Monthly Archives

August 2016

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    Animals by Ingela P. Arrhenius

    Animals by Ingela P. Arrhenius
    Publisher: Candlewick Studio
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 3 – 7
    Grade Level: Preschool – 2
    Available for Sale: September 27, 2016

    Know someone who loves creatures? Animal lovers will fixate on this giant book presenting thirty-two big, bold images of friendly beasts.

    From a star of children’s design in Sweden comes an exquisite array of animals rendered with whimsy and stylish splendor. Every over-sized page highlights a different specimen, from an adorable sheep to an elegant flamingo, from an endearing hippo to a silly-looking snake. Each animal’s name appears in a different eye-catching type treatment, making for an attractive graphic keepsake sure to find a prominent place in nurseries and bookshelves everywhere.

    We finally added an over-sized book to our home library!  I think big books are so fun and engaging.  We love checking out the Big Books section at our local library.  I find larger books allow the kids to have more peaceful reading times.  I’ve noticed the kids have a much easier time seeing and staying focused when the pictures are large enough to see from many seating positions in the library.

    I’m so impressed with this latest addition to our personal collection of books.  Animals by Ingela P. Arrhenius is absolutely stunning!  It features amazing illustrations of thirty-two animals including a: rooster, cat, cow, turtle, flamingo, toucan and koala just to name a few.


    While it’s a rather simple book, I think it’s captivating with engaging and bold design.  Designed by Swedish artist and illustrator Ingela P Arrhenius, this book has a rather unique retro style influenced by her love of design from the 1950’s and 1960’s.  I recently discovered Ingela  and I’m in love with her timeless, fresh and cheerful style.  Her illustrations are full of character and have a happy vibe to them.

    FullSizeRender (2)

    The kids love calling out the names of the animals on every poster sized page.  Both of my kids can easily recognize the animals featured in this book based on the illustrations.  The only three they weren’t initially familiar with were the badger, the boar and the meerkat.  My daughter had no problems reading each animal’s name the way it appears in a different eye-catching font.  The over-sized format of this book makes the bright illustrations pop off the pages. The bold typography, retro design and gorgeous end papers make this book a beautiful keepsake for readers of all ages.  You’ll definitely want to prominently display this beauty on your little readers’ bookshelf.  A winner!


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

    Connect with Ingela!

    Website | Instagram

    Your turn: Are you looking forward to reading this book?  What over-sized books do your little readers own?

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    They All Saw A Cat by Brendan Wenzel (A Book Review)

    They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

    Publisher: Chronicle Books
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 44
    Age Range: 3 and up
    Grade Level: Preschool and up

    The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .

    In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel’s simple, rhythmic prose and ingenious illustrations take readers on an imaginary walk alongside a cat.  But while a child sees a cat that is soft and fluffy, a goldfish only sees terrible yellow eyes distorted by the lens of the fishbowl, a mouse mostly registers ferocious teeth and claws, and a bat sees a cat-shaped collection of white dots illuminating the dark.

    Each animal’s vision of the cat is informed by a combination of proximity, physiology and emotion, in a quietly brilliant demonstration of the power of perception.


    Have you ever seen 2 babies in a room and when one starts crying, the other starts crying too?  Having kids born 15 months apart, I know this all too well.  This happens because babies don’t know that someone else’s discomfort is not their own. They don’t have the ability to take the perspective of someone else.

    Teaching small children about perspective can be tough.  At a young age, children are often unable to put themselves in another person’s position and imagine what they would feel, think, or do if you were in that situation.  It’s not until kids are older that they can begin to imagine a situation from someone else’s perspective.  Only then can they gain a better understanding of someone else’s motives or change their own behavior so they don’t offend others. Fortunately, the older kids get the more they learn to consider other people’s perspectives before they act or speak.

