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Mrs. G

    children's books, giveaways

    Harry Potter: A Hogwarts Christmas Pop-Up + A Giveaway!

    Published by Insight Editions Format: Hardcover
    Source: Insight Editions

    Harry Potter: A Hogwarts Christmas Pop-Up by Insight Editions

    Pre-Order Now!

    Harry Potter: A Hogwarts Christmas Pop-Up goes on sale October 22

    Pre-Order now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or IndieBound

    PreOrder Link: http://bit.ly/HPXmasPO

    Synopsis
    Harry Potter: A Hogwarts Christmas Pop-Up is a one-of-a-kind book that re-creates the iconic Great Hall as seen in the Harry Potter films, complete with a pop-up Christmas tree at the center. The book is also filled with removable and displayable keepsakes of iconic magical artifacts and other elements from the films, which can be used as ornaments to decorate the pop-up tree, creating an interactive experience that lets fans bring the holidays to life in their own magical way.

    Included is a softcover booklet packed with behind-the-scenes details on the props, set designs, and special holiday moments featured throughout the films. Recapture the holiday memories from the Harry Potterseries, or create your own, as you celebrate the holidays with this must-have collectible for fans of the Wizarding World.

    We’re using this book for advent this year to count down the days until Christmas!  Want to enter to win a copy?  Head over to Instagram so you can enter to win.  This giveaway is available to all territories worldwide…good luck!

    Your turn: Are you excited about this Harry Potter pop-up book?  Who is your favorite Harry Potter character?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    book reviews, children's books, diverse books

    Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story (A Book Review)

    Published by MacMillian Format: Hardcover
    Source: MacMillian
    Buy on Amazon
    five-stars

    Told in lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpre Award winner and Caldecott Honoree Juana Martinez-Neal.

    Reflection
    Fry bread.  Of all the foods most commonly associated with Native American culture, fry bread has long been at the center of the table.  It is a food that was born out of desperation and survival that no one could have predicted it would be the become a touchstone of Native American culture.  I think in order to truly understand and appreciate the beauty of the book Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, you must first learn about the complicated history of fry bread.

    Fry bread is a flat dough bread, fried or deep-fried in oil, shortening, or lard. It is tradition to the Navajo people, who are the largest federally recognized Native American Indian tribe in the United States.  Frybread was first used in 1864 using the flour, sugar, salt and lard that was given to the Navajo tribe by the United States government when the Navajo, who were living in Arizona, were forced to make the 300 mile journey known as the “Long Walk” and move to Bosque Redondo, in New Mexico, onto land that could not be farmed with their traditional foods, which were vegetables and beans.

    The Navajo had been forced to move because of the pioneers who came to the southwestern area where the Navajos lived. The pioneers wanted the land and resources to themselves, so they drove the Navajos out of their homes violently, and, as is said, forced them to walk 300 miles to where they would be held in camps.  The camps they were put into had meager supplies, so the U.S. government sent them supplies to make the food that is now known as fry bread.  Since the Navajos no longer had access to fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables, they used what they had in order to survive.  And that is how fry bread came to be.   Fry bread is important to Native American culture, because it represents the perseverance,  and pain the Navajo people went through.

    Now that you know this history, let me tell you about this book that I’ve now included in my list of Top 10 picture books of 2019.  Yes, it’s that great…trust me!

    Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story is so much more than a story about food.  From the illustrations to the end papers to the back matter, this is a simple, yet phenomenal story about food, history, culture, diversity, resourcefulness, perseverance, family and community.

    As soon as you open up the book,  you are immediately drawn in with the mesmerizing end papers.  The end papers list the 573 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States.  This is so powerful to me as I honestly had no idea there were so many tribes in the United States.

    The story is told in simple, lyrical text.  Readers learn that fry bread is a food, it’s a shape, it’s sound, it’s history and more.  In short, readers learn that fry bread is an important symbol of the Native American culture.  At the end of the book, readers are invited into the story with the simple phrases, “Fry bread is you.”, “Fry bread is us.”  The back matter has a recipe for fry bread, an author’s note and more detailed information about fry bread.

    This book shows us that food helps to bring people together.  Food has the power to connect people.  Sometimes, sharing a meal together gives us a safe space to talk about our days, our ups and downs, our fears and anxieties, our joys and successes.  Food also allows us to learn and share about different cultures.  Not only does cultural expression through food allow us to be exposed to new flavors, but it also allows us to become more aware of each other’s cultural background and the food that comes with it.  In essence, food gives us comfort.  Although the Navajo people were only given meager supplies by the pioneers, they found comfort in eating fry bread.  It helped fuel and nourish their bodies and allowed them to keep going despite the odds they faced.

