

    Lastly, we went to Robertson Park which is located directly across the street from the Wilson Branch library in Windsor.  This park is part of Robertson Elementary School.  The kids enjoyed playing on the playground for about an hour before we headed back home.

    As I mentioned, the Passport program is slowly coming to an end.  Be sure to check back next week to see if we met our goal.  I’ll be sharing our final tally of the libraries and places we visited and give you my final thoughts on participating in this program.

    I hope you enjoy some of the highlights from week 3!

    Untitled design (1)

    Your turn:  If you live in Connecticut, have you been participating in this program too?  If so, how many libraries have you visited so far?  What’s your ultimate goal?  Feel free to share in the comments.



    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    Book of the Week: Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak

    Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak
    Age Range: 3 – 7 years
    Grade Level: Preschool – 2
    Hardcover: 32 pages
    Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
    On-Sale Date: August 16, 2016

    Synopsis (from Amazon)
    As trees sway in the cool breeze, blue jays head south, and leaves change their colors, everyone knows–autumn is on its way!

    Join a young girl as she takes a walk through forest and town, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with every flower and creature and gust of wind, she says good-bye to summer and welcomes autumn.

    It’s the last morning of the summer and a little girl decides to take a walk through her neighborhood.  This book starts off with the girl standing on her front porch saying, “Hello, late summer morning.”  She then starts walking and greeting different things in nature as she passes them: trees, foxes, blue jays, walking sticks, butterflies and more.  Each animal or plant she says hello to responds to her by providing an explanation of what it is doing to prepare for the coming autumn season.

    For example, when she encounters some beavers and chipmunks, they greet her and let her know they are busy making nests and dens to hibernate in.  The flowers respond by saying they are leaning into the sun, enjoying the last summer rays.  As the girl continues her walk, she starts handing out flowers to people as she passes them on the street.  Finally, she makes it back home later in the evening when all of the animals she saw earlier are now cozy and sleeping.  The last page shows the girl sitting on her front porch saying, “Hello autumn”.


    The kids and I really enjoyed this book for several reasons.  First, summer is my absolute favorite season and I look forward to welcoming it every year.  It often saddens me when it’s time to say goodbye to summer because I love warm weather so much.  However, reading this book has given me a new perspective.  It taught me to relish each season. Don’t say goodbye to summer; say hello to autumn!

    Other things we liked about this book are:

    • the use of color – the book starts out using hues of green to represent summer, then slowly changes over to hues of red, brown, yellow and orange for autumn
    • the simplicity of the text used throughout – minimal text is used on each page which is perfect for younger readers
    • the diversity of the characters featured in the book – as the girl is walking she passes an array of diverse people while handing them flowers
    • how well it captured the changing of the seasons via the illustrations – falling leaves, thunder, wind, rain
    • it teaches children how different animals and plants in nature prepare for the autumn season

    Although this is a children’s book, I think it has a deeper lesson for adults too.  The lesson: Each season is a season. Seasons differ and there are many things to look forward to if we would choose to do so.  We should live each season and each day with passion and purpose and welcome each one as it arrives.

    Other themes covered in this book: experiencing change, showing kindness to nature and other people, and seasons.  The perfect story time book to read with your little readers on the last day of summer (or in any season)!  After reading the book, take a walk through your neighborhood and notice the different animals or plants you see and the sounds in nature that you hear.

    About the Author
    Kenard Pak has experienced changing seasons in his life as well.  Starting out as an artist with DreamWorks and Disney, Mr. Pak has also illustrated children’s books such as Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray and The Dinner That Cooked Itself by J.C. Hsyu.  He now lives in San Francisco with his wife and their three cats.

    Website | Twitter

    Your turn:  What is your favorite season of the year?  Do you have any traditions to say goodbye to one season and welcome another season?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    City Shapes by Diana Murray: A Book Review

    City Shapes by Diana Murray, illustrated by Bryan Collier
    Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
    On-Sale Date: June 21, 2016
    Format: Hardcover
    Age Range: 3 – 7 years old
    Pages: 40

    Synopsis (from Amazon)
    From shimmering skyscrapers to fluttering kites to twinkling stars high in the sky, everyday scenes become extraordinary as a young girl walks through her neighborhood noticing exciting new shapes at every turn. Far more than a simple concept book, City Shapes is an explosion of life. Diana Murray’s richly crafted yet playful verse encourages readers to discover shapes in the most surprising places, and Bryan Collier’s dynamic collages add even more layers to each scene in this ode to city living.