    When reading books on the subject of perspective like They All Saw A Cat, I talk with the kids about the characters (or in this case – animals) and how they may be feeling in the book.  I also try to identify and label the emotions and then talk about why the character feels that way or how you know (he/she is smiling, he/she found their lost toy, he/she is crying, etc.)

    I absolutely loved this book and the kids seemed to enjoy it too.  However, I noticed my 2.5 year-old son reacted much differently to the book than my almost 4 year-old daughter did.  As I turned each page and we looked at the cat from each animals’ perspective, my son kept asking, “Mommy, what’s that?” as he pointed to the cat.  That’s because the cat looked totally different each time.  My daughter on the other hand seemed to understand it was a cat pictured on each page, but it just looked different to each animal.

    I love the beauty and simplicity of this book, especially the cover (minus the book jacket).  Seeing it intrigues me and makes me want to open this book immediately to find out what it’s about.  I also liked how the author cleverly used words in italics and in capital letters as well as vivid and captivating illustrations throughout the book.  It’s a visual delight to look at if you like illustration and design.


    Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable read that’s destined to be a classic.  I’m confident as my kids get older they will love this book as much as I do.  A true winner and perfect new addition to any home library, school or home school!  Check this one out with your little readers when it releases on August 30, 2016.

    Pre-Order Campaign from Chronicle Books
    Now through August 30th, Chronicle Books is running a special pre-order campaign.  Folks who pre-order will not only get a first-edition book, but a cute pencil case filled with colored pencils like the one pictured below.  Visit to pre-order a copy for your child’s home library today!

    TASAC_PreOrder Image_II

    On August 30th
    Be sure to celebrate the on-sale day of They All Saw A Cat on Instagram.  Show off your TASAC swag, a photo of your kiddo reading, whatever inspires you!

    About the Author
    Brendan Wenzel is an illustrator based in Brooklyn, NY.  A graduate of the Pratt Institute, his work has appeared in animations, magazines and children’s books including Some Bugs and Some Pets authored by Angela DiTerlizzi.  They All Saw a Cat is his debut as both author and illustrator.

    Your turn:  What are some ways you teach your little readers about seeing things differently from another perspective?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    back to school books, children's books, read aloud

    You Should Meet: A New Biography Series for Kids!

    You Should Meet by Laurie Calkhoven, illustrated by Monique Dong

    I am super excited about this amazing new nonfiction Ready-to-Read biography series from Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight) called “You Should Meet.”  These biographies will feature inspiring people who have achieved amazing success in their field.  The first books in the series are being released on September 6, 2016 and a third book will follow in January 2017.

    Each book also includes extra historical information, math and trivia.  I think these would make great additions to any home school, classroom or home library.  Recommended for children ages 6 – 8 in grades 1 – 3.  Check them out!

    (Available September 6, 2016)

    Meet the women who programmed the first all-electronic computer and built the technological language kids today can’t live without in this fascinating, nonfiction Level 3 Ready-to-Read, part of a new series of biographies about people “you should meet!”

    In 1946, six brilliant young women programmed the first all-electronic, programmable computer, the ENIAC, part of a secret World War II project. They learned to program without any programming languages or tools, and by the time they were finished, the ENIAC could run a complicated calculus equation in seconds. But when the ENIAC was presented to the press and public, the women were never introduced or given credit for their work. Learn all about what they did and how their invention still matters today in this story of six amazing young women everyone should meet!

    A special section at the back of the book includes extras on subjects like history and math, plus interesting trivia facts about how computers have changed over time.

    (Available September 6, 2016)

    Blast off into space and get to know Mae Jemison—the first African-American woman to ever go to space—with this fascinating, nonfiction Level 3 Ready-to-Read, part of a new series of biographies about people “you should meet.”

    Meet Mae Jemison, the first African-American female astronaut! Did you know before Mae was an astronaut, she went to medical school and joined the Peace Corps? But she never forgot her childhood dream to travel to outer space. So in 1985 she applied to NASA’s astronaut training program. On September 12, 1992, Mae flew into space with six other astronauts aboard the space shuttle Endeavour and made history—just like you can if you follow your dreams!

