Synopsis Zack Delacruz is unnoticed at his middle school—and that’s just the way he likes it. But a school assembly, a typhoon of spit, and an uncharacteristic moment of bravery are all it takes to change everything. Suddenly Zack is in charge of the class fundraiser. Worse, his partner is the school’s biggest bully! If they don’t sell all the chocolate bars, there will be no dance for the sixth grade. Zack never wanted to be a hero, but with his classmates’ hopes on the line, can he save the day?
Reflection Bullying is a tough subject to discuss with kids, but this book tackles the subject in a way that makes it less intimidating. My older sister and I had a brief encounter with bullying when we were younger. These two girls used to chase us home from the bus stop almost daily. I’m not even sure why they were chasing us, but we ran so fast that they never caught us. After a while they eventually gave up trying to outrun us so the bullying stopped.
I hope my children never have to deal with bullying during their childhood, but in the world we live in today it’s probably likely to happen at some point. I think the middle school years will be the toughest since middle school is when kids are at the peak of their adolescence – trying to find themselves and where they belong.
This is a book that was written for middle schoolers. Zack and his sixth-grade classmates attend a school in San Antonio, Texas. Zack is often the brunt of jokes and is constantly being bullied because of the way he looks. He’s short, he has “Harry Potter” glasses, and his clothes are too big.
In the end, I love the way Zack finds his courage and stands up for himself in this book. He saved the dance so everyone could go, way to go, Zack! Once he was finally able to overcame his fears his popularity soared making him even more popular than he was before.
One of the things I liked about this book is all of the characters seemed so real which I think makes it easy for kids to relate to. There are kids from all different diverse backgrounds and family types. Zack shuffles between two households of his divorced parents and Marquis is being raised by his grandmother. I also enjoyed the humor throughout this book even though I couldn’t relate to some of the jokes. They’d probably be more funny to a ten or eleven year-old though.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. I’d recommend it and the sequel Zack Delacruz: Just My Luck for middle school aged students of all different backgrounds and cultures. Remember, bullying is never ok. Never.
Zack Delacruz: Just My Luck Synopsis
Zack Delacruz is back—and eager to meet Abhi, the new girl at school. But things get off to a rough start when he accidentally knocks her to the ground during a game of dodgeball. And whenever he tries to make amends, she just ignores him. Nothing works—not his friends’ advice or his “lucky” cologne. In fact, he just seems more and more cursed! Then, at the Fall Fiesta-val, Zack finally learns the real reason behind Abhi’s cold shoulder . . . but not before total chaos erupts. With a runaway train, exploding confetti-filled eggs, and Abhi’s terrifying older brother, will Zack ever get a chance to talk to his crush? In the end, Zack learns what it means to believe, to listen, and to be a good friend.
Publisher: Charlesbridge Format: Hardcover Pages: 32 Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten Age Range: 2 – 5 years old
Available for Sale: December 6, 2016 pre-order now!
This sweet, heartwarming story asks one simple question: What color is a kiss? Sassy and intrepid Monica loves to paint and sees her world in every color of the rainbow, but this question nags at her. She paints and paints, hoping to discover the answer. With the help of her mother, Monica discovers that kisses and love come in all colors.
Reflection As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a this sense of curiosity about life and the world around me. I was one of those kids who was constantly asking “why” “what” and “how” to every thing I didn’t understand. Now that I’m a parent I find myself fielding questions from my own kids on a regular basis.
Research shows that a child asks about 40,000 questions between the ages of two and five. Yes, 40,000 questions – can you imagine? During that span, a shift occurs in the kind of questions being asked: from simple factual ones (name of object) to the first requests for explanations by 30 months. By age 4, most children are seeking explanations, not just facts.
I’ll admit, sometimes the amount of questions my kids ask can become annoying, but I love the question little Moncia ponders one day while she’s painting, “What color is a kiss?” in the adorable book What Color is a Kiss by Rocio Bonilla. To kids this seems like a valid question to ask because they grow up learning that different things have different colors associated with them. Why would a kiss be any different, right?