    Shapes can be found all around us. If you look closely, you’ll be surprised at how many you can find.

    This adorable book takes readers on a colorful journey through the streets of New York City with a little African-American girl in search of different shapes. She encounters rectangles, triangles, circles, ovals, diamonds, and stars in various places throughout the city.

    On the opening page, you see a pigeon flying through a bright cityscape exploring the scenery…shape after shape.  The little girl featured in the book walks through the city during the day and travels by bus exploring different shapes: sunglasses worn by an on-duty police officer, the wheels of a taxi, and rectangular shaped skyscrapers.  In the end you see the pigeon flying through the sky once again, but this time its enjoying the view of the night cityscape as it returns to its circle-shaped nest.  I liked how the author and illustrator made a connection between the girl and pigeon.  Each one had their own views of the city from different vantage points.  In the end, they both go back to their homes to rest for the evening.

    The kids and I really enjoyed this book!  My kids love rhyming books so this one was a delight to read aloud with them.  Also, the watercolor illustrations are so bright, cheerful, and detailed.  The kids liked pointing out the different shapes in each picture.

    This book inspired us to go on our own shape hunt in our neighborhood.  I think learning to spot shapes outside in nature and the environment is more than just a fun game for kids. Activities such as this can give children a sense that they know something important, making it highly likely that their shape-hunting skills will continue long after the “hunt” is over.

    Overall, I think this book captures the essence of New York City one shape at a time very well.  A fun and colorful book for teaching children about shapes, exploring their surroundings/environment, and being observant.

    Author & Illustrator Notes
    Illustrator Bryan Collier tells readers that he modeled the little girl featured in this book after his own daughter.  Author Diana Murray was born in Ukraine, but she immigrated to New York City at the age of two.  Her inspiration to write this book was based on her experiences of walking through Midtown Manhattan on her own.

    Connect with Diana Murray!

    Website | Twitter

    Connect with Bryan Collier!

    Your turn: Are you looking forward to reading this book with your little readers?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    Book of the Week: What is a Child? by Beatrice Alemagna

    What is a Child? by Beatrice Alemagna
    Age Range: 3 – 8 years old
    Book Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 36
    Publisher: Tate Publishing
    Available for pre-order now, on sale (in the US) September 20, 2016!

    Synopsis (from Amazon)
    From the bestselling author of A Lion in Paris comes this beautifully illustrated celebration of what makes each child unique. Through bold and sensitively observed portraits and a thought-provoking text, Beatrice Alemagna inspires children, and adults reading with them, to consider their own identity. Destined to become a classic, What Is a Child? is a must-have for every school, library, and bedside table.

    Wow!  I am completely in LOVE with this stunning oversized picture book!  It describes different traits and characteristics that make each child unique. It also compares children to adults in various ways using some of the most beautiful text that really makes you stop and think.

    For example, it talks about how children are in a such a hurry to grow up so they can be free and decide everything for themselves.  I remember being a kid and having the desire to be a grown up.  The part of growing up that always excited me, was the freedom.  Most children are often blissfully unaware of all the responsibilities that come with the freedom they so eagerly seek – the mortgage, utility bills, and insurance to name a few.  Now that I’ve been a grown-up for many years, I long for the days of being a care-free kid again.  How about you?


    The book also touches up children’s inability to control their emotions.  Children immediately act based on their emotional response.  They cry when their stone has slipped into the water or because shampoo stings their eyes.  Grown-ups on the other hand, have learned how to control their emotions so they hardly ever cry even when shampoo gets up their nose.  Most grown-ups know how to keep their emotions in check when they become agitated and wait until an appropriate time in which they are calm and collected with the best setting to discuss contentious matters.

    I think the author does an excellent job highlighting the fact that all children are unique and come in all shapes and sizes.  There is a lovely array of diverse children pictured throughout that I really appreciate.  In addition, I also love that the author mentioned that although children are small, that does not mean they have small ideas.  Children’s ideas can sometimes be very big and life-changing.  This is especially true today in a time where there are more children entrepreneurs than ever before in history.

