Monthly Archives

September 2016

    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

    book reviews, children's books

    Empty Shoes by Denise LaRosa (A Book Review)

    Empty Shoes by Denise N. LaRosa, illustrated by Nicholas Manning
    Format: Paperback
    Pages: 32

    Catherine is sweet, caring, adventurous, vivacious, smart and fun. As the baby of the family, she made her first attempt to outshine her big sister by auditioning for the lead in her school’s play. Catherine is heartbroken whenever she discovers that she didn’t get the part. Like many girls, she finds an escape by trying on shoes, and is pleasantly surprised to realize a valuable life lesson in her “sole.”

    There are several quotes about “walking in someone else’s shoes.”  I’m sure we’ve all heard the sayings like, “You can’t understand a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes” and “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes.”

    This sweet book is based upon the idiom of stepping into someone else’s shoes.  After finding out she wasn’t selected to be part of the cast in her school play, little Catherine is crushed.  She feels like such a failure and decides she wants to be someone else.  When she gets home she finds escape by trying on a pair of each of her relatives’ shoes that are sitting by the front door.

    Catherine thinks that my stepping into someone else’s shoes she can see or experience something from someone else’s point of view and see what it’s like to be that person.  She tries on her parents’ shoes, her sisters’ shoes, Nanna’s shoes and her Uncle Nathan’s shoes.  In the end, Catherine realizes she likes her shoes best of all.

    “Now these shoes feel very familiar.  The sparkles in the light make a nice glimmer.  Some mud on top, some sticky gum below.  They feel just right upon my toes.”

    I think this is a wonderful book that can be helpful when teaching kids about empathy and the concept of understanding what it’s like to be someone else.  From the cute and whimsical illustrations, kids will easily understand that trying on a pair of another person’s shoes doesn’t make them turn into that person or even experience life the way they do.  For some kids, it is really hard to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and understand the other person’s perspective.  I cannot blame them, this is a high level skill if you really think about it, but I think this book does a great job teaching that concept through both the fun, rhyming text and illustrations.

    The overall message I took away from this book is: we never know the struggles, the challenges, the heartache, the pain…or the joys, or opportunities of other people unless we feel what it’s like to BE them.

    About the Author
    Denise N. LaRosa, M.Ed. is the founder, host and CEO of Mom Talk with Denise LaRosa, LLC, a multimedia platform designed to motivate, inspire and inform mothers along their journey in motherhood.  Denise utilizes her parenting experiences and background as an elementary educator to bring mothers invaluable information and resources on parenting through her podcast, blog and workshops.
    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Podcast

    About the Illustrator
    Nicholas Manning is a secondary language arts teacher, freelance writer and illustrator living in Pittsburgh, PA. Nicholas has been drawing and painting since his childhood and cherishes the creative outlet that his artistry provides.

    Your turn: Have you read this book with your little readers yet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    adult books, book reviews, currently reading

    Welcome to the Club: 100 Parenting Milestones You Never Saw Coming (A Book Review)

    Welcome to the Club: 100 Parenting Milestones You Never Saw Coming by Raquel D’Apice

    Publisher: Chronicle Books
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 144
    Available for Sale:
    September 20, 2016

    From the comedian behind the popular parenting blog The Ugly Volvo comes a refreshing spin on the baby milestone book. Instead of a place to lovingly capture the first time baby sleeps through the night, this book shows what it’s like the first time baby rolls off the bed/sofa/changing table, leaving mom or dad in a state of pure terror (it happens). These 100 rarely documented but all-too-realistic milestones—such as “First Time Baby Says a Word You Didn’t Want Her to Say”—provide comfort, solidarity, and comic relief for new parents. Laugh-out-loud relatable text and distinctive paper-cut illustrations of these “bad” parenting moments make this a must-have book for anyone entering the mysterious club of parenthood.

    In the introduction of the this book it says, “This is a book to let you know there will be different levels of hardships – some that you’ll handle with a smile and a good-natured eye roll, and some that will make you sob hysterically into your phone because you want your old life back.”  This couldn’t be more far from the truth.  It also states, “This is not a book designed to be read all in one sitting, because the phase of your life when you could read things all in one sitting is probably behind you.”