As a budding artist, Monica has painted many things before, but she’s never painted a kiss. She starts wondering in her mind what color it could be: red, green, yellow, brown, white, pink, blue, black and gray. For each color she mentions there are things she likes about it and things she dislikes about it.
“Should I paint a kiss brown? Kisses are sweet like chocolate and magical like a forest in autumn. But…yuck!”
The text has a mixture of words in all capital letters, playful and childlike italicized cursive writing and regular text. I think some smaller children who haven’t been exposed to cursive writing may not recognize some of the words throughout this book. My four year old daughter didn’t seem to have a problem reading this book on her own though. Also, I love the color palette used and the bright and colorful illustrations. The kids favorite illustrations are the one where Monica is shown running away from a swarm of yellow bees and when she steps in brown dog poop….Ewwww!
In the end Monica’s mom provides the answer to Monica’s question simply by giving her a kiss on the cheek. Immediately, Monica realizes that kisses and love come in all colors. So sweet!
While the kids and I did enjoy this book, it left me wondering how old Monica is supposed to be? She seems to be a bit older since she’s seen riding a larger bike without training wheels. If she’s older than age six, I wouldn’t think she’d be asking what color kisses are as it seems like the kind of question a two, three or four year-old would ask. That’s just my opinion though.
If you have a curious and imaginative child like Monica I’d recommend checking this book out. I think it’s also great for teaching kids about colors, discussing things you like or dislike about certain colors, or for children who love to paint and be creative.
Your turn: Are you looking forward to reading this book with your little readers? Feel free to share in the comments.
Are you planning to gift your little readers with a book subscription box this holiday season?
I love monthly subscription boxes because they offer unique educational experiences. They can give kids of all ages the chance to learn by reading great books, doing fun projects, crafts and activities. Many subscription boxes on the market today are designed to include everything you need to spend quality time together with your children. Today, there are subscription boxes that appeal to all sorts of different interests and passions. Below you’ll find a huge list of book subscription boxes for kids (and young adults) to choose from. Enjoy!
Books for young readers featuring diverse characters and themes that invite them to think, laugh, question, and learn about themselves and others. Each box includes an activity and discussion guide, materials for two book-themed crafts and a snack recipe. They have picture books (ages 3-5), books for growing readers (ages 6 – 8) and tweens (ages 9 -12).
Booklandia delivers 2 Bilingual and/or Spanish books every month. Your box choice will contain beautiful wonders of carefully selected books everyone will enjoy from babies to middle schoolers. Choose from hardcover/paperback board books, picture books or chapter books.
Bookroo makes reading exciting for kids and affordable and convenient for parents. Each box contains either 3 board books or 2 picture books and the combined retail value of the books always exceeds the subscription price. Bookroo is also in the process of rolling out a new Junior Box for kids ages 7-10. Check out my review of this subscription box here.
Brown Toy Box was founded to help parents of children of color find toys, books, gifts and games that reflect them culturally. Each themed box contains fun and engaging toys, books and games that feature brown children in all their awesomeness.
Early Literature is an exclusive service that is geared toward helping educators experience an effortless and exclusive way to grow their classroom libraries every month. Each month teachers and early learning programs will receive a box of 4-5 curated books. Books that are new, upcoming releases, and classics!
Geared for ages 2 through 12, literary experts choose the perfect books for your child’s age and reading skill. You pick the theme, including favorite fiction for boys or girls, fantasy, page turners, new releases, around the world, classics or historical fiction, and the literary experts can pick out the perfect book — or you can make your own substitutions.
The first ever monthly subscription box specially curated to teach children ages 5 to 12 about Black History and geography of the countries of Africa. Each month children can expect to receive a package alternating between Black History and African geography content! Each box will include exciting games, activities and a relevant book or souvenir for the African travel package. Check out my review of this subscription box here.
Hey Let’s Read HEY! Let’s Read! has spent a lot of time researching and securing access to thousands of African American and Diaspora themed books. From classic children’s books, foam and board books, award winners to books written by newly minted authors, HEY! Let’s Read! relies on the expertise of a 36 year Education veteran to carefully curate and select books and resources for your child and classroom each month. Your monthly subscription will afford your children the opportunity to expand their imagination with books selected just for them!
