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    Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave Blog Tour: Teaching Kids About Bravery

    Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave by Jessica Hische

    Recommended Ages: 3-7

    Synopsis
    Tomorrow I’ll be all the things I tried to be today:
    Adventurous, Strong, Smart, Curious, Creative, Confident, & Brave.
    And if I wasn’t one of them, I know that it’s OK.

    Journey through a world filled with positive and beautifully hand-lettered words of widsom, inspiration, and motivation. As this book reminds readers, tomorrow is another day, full of endless opportunities–all you have to do is decide to make the day yours.

    Reflection
    As a parent, I’m always mindful to ensure I’m setting good examples for my kids while also teaching them valuable life lessons that will benefit them in their adult lives.  Like many parents and caregivers, I want my children to grow up and lead successful lives.  While there are many things that lead to success and happiness, I believe one of the most powerful things is courage.

    During the average person’s lifetime, they will likely experience successes, failures, rejections, and many unexpected turns.  That’s why I think it’s important to instill courage in children from a young age and continuously expose them to safe opportunities where they can practice being brave in real life scenarios.

    For example, my daughter sometimes gets anxious if she’s picked up a bit later than usual at school.  This is especially true at the start of any new school year or after an extended break from school.  It usually takes her about a week or two to get back into the school routine after being at home during school breaks.  If she’s picked up late she will cry non-stop until either myself or my husband arrives.  Whenever this happens, my husband and I reassure her that one of us will always be there to pick her up from school.  We also read lots of books about anxiety, having courage, and being brave like Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave.  It’s the perfect book to read to give kids the courage to keep going, to find a different way, and of course the courage to try and be brave in the first place.

    This book teaches kids that bravery isn’t about something magical that happens inside us to make us ‘not scared’. It’s about something magical that happens inside us to make us push through fear, self-doubt, anxiety, and do the things that feel hard or risky or frightening. Sometimes, being brave only has to happen for seconds at a time – just long enough to be brave enough.  This book also reminded me about one of the most important parts of being brave: knowing that somewhere inside of you, ‘brave’ will be there when you need it, whether you feel it or not.

    There is also a fantastic overall message that rings loud and clear in this book:

    Tomorrow I’ll be all the things I tried to be today…and if I wasn’t one of them, I know that it’s okay.

    Children get the reassurance that if they haven’t been any of the things they hoped to be today, there is always tomorrow, which is full of endless opportunities.  I think that messages give children space for imperfection which is a great growth staple.

    In summary, there are so many great things I enjoyed about this book:

    • It teaches children they are strong, that they can cope, and that they are not as fragile as they might sometimes feel.
    • There are wonderful vocabulary words like: adventurous, curious, confident, brave
    • Kids understand brave is about doing what’s best for them
    • Encourages children’s sense of adventure

    Check this one out if you’re looking for a picture book to help have a discussion about bravery and courage with your little readers.

    About the Author
    Jessica Hische grew up in Pennsylvania. She currently lives in San Francisco, where she works as a letterer, illustrator, type designer, and relentless procrastiworker. Clients include Wes Anderson, Dave Eggers, The New York Times, Tiffany & Co., OXFAM America, McSweeney’s, American Express, Target, Victoria’s Secret, Chronicle Books, Nike, and Samsung.

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    book reviews, children's books, diverse books

    5 Reasons Why You Should Read The Questioneers Chapter Book Series


    I could hardly contain my excitement when I initially learned about The Questioneers Chapter Book Series, a clever chapter book spin-off of the popular STEM picture books based on the characters Rosie Revere, Iggy Peck and Ada Twist.  I am a huge fan of Iggy Peck, ArchitectRosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist so that automatically made me have high expectations for the chapter book series.  If you love Ada, Iggy and Rosie as much as I do, here are five reasons why you should read The Questioneers chapter book series:

    1. Each of the original high achieving, STEM lovin’ bunch of kids are featured in the series: Ada, Iggy and Rosie.  Plus, there are a few new characters introduced (Mrs. Lu, the Blue River Riveters, Ada’s great-aunt Bernice) along with some familiar ones like Rosie’s great-great-aunt Rose.