    Oh, the joys of parenthood!  Four years ago, I became a parent for the first time when I gave birth to my daughter and then my son just 15 months after that.  Needless to say, I was in “baby mode” for two and a half years back-to-back with no breaks.  It was a constant whirlwind of breastfeeding, pumping, changing diapers, doing laundry and going to countless doctor’s appointments.  While there were many fun times mixed in, I’m glad the kids are bigger now and more independent.  Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many more fun and challenging days of parenting ahead of me, but I feel like I’ve turned a major corner in some ways so I’m enjoying it while it lasts.  Reading books like Welcome to the Club helps remind me that any parenting issue I’m going through is real and normal and it too shall pass.  It’s the parenting book I wish someone had given me along with all the other traditional ones I received. Did I mention how funny this book is?

    This book is broken down into a few different sections that contain all-too-realistic parenting milestones:

    The Early Days
      This section is downright hilarious and brought me back right to the first year of parenthood.  Some of the topics include: First Time Packing a Diaper Bag, First Time You Try to Install a Car Seat, First Outing with the Baby When You Forget Something Crucial and First Time You Have the Thought “What If Having a Baby Was a Mistake?”

    Oops  Accidents happen, right?  This section highlights some of the funny “firsts” that can happen when you have a new baby including: First Time Your Child Rolls Off the Bed/Sofa/Changing Table and First Time You Forget to Lock the Wheels on Your Stroller

    This Is Disgusting.  Please Send Reinforcements No one ever tells you about all the disgusting things that can happen when you become a parent like: Baby’s First Ungodly Poop Explosion, Baby’s First Poop Explosion When She Reaches Down and Gets It on Her Hands, First Time You Pee on Yourself and who can forget Baby’s First Poop in the Bathtub!

    Interactions with Other Adults Funny topics from this section include: First Time You Have to Spell Something Out So the Baby Doesn’t Realize What You’re Talking About, First Date When You Try Desperately to Not Spend the Entire Date Talking About the Baby and First Time You Post a Photo of the Baby to Facebook and It Gets More Likes Than Anything You’ve Ever Done…so true!

    Eating, Sleeping, and Other Total Disasters Remember some of these firsts? First Time Your Baby Sleeps Through the Night, First Time Your Child Refuses to Eat Something, First Time Flying with a Baby and First Time Taking Your Child to a Restaurant

    Minor Panic Attacks I can definitely relate to some of these topics: First Time Leaving Your Baby with a Babysitter, First Doctor’s Visit Where the Baby Has to Get Shots, First Time You Meet a Kid Your Child’s Age Who is Way More Advanced Than Your Child and First Time You Drop Off Your Child at Day Care and Second-Guess Everything About Your Life…that was so me!

    Toys, Games, and Other Vague Attempts at Recreation Here are some of my favorite topics from this section: First Time You Realize That Some Expensive Toy You Loved (and Hoped Your Daughter Would Love) Is Ignored Because She Has Fallen in Love with Some $3 Piece of Garbage, First Time You Start to Hate One of His Books and First Game of Peekaboo That Lasts for What Feels Like Forever…yes, forever!

    Stolen from the Traditional Baby Book This section highlights some of baby’s traditional “firsts” in a hilarious way like: First Smile (This Isn’t Gas), First Tooth, First Time Sitting Up and First Word…both of my kids first word was “dada” – go figure when I did most of the work!

    “It All Goes By So Fast!” Kids do indeed grow up so fast, but doesn’t it annoy you when people tell you to “enjoy it because it all goes by so fast?”  This section highlights this topic and others including: First Time You Bribe Your Child and First Time Your Child Refuses to Share

    Stuff You Never Saw Coming The final section of this book discusses additional things you never saw coming the day you agreed to become a parent like: First Time You Realize That 90 Percent of Your Phone Memory Is Photos/Videos of Your Child, First Time You See Another Parent You Previously Would’ve Judged Harshly and You Just Feel Sorry for Them and First Time Your Child Says, “I Love You”…awww!

    Being a parent can be tiring and challenging.  Over the years I’ve been pooped on, peed on and thrown up on.  Our family expenses have increased as have the laundry and the dishes.  My life seems to move a lot slower with kids (mealtimes, running errands, etc.) and sometimes my time, my body, and my brain does not feel like my own.  I’ve experienced so many of the things mentioned in this book.  And yet there are so many things that far outweigh the lack of sleep and the constant ring of crying in my ears.  This book helped me remind me that no matter how tough (and funny) the job of parenting can be, it’s worth it.  Every. Single. Second.  Gift this book to a mom-to-be to help her laugh on the days when she feels like crying during the first year of parenthood.