Ivy Kids is a monthly educational subscription box for children ages 3-8. Have the tools at your fingertips to ensure your child has a solid foundation in math, literacy, and science. Help your child build confidence and be well-rounded in all disciplines to ensure future academic success. The activities in the Ivy Kits have been created by certified early childhood teachers with children of their own. Each kit contains books, activities and a parent guide for each activity.
The Just Like Me! Book Box was built on the foundation of exposing children of color to literature, characters, authors and stories that are reflective of them. Each box contains two to three age appropriate African-American books and other learning tools for your child. Once the contents of the box are selected the final product is a complete Just Like Me! Book Box filled with fun books, educational tools and fun gifts to encourage positive child development. Check out my review of this subscription box here.
Each KidArtLit delivery includes a hardback picture book, all the high-quality supplies you need to complete a related, open-ended art project two times, and our mini magazine with easy-to-follow instructions & ideas for exploring the box’s theme. Plus, each box includes a Ready-Set-Go Pack that your child can interact with the moment you open your box.
Lillypost is a monthly book subscription box that sends beautiful children’s books and other goodies to your door! Each month, tiny fingers will eagerly open hand-wrapped packages and discover carefully curated books, a lovely little note and stickers for fun! We offer two options so you can choose the box that best suits the age of your child. Our Board Book Box is perfect for ages 0-2 and our Picture Book Box is great for ages 3+.
Each month you will receive a new release book (you may select a board book, picture book, or young adult novel) in the mail every month! But we are more than just a monthly book subscription…each month you will also receive 2-3 creative and quirky book-themed items to go with your new book!
Each Little Fun Club box contains three age appropriate books for children ages birth – 12 years old. The final product is a box filled with education, fun and opportunities for positive child development.
Little Proud Kid is a place to celebrate all people… one people. They focus on bringing an array of multicultural toys, books, resources, greeting cards, and more to help you teach and celebrate the uniqueness in each and every child.
Outside The Box is a monthly subscription box for families with a focus on community and giving. Each box provides an opportunity for your family to connect, create and give to the community. Each box contains items based on the monthly theme: a children’s t-shirt or fun wearable item, a hand-selected children’s book, 2 – 4 crafts or activities that reinforce the monthly theme, community cards that inspire intentional ways to share Outside The Box, plus a spotlight on a different non-profit, community service or give-back company each month.
Every month Owl Crate send you a magical box tailored to a chosen YA theme (e.g. paranormal, first love, dystopia.) Each box will contain one new Young Adult novel, as well as 3-5 other bookish keepsakes to help set the mood for your literary adventure. They also offer Owl Crate Jr. book boxes for kids!
Launching November 15, 2016!! A monthly book box that introduces children ages 4-8 to different topics in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). I think this new STEM Reads Book Club is a great way to introduce children to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Club members receive handpicked STEM books in a monthly subscription box. I signed up for a chance to earn 12 free months of membership and you can too! Check this out by clicking on the link or image above to earn free books, too, or just to learn more.
When you subscribe to The Story Box, your family will receive a monthly box that is curated by a nationally certified speech-language pathologist. Each box contains 2 children’s books and a guide for parents. Use the books and guide to make the most of your family reading time, enhance your child’s language skills, and improve your child’s chances of becoming a successful reader. The books in their boxes are most appropriate for children between the ages of 1-year old and 7-years old.
A portion of each subscription fee is used to purchase books and other educational materials to benefit children with disabilities and children from low-income families. Check out my review of this subscription box here.
Did you see this subscription box featured on Shark Tank? Each box contains all the necessary supplies for two activities, a book and yummy snack, plus fun extras. All the things your child needs for unplugged learning. Surprise Ride works with experts to design hands-on courses for kids ages 5+. Subjects include art, geography, history, science and more!
The Conscious Kid Library
The Conscious Kid is an education, research and policy organization dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in youth. They partner with organizations, children’s museums, schools and families across the country to promote access to children’s books centering underrepresented and oppressed groups. They also offer book subscriptions for board books and picture books. With their new book-a-month subscription option families and teachers can sign up to receive a diverse board book or picture book each month.