    Coming together and sharing a meal is the most communal and binding thing in almost every place in the world.  As witnessed so beautifully in this story, being able to make a dish and share it with the people you love is one of the most universal concepts because it’s at the root of survival.  Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story shows as that even when times are tough and painful, the urge to survive and persevere endures.

    After reading this book, I learned some modern Native Americans have a troubled relationship with fry bread.  While it is symbolic of their people’s darkest time, it is also viewed as their ingenuity and ability to survive despite the odds.  Whatever the larger cultural agreement is, among Native Americans I still think this is an amazing story that should be be on children’s bookshelves’ in homes and schools worldwide.

    Your turn: What are your thoughts on the history of fry bread?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    five-stars
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    audio books, children's books

    Teacher Appreciation: Vooks Streaming Service for Kids Enjoy One Free Year

    Disclaimer: My family received a free one-year subscription from Vooks to review and enjoy with our family in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    If you follow my blog, you may remember me talking about Vooks last month.  Vooks is the first-ever streaming ad-free service that brings children’s books to life with animated illustrations, read-along text and narrated stories.  It’s recommended for children ages 2-8.

    As stated on their website, Vooks curates kids content in a new and fresh way that makes it easy for teachers and parents to direct their children’s social and emotional development.  They already have channels like friendship, bravery, and kindness.  In the near future they will have channels like empathy, growth mindset, science and biography.

    Our family has been enjoying our gifted Vooks subscription for the past month.  Some of the favorite books the kids enjoyed are: If You’re Scary and You Know It (great for Halloween), Grace for President, Schools First Day of School, Sky Color, Chrysanthemum and so many more!  I love how portable Vooks is allowing us to enjoy story time at home or on the go with our iPad in places where we have access to an Internet connection.  Vooks can also be used offline when viewing with mobile apps which allows children to enjoy their favorite stories even without an Internet connection!

    Additional titles are constantly being added to the platform regularly.  They recently added some new titles for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos.  I look forward to seeing what new titles they add for the upcoming holiday season and beyond!  The added interactive animations, lively narrations and music really do help keep my kids engaged throughout the whole story.

     

     

    Vooks has lots of love and appreciation for educators, so they want to show that by offering teachers/educators and homeschooling parents a FREE year of Vooks.  Yes, you heard me right!  Teachers, educators and homeschooling parents can access Vooks for one year totally FREE.  To take advantage of this amazing offer use my referral link to sign up AND get your FREE gift.

    Your turn:  Will you check out Vooks and see what they have to offer?  Do you like the idea of having an ad-free streaming service for kids?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's books, diverse books

    10+ Picture Book Recommendations to Celebrate Filipino American History Month

    October is recognized as Filipino American History Month, where the contributions of the Filipino and Filipino American community are celebrated in the United States.  The month of October was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Filipinos who landed in what is now Morro Bay, California on October 18, 1587.

    In celebration of Filipino American History Month, I’ve compiled a list of a few books to add to your bookshelf or read, whether you’re Filipino or not.  Enjoy!

    Oh My Kulay!: Colors, Fruits and Veggies in Filipino by Jocelyn Francisco, illustrated by Jamie Lee Ortiz

    Children typically have no difficulty learning English and adapting to the culture of the country they live in because they are immersed in it. Oh My Kulay will introduce and help children acquire their colors using vegetables and fruits in Tagalog/Filipino – the official language of The Philippines.

    Hand Over Hand by Alma Fullerton, illustrated by Renné Benoit

    Nina can’t convince her lolo to take her fishing on the old banca boat with him. Lolo’s reply is the same as always: “A boat is no place for a girl.” When Nina promises to bait her own hook and remove her own catch, her grandfather finally relents, “just for today.” Much to the amusement of the other fishermen in their Filipino village, Lolo shows Nina how to jig the lines, set the hook and pull in a fish hand over hand. But no one is laughing when Nina brings in the biggest fish of the day!

    Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong by Dawn B. Mabalon, PhD & Gayle Romasanta, illustrated by Andre Sibayan

    This book  tells the story of labor leader and co-founder of the United Farm Workers Larry Itliong’s lifelong fight for a farmworkers union, and the birth of one of the most significant American social movements of all time, the farmworker’s struggle, and its most enduring union, the United Farm Workers.  Ages 8 and up.