    About the Author
    Raquel D’Apice is a humor writer and founder of the popular blog The Ugly Volvo.  She lives in New Jersey with her husband and son.

    Your turn: What’s your funniest parenting milestone moment?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, holiday books, read aloud

    Picture Books to Read with Grandma & Grandpa On Grandparent’s Day

    I’ll be honest and say I didn’t even know National Grandparent’s Day existed until my adult years. This is probably because it didn’t originate in the United States until the year 1978. It’s often one of those holidays that can be easily overlooked especially since it’s right around back-to-school, Labor Day and adjusting to new routines for both kids and adults.

    Of course, one way the kids and I will be celebrating Grandparents Day is by reading lots of grandparent-related books like the ones listed below.  I’ve categorized some fantastic books for your to enjoy with your little readers. Hopefully you find at least one book from this list that resonates with you. Enjoy!



    Grandad Mandela by by Ambassador Zindzi Mandela, Zazi and Ziwelene Mandela, illustrated by Sean Qualls

    Grandad Mandela is a beautiful and important story told from the perspective of Mandela’s two youngest great-grandchildren and daughter.  The story begins with little Zazi and Ziwelene approaching their grandmother (Mandela’s youngest daughter, Zindzi) to tell them about their great-grandfather after finding a photograph of him around the house.  Mandela’s daughter goes on to her grandchildren the story of why Mandela went to jail when she was just eighteen months old.

    Grandaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael S. Bandy

    Based on the true story of one family’s struggle for voting rights in the civil rights era.  A  powerful and touching true-life story shares one boy’s perspective of growing up in the segregated South.

    Time Together: Me and Grandma by Maria Catherine

    Time with grandma is always special, and these special moments are captured in this picture book using beautiful illustrations and minimal text. From biking to bird watching, these small moments are the ones that create big memories and show the importance of family.

    When Grandmama Sings by Margaree King Mitchell
    When Grandmama Coles gets a big chance, Belle gets one, too. Belle’s going to spend the summer touring the South with Grandmama and a swing jazz band! Belle’s never been outside Pecan Flats, Mississippi, and she can’t wait to go on the road with Grandmama, helping her read signs and menus and hearing her sing. There are so many new things to see on their travels through the Deep South. But some things aren’t new. Everything is segregated, just like at home. But Grandmama stands up for what’s right. And when she sings, Belle knows that Grandmama’s song can bring everyone together.

    Grandmother and I by Helen E. Buckley
    Grandmother and I are sitting on the big chair, rocking. We rock back and forth, and back and forth.  Other people have laps for sitting on and backs for riding on. But when you have a cold or lighting is coming, nothing feels quite as right as rocking on Grandmother’s lap, listening to the little tunes that she hums.

    Grandfather and I by Helen E. Buckley
    Everybody is in such a hurry these days–mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. About the only people who aren’t in a hurry are grandfathers. With them there is always time to stop…and look…just as long as you like.  This gentle story about the warm, happy relationship between the oldest and youngest ones in the family was originally published in 1959 with illustrations by Paul Galdone.

    15 Things Not to Do With a Grandma by Margaret McAllister and Holly Sterling
    The hilarious follow-up to 15 Things Not to Do with a Baby has all the warmth and humor of its predecessor, focusing on the relationship between children and their granny. DON’T hide an elephant in Grandma’s bed. DON’T send Grandma up to the moon in a rocket, or wear her pants on your head, or give her squashed jelly beans on toast for breakfast. But do… dance with Grandma, listen to Grandma’s stories, hug her and love her lots. She loves you!

    Don’t Call Me Grandma
    Great-grandmother Nell eats fish for breakfast, she doesn’t hug or kiss, and she does NOT want to be called grandma. Her great-granddaughter isn’t sure what to think about her. As she slowly learns more about Nell’s life and experiences, the girl finds ways to connect with her prickly great-grandmother.

    Bigmama’s by Donald Crews
    Four African American children travel with their mother, and when the train arrives in Cottondale, Florida, the summer at Bigmama’s house begins! Donald Crews brilliantly evokes the sights, sounds, and emotions of a memorable childhood experience.