Each book bundle contains a mix of 2-3 brand new hardcover and/or softcover diverse books as well an activity guide filled with great, informative tips. WAM’s book selections feature a wide range of multicultural, diverse characters and reflect stories that will engage and excite children everywhere!
Well Read Well Read Inc. mission is to promote enhanced literacy in the African-American community by providing exciting and culturally relevant books to children ages 3-12 through our monthly subscription service.
A key part of our mission is to reduce the literacy gap in the African-American community.
Your Turn: Do you have a favorite kids book subscription box? Is there an awesome subscription book box for kids missing from my list? Please let me know in the comments.
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers Format: Hardcover Age Range: 5 – 8 years old Grade Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3 Pages: 40
Alec loves to climb trees—the little apple trees, the wide willow trees, even the tall locust trees. But his favorite is the great spruce, with its sturdy trunk and branches that stretch up to the sky. Alec’s grandpa planted it as a sapling years and years before Alec was born, and every Christmas, Alec and his grandpa decorate the tree together, weaving tinsel and lights through its branches, making it shine bright.
But one day, a few curious men from the nearby city take notice of Alec’s glistening great spruce, and ask to take it away for their Christmas celebration. Though it’s a huge honor, Alec’s heartbroken at the idea of losing his friend. With great courage and creativity, Alec comes up with a plan to save his favorite tree in this joyful holiday tale.
Reflection Like young Alec, in the book The Great Spruce, I have fond memories of climbing trees and playing outdoors as a young child. I’ve always loved being surrounded by nature and natural elements as it seems to instill a sense of beauty and calmness in me. As a parent, I try to expose my kids to things that are alive and growing in order to promote curiosity and exploration. My hope is that my children will grow up to be citizens who respect living things similar to the way Alec respects trees. I believe a consistent exposure to nature can help remind children that the world contains an infinite variety of things and all are important.
The Great Spruce is such a delightful and heartwarming story! I really LOVE this story and young Alec’s passion for trees. The simple act of Alec’s grandpa transporting a spruce tree many years ago to Alec’s backyard allowed Alec to get up close and personal with the tree and his environment. It also provided him with endless hours of imaginative play as he pretended to be a scout searching for pirates along the river. As a result, Alec became a better observer and felt more connected to the outdoors.
I love how Alec stood up and demanded the tree be transported to the city instead of being chopped down. “Stop!” Alec screamed as the curious man stood right in front of the tree with a chainsaw in hand. “You don’t have to cut this tree down…we can dig it up! You can borrow the tree instead!” Alec said. A bright smile spread across grandpa’s face as he grabbed two shovels and handed one to Alec. Before long, everyone was digging up the tree, even the crew from the city! Eventually, they dig up the great spruce tree and begin transporting it to the center of town.
At the end of the tree lighting ceremony a young girl asks Alec if his tree can remain in the city. Alec tells her the tree is just visiting, but he hands her a pine cone from the tree. He tells the girl to plant the cone in good soil in a place where it will get plenty of sunlight. Months pass by and in the spring as Alec climbs his tree with his telescope in hand. He notices the tiny sapling taking root in the big city square in the center of town where the young girl planted the pine cone Alec gave her months ago.
I think there are so many things to love about this book including the detailed and bright illustrations. I also really like the fact that the book has sort of a chain reaction effect that started with Alec’s grandpa and ended with the young girl in the city. I find it helpful that the back matter includes an author’s note which explains the Christmas tree tradition and how it came to be and photographs that show the process of transplanting a tree.
A well-written book that may help to inspire wonder and a passion for protecting trees in your child. Check it out this holiday season!
BeachBoundBooks is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for The Art of Blissful Parenting by Sharon Ballantine. The blast will run October 24 – October 26, 2016.
About the Book
Title: The Art of Blissful Parenting | Author: Sharon Ballantine | Genre: Parenting Number of Pages: 190 | Publisher: Balboa Press | Publication Date: November 24, 2015 Book Description: What if you had the ideal relationship with your children? This book is for every parent that wants to have a powerful bond with their kids. Parents have the opportunity for newfound freedom and joy when they teach their children about their Internal Guidance System. Tools and guidance are offered in this book for exacting the art of blissful parenting by practicing alignment. It’s fun and easy to work with the Universe and a short lesson in the Law of Attraction is part of this script. Parents-live and also teach your children how to manifest what they want by thinking in a more positive way and deliberately creating their lives.