    I find the illustrations in this book to be simply stellar!  Each one is original, colorful, expressive, and intricate making each page a delight to look at.  When I initially received this book, I kept returning to it over and over to savor its visual delights.

    Overall, I think this is a great read for both children and adults alike to enjoy together.  This is undoubtedly the best thought-provoking picture book of 2016 I’ve read thus far!  A gorgeous book that is a must-have for your home library or school.

    About the Author
    Beatrice Alemagna, grew up in Bologna and now lives in Paris.  She has created about thirty books which have been published all around the world.

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.


    children's literacy, product reviews, subscription boxes

    Petit Mail Story Card Subscription for Kids + Giveaway!

    If you follow my blog, you’ve probably heard me talk about a variety of different subscription boxes and services for both kids and adults.  I love kids’ monthly subscription boxes because they offer unique educational experiences. They can give kids of all ages the chance to learn by doing fun projects, crafts and activities.

    Today I’d like to introduce you to Petit Mail!  Have you heard about these cute subscription story cards yet?  I met Alison, owner of Petit Mail,  last month on Instagram.  I saw a picture of the cards posted on her page and immediately reached out to her.  As a mom of two kids under the age of 4, I’m always on the hunt for different activities to do that incorporate both learning and fun.


    Petit Mail is a monthly story postcard subscription for kids, ideally suited for preschoolers and early readers.  Each month, a story card arrives in a bright, fun envelope, addressed to your child.  Story themes follow the adventures of characters Oliver and Olivia, and encourage imagination, creative play and family connection.  Currently, there are only two characters available, but there are plans to expand the characters to include more diversity.

    Parents and children can read each story card together and use the monthly adventure as inspiration for family time activities. Oliver is putting on a puppet show? You can too. Story topics include science, nature, reading, art and more.

    With so much of our days filled with technology, it’s a wonderful treat to receive paper mail – children LOVE finding envelopes in the mailbox addressed just to them.  (My children are no different.)  Some months include little bonus extras, like stickers or bookmarks and every story card includes a link to additional content for parents with activity tips and suggestions.

    When our story cards came in the mail my kids were happy to see their names printed on the envelopes.  My son received the story card entitled ‘Oliver Loves Reading’ and my daughter received ‘Olivia’s Science Project’.

    The activity on the back of my son’s story card was to go to your local library and have a library scavenger hunt.  We haven’t done this yet, but I’m looking forward to doing it!  My daughter’s activity on her story card was to mix two colors together to make a new color.  We had fun using food coloring to mix blue and red to make purple and blue and yellow to make green.

    Untitled design

    Parents and caregivers might find Petit Mail to be a very affordable gift subscription. Canada and US subscriptions cost just $6 per month (including postage) and international subscriptions are also available.  Subscriptions can be purchased for 3, 6 or 12 months, and make a great non-toy gift for kids.

    Parents can find out more about Petit Mail at:

    Petit Mail Shop:

    Sign up for the Petit Mail newsletter here!

    Connect with Petit Mail!

    Instagram | Facebook

    Sounds great, is there a discount?
    Yes, there is!  Here Wee Read Subscribers and readers can save $10 off a 1 year (12 month) subscription using code HEREWEEREAD until May 31, 2016!

    How about a giveaway?
    I’m glad you asked!  One (1) lucky winner will win a Petit Mail story card of their choice.  You can choose between the following themes:

    • Oliver Explores Art
    • Olivia’s Pen Pal
    • Oliver Loves Reading
    • Olivia The Superhero
    • Oliver Learns About Fossils
    • Olivia’s Science Project
    • Olivia Builds A Boat

    Enter today!  Giveaway ends Thursday, April 28, 2016.  Good luck!

    Petit Mail Story Card Giveaway

    Disclaimer: I received two complimentary story cards in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    Book of the Week: Whoosh! by Chris Barton

    Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super Soaking Stream of Inventions
    by Chris Barton, illustrated by Don Tate
    Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing
    Age Range: 7 – 10 years old
    Grade Level: 2 – 5
    Pages: 32
    Book Format: Hardcover
    On Sale: May 3, 2016

    Synopsis (from Amazon)
    You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.

    A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.