    Grandma in Blue with Red Hat by Scott Menchin
    When a young boy learns about what makes art special—sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it tells a story—he realizes that these same characteristics are what make his grandmother special, too. As a result, he finds the inspiration to create his own masterpiece that’s one of a kind.

    The Baby on the Way by Karen English
    In an urban rooftop garden, a young African American boy named Jamal initiates an intriguing conversation with his grandmother when he asks her if she was ever a baby. Turns out Grandma was even once ?the baby on the way,? and she proceeds to tell the story of her birth, the tenth child in a poor farming family. As she discusses the events and traditions that accompanied her welcome to the world, from the fetching of the midwife to a folkways ritual of drinking water from a thimble, vivid, expressionistic paintings from a talented new illustrator evoke the past.  A gentle and satisfying book that will inspire young readers to gather other stories about being the baby on the way.

    Grandpa’s Face by Eloise Greenfield
    Seeing her beloved grandfather making a mean face while he rehearses for one of his plays, Tamika becomes afraid that someday she will lose his love and he will make that mean face at her.

    Grandma Lena’s Big Ol’ Turnip by Denia Lewis Hester
    Grandma Lena takes good care of the turnips she plants in her garden. One turnip grows so big that Grandma can’t pull it out of the ground! Even when Grandpa, Uncle Izzy, and the dog help Grandma yank and tug, the big ol’ turnip doesn’t budge.

    Mei-Mei Loves the Morning
    Set in a contemporary city in China, depicts a typical morning in the life of young Mei-Mei and her grandfather. The warm and engaging watercolor illustrations bring this intergenerational story to life.

    Grandfather Counts by Deborah J. Short
    When Helen’s grandfather, Gong Gong, comes from China to live with her family, he’s shocked to find that none of his grandchildren speak Chinese. How will he communicate with them? At first he keeps to himself. Then one day he joins Helen to watch the trains. He starts counting the train cars in Chinese, and she repeats the words. Then Helen says the numbers in English. They continue to teach each other, and Helen even learns her Chinese name, which means “flower.” In this luminously illustrated intergenerational story, the devotion between a young girl and her grandfather helps them overcome barriers of age and language. Grandfather Counts was selected as one of the 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).

    A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu
    Mei Mei’s grandpa is practicing tai chi in the garden, and Mei Mei is eager to join in. As Gong Gong tries to teach her the slow, graceful movements, Mei Mei enthusiastically does them with her own flair. Then Mei Mei takes a turn, trying to teach Gong Gong the yoga she learned in school. Will Gong Gong be able to master the stretchy, bendy poses?

    Dear Juno by Soyung Pak
    Juno’s grandmother writes in Korean and Juno writes in drawings, but that doesn’t mean they can’t exchange letters. From the photo his grandmother sends him, Juno can tell that she has a new cat. From the picture he makes for her, Juno’s grandmother can tell that he wants her to come for a visit. So she sends Juno a miniature plane, to let him know she’s on the way.

    Caribbean (Cape Verde)
    Seaside Dream by Janet Bates
    Tomorrow is Grandma’s birthday, and the house is overflowing with family and friends. Hugs, laughter, and the smells of delicious food fill the air as everyone gets ready for a beach party. Cora is excited, but she is also worried because she still does not have a present for Grandma. Cora cannot think of anything special enough. Cora knows her grandmother misses her home country, Cape Verde. After a nighttime walk on the beach with Grandma, Cora finally comes up with an idea for the perfect gift. It is one that both of them will always remember and a way to help Grandma reconnect with faraway family.


    Indian Shoes by Cynthia L Smith

    What do Indian shoes look like, anyway? Like beautiful beaded moccasins…or hightops with bright orange shoelaces?  Ray Halfmoon prefers hightops, but he gladly trades them for a nice pair of moccasins for his Grampa.

    Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia
    Aneel’s grandparents have come to stay, all the way from India. Aneel loves the sweet smell of his grandmother s incense, and his grandfather, Dada-ji, tells the world s best stories. When he was a boy, adventurous, energetic Dada-ji had the power of a tiger. Hunh-ji! Yes, sir! He could shake mangoes off trees and wrangle wild cobras. And what gave him his power? Fluffy-puffy hot, hot roti, with a bit of tongue-burning mango pickle. Does Dada-ji still have the power? Aneel wants to find out but first he has to figure out how to whip up a batch of hot, hot roti Overflowing with family, food, and a tall stack of fun, Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji is sure to warm the heart and tickle the tummy.

    Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi
    One thick, hot day, Arun Gandhi travels with his family to Grandfather Gandhi’s village.  Silence fills the air—but peace feels far away for young Arun. When an older boy pushes him on the soccer field, his anger fills him in a way that surely a true Gandhi could never imagine. Can Arun ever live up to the Mahatma? Will he ever make his grandfather proud?

    In this remarkable personal story, Arun Gandhi, with Bethany Hegedus, weaves a stunning portrait of the extraordinary man who taught him to live his life as light.

    Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story by Arun Gandhi
    At Grandfather Gandhi’s service village, each day is filled, from sunrise to sunset, with work that is done for the good of all. The villagers vow to live simply and non-violently. Arun Gandhi tries very hard to follow these vows, but he struggles with one of the most important rules: not to waste.

    How can throwing away a worn-down pencil hurt anyone? How can wastefulness lead to violence? With the help of his grandfather, Arun learns how every wasteful act, no matter how small, affects others. And in time he comes to understand the truth of his grandfather’s words: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

    A Picnic in October by Eve Bunting
    Tony thinks it’s dumb to go all the way to Liberty Island for a birthday picnic. But that’s before he understands what the Statue of Liberty means to Grandma.


    A Gift from Abuela by Cecilia Ruiz

    Abuela can’t help thinking how much she’d like to give Nina a very special treat, so she saves a little bit of her money every week — a few pesos here, a few pesos there. When the world turns upside down, Abuela’s dream of a surprise for Nina seems impossible. Luckily, time spent together — and the love Abuela and Nina have for each other — could turn out to be the very best gift of all.

    Abuela by Arthur Dorros
    Dive into Spanish text and fly high over beautiful New York City with Rosalba and her grandmother in Arthur Dorros’ enchanting Abuela.

    Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
    Mia’s abuela has left her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. The night she arrives, Mia tries to share her favorite book with Abuela before they go to sleep and discovers that Abuela can’t read the words inside. So while they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English (“Dough. Masa“), and Mia learns some Spanish too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has the perfectoidea for how to help them all communicate a little better.

    Grandma’s Records by Eric Velasquez

    Every summer, Eric goes to live with his grandmother in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem) while his parents work. Through the long hot days, Grandma fills her apartment with the blaring horns and conga drums of Bomba y Plena, salsa, and merengue-the music she grew up with in Puerto Rico-sharing her memories and passions with Eric.

    But Eric sees Grandma in a new light when she gets them tickets to hear their favorite band in concert. The music sounds so different than it does at home on their scratchy records. And then the lead singer serenades Grandma right in front of the whole audience!

    Ladder to the Moon by  Maya Soetoro-Ng
    From Maya Soetoro-Ng, sister of President Obama, comes a lyrical story relaying the loving wisdom of their late mother to a young granddaughter she never met.

    Little Suhaila wishes she could have known her grandma, who would wrap her arms around the whole world if she could, Mama says. And one night, Suhaila gets her wish when a golden ladder appears at her window, and Grandma Annie invites the girl to come along with her on a magical journey. In a rich and deeply personal narrative, Maya Soetoro-Ng draws inspiration from her mother s love for family, her empathy for others, and her ethic of service to imagine this remarkable meeting. Evoking fantasy and folklore, the story touches on events that have affected people across the world in our time and reaffirms our common humanity.

    Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies
    At the bottom of Syd’s garden, through the gate and past the tree, is Grandad’s house. Syd can let himself in any time he likes. But one day when Syd comes to call, Grandad isn’t in any of the usual places. He’s in the attic, where he ushers Syd through a door, and the two of them journey to a wild, beautiful island awash in color where Grandad decides he will remain. So Syd hugs Grandad one last time and sets sail for home. Visiting Grandad’s house at the bottom of the garden again, he finds it just the same as it’s always been — except that Grandad isn’t there anymore. Sure to provide comfort to young children struggling to understand loss, Benji Davies’s tale is a sensitive and beautiful reminder that our loved ones live on in our memories long after they’re gone.

