Monthly Archives

September 2016

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    Good Morning, City by Pat Kiernan

    Good Morning, City by Pat Kiernan, illustrated by Pascal Campion
    Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 32
    Age Range: 2 – 6 years
    Grade Level: Preschool – 2
    Available for Sale: November 15, 2016  Pre-Order Now!

    It’s dark and quiet.
    The moon still glimmers in the sky.

    While the baker, the ferry boat captain, and the TV anchorman are busy at work, most people are cozily snuggled in bed. Then dawn’s first light peeks through the tree branches. Wake up, city! There is much to be done in neighborhoods all across the metropolis. As the morning gets brighter, the city streets bustle with people ready to start the day.

    I love waking up early in the morning before the rest of the world does. I think it’s so interesting to see towns and cities in the early morning light. The only other people you see are walking dogs with sleep still in their eyes, or the garbage people bustling about to beat the traffic that will soon impede upon them. And joggers. There are always joggers, right?


    This beautifully illustrated book captures the essence of a busy city (which appears to be New York City) while it’s still dark and quiet and the moon is glimmering in the sky. You see bakers kneading and baking bread, a newspaper carrier rushing to make her last deliveries, and a ferry boat starting its morning rounds. Wake up, city! A series of different events happen with people of all different skin tones bustling all about the city before the dawn’s first light starts to peek through the tree branches. With each turn of the page, it gets progressively brighter and brighter outside until the sun fully rises at the end.

    The illustrations in this book are stellar.  Pascal Campion’s artwork creates a magical world of captivating colors and bright detailed textures.  This gently told story may help little readers get a different perspective of the streets they call home before the hustle and bustle begins each day.  Also great for teaching children about community helpers, following morning routines, different types of transportation and the differences between living in the city vs. the country.  This book is certain to become a story time favorite for children and their parents.

    About the Author
    Pat Kiernan has been waking up before dawn since 1997 and is a fixture on New York City television as the morning news anchor for NY1.  He has hosted nationally televised game shows and has appeared as himself in dozens of movies and TV shows.  He lives with his wife and daughters in Brooklyn, New York.

    About the Illustrator
    Pascal Campion wakes up in Los Angeles, California, where he lives with his wife and children.  He works in the animation industry and loves to tell stories through his art.  Learn more about him at

    family fun

    Coming Soon: The American Writer’s Museum


    Lovers of literature – rejoice!  The American Writers Museum is slated to open soon in Chicago, Illinois. Inspired by the Dublin Writers Museum in Dublin, Ireland, the American Writers Museum hopes to educate, enrich, provoke, and inspire the public through innovative and dynamic state-of-the-art exhibitions and compelling programming.

    Malcolm O’Hagan founded the American Writers Museum Foundation in Washington, D.C. a few years ago with the dream of opening a museum for lovers of literature. After hearing pitches from several cities, he picked Chicago.

    As the American Writers Museum website states, “The mission of the American Writers Museum is to engage the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture, and our daily lives.”

    americanwritersmuseum2Rendering of the museum design.  Source:

    The American Writers Museum will:

    • Educate the public about American writers – past and present
    • Engage visitors to the Museum in exploring the many exciting worlds created by the spoken and written word
    • Enrich and deepen appreciation for good writing in all its forms
    • Inspire visitors to discover, or rediscover, a love of reading and writing

    The museum will also showcase personal stories and literary works of diverse American writers, from Mark Twain to Dr. Seuss and it’s expected to draw up to 120,000 visitors annually. The museum’s esteemed curating team and National Advisory Council are working closely with internationally renowned museum and exhibit companies in the museum’s development.

    The kids and I are looking forward to someday visiting this museum as part of our literary road trip/travel series when it opens.  We also can’t wait to check out the new National Museum of African American History and Culture which recently opened in Washington, DC.

    For more information, including renderings, floor plans, and details about planned exhibits, visit

    American Writers Museum, Opening in Spring 2017
    180 N. Michigan Avenue, Second Floor
    Chicago, IL 60601

    book reviews, children's books

    Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion: A 2016 Favorite Picture Book


    I am SO excited to welcome an AMAZING group of authors and bloggers today to Here Wee Read as we all discuss some of our favorite children’s books of 2016 (so far)! Each of us have written about one book; simply follow the links included at the bottom of each of our posts to see the remaining recommended list! You can find more about who we are at the bottom of this post.

    This year has certainly been a great year in the picture book world. And while the kids and I have many 2016 favorites, the book I’ve chosen to feature has so many great things about it so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about it. Enjoy!

    Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion
    by Alex T. Smith
    Publisher: Scholastic Press
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 32
    Age Range: 3 – 5 years old
    Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten

    Little Red is on her way to visit Auntie Rosie with a basket of goodies and some spot medicine. Along the way she meets the Very Hungry Lion. The Lion is eager to gobble up Little Red. The Lion’s plan doesn’t work out the way he wanted.

    Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion is a fractured fairy tale version of Little Red Riding Hood. It’s a classic fairy tale with a safari twist!

    The kids and I are totally crushing on the character Little Red in this adorable, funny and witty retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with a cultural twist.  This book features a little Black girl (with the cutest two pigtails you ever did see) playing the part of Little Red.  The story has an African Savannah setting with a very lush landscape.

    Instead of going to visit Grandma, Little Red goes to visit her auntie who is sick and covered in spots.  Little Red decides to visit and bring her auntie some “spot medicine” along with a basket of goodies.  She sets off on her trek across the safari, going under tall giraffes, over sleeping crocodiles, past chattering monkeys, and meerkats before deciding to rest under a shady tree. Of course, waiting under that same tree is the very hungry lion.  With quick thinking, he devises a “clever” plan to get to auntie’s house first.  His plan is to hide auntie in a closet, dress up and pretend to be her and then eat both Little Red and her auntie for dessert.  But Little Red is one smart cookie and gives the lion a run for his money.

    Little Red gives the lion a new hairstyle complete with cornrows and pretty little red bows tied on the ends.  She brushes his teeth and dresses him in a ruffled dress with pink hearts.  The lion gets fed up and he lets out a huge roar yelling “STOP!”, but that’s not enough to scare Little Red.  In the end, the lion and Little Red make a pact and become friends.


    I think the humor coupled with the bright and colorful illustrations work so well together in this book.  I laughed so loud when Little Red braided the lion’s hair and when she put that dress on him!  The expressions on the characters faces are brilliant and downright hilarious.  I think every element of this book was done to perfection.  From the beautiful gold embossed details on the cover to the text and illustrations to the end papers – you truly can’t go wrong with this one. A winner! Definitely one of our favorites for this year so far.

    book reviews, children's books, multicultural children's book day

    Once Upon a World: New Multicultural Fairy Tale Books for Kids!

    As a kid, I used to love reading fairy tales because they are unlike any other kind of story. They’re magical, enchanting tales where anything is possible and they always end with the line ‘and they lived happily ever after’.  We all know that situations in life don’t always have happy endings, but I think sometimes it’s nice to revisit some of my childhood fairy tale favorites.

    Every once in a while I come across an amazing book that I find randomly while browsing at the bookstore.  My most recent discovery is the new series of board books called ‘Once Upon a World’ written by Chloe Perkins.  Have you seen these gems yet?  These unique board books take the classic fairy tales we all know and love and gives them a beautiful multicultural makeover.  The illustrations are simply gorgeous!

    There are currently two books in the series based on the fairy tales Snow White and Cinderella.  The Snow White book features Japan as the backdrop and Cinderella is set in Mexico.   Cinderella is still the same girl with a fairy godmother and a glass slipper and Snow White is still the same girl who meets seven dwarves and accepts a shiny red apple, but both characters are totally reimagined.



    I love these books because they help change the way children see the world.  Who says Snow White and Cinderella always have to look the same way?  I like the fact that the author didn’t retell these fairy tales, she simply reimagined the characters.  Unlike fairy tale retellings, the characters in these books have their same names and story lines.  And don’t worry, little readers will still be comforted by a guaranteed ending where everyone lives happily ever after.



    I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the books in this series like Rapunzel set to publish in March 2017.  That book will feature India as the backdrop with a beautiful Indian girl playing the role of Rapunzel.  Priced at less than $10.00, I think these books make the perfect gift for little readers who enjoy classic fairy tales.  Little readers of different cultures will treasure these books and delight in the fact that the characters look like them.


    About the Author
    Chloe Perkins is the editor and author of a few dozen books for children. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Rico, and their corgi puppy/sometimes shark, Marius. Growing up in a small town in Ohio, Chloe always dreamed of writing stories that could take kids on their own reading adventures, and she’s thrilled to be doing just that!

    Your turn: Will you be checking these books out with your little readers?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    How to Find a Fox (A Book Review)

    How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder

    Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
    Pages: 40
    Format: Hardcover
    Age Range: 4 – 8
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3rd Grade
    Available for Sale: November 15, 2016 pre-order now!

    Equipped with a camera and determination, a little girl sets out to track down an elusive red fox. But foxes are sneaky, and it proves more difficult than she thought.