    2. There’s lots of fun, engineer-inspired artwork featured throughout that is easy for kids to understand.  I love the use of graph paper illustrations shown throughout.  I think they really capture the feeling of Rosie actually writing in her notebook and taking notes for her project.  The illustrations are drawn in black and white with some added pops of red (and of course, Rosie and Ada’s signature red and white polka dots).

    3. Just like in the picture books, readers will learn great lessons of: teamwork, brainstorming, persistence, camaraderie, problem solving and STEM.  I always love it when readers can take away wonderful messages they can use in their own real-life experiences.

    4.  Diverse female characters are shown as strong and positive role models.  The Blue Riveters who are portrayed in Book #1 are a group of smart, tough and hard working airplane builders who just happen to be females.  This shows children that women can do ALL types of jobs including build airplanes, tanks, and jeeps.  The scarf-wearing character Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon representing the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II.  She recently passed away in January 2018 at the age of 96.  The hard work of the Riveters helped the Allies win World War II.  So there’s also a bit of history kids learn too about The Riveters in the back matter.  How clever of author Andrea Beaty to introduce a real-life historical element to the character in the book!  I’ve seen the Rosie the Riveter image for years and never made the connection of the red polka dot scarf to Rosie’s character until reading this book.

    5. The chapters are short (there are 22 chapters in total) and contain lots of action words including a good amount of onomatopoeia that kids are sure to love: THUD, CRACK, BOOM, SPLAT, SLURP (these words are always so fun to say with kids).  An early reader could read this book easily on their own or with the help of a grown-up in a short period of time.  The chapters don’t drag out and they are fun to read!  Grown-ups will love reading these books just as much as the kids.  Makes a fantastic family read aloud book for story time at home!

    Overall, the kids and I loved everything about Book #1 of The Questioneers series.  It’s perfect for science and STEM enthusiasts or budding entrepreneurs to read.  The back matter also contains factual science information about valves, a brief history of The Riveters, a “Think About This” question for kids to ponder, and author/illustrator notes.

    We’re already looking forward to reading the second book in the series when it publishes in April 2019!

    Your turn: Have I convinced you to check out the books in this series?  Have you read any of the popular picture books?  Which character from the series is your favorite?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters: The Questioneers Book #1

    Recommended Ages 6-9 and up

    Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants: The Questioneers Book #2 (Available for pre-orders NOW!)

    Publishes in April 2019, but you can pre-order it NOW!

    Recommended Ages 6-9 and up

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    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    New Bilingual Series Inspired by the Life of Latina Sensation Sarai Gonzalez

    Viral video sensation and social activist, Sarai Gonzalez has teamed up with award-winning author Monica Brown to create a new illustrated chapter book series influenced by Gonzalez’s life.  Sarai initially became popular back in 2016 when she “broke the internet” with a music video for Colombian band Bomba Estéreo for the song “Soy Yo” (“I’m Me”).  The video has a contagious Latin rhythm and strong lyrics emphasizing self-love and diversity.  The video garnered over 30 million views and the New York Times called Sarai a Latina icon.

    Sarai Gonzalez is AWESOME. Fourth grader Sarai Gonzalez can do anything. She can bake, dance, and run her own cupcake business, Sarai’s Sweets.  Sarai is a spunky little girl with a kind heart and big dreams.

    My kids and I truly enjoyed reading both of these chapter books over the course of a few weeks as read aloud stories.  We liked how much Sarai loves her family, her Peruvian and Costa Rican culture and her willingness to help her family and friends when needed.  We found this chapter book series to be very fun and upbeat to read!