    Joone by Emily Kate Moon
    oone likes the color orange, ice-cream sandwiches, and playing outside. She lives in a yurt with her grandfather and her pet turtle, Dr. Chin, who rides around on her hat. Grandpa teaches Joone something new every day. Sometimes Joone teaches him something new, too, like how to make a daisy chain. Together they enjoy life’s small joys—sunsets, tree houses, and most of all, each other.

    Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
    Grandpa Green wasn’t always a gardener. He was a farmboy and a kid with chickenpox and a soldier and, most of all, an artist. In this captivating new picture book, readers follow Grandpa Green’s great-grandson into a garden he created, a fantastic world where memories are handed down in the fanciful shapes of topiary trees and imagination recreates things forgotten.

    Grandma’s Gloves by Cecil Castellucci
    A child who loses a beloved grandparent finds comfort in carrying on the activities they shared in this sweet, genuine look at a universal rite of passage.

    Grandma is always on her knees in the dirt, with her gardening gloves on, talking to her roses and laughing with the birds-of-paradise. Her home brims with plants and blossoms, and on hot days, she waters her granddaughter, her “most special flower of all,” with the garden hose. But a day comes when Grandma is no longer there to care for the little girl, who feels sad and small and alone until she remembers all that her grandmother taught her — and all that she now has to teach. Full of light and life and the solace of green growing things, this moving and beautifully illustrated picture book explores a timeless bond with warmth and joy.

    Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
    In this magical picture book, a young boy spends an overnight visit with his nana and is frightened to find that the city where she lives is filled with noise and crowds and scary things. But then Nana makes him a special cape to help him be brave, and soon the everyday sights, sounds, and smells of the city are not scary—but wonderful. The succinct text is paired with watercolor illustrations that capture all the vitality, energy, and beauty of the city.

    Our Granny by Margaret Wild

    Two children compare their granny with others. Some grannies have thin legs, fat knees, crinkly eyes, or big soft laps. Their granny has a wobbly bottom and wears an old red sweater that was grandpa’s. She has a style all her own–and to the children who love her, this granny is perfect. Full of warmth and good humor.

    Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa by Anna Dewdney
    It’s an exciting day for Llama Llama; he’s going to visit Gram and Grandpa Llama and spend the night! His first night away from home….and from Mama. But he makes sure to pack everything he needs. And there are so many fun things to do with Gram and Grandpa. It’s not until he gets ready for bed that he realizes that he’s forgotten something important. Fuzzy Llama! Fortunately, Grandpa Llama has a wonderful solution and soon Llama Llama is having sweet dreams.  May you rest in peace, Anna Dewdney.

    Baking Day at Grandma’s by Anika Denise
    Three bouncing little bear siblings, wrapped tight in their winter clothes, can’t wait to tromp through the snow for Baking Day at Grandma’s!  In a rhyming text that begs to be sung, the bears and their grandma pour and mix and stir–with breaks for hot cocoa and dancing–to create the perfect wintry treat. Then they wrap it up in ribbons to show that sweets are even better when they’re shared. With a recipe in the back, this is a perfect family feel-good story for the fall, winter, and any holiday spent with grandparents.

    Grandpa and Me by Karen Katz
    Let’s make a pizza with Grandpa! You can help. Lift the large, sturdy flaps to find everything you need.

    Grandma and Me by Karen Katz
    This lift-the-flap book continues Katz’s board book series, following Where is Baby’s Mommy?, with this celebration of spending time with a special grandmother.

    How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan
    Written in a how-to style, the narrator gives important tips for “babysitting” a grandpa, including what to eat for snack (anything dipped in ketchup, ice cream topped with cookies, cookies topped with ice cream) what to do on a walk (find lizards and dandelion puffs, be on the lookout for puddles and sprinklers), and how to play with a grandpa (build a pirate cave, put on a scary play).

    Filled with humor, energy, and warmth, this is a great gift for or from a grandparent, and perfect for lap reading when Grandpa comes to visit!

    How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan
    When you babysit a grandma, if you’re lucky . . . it’s a sleepover at her house! And with the useful tips found in this book, you’re guaranteed to become an expert grandma-sitter in no time. (Be sure to check out the sections on: How to keep a grandma busy; Things to do at the park; Possible places to sleep, and what to do once you’re both snugly tucked in for the night.)

    Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
    When Alice Rumphius was a little girl, she lived with her grandfather, an artist, by the sea.  During the day, he let her help him with his paintings. In the evening, he talked about his childhood in a faraway land.