    (Available January 17, 2017)

    Pirouette across the stage and get to know Misty Copeland—the first African-American woman to become a principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theater—in this fascinating, nonfiction Level 3 Ready-to-Read, part of a new series of biographies about people “you should meet.”

    Misty Copeland had always dreamed of becoming a dancer, but she had many obstacles to overcome before she could reach her dream. Although she was always challenged by the things that set her apart from other dancers, with a lot of hard work, dedication, and exceptional talent, Misty has become one of the most well-known dancers in America.

    On June 30, 2015 Misty stepped on stage as the first female African-American principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater and made history!

    A special section at the back of the book includes extras on subjects like history and math, plus a fun timeline filled with interesting trivia facts about dance.

    (Available January 17, 2017)

    Meet Jesse Owens, an African American runner who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin! What made his achievement even more memorable was that Adolph Hitler expected the Olympic Games to be a German showcase. In fact, he criticized the United States for even including black athletes on its Olympic roster. According to many reports, after Owens won his fourth gold medal, Hitler stormed out of the stadium. In 1936 Jesse Owens took a stand against racism and made history.

    Your turn:  Are you excited about this new biography series too?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book reviews, children's books, giveaways

    The Bot That Scott Built + A Giveaway!

    The Bot That Scott Built by Kim Norman, illustrated by Agnese Baruzzi

    Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
    Age Range: 3 – 7 years
    Grade Level: Preschool – 2
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 32
    Available for Sale: August 16, 2016

    When Scott builds a bot, a bippity-bot, sparks fly . . . and his entire classroom goes wild. Before long, fiery ants and carnivorous plants, a freaky frog, a big-bellied boa, and an exploding “volcano” have wreaked total havoc. Can Scott’s bot, which started it all, manage the mess?

    Are you familiar with the cumulative storytelling format?  You know, when the previous sentence builds upon the next one? It’s the classic The House That Jack Built idea.  I think reading these types of books are loads of fun and so do my kids.  The pattern of these types of stories typically adds new characters or events so that the main character eventually arrives at a final situation or resolution.

    I think this book is very pleasurable for little readers because there’s built in anticipation. It’s interesting to see what the next addition will be and how that will affect Scott and his bippity bot.  This book does a great job building the accumulation of other characters and events which repeat as the story progresses.  In the end, Scott’s robot saves the day and is regarded as a hero.

    We love the hilarious chain reaction of events that take place in Scott’s classroom.  Before long, there is a freaky frog and an exploding volcano. The kids seem to get a kick out of the teacher in the polka dot pants and when all of the fiery ants go flying.  They always laugh out loud when looking at all of the funny facial expressions!

    The bright and vivid pictures and the rhythm of the tongue-twisting text makes this action-packed book fun to read aloud with kids. A winning combination of clever writing and colorful illustrations.  Overall, a wonderful book to teach children how one event can quickly spawn into other events and spiral out of control.  Good thing Scott had his trustworthy bot to help save the day!

    The Giveaway!
    Our friends at Sterling Children’s Books were generous enough to sponsor this amazing giveaway!  You can enter to win a copy of The Bot That Scott Built before it hits bookstores on August 16th!  Only open to US residents age 18 and over…sorry international friends!  Hurry, giveaway ends Friday, August 12th at 11:59pm Eastern time.  Good luck!

    The Bot That Scott Built

    Your turn:  Are you looking forward to checking this one out?  What other cumulative storytelling books come to mind that you and your little readers have enjoyed?

    book reviews, children's books, giveaways

    Squash Boom Beet: A Healthy Alphabet Book for Kids + A Giveaway!