    I also appreciated having a few Spanish words sprinkled throughout both books as well as a few Peruvian references like the word “Tata”, which means grandfather.  Emerging readers would have no problem reading the text on their own, with some help needed from a grown-up every now and again.  Overall, we adore little Sarai, her friends and tight knit Latinx family.  A great series for emerging readers ages 7 and up.

    Launching simultaneously in Spanish and English, the series kicks off with two books: Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome (9781338236682; 9/11/18; $5.99; Paperback) and Sarai in the Spotlight (9781338236699; 9/11/18; $5.99; Paperback).  Recommended for ages 7-10, Grades 2-5.

    About Sarai Gonzalez
    Eleven-year-old Sarai Gonzalez became an overnight sensation after appearing in Bomba Estero’s, “Soy Yo,” a music video about embracing yourself and loving your flaws. Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome is the first book in her new chapter book series inspired by her life. Sarai lives in New Jersey with her family.

    About Monica Brown
    Monica Brown is the award-winning author of super-awesome books for children, including The Lola Levine chapter book series, Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/no combina, Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, and Waiting for the Biblioburro. She is Professor of English at Northern Arizona University, specializing in Latinx and African American Literature. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her husband and her dogs, Lola and Finn. Visit her at www.monicabrown.net.

    Your turn: Have you checked out this series yet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    Turning Pages: My Life Story (A Book Review)

    Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    Turning Pages: My Life Story by by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Lulu Delacre

    Publisher: Philomel Books
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 4 – 8
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3

    Synopsis
    As the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor has inspired young people around the world to reach for their dreams. But what inspired her? For young Sonia, the answer was books! They were her mirrors, her maps, her friends, and her teachers. They helped her to connect with her family in New York and in Puerto Rico, to deal with her diabetes diagnosis, to cope with her father’s death, to uncover the secrets of the world, and to dream of a future for herself in which anything was possible.

    In Turning Pages, Justice Sotomayor shares that love of books with a new generation of readers, and inspires them to read and puzzle and dream for themselves.

    Reflection
    From the very first sentence right to the very end, this story captured my full attention.  Not only did I learn so much about Justice Sonia Sotomayor and her background, but I also read some of the most poetic and beautiful phrases about books and reading.  It was such a treat to learn how much books played such an important part in her life.

    My story is a story about books – of poems and comics, of law and mystery, of science and science fiction.

    Reading was like lighting candles, each book a flame that lit up the world around me.

    Written words, I discovered, were electrical currents that jolted feelings to life.

    Books, it seemed, were magic potions that could fuel me with the bravery of superheroes.

    Books were my loyal friends.  They made it so I never felt lonely.

    Books were mirrors of my very own universe.

    Throughout Sonia’s life, books brought her comfort in the darkest periods. She talks about being diagnosed with diabetes when she was seven years old and how she found courage by reading comic books.  The illustrations showing her injecting herself with needles are powerful.  Instead of insulin, she imagines injecting herself with a “magic potion” and being a brave superhero.  When she was nine years old her father passed away.  At the time, Sonia found comfort and escape at the nearby Parkchester Library.  Books helped her escape her reality and allowed her precious opportunities to experience wonder.

    Almost every illustration in the book features books or reading in some way.  Sonia is seen reading at home, at the library and in college.  The back matter has a timeline of Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s life and there are actual photographs in the end papers.  The thing I love most about this book is that Sonia wrote it on her own and she’s still alive to tell her own story – her own truth.  A delightful and informative book that is sure to inspire a new generation of readers, leaders, aspiring lawyers and social justice activists.

    Your turn: Which book(s) from your childhood played an important part in your life?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    adult books, book reviews, STEM, technology

    Coding for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Help With Coding Homework

    Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

    Coding for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Help With Homework by Frazer Wilson

    Publisher: Sterling Publishing
    Pages: 208
    Format: Paperback

    Synopsis
    Facing the daunting prospect of helping your children with their coding homework?  Coding for Parents teaches you what you need to know . . . so you can teach your kids!