What others are saying…“This book is filled with amazing tools for any adult who wants to sharpen the innate gifts of the children in their lives and support them in developing and following their internal guidance. Beautifully and thoughtfully written with clear practical exercises to allow you to put into practice what you have read.” – Debbie (Amazon Reviewer) “The Art of Blissful Parenting offers readers a refreshing, out-of-the-box approach to raising happy children. Sharon offers practical tools and tips for teaching kids how to thrive by using the law of attraction and following their internal guidance system.” – (Amazon Reviewer) “This is a fascinating book for anyone who wants to raise confident, independent children. The author presents her unique ideas in a thoughtful and insightful way” – Cheryl (Amazon Reviewer)
About the Author: Sharon Ballantine
Sharon Ballantine is a Parenting Coach and certified Law of Attraction Life Coach. She has successfully raised three children and is the author a new book “The Art of Blissful Parenting.” Sharon is the founder of “The Ballantine Parenting Institute,” her online parenting program. Ballantine is a sought after speaker, and was host to her own Internet TV Show with Conscious Evolution Media Network from 2013-2014. The platform of The Sharon Ballantine TV Show featured a conversation with passionate spiritually minded guests. Sharon also had her own column with Beliefnet.com “Parenting on Purpose.” Sharon was interviewed on TV, February 15, 2016 for her new book release, “The Art of Blissful Parenting” on KING 5 New Day Northwest, a live daytime talk show in Seattle. Ballantine has been interviewed on several radio shows including Blog Talk Radio in Los Angeles, Chat with Women radio show in Seattle and Conscious Evolution Media Internet TV in Denver. Her interview with Hay House Radio will air by summer ’16. Sharon’s website is SharonBallantine.com which features weekly teaching blogs, podcasts and slideshows. You can see her educational videos on her YouTube channel, Sharon Ballantine. Sharon lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband Jay.
A lot changes in September. I mean, as the ancient Greeks will tell you, change is the only constant…but there’s something about September that sparks a bit of reflection—on the tilt of the Earth, the passing of the year, the meanderings of the path of life.
In September, the cadence of family time shifts as a new school year settles in around us. The dinnertime light is altered as we approach the autumnal equinox, and we trade swimsuits for sweaters or vice versa. We might even find that the foods we crave adapt to the harvest. Pumpkin latte, anyone? September calls our attention to traditions and homecomings and gives us reason to both revisit the past and plan for the seasons ahead.
There are no better guides for us in this transitional month than books, of course. After all, change is at the heart of every compelling story. Throughout September, the #KidLitPicks book club on Instagram featured books that explore the idea of change. Below are the books chosen by the book club participants for the month of September. October’s theme is “Unlock Their Imagination.”
Little Tree, by Loren Long (shared by @readingisourthing) “Change is a good thing. New beginnings are exciting. Letting go is the only way we can move forward.”
Yellow Time, by Lauren Stringer (shared by @spiky_penelope) “As the season begins to change from summer to fall, it’s finally yellow time, a time when yellow leaves in the trees mean large imaginations and lots of fun.”
You and Me and Home Sweet Home, by George Ella Lyon and Stephanie Anderson (shared by @ilovebooksandicannotlie) “They are able to move into their very own home and start their brand new life together.”
Wherever You Go, by Pat Zietlow Miller and Eliza Wheeler (shared by @the.book.report) “Just when you think you are settled and havea plan or an idea of what you think your future might look like, life has a way of stirring that up and changing those plans. ”
Bear Hug, by Katharine McEwen (shared by @homegrownreader) “It truly is a visual expression that is wonderfully shocking with its simplicity and strength.” The Cow Who Climbed a Tree, by Gemma Merino and Panda’s Pants by Jacqueline Davies and Sydney Hanson (shared by @book.nerd.mommy) “They help kiddo’s realize that sometimes trying something new can be wonderful!”
The Water Princess, by Susan Verde and Peter Reynolds (shared by @hereweeread) “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.”