    Squash Boom Beet: An Alphabet for Healthy, Adventurous Eaters
    by Lisa Maxbauer Price


    Publisher: Blue Bay Books, LLC
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 56

    “Stomp your feet. Squash the ground. It’s time to explore all around. March to the garden. Listen to the beat. Get ready to find something wild to eat!” …. Tasting new vegetables can be an exciting adventure, especially when trying foods like dragon tongue beans, dinosaur kale, fairy tale eggplant and candy cane beets. Journey from A to Z in this fun story and enjoy beautiful photography of exciting farm foods-everything from awesome Asparagus to green tiger Zucchini! This is the book parents have been waiting for. Kids will want to be brave eaters if it means trying these fun veggies.

    As I’ve mentioned many times before, my kids love alphabet books although they are slowly starting to outgrow them now.  The mission of alphabet books is simple – start at A, end at Z – reinforcing kids’ knowledge of the alphabet. This can be accomplished through pictures, rhyming sentences, and more.

    This book, printed in the USA using environmentally friendly soy-oil inks, is gorgeous.  It contains 56 pages of colorful photography featuring food grown at more than 50 local farms in the Grand Traverse, Michigan region.  Traverse City has been lauded as a foodie paradise – with amazing farm-to-table restaurants.  The author of this book is convinced that if kids can see the wild colors; study the amazing textures; and learn the crazy names of vegetables growing near their home, they will naturally become fans.  I couldn’t agree more with this.


    In this playful, rhyming book kids can explore bright and colorful images of different exotic vegetables like: dinosaur kale, dragon tongue beans, kohlrabi and watermelon radish just to name a few.  I’ll be honest and say I’ve never of some of these vegetables so it was great to learn something new.  Seeing all of these vegetables made me realize just how limited my knowledge of specific vegetables truly is.  Have you ever seen rainbow carrots?  I never knew carrots could be different colors besides orange.  This book also made me more aware of all the healthy things you can find at a local farmer’s market.


    Although this is a children’s book, I think it can easily appeal to all ages.  It makes a beautiful coffee table book and can be used as a great conversation starter with adults.  Kids will enjoy the rhyming text, colorful photographs and recognizing both the uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet.

    About the Author
    Lisa Maxbauer Price spent 10 years in New York City working as a magazine editor.  Now that the fifth-generation Traverse City native is living back in Michigan, she continues to write for multiple national publications on health and nutrition.  She has also blogged about parenting for The New York Times.  She currently lives in Traverse City with her husband and three sons.  Connect with Lisa on Twitter.

    For more information about Squash Boom Beet, please visit or email

    The Giveaway!

    One (1) lucky winner will win a FREE copy of Squash Boom Beet: An Alphabet for Healthy, Adventurous Eaters.  Open to all US residents age 18 and over.  Good luck!

    Squash Boom Beet

    Your turn:  Are your kids adventurous eaters?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book reviews, children's books

    Book of the Week: This is Not a Cat! by David Larochelle

    This is Not a Cat! by David Larochelle
    Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
    Format: Hardcover
    Age Range: 3 and up
    Grade Level: Preschool and up
    Pages: 40
    Available for Sale: August 9, 2016

    Welcome to Sunny Hills Mice School where the first lesson is recognizing DANGER! And that means CAT. So Miss Mouse shows her students pictures of things that are, and are not, a kitty. But the kids are a bit restless . . . until something enters the classroom that makes them all sCATter. But, is their unwelcome guest really a cat?

    Learning that things aren’t always what they seem to be can be a difficult concept for small kids to grasp.  They’re so uneducated, totally inexperienced, and have underdeveloped, unseasoned brains with very little context for their thoughts.  I imagine mice are even more uneducated than tiny humans.

    In this funny book, a group of mice are in mouse school and their first lesson is recognizing danger. The teacher, Miss Mouse, shows her students a series of pictures that are and are not: a cat, a carrot, a butterfly, an ice cream cone, a bunny.  The lesson is going as planned until an unwelcome guest enters the classroom via the open window. But is their guest really a cat?  On the opening page of this book, adults will be able to figure out who the “cat” really is.