    Unlock the mysteries of coding with this easy-to-follow and well-illustrated guide—and help your kids ace their coding homework! Organized by age and grade, It takes you by the hand and leads you through the basics, building your knowledge of key concepts, terminology, and techniques, and giving you the language you’ll need to explain it all to your child. Instructional diagrams and compelling illustrations appear throughout to enhance your understanding, and the book covers the most popular software, including Scratch, Python, and Java.

    Reflection
    The introduction of the computer has changed the world forever, for better or for worse.  The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science.  President Barack Obama said it best when he said, “In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill – it’s a basic skill.”

    In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill – it’s a basic skill.” – Barack Obama

    And yet, computer science is not part of the required curriculum in many US public schools.  That means it’s up to adults to help their children get more familiar with computers, technology and coding when it’s not offered to them in their school.  With the help of great books like Coding for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Help With Homework adults can cultivate a child’s interest in computing, even if they’ve never written a line of code on their own a day in their life.

    I like that this book is organized by age and grade level for different software like: Java, Scratch and Python.  It’s a compact and comprehensive introduction to all things coding broken down into digestible bites that are easy to comprehend.  There are also helpful diagrams with some added humor to help take a bit of the edge off if you’re new to the world of coding.  The book also contains a helpful glossary and index making it easy to find and reference information throughout.

    Coding is all about learning by doing.  And the more kids feel like they can “do” computers, the more likely they are to pursue technical careers.  An added bonus is having a parent or adult who understands coding and can help a child easily understand it too.  That’s where  Coding for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Help With Homework comes into play.  Check it out if you want to be able to confidently help the special kiddo in your life with their coding homework.  Makes a great back to school gift idea for parents!

    Your turn: Is Computer Science a part of the curriculum at your child’s school?  What other books would you recommend for adults to help children with coding homework?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    book reviews, children's books

    Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse: Book Review

    Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell, illustrated by Corinna Luyken

    Synopsis
    Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse–the best and most beautiful horse anywhere.  But Chloe does NOT believe him. Adrian Simcox lives in a tiny house. Where would he keep a horse? He has holes in his shoes. How would he pay for a horse?

    The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school and even complains about him to her mom, Chloe doesn’t get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important.

    Written with tenderness and poignancy and gorgeously illustrated, this book will show readers that kindness is always rewarding, understanding is sweeter than judgment, and friendship is the best gift one can give.

    Reflection
    At first glance, one might think this is just a book about a boy and his horse.  But once you open it up and start reading, you are introduced to so much more!

    First, little readers are introduced to Adrian Simcox sitting all by himself (probably daydreaming again) at the lunch table in the school cafeteria.  Off to the side you see a crowd of other diverse kids all sitting together having their own group conversations.  Right off the bat, you can tell Adrian is a loner who probably doesn’t have many friends.

    Next, you find out Adrian has a horse that he loves dearly and will tell just about anyone who will listen how beautiful his horse is.  “It has a white coat and golden mane and the biggest, brownest eyes of any horse, anywhere…”

    Everyone at school is convinced Adrian has a horse EXCEPT for Chloe.  She’s not buying Adrian’s story for one minute.  She know’s her friend Kelsey’s cousin has a horse and that horses are super expensive to take care of.  Besides, Adrian lives in small house, he gets free lunch at school and he has holes in his shoes so there’s NO WAY he could possibly have a horse, right?

    After being sick and tired of hearing Adrian brag about his horse, Chloe can’t take it anymore.  One day at recess she yells out loud so everyone can hear, “He’s lying! Adrian Simcox does NOT have a horse!”

    Shortly after, little readers meet the real star of this book, Chloe’s mother.  It’s through her subtle, yet powerful action of showing her daughter Chloe to stop being so judgmental that finally makes Chloe start to see Adrian in a different light.  Chloe’s mothers’ simple action at the end of the book tie in beautifully with a quote from Chloe’s teacher mentioned earlier in the book:

    We must try to be understanding.  We have to be patient.