    I have many fond memories of playing with Super Soaker water guns as a kid.  It was definitely one of my childhood favorites and undoubtedly a summer staple in our home.  Invented in 1982 by Engineer Lonnie Johnson, the Super Soaker remains one of the most popular toys for water play of all-time.

    I hate to admit that I had no clue who actually invented the Super Soaker until reading this book.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was invented by an Black man named Lonnie Johnson!  Who knew?  From this book I also learned that Lonnie was a very innovative engineer.  As an adult he worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Galielo orbiter and helped to power the spacecraft as it explored Jupiter.  How cool is that?

    Lonnie is a true problem solver at heart.  Ideas for other problems to solve constantly keep on flowing through his mind.  One day while testing out a new cooling system for refrigerators that didn’t use a chemical that was bad for the environment, Lonnie accidentally sprayed his entire bathroom.  That incident instantly gave him an idea for another invention – a high-powered water gun!  However, it took many years of trial and error and rejection before the Super Soaker was as successful as it is today.


    The kids and I really enjoyed reading this book.  I find it to be both informative and entertaining with awesome illustrations to match. The kids especially liked saying the word “Whoosh!”  For some added fun, we read this book outside and I brought along our Super Soaker water gun and sprayed it every time the word “Whoosh” appeared throughout the book.

    I also didn’t find this book to be too wordy as some nonfiction children’s typically books are.  In addition, I loved the fact that this book tells you a little about Lonnie’s family, his childhood, the college he attended, his life as an adult, and of course how the Super Soaker came to be.  My absolute favorite thing about this book is that Lonnie’s mother fully supported him and believed in him from the very beginning even when their kitchen caught on fire.  She didn’t make him stop, she just sent him to work outside.

    This book teaches kids things like: creativity, problem-solving, tenacity, grit, patience, rejection, and hard work.  I’d highly recommend this book for kids who have a love for rockets, inventions, water guns, and a mind for creativity.  Also great for studying Black inventors.  I think they will enjoy learning about the many challenges Lonnie faced and how he solved his problems.  A fun summertime read!

    Lonnie Johnson, Inventor of the Super Soaker

    About the Author
    Chris Barton is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of several books for children, including Shark vs. Train and the Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors.  He lives in Austin, Texas.

    About the Illustrator
    Don Tate is an award-willing author and illustrator of many books for children.  His illustrated books include: The Cart That Carried Martin and Hope’s Gift.  He is also both author and illustrator of It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw as well as Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton.  He lives in Austin, Texas.

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    Your turn: Are you looking forward to reading this book with your little readers?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books

    Save Money on Toys & Books with Groupon Coupons!

    Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Groupon Coupons.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    I recently downsized my kids toy collection since it was starting to get out of hand, especially the amount of battery operated toys.  Ugh!  Now that we’ve minimized, my goal is to find a way to have toys without having the toys take over the house. I love seeing toys around the house here and there because I know this stage is fleeting. I like my children to feel that the house is a place to play and have fun, however, I don’t want the toys to be out of control and nearly impossible to clean up.

    After getting rid of so many toys, I purchased some educational toy replacements including many books.  And since I love saving money, Groupon Coupons was my go-to website for finding the best deals on both books and educational toys.

    Save Money on Toys & Books with Groupon Coupons!

    There’s no doubt that many people have saved an impressive amount of money by using Groupon Coupons. It’s a treasure trove for savings on all sorts of items and services.  You can save anywhere from 10 – 50% or more on items like: toys, books, clothing, restaurant discounts and more!  The best part?  It’s totally FREE!

    From the Groupon Coupons website you can check out the best offers of the day.  After that, you can start a search for the exact item(s) that you need either by category or store.  Right now Barnes & Noble has a coupon for 15% off any one item and Melissa & Doug is offering up to 20% off arts & crafts items.

    Here are some of my favorite retailers that have great deals:

    If your kids’ toy situation is out of control and you want to get a handle on it, why not turn it into a spring cleaning project?  Replace all of those battery-operated toys or ones they’ve outgrown with some good quality toys by taking advantage of the amazing deals that Groupon Coupons offers.  Happy purging and shopping!

    Connect with Groupon Coupons!
    Facebook | Twitter

    Your turn: Do you ever use Groupon Coupons to save money and pay for toys, books or everyday necessities? Feel free to share in the comments.