    Although this is a quick read, there are lots of things to notice in the illustrations: the goldfish in the fist bowl, the portraits of the mice hanging on the wall, the reactions and body language of the three students/teacher and the unwelcome guest gradually sneaking into the classroom.  I think the illustrations are brilliant and really help to make this delightful story come alive.

    I’m not going to spoil the rest of the plot for you because I want you to have fun with your little readers the first time you read it. Comprised of only 3 short sentences and 2 questions, this is the kid’s latest favorite bedtime book at the moment. It’s a rather short and simple story written using only the words in the title. The book teaches kids things are not always as them seem.  Check this one out with your little readers for some laughs.

    About the Author
    David LaRochelle is a former teacher who has been writing children’s books since 1988.  He has won a number of awards including the Sid Fleishman Humor Award, the SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Award, and the Minnesota Book Award.  David lives in White Bear Lake, MN.  Visit his website at

    About the Illustrator
    Mike Wohnoutka wrote and illustrated several books including Dad’s First Day.  Some of his other illustration work includes the Twelve Days of Christmas in Minnesota.  Mike lives in Minneapolis, MN.  Visit his website at

    back to school books, book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    Milk Goes to School by Terry Border (A Book Review)

    Milk Goes to School by Terry Border
    Publisher: Philomel Books
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 32
    Age Range: 3 – 7 years
    Grade Level:
    Preschool – Grade 2

    From the creator of Peanut Butter & Cupcake and Happy Birthday, Cupcake! comes THE back-to-school must-have picture book of the year!

    First days of school are tough, and making new friends is even tougher. Milk’s dad gave her a sparkly new backpack and told her that she was the creme de la creme, but most of the other kids don’t seem to agree. In fact, some of her new classmates think Milk is just little a bit spoiled. . . .

    In this latest hilarious picture book from Terry Border, our food friends go to school and learn that it’s not just Milk that’s the creme de la creme. Some other food can be just as sweet.

    The first day of school is nearly upon us – say it ain’t so!  This year my daughter will be starting Pre-K4 and my son will be in Pre-K3.  With the last few days of summer winding down my mind has been spinning thinking about the first day of school.  I want the kids to have a wonderful back to school experience as it sets the foundation for the entire school year.

    What better way to discuss those first day jitters, fears of the unknown and separation anxiety than by reading some relevant and fun Back to School books.  I think books can be used as a springboard for discussions on how we are all feeling.  I think Milk Goes to School is a good example of one such book.

    milkgoestoschool (2)

    We haven’t read the two previous books Peanut Butter & Cupcake and Happy Birthday, Cupcake!, but from the titles I can imagine they are also filled with lots of clever and funny food puns too.

    Just like most kids, Milk was nervous about the first day of school.  It doesn’t help that she encounters someone difficult like Waffle who think she’s a total spoiled brat.  Waffle constantly ridicules Milk for being “spoiled” which in turn hurts Milk’s feelings and makes her second guess her father telling her that she’s “the creme de la creme”.


    Although this book has some funny jokes that made my kids laugh, I think it also does a good job of tackling some tough subjects in a lighthearted way.  There are valuable lessons on feelings, treating others with respect, coping with differences and bullying.  My kids seemed to get a kick out of seeing actual photographs of faceless food with wire limbs like waffles, eggs, cupcakes and chicken nuggets appear in the book.  The food objects seemed to each have their own personalities.  I appreciate the amount of time (and patience) it must have taken to set up the props and the scenes on every page.

    Overall, I think this is a fun back to school book for little readers.  Although I think some of the jokes may go over the youngest readers’ heads.

    Print out this fun Milk Goes to School activity kit for your kids!

    To learn more about author Terry Border visit his website here.

    Your turn: Have you read this book or the other two books in this series?  Feel free to share in the comments.