    Barbara Cooney’s story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went.

    Time Together: Me and Grandpa by Maria Catherine

    Small moments between a grandpa and child are chronicled in this picture book using beautiful illustrations and minimal text. From taking a nap to reading the newspaper, these small moments are the ones that create big memories and show the importance of family.

    Your turn:  How will you be celebrating Grandparent’s Day with your little ones?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    The Water Princess by Susan Verde (A Book Review)

    The Water Princess by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
    Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 5 – 8 and up
    Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3 and up
    Available for Sale: September 13, 2016

    Based on supermodel Georgie Badiel’s childhood, a young girl dreams of bringing clean drinking water to her African village.

    With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village. And try as she might, Gie Gie cannot bring the water closer; she cannot make it run clearer. Every morning, she rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well. Instead of a crown, she wears a heavy pot on her head to collect the water. After the voyage home, after boiling the water to drink and clean with, Gie Gie thinks of the trip that tomorrow will bring. And she dreams. She dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own.

    Inspired by the childhood of African–born model Georgie Badiel, acclaimed author Susan Verde and award-winning author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds have come together to tell this moving story. As a child in Burkina Faso, Georgie and the other girls in her village had to walk for miles each day to collect water. This vibrant, engaging picture book sheds light on this struggle that continues all over the world today, instilling hope for a future when all children will have access to clean drinking water.

    Try to imagine what your life would be like without clean water. It’s hard isn’t it? I don’t even think twice about going to the kitchen and putting my glass up to the refrigerator to get water when I’m thirsty. I know when I’m ready to shower or brush my teeth all I have to do is turn on the faucet and out comes the water.

    Now try to imagine having to walk on average four miles each day (which is the equivalent of about 70 football fields) just to collect water. Yes, I said 70 football fields! That’s what life is like for nearly one billion people around the world. That’s 1 out of every 6 people who don’t have access to clean water…yikes! It’s heartbreaking for me to hear statistics like this because it’s unbelievable that in 2016 this is STILL an issue.

    This beautifully written and illustrated book is inspired by Georgie Badiel’s childhood and her wish that water would come to her and those in her community. Georgie is a model, activist and author from Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in West Africa. As a young girl, she and her mom used to walk miles just to get dusty earth-colored water carrying bowls on their heads. It’s a very touching and moving story that not only educates children about a serious and ongoing issue, but also shows them how they can make a difference.

    Although I read this book with the kids, I think they may still be a bit too young to truly grasp the fact that water isn’t readily available for everyone around the world.  I plan to read this with them again when they’re a bit older so it really hits home.  I think the illustrations are absolutely stunning and the overall story is well written.  The author’s note explains a little more about the ongoing water crisis and let’s you know how you can get involved if you want to help.  There are also pictures of the girls and women from Georgie Badiel’s grandmother’s village in Burkina Faso collecting water and pictures from a celebration where a new well was built in partnership with Ryan’s Well.

    After reading this book I immediately inquired about how I can give a donation to the people of Burkina Faso and the Georgie Badiel Foundation. I don’t say that to boast and brag, I’m saying it because it’s true. I hope this book inspires you and your little readers to do the same.  Well done to an amazing project team: Susan Verde, Peter H. Reynolods and Georgie Badiel…I am truly inspired to do my part and help make a change!

    For more information about what we can all do to make a difference visit Ryan’s Well or The Georgie Badiel Foundation.  You can order the book here!

    Your turn:  Are you looking forward to checking this book out?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital (A Book Review)

    Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital by Ylleya Fields, illustrated by Michael LaDuca

    Publisher: Belle Publishing LLC
    Format: Hardcover
    Available for Sale: September 12, 2016
    Pages: 32
    Age Range: 5 – 7
    Grade Level: K – 2

    Follow Princess Cupcake Jones as she learns that determination and practice bring positive results and surprises. Taking dance classes with her friends is the highlight of her week. But when Cupcake struggles to do everything ‘just right’ before the recital, she isn’t sure if she’ll be able to master it all in time. The gentle rhyming cadence, vibrant illustrations, and captivating pages deliver valuable life lessons and family values.

    I’m always thrilled when I come across good quality diverse books that my children can identify with.  Through diverse picture books, children have an opportunity to learn on an unconscious level to feel empathy and identify with others from a different ethnic background to their own.