    Pagtulog Na, Nene: A Hiligaynon Lullaby, illustrated by Hermes Alegre

    A gentle Hiligaynon Lullaby to help transport little ones off to the land of sleep.

    Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, illustrated by Kristi Valiant


    Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon. One day, however, when her older sisters and brother head out, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama’s assistant chef. And of all the delicious Filipino dishes that dance through Cora’s head, she and Mama decide to make pancit, her favorite noodle dish.

    With Mama’s help, Cora does the grown-up jobs like shredding the chicken and soaking the noodles (perhaps Mama won’t notice if she takes a nibble of chicken or sloshes a little water on the floor). Cora even gets to stir the noodles in the pot—carefully– while Mama supervises. When dinner is finally served, her siblings find out that Cora did all their grown-up tasks, and Cora waits anxiously to see what everyone thinks of her cooking.

    Willie Wins by Almira Astudillo Gilles, illustrated by Carl Angel

    The story of a Filipino American boy who overcomes peer pressure and learns about family love and heritage from his father.

    Abadeha: The Philippine Cinderella by Myrna J. de la Paz, illustrated by Youshan Tang

    Set in the exotic islands of the Philippines, this Cinderella retelling tale captures the mystical charm of the indigenous culture of the Filipinos.

    Filipino Celebrations: A Treasury of Feasts and Festivals by Liana Romulo, illustrated by Corazon Dandan-Albano

    From these pages, children will learn the history of each holiday, its cultural influences, the varied ways in which people celebrate in different regions of the Philippines, special customs and food, key words and phrases (in English and Tagalog), and more. Games, songs, and other activities invite young readers to join in the fun. New and familiar holidays take on a special flavor as children learn about the diverse cultures that make up this wonderful island nation. Perfect for Filipino-American families looking to share the unique culture of the Philippines, educators interested in promoting multiculturalism in the classroom, or anyone interested in the country, Filipino Celebrations will encourage children ages five to ten to participate and learn while having fun.

    Filipino Children’s Favorite Stories by Liana Elena Romulo & Joanne de Leon

    Filipino Children’s Favorite Stories presents thirteen well-loved myths and tales from the Philippines. These stories will enchant 5 to 14-year-old readers around the world with their wit and charm. Many of the tales have been transmitted from mother to child over centuries, and cover classic childhood themes—such as the forces of good triumphing over evil, children rebelling against evil adults and the weak prevailing over the strong. They make perfect new additions for story time or bedtime reading.

    Pan de Sal Saves the Day by Norma Olizon-Chikiamco, illustrated by Mark Salvatus

    Pan de Sal Saves the Day: A Filipino Children’s Story is an award-winning, inspiring tale for young children everywhere. It’s the story of a young girl named Pan de Sal who lives in the Philippines and thinks she’s the unluckiest girl in the whole world. Aside from not liking her own name and finding her appearance strange, she doesn’t have all the fancy things her classmates have. She can’t even muster the courage to try out for the Glee Club, even though she has a beautiful voice.

    Things change suddenly when an unexpected event forces her into the limelight. With her innate talent and resourcefulness, Pan de Sal wins the admiration of her classmates and finds the confidence she needs to fulfill her dreams.

    For anyone who has ever felt like an outsider or experienced adversity, Pan de Sal Saves the Day teaches children to see the unique qualities in everything and everyone, even themselves.

    Filipino Friends by Liana Romulo, illustrated by Corazon Dandan-Albano

    A delightful book about Filipino-American boy visiting the Philippines for the very first time.

    Isa, Dalawa, Tatlo…Ito Ay Obalo!: Numbers and Shapes in Filipino Jocelyn Francisco, illustrated by Jamie Lee Ortiz


    Isa, Dalawa, Tatlo…Ito Ay Obalo! is part of a series that will introduce the Filipino language to keep the Filipino culture and language alive and reinforce a sense of identity. It is important that children learn that we are all different and that differences must not only be accepted but also celebrated; their culture and language is something they can be proud of.

     

     

    Your turn: Do you have a favorite Filipino children’s book you love?  Feel free to share your recommendations below!

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    blog tours, children's books, diverse books

    You’re Strong With Me by Chitra Soundar & Poonam Mistry (Blog Tour)

    Published by Lantana Publishing Pages: 40
    Format: Hardcover
    Source: Lantana Publishing
    Buy on Amazon
    four-half-stars

    The rain clouds are long gone and the dry season scorches the land. Everything is new for the baby giraffe. As she bounds ahead and lags behind, her mother patiently explains the ways of the grasslands. And until she grows a little taller, older, and wiser, her mother reminds her: “You’re strong with me.”

    Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of You’re Strong With Me from the publisher to review and enjoy with our family in exchange for an honest review.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    Reflection

    Throughout human and animal history, mothers and their babies have been known to be connected in beneficial ways. By staying close to their mothers, infants receives protection, warmth, emotional reassurance, and breast milk – in just the forms and quantities that nature intended.

    In the book, You’re Strong With Me, readers are introduced to a mother and baby giraffe.  The baby giraffe questions different things like an oxpecker that flies onto her mother’s back and birds flying towards a fire in the tall grass.  Each time baby giraffe asks a question, her mother says, “Until then, you’re strong with me.”  This reassures the baby giraffe and seems to give her the confidence to keep exploring and learning from her mother.

    After reading this book, I immediately thought about a video I recently saw that featured a mother giraffe giving birth.  It was unlike any birth I had ever seen!  The baby giraffe fell from its mother’s womb, about 5-8 feet above the ground.  The baby was shriveled up lying still on the ground, still too weak to move.  Then the mother giraffe lovingly lowered her neck as if to kiss the baby giraffe. And then something incredible happened!  She lifted her long leg and kicked the baby giraffe, sending it flying up in the air and tumbling down on the ground. The mother continued to do this over and over again until the baby giraffe learned to stand on its feet.  Baby giraffes must learn quickly to stand and run with the pack.  Otherwise, they will have no chance of survival.  Most humans are not quite as lucky as baby giraffes. No one teaches us to stand up every time we fall. When we fail, when we are down, we just give up. No one kicks us out of our comfort zone to remind us that to survive and succeed, we need to learn to get back on our feet.


    You’re Strong With Me is a beautifully illustrated story about mother giraffe teaching her daughter about having instincts for survival in the wild.   Under her mother’s guidance, the baby giraffe begins to understand she must learn to be kind to certain animals, how to handle forest fires and how to pay attention to noises and quiet in their environment.  Ages 4-8 and up.

    A Word from the Illustrator Poonam Mistry + FREE Coloring Sheets to Download!

    Creating the artwork for ‘You’re Strong With Me’ was actually the hardest of the three to illustrate. The first two books from the series were very different.  I really wanted to create something that almost was a combination of the two: something that showcased how incredibly beautiful the African Savanna is, but also focused on the closeness of the relationship of the calf and her mother.

    Patterns and Research
    My Dad was born in Kenya and so around my parent’s house they have a lot of ornaments and wall art inspired by Africa. This really helped at the beginning stages of the book when I first received the manuscript for the story.  For this book in the series, I researched a lot of patterns found on African textiles and art. I really wanted to make sure (like I had done with the previous two books) that the patterns I was using reflected the origins of where the story was set. I used a lot of zigzags, diamonds, triangles and squares in the artwork, adding finer details later on in PhotoShop.

    Process
    This book involved at lot more drawing and sketching at the planning stage.  After the initial sketches, I drew out the final images in pencil around 1/3 larger than the actual size. I transferred these onto thicker cartridge paper and began to draw the final designs using ink pens (0.5mm minimum). I prefer using ball tip pens just because I find the ink glides on better and creates more pigmented lines. Then, using the bank of patterns I had researched, I selected the patterns I thought would work best and applied them to the drawing.  After these were completed, I scanned them onto the computer and used PhotoShop to apply colour and adjust the composition.  It took a long time to get the shape and proportions of the giraffe correct. Originally, I was going to cover them in giraffe print, but I wanted to do something a little different with them. In the end, I decided on creating individual patterns for the giraffe and her calf using triangles.

    Colours
    Usually I pick a small palette of colours to work on throughout the whole book before I have even begun drawing. For ‘You’re Strong With Me’, I really wanted to make sure the palette was warm with lots of golden oranges, yellows and browns to reflect and capture the hot climate there. As the story features a creek I selected a small set of tortoise blues too but only added accents of them throughout the book where needed.

    Hidden gems
    The African Savanna is full of the most amazing wildlife and insects. I really wanted to highlight this in the book so many of the pages have hidden birds or insects in them. With this specific book they are particularly camouflaged with their surroundings. I hope this will give further opportunities for little ones to spend more time exploring the art and discovering something new.

    Download the FREE giraffe coloring sheets designed by illustrator Poonam Mistry HERE and HERE!

    You’re Strong With Me’ is available for purchase in North American bookshops on October 1, 2019 and in UK bookshops on October 3, 2019.  For every book purchased on the website, Lantana Publishing donates a book to children’s hospitals via Read for Good UK.