    Nilah Magruder’s debut picture book charmingly tells the story of what it means to not give up and how sometimes what you’re looking for is closer than you think.

    When it comes to children’s literature, folk tales and songs, foxes are usually portrayed as ‘the bad guys’.  Their sly nature often results in illegal activities, so it’s not uncommon to see a fox portrayed as a thief or con-artist in children’s books or movies.  Sometimes though, foxes are heroes of certain stories like in Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Being a member of the dog family and having a reputation of being sneaky and mean, the fox is actually and animal of intelligence and fortitude.  That’s exactly how the fox in this adorable book is portrayed.

    Equipped with her camera and yellow backpack, the little girl in this book is determined to find a fox – any fox will do.  She provides little readers with a list of simple instructions like: find a fox hole, place your fox bait somewhere easy to spot, then hide and wait very quietly.  When her plan doesn’t go quite as expected, she decides to climb a tree to get a change of perspective.  That’s when she finally sees the fox, but he gets away – again!  Just when she’s on the verge of giving up is when she realizes what she’s looking for is a lot closer than she thinks.  Does she finally find the fox in the end?  You’ll have to read it to find out.


    The kids and I really enjoyed reading this book and pouring over the charming illustrations.  They especially liked all of the funny and clever things the fox did when the girl was searching for him.  The fox is shown blending in taking a photograph with a family of raccoons and hiding in a tree with an owl (hilarious!).  All the while, the animals in the forest (the mouse and the birds) see the fox, but the little girl doesn’t.  At the turn of each page, the kids kept laughing, pointing and shouting, “There he is!” as if the little girl can hear them.  This is such a fun book to read aloud with them for that reason.


    Overall, I think this is a fun book with excellent messages of patience, determination and perseverance for little readers.  Add this one to your list of books to read with your children when it publishes in November!

    Connect with Nilah Magruder!
    Website | Twitter | Facebook

    Your turn: Are you excited to read this book when it comes out?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, children's literacy, children's magazines

    Manga Comic Textbooks: A Fun Way to Teach Science to Kids

    I try to incorporate many hands-on activities to keep the learning fresh and energizing for both my kids and me. It’s important for me to find constantly find different ways to get my kids to know, understand, and demonstrate essential life skills and strategies they’ll need later in life through creative play and activities. Over the past few years of being a parent I’ve come to believe that learning has to be fun to make the kids want to keep doing it as a lifelong activity.

    One way to help make reading and learning fun for kids is incorporating comic-style  textbooks!  Many educators have found comic books provide a variety of benefits in the classroom, including: easy to track storylines, bright, attention-getting imagery, and new vocabulary, not otherwise found in children’s books.

    When I heard there were comic books that could help my children learn science, I was skeptical. But I’m being won over, because I’ve discovered the magic of Manga learning tools!


    What is Manga?

    It’s a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels, typically aimed at adults as well as children.

    Why does it matter? And what does it have to do with learning?

    I’ve discovered this tremendous resource for teaching kids science and all about the human body. Rather than a dry text and diagram textbook, concepts are covered in a story-based format that’s also visual, so learners of all kinds have more to glom onto, and it’s easier to recall. Sort of like our trusted and true pal Ms. Frizzle of the Magic School Bus, but for a slightly older children depending on the book. Last but certainly not least – it makes learning fun! Imagine if your child requested to re-read a science text book. That’s what these amazing books can inspire.

    We started on the Survive! Inside the Human Body series, and even I am learning!

    Topics covered in this book series about the human body: Human Body (anatomy), Digestive System, Circulatory System, Nervous System, Personal Wellness, Effects of Food on the Body, Medicine & technology, and Genetics.
    But there are also advanced topics in this format like the Universe, Physics, Linear Algebra, and more available from Shockingly Awesome Learning on
    See inside the books in this cute video:

    Your turn: What do you think of this new trend of using comic-style textbooks to keep learning fresh and fun for kids?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, giveaways

    Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO: Author Interview + A Giveaway!

    Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO by Dr. Tamara Nicole Pizzoli, illustrated by Federico Fabiani


    Publisher: The English Schoolhouse
    Pages: 40
    Format: Paperback
    Available for Sale: September 19, 2016

    Tallulah the Tooth Fairy is not only the founder and CEO of the largest teeth collecting organization on the planet, Teeth Titans, Incorporated, she’s a clever and wildly successful business woman with an affinity for all things dental. A natural innovator and problem solver, Tallulah finds herself unexpectedly stumped when six year-old Ballard Burchell leaves a note instead of his tooth under his pillow. What’s a Tooth Fairy to do when there’s no tooth to take?

    tallulahthetoothfairy1Sneak peek inside the book Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO. photo credit @tamarapizzoli

    Author Interview
    I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Tamara Nicole Pizzoli to talk about her latest book.  Check it out!