    It makes me so happy that Princess Cupcake Jones transcends race.  We’ve all heard that children need both mirrors and windows.  This couldn’t be more true when it comes to princesses as little girls are often bombarded with images of princesses who only come in one color.  I’m glad that with the help of characters like Princess Cupcake Jones, my daughter can see the world through mirrors.  It shows her and other little Black and Brown girls that they can be princesses too!


    I love reading this adorable book with my daughter!  She seems to enjoy the rhyming text and all of the cute dance costumes the girls are shown wearing.  Cupcake Jones is so cute sporting her kinky curly hair, tutu and tiara!  My daughter and I also enjoy searching for the word “love” that’s hidden throughout the book on each page.  After reading this book we decided to enroll my daughter in dance lessons at a local ballet dance center because she loved it so much.

    Overall, I think this is a great book to help teach little girls about patience, determination and perseverance.   I love how little Cupcake keeps practicing until she perfects her arabesque dance move.  Check this one out with your little readers.  Perfect for little girls who love dancing, princesses, tutus and tiaras!

    Connect with Princess Cupcake Jones!
    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

    Your Turn:  What’s your daughter’s favorite Princess Cupcake Jones book in this series?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    You May Also Like:


    Black Princess Party Set!

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    Even Superheroes Have Bad Days (A Book Review)

    Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker, illustrated by Eda Kaban
    Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
    Format: Hardcover
    Age Range: 3 – 9 years old
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3
    Pages: 40
    Available for Sale: September 6, 2016

    All kids have trouble getting a grip on their emotions, sometimes—even young superheroes! But what do they do when they’re having a bad day? Colorful action-packed illustrations and a dynamite rhyming text reveal the many ways superheroes (and ordinary children, too) can resist the super-temptation to cause a scene when they’re sad, mad, frustrated, lonely, or afraid. From burning off steam on a bike or a hike, to helping others, this energetic picture book has plenty of fun ideas to help kids cope when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

    Oh, what a fun book this is!  The fun starts as soon as you open up the book and see the beautifully illustrated endpapers which introduces the dynamic cast of superhero characters: Beastie, Zing, Thrash, Laserman, Magnifique, Screecher, Typhoon and Icky.  Next, the whimsical rhyming text of the book starts off:

    “When Superheroes don’t get their way,
    when they’re sad, when they’re mad, when they’ve had a bad day . . .
    . . . they COULD super-tantrum, they COULD but they DON’T,
    because REAL Superheroes just WOULDN’T—they WON’T!”

    It then goes on to talk about all the things superheroes could do when they have bad days.  Finally, the book concludes by telling kids how superheroes cope when they experience an occasional “bad day”.

    “And using their talents as true heroes should,
    they battle the urge to do harm (though they could).
    They acknowledge their sorrow, their anger, their pain,
    as they wait for their super-emotions to wane.”


    In addition to the rhyming text, my kids love looking at all of the action taking place in each illustration.  They get a kick out of the superheros causing (potential) destruction all around town like the superhero shown kicking over the fire hydrant on the first page.  They laugh out loud every single time.  I think the illustrations are so well thought out, colorful and detailed.  I also appreciate the illustrator using a diverse set of superhero characters including a mixture of males and females in all different shapes and sizes.

    Overall, I think this book does a wonderful job teaching little readers it’s okay to show their emotions like: frowning, sighing, throwing tantrums and crying.  Also, I think parents will appreciate the fact that this book can be used to help children understand their feelings and what it means to have a “bad day”.  In addition, parents can use this book as an opportunity to teach their children how to cope with stress and handle situations that are less than ideal in their eyes. These are important skills they will need as adults.  Check out this fun book out with your little superheroes!

    About the Author
    Shelly Becker is the author of Mine! Mine! Mine! which has appeared on several lists showcasing the best books that teaches the concept of “sharing”.  Shelly has also written more than 15 children’s novelty books for Tormont, and sold stories and poems to Highlights for Children and Hopscotch for Girls magazine.  She lives in Montreal, Canada.

    About the Illustrator
    Eda Kaban has done work that can be seen in galleries throughout California in a variety of publications.  Her illustrations have been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, Creative Quarterly, and 3X3.  She was born and raised in Turkey and lives in San Francisco, CA.

    Your turn:
    How do you help your children cope when they have “bad days”?  Feel free to share in the comments.