     

     

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    blog tours, book reviews, diverse books

    The Pirate Tree by Brigita Orel (Blog Tour)

    Published by Lantana Publishing on September 3, 2019
    Format: Hardcover
    Source: Lantana Publishing
    Buy on Amazon
    four-half-stars

    The gnarled tree on the hill sometimes turns into a pirate ship. A rope serves as an anchor, a sheet as a sail, and Sam is its fearless captain. But one day another sailor approaches, and he's not from Sam's street. Can they find something more precious than diamonds and gold? Can they find . . . friendship?

    the pirate tree

    Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of The Pirate Tree from the publisher to review and enjoy with our family in exchange for an honest review.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    Friends are an important part of everyone’s life. For children who recently arrive in a new country, state or town, making friends is even more significant. Friendship can help ease a child’s transition and enhance their learning and social development.

    As beautifully demonstrated in the book The Pirate Tree, making new friends can sometimes be a challenging and uncomfortable experience.  When newcomer Agu tries to make friends with Sam, Agu doesn’t immediately feel welcome after asking if he can play pirate ship with her.

    I don’t know you.  You’re not from my street.  Agu’s face falls.  He watches her struggle with a thick rope.  No one wants to play with him because he’s a newcomer.

    Initially, Sam is unsure about Agu, but then she finds out he’s from Nigeria and that he sailed on a ship before.  Once Sam begins to open up and get to know a little more about Agu, she invites him aboard her make believe pirate ship and they embark on a journey towards friendship.

    The Pirate Tree teaches readers to encourage inclusions among new friends and connect through conversations.  Sam and Agu were quickly able to establish things they had in common which led to an invitation to play together.  A delightful story about finding a kindred spirit and discovering a new friend.  Available for purchase now from Lantana Publishing.  Ages 5 – 8.

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    family fun, product reviews

    The Easiset Way to Learn How to Play Chess for Ages 5 – 105: Brainblox Family Fun Chess

    Disclaimer: My family received a free Family Fun Chess set from Brainblox to review and enjoy with our family in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    If you’re like me and have little to no experience playing the game of chess, you may be wondering how to teach kids to play chess when you don’t even know how to play yourself! Thankfully, Brainblox is here to help! They recently introduced a beautiful Family Fun Chess set to their product line and it’s so great.

    If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me talking about it recently in my Instagram stories.  I also hosted a giveaway in partnership with Brainblox where we gave away one chess set to a lucky winner.

    What is Family Fun Chess?

    It’s a color-coded, FUN, learn-as-you-play game for kids and adults to learn chess!

    When it’s your turn, simply roll the Chess Cube to see which piece to move! The Reference Cards make it easy to learn-as-you-play, while the full-color Instruction Book and videos tell you everything else you need to know.

    The chess set includes:

    • a folding wooden chess board
    • 32 wooden chess pieces
    • 2 reference cards
    • a full color chess book
    • a wooden cube

    Learning how to play chess the “Family Fun” way was very easy to understand for me and my kids.  We found the reference cards to be super useful in helping us all understand how each of the chess pieces are able to move on the board during the game.  I also appreciate the fact that Brainblox included instructions for playing chess the standard way too.  This will come in handy once we’ve fully grasped the rules of chess and are ready to move on to learning how to play standard chess.

    The thing I love most about learning to play chess and teaching my kids to play is all of the benefits associated with understanding the game.

    Here are just a few of the benefits of playing chess:

    • increases concentration and memory
    • helps with paying attention to detail and strategic thinking
    • improves problem-solving and spatial skills
    • exercises both sides of the brain

    Even more importantly, I find learning to play chess alongside my children to be much more meaningful because offers quality time and experiences that we will remember for a lifetime. If you’re sold on learning to play chess with your little ones, you’ll first need to get your family a chess set.  If you can’t already tell, I’d highly recommend the Family Fun Chess set from Brainblox.  It makes a great holiday or anytime of the year gift for ages 5 – 105!

    Not ready to invest in a chess set of your own yet?  You can also look into local chess clubs for kids in your area.  Find out if your child’s school or your local library has a Chess Club. That’s a great place to start, so kids can get basic instruction and have peers to play with.  There are also many online resources and apps available to use too.  You can choose to play against friends, connect with other players at your level, or get live or virtual tutoring.

    Your turn:  Do you or your children know how to play chess?  Are you excited to learn about the Family Fun Chess set from Brainblox?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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