    Tell us about your latest book.  How did you come up with the concept?

    Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO came about after an exchange with my eldest son, Noah. He’s seven now but at the time I wrote the book he was six, and he’d just lost a tooth. I was pregnant with my third son, and Noah came home from school with his tooth in hand. I was so excited and told him he just needed to hold onto it until bedtime and that we’d put it under his pillow. Only God knows what happened to that tooth between the afternoon and when it was time for bed. I was really emotional (blame the pregnancy hormones) and once I realized he’d lost his lost tooth I asked him what in the world he was going to do with no tooth to leave for the tooth fairy. Noah has always been a very rational and easy-going child. His immediate response was, “It’s really no big deal. I’m just going to write her a note and explain what happened. I’m sure she’ll understand.” The thought really blew me away because somehow, his six year-old brain believed not only in the tooth fairy, but in the tooth fairy as a rational and merciful being. I put him and his brother Milo to bed by 8:30 or 9 that night, and by midnight the story was written. In my imagination, the tooth fairy is a mashup between two of my favorite Irises–Iris Peyando, a dear friend who is a Dominican-Italian actress here in Rome, and my life muse, Iris Apfel.

    What message are you hoping little readers will grasp from this book?
    I like taking classic stories and characters and flipping them on their heads. I like offering readers the possibility to consider other possibilities. Why wouldn’t The Tooth Fairy be a Black woman named Tallulah who rocks an afro and has a thing for fashion and teeth? I suppose I want young readers to change their minds and let their imaginations run wild.

    Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
    I owe my eldest son Noah a lot. He’s just so quirky and funny and the way he reasons really is enchanting to me as a mother, teacher and a life-long learner. Milo, my second son, inspires me a great deal as well. Aside from the two of them, I try to act on anything that I deem to be a good and worthwhile idea. Last year I was on an alphabet kick, for example. How many ways have the ABC’s been done? Tons, for sure. But I’m sure I have published the only alphabet book for kids based on hairstyles (M is for Mohawk). As a general rule, if it’s something I would have wanted to read as a child, I try to write it and publish it.

    When did you write your first book and how old were you?
    I started writing The Ghanaian Goldilocks, my first book, when I was 30, but as a former Kindergarten teacher I can definitely say I’ve had a thing for quality children’s literature for a long, long time.

    What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
    I love hanging out at Elena Tommasi Ferroni’s art studio here in Rome. She’s illustrated an upcoming book of mine, Fatou and the Kora, and we have collaborated on an art exhibition together entitled #InNero: Fairytales and Histories Reimagined and Retold that depicts historical characters and fictional fairy tale protagonists as people of color. I delight in my family and friends and I live for happy hour and re-runs of The Jeffersons. When I’m not writing I’m constantly thinking of the next creative thing I want to bring into reality.

    How many books have you written? Which is your favorite if you had to choose one?
    Tallulah The Tooth Fairy CEO is book number 7. If I had to choose one, I’d say The Ghanaian Goldilocks is my favorite, because it’s the first one and I really do think it’s a clever concept that readers of all ages and backgrounds would enjoy. Tallulah is a close second.

    What are some future projects readers can expect from you?
    Oh, I’ve got so much on the way. Some of my upcoming projects include a web series loosely based on my life as a Black woman living abroad entitled In Nero: Black Girls in Rome, part II of a documentary that bears the same name that highlights women of color living in the eternal city, the documentary In Nero: Black Men in Rome, an anthology of fairy tales with Black protagonists, at least three new books this year, audiobooks, West African fairy tales…all the good things.

    If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
    Ooooh, that’s a good question.  If I weren’t an author I’d more than likely be a college professor. I enjoy spending time with people who want to learn stuff.

    Do you have anything specific that you want to say to fans of your work?
    Yes, I’m eternally grateful for your love and support. I’m grateful for every share, every kind word, and every supportive thought.  I’d like to add that they can follow me at @tamarapizzoli on Instagram or Tamara Pizzoli on Facebook and on Twitter.  You can order a signed copy of the book at The English Schoolhouse or check it out on Amazon.  Also, you can download a FREE copy of the book on Amazon Kindle until Friday, September 23, 2016.

    The Giveaway!
    Tamara was generous enough to sponsor an international giveaway!  One (1) person will win an autographed copy of Tamara’s latest book Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO!  Enter for your chance to win by Wednesday, September 28th at 11:59pm.  Good luck!  Open to everyone internationally!

    Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO Book Giveaway