Monthly Archives

November 2016

    book reviews, children's books

    Music Is… by Brandon Stosuy (A Book Review)

    Music Is… by Brandon Stosuy, illustrated by Amy Martin

    Publisher: Little Simon
    Pages: 32
    Format: Hardcover (Board Book)
    Age Range: Preschool and up

    From music writer and The Creative Independent/Kickstarter Editor in Chief Brandon Stosuy, comes an entertaining new board book that introduces the many moods, styles, and senses of music to the youngest audiophiles—because music is for everyone, and music is for you.

    Featuring Amy Martin’s dynamic art style, Music Is… explains music through our eyes and ears so that the sense of hearing is transformed into a visual experience. A pitch-perfect board book that is sure to strike a chord with readers of all ages.

    Just like reading, music also has many positive benefits for children.  It helps them develop, grow and explore the world around them.  By singing, moving, playing percussion instruments, dancing and dramatic play activities; children learn and develop a range of skills for their whole development.

    Music Is… by Brian Stosuy is a beautifully illustrated board book that introduces little readers to opposites like quiet, loud, slow, fast, sad, happy, one, and more.  The diverse set of characters are shown enjoying music by listening to it with their headphones, playing drums, using pots and pans, and cymbals.  There are also various instruments shown like a harps, tambourines, guitars, and pianos.  You can even spot cassette tapes and records which have recently made a comeback in today’s music.  Children will also learn a few musically-related opposites such as a capella, acoustic, lo-fi and hi-fi.  All of those music terms were unfamiliar to my children so it was great to be able to teach them something new and different.


    We really enjoyed this adorable book.  It’s so lively and fun for little readers who love music as much as mine do.  The text is short and sweet with gorgeous and bold illustrations to match.  I think this book is great for helping small children discover an appreciation for music that will last a lifetime.  Not only will it introduce musical concepts, but it may even help set up your child for future musical education, such as learning to play an instrument.  Great for music lovers of all ages!


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

    adult books, book reviews, children's books, family fun

    Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout! (A Book Review)

    Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out!: Games, Songs, and Stories from an African American Childhood

    by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
    Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
    Age Level: 7 and up
    Grade Level: Kindergarten – 12
    Pages: 184
    Available for Sale: January 10, 2017


    Parents and grandparents will delight in sharing this exuberant book with the children in their lives. Here is a songbook, a storybook, a poetry collection, and much more, all rolled into one. Find a partner for hand claps such as “Eenie, Meenie, Sassafreeny,” or form a circle for games like “Little Sally Walker.” Gather as a family to sing well-loved songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Oh, Freedom,” or to read aloud the poetry of such African American luminaries as Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. And snuggle down to enjoy classic stories retold by the author, including Aesop’s fables and tales featuring Br’er Rabbit and Anansi the Spider.


    Oh, the hand clapping and jump rope games in this book bring back so many memories for me.

    Remember this one?

    “Down, down, baby, down by the roller coaster. Sweet, sweet baby, I’ll never let you go. Shimmy, shimmy coco pop, shimmy, shimmy pow!” 

    Or how about this one?

    “Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack,
    All dressed in black, black, black,
    With silver buttons, buttons, buttons,
    All down her back, back back.”

    Growing up as a kid, my sister and I used to love playing hand clapping games with each other and our friends. We didn’t have all the fancy technology that’s available for kids today. We simply used our imagination and made up songs and games or we learned from other cultures and made the songs/games uniquely our own by adding different rhythms and movements.

    There are also some beautiful spirituals, hymns, proverbs, psalms, fables, parables and circle games included in this book.  Some of my favorite gospel songs are featured too like: “This Little Light of Mine”, “Amazing Grace”, and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”.  I had fun teaching my daughter some of the hand clapping games like “Miss Mary Mack” and “Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop”.

    I truly enjoyed this book…it’s a treasure that will no doubt be passed down for many generations to come in my family.  Not only is it jam packed with games, songs and stories that I can relate to, it also has some of the most beautiful swirling watercolor and ink illustrations to accompany the text.  Each game, song or story is preceded by a note from the author describing the origin/background or sharing a personal story from her childhood memories.

    It’s also worth mentioning that the author of this book grew up in Kirkwood, Missouri, and Nashville, Tennessee, in the 1950s.  It’s a collection of her favorite childhood games, songs, poetry and stories that are directly linked to her African-American heritage.  That being said, if you grew up in the 1950s, in either Missouri or Tennessee you’d probably relate best to this book.  However, I’m not saying this book is specifically geared toward that audience. What I am saying is that depending on what decade you were born and where you grew up, the wording to some of the hand claps and jump rope games may vary.  For example, the words to some of the songs featured in this book are slightly different from the words we used to sing.  Keep in mind I grew up in the 1980s in the Northeast close to NYC, which is a totally different time frame and geographic location than the author.  Also, some of my favorite hand claps like: “CeCe My Playmate” weren’t included in this book.  Perhaps that’s because the author didn’t sing that one as a child or maybe it wasn’t popular in the 1950s in the area where she grew up in.

    Overall, I’d highly recommend this book for every African-American household.  Even if you’re not an African-American family, I’d recommend checking this one out and using it as a reference.  I think it’s wonderful!  Also great for keeping in a school library or classroom.  Look for this one in January 2017 or pre-order a copy now!

    Your turn: What are some of your favorite hand clapping games, songs or spirituals from your childhood?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's literacy, national picture book month, read aloud

    Celebrate National Picture Book Month in November!

    Hello, November…it’s National Picture Book Month once again!

    What is Picture Book Month?
    Picture Book Month is an international initiative to encourage everyone to celebrate literacy with picture books during the month of November.

    Every day in November, there will be a new post on the website from a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important.  There will also be a literacy activity to do with your kids.  Check out the calendar shown below.


    This year’s list of picture book champions are: The 2016 Picture Book Month Champions are: Kwame Alexander, Kevan Atteberry, Phil Bildner, Elizabeth Bluemle, Alyssa Satin Capucilli, Laura Gehl Chamberlain, Matthew Cordell, Pat Cummings, Doug Cushman, Erzsi Deak, Josh Funk, Marita Gentry, Paul Hankins, Verla Kay, Lester Laminack, Minh Le, Adam Lehrhaupt, Sylvia Liu, Ralph Masiello, Laura Murray, Carmen Oliver, Todd Parr, John Parra, Jan Peck, Alexandra Penfold, Jeanie Franz Ransom, Isabel Roxas, Jodell Sadler, Andrea Pinkney, Ashley Wolff.

    In this digital age where people are predicting the coming death of printed books, picture books need love now more than ever. And the world needs picture books. There’s nothing like the physical page turn of a beautifully crafted picture book.

    Join the celebration and party with a picture book!  Be sure to check out the hashtag #picturebookmonth (on Instagram) for additional picture book suggestions to read with your little ones.

    Disclaimer:  I signed up to be a Picture Book Ambassador simply to support this initiative and share the information.  I did not receive any compensation to write this post.

    Your turn:  Will you be celebrating National Picture Book month?  Which picture book champion are you looking forward to reading about this month?  Feel free to share in the comments.