Bella’s Fall Coat, by Lynn Plourde and Susan Gal (shared by @astoryaday) “Every season there is a change and there is a purpose for everything that occurs in our lives.”
The Journey, by Francesca Sanna (shared by @chickadee.lit) “The world refugee crisis is larger than ever, but we can all contribute to changing that by offering up as we are individually able.”
Maybe Something Beautiful, by F Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell, and Rafael López (shared by @happily.ever.elephants) “There is so much power behind the idea that art can lift up a community.”
Starfish, Where Are You? by Barroux (shared by @bookbairn) “Such a fabulous book to encourage us all to make small changes for a big difference.”
The Fox and the Star, by Coralie Bickford-Smith (shared by @bookbloom) “A gentle reminder that change can sometimes result in something better and more beautiful than previously imagined.”
Perfect Square, by Michael Hall (shared by @howifeelaboutbooks) “Explains a difficult concept to kids in a way they can easily understand.”
The Leaving Morning, by Angela Johnson and David Soman (shared by @smallysbookshelf) “For young children, change can be a mixture of longing and excitement – longing for the familiar and excitement for the new adventures ahead.”
Grandad’s Island, by Benji Davies (shared by @fee_loves_) “This poignant story deals with loss and bereavement, one of the greatest changes we face in life is the death of a loved one.”
Synopsis The 10 Secrets of Being a Lady is children’s book for all ages reminding women of their roles in society, which start in the home. The story was expressly created to encourage dialogue and impart wisdom through family generations.
Opening the cover of this beautiful story you will meet a little girl named Ava who, like many young girls, loves secrets. Ava’s mother, who works tirelessly to guide her daughter, realizes the time has come to share her secrets (words of wisdom) with her daughter about putting forth her best. The mother creates this special book from the same life lessons that she learned from her mother. The character strengths discussed 10 Secrets of Being a Lady range from radiating confidence and being sincere to speaking deliberately and maintaining your appearance.
This beautifully illustrated story is a tale of love and acceptance. As Ava and her mother grow closer to the kind of ladies they hope to become, you too will be reminded of the secrets to being “ladylike” that many of us have neglected to discuss. Share 10 Secrets of Being a Lady with your family and start a conversation today that will have meaning for a lifetime.
With every book purchased a 25% donation will be made to Girls Inc.
Reflection Just last week I was thinking about how fast the kids are growing up right before my eyes. There’s only a small window of time to teach them the many lessons they should learn to become responsible citizens. As a mom raising a daughter (and son) I understand – it’s not so much her physical appearance – but what goes on in her heart and in her mind. Things of truth, beauty, courage, kindness and strength. So how do I prepare my little lady for that?
One way is to read her empowering books like this one. This book outlines 10 Secrets of Being a Lady that every little girl should know: radiate confidence, speak deliberately and maintain your appearance just to name a few. This beautiful story focuses on manners and the social pressures of a mother defining womanhood to her daughter.
I think this is a good book for helping to build up a girl’s sense of self and teaching manners. It can also help girls develop the qualities of being a strong, kind and independent young woman. While I do think the principles outlined in this book are still relevant to the modern age girl, I would have loved to see some additional ones related to grit, resiliency and curiosity. For example, teaching girls to take pride in their fortitude and tenacity, asking questions about the world about her and herself, not shying away from challenges and taking on new tasks. We are living in a time when we may very well see history be made by having our first ever female President of the United States. Therefore, I think in addition to teaching girls to have great manners, eat healthy and maintain their appearance, it’s just as important to help them understand they can achieve anything.
The illustrations in this book are adorable. Little Ava is so cute with her two puffy pigtails in her pink tutu, striped leggings, pearls and tiara. Since the text is a bit lengthy, I’d recommend this book for girls age 8 and up. It’s also a cute read aloud book for a mother and daughter to enjoy reading together. I love how the mother in this book appears to be the kind of character she wants her daughter to one day become. Because let’s face it, if we truly want our daughters to grow up to be responsible and confident women, we must learn to foster positive traits and qualities in our own lives. Check this one out for your little lady in training.
P.S. This book recently won a 2016 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award in the children’s self-esteem category!