    I love this book for so many reasons:

    • The gorgeous illustrations by illustrator Corinna Luyken will take your breath away!  (Look closely so you won’t miss the sightings of Adrian’s horse!)
    • The contrasts between Chloe and Adrian (Adrian’s messy desk, his run down neighborhood, holey shoes)
    • It has some wonderful messages of kindness, empathy, feelings, and friendship woven into it
    • It teaches children not to judge others based on things they have or don’t have
    • Adrian’s vivid imagination and his creative ability to see things in a different way
    • The way Chloe’s mom subtly shows her daughter about true kindness, respect and acceptance without saying a word.  It’s so beautiful to see how Chloe figured everything out on her own and realized her mistakes.

    I think this is such a great book to read during the back to school season (or anytime of the year).  Messages of kindness ring out loud and clear.  Don’t miss this one!

    About the Author


    Marcy Campbell lives in Ohio with her family and menagerie of rescued pets. Her writing for adults has been published widely in journals and magazines, including Salon. She grew up on a farm filled with cows, chickens, cats, and dogs, but she never had a horse. Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse is her debut picture book. You can visit her at www.marcycampbell.com.

    About the Illustrator
    Corinna Luyken grew up in different cities along the West Coast, and after studying at Middlebury College, she settled in Washington State, where she draws inspiration from nature, her family, and the human form. Her debut picture book, The Book of Mistakes, received four starred reviews and has been praised by Entertainment WeeklyThe Wall Street Journal, Nerdy Book Club, and more.

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    Fiona the Hippo Review+ A Giveaway!

    Disclaimer: We’re thrilled to partner with Zonderkidz for this adorable giveaway based on the true life story of internet sensation Fiona the Hippo from the Cincinnati Zoo!  Enter for your chance to win a copy of the picture book Fiona the Hippo, a Team Fiona plush and sippy cup.

    About Fiona the Hippo
    Fiona the Hippo, by New York Times bestselling artist Richard Cowdrey of Bad Dog, Marley fame, tells the story of Fiona, the adorable internet sensation from the Cincinnati Zoo who captured hearts around the world with her inspiring story and plucky personality.

    Born prematurely, at 29 pounds, Fiona was not expected to live. But her spunk and determination helped her thrive and become a happy, healthy hippopotamus. With every challenge she faced, Fiona let out a snort, wiggled her ears, and said “I’ve \got this.” And she did! In this delightful story, inspired by the real adventure of this heroic hippo, join Fiona and her lovable animal friends at the zoo as she is introduced to the world in this whimsical and inspiring tale of perseverance and friendship.

    Reflection
    I remember hearing about Fiona the Hippo last year and seeing her photo all over the Internet.  She’s the lovable little hippo who made her grand entrance to the world at the Cincinnati Zoo.  Born prematurely, and cared for with the assistance of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Fiona is the first Nile hippo born at the zoo in 75 years!  No wonder why she’s so irresistible to people of all ages.

    I was surprised at how valuable lessons of determination, grit, overcoming challenges and family came through in this book.  I was expecting to just read about Fiona’s background and journey, so the lessons sprinkled throughout the book was an added bonus!  It definitely helped me come up with a few discussion questions to talk to the kids about after the story ended which was great!

     

    About the Author

    Richard Cowdrey’s favorite things to draw and paint are the common things seen everywhere in nature. He especially enjoys capturing the expressions, eyes, and gestures of both humans and animals. Drawing and painting Fiona was challenging as the hippopotamus is a very unique yet beautiful creature! Richard’s bestselling children’s books include Legend of the Candy CaneBad DogMarley, and A Very Marley Christmas.

    The Giveaway!

    One (1) US-based resident (age 18 and over) winner will receive:

    Fiona the Hippo Prize Pack Sponsored by ZonderKidz

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