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    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    What Do You Do With a Chance? by Kobi Yamada (A Book Review)

    What Do You Do With a Chance? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom

    Publisher: Compendium Inc
    Pages: 44
    Format: Hardcover
    Age Range: 5 – 6 (and up)
    Grade Level:
    Kindergarten – 3 (and up)
    Publication Date: February 6, 2018 (Available for pre-order now!)

    The award–winning creators of The New York Times best sellers What Do You Do With an Idea? and What Do You Do With a Problem? return with a captivating story about a child who isn’t sure what to make of a chance encounter and then discovers that when you have courage, take chances, and say yes to new experiences, amazing things can happen.

    In this story, a child is visited by his first chance and unsure what to do with it, he lets it go. Later on, when a new chance arrives he reaches for it, but this time he misses and falls. Embarrassed and afraid, he begins ignoring each new chance that comes by, even though he still wants to take them. Then one day he realizes that he doesn’t need to be brave all the time, just at the right time, to find out what amazing things can happen when he takes a chance.

    The final addition to the award-winning What Do You Do With…? picture book series created by New York Times best selling author Kobi Yamada and illustrator by Mae Besom, What Do You Do With a Chance? inspires kids of all ages and parents alike to find the courage to go for the opportunities that come their way. Because you never know when a chance, once taken, might be the one to change everything.

    One thing that has become crystal clear to me over the years is out of fear comes growth. You can let fear inhibit you or you can let it motivate you to do and be better. Simply put, once you define and conquer your fears you can grow and be more apt to take chances. That is the overall message of this powerful forthcoming book. I’m in LOVE with it!

    It touches upon the process of learning, growing and stretching the bounds of who we are. With each new discovery, each lesson learned, we become larger and more complete than we were before, and we gain confidence that we can continue to grow and learn. Children need to actively explore and discover the world around them and learn to take calculated risks. The more they can do, the better they feel about themselves. That is just one of the messages I took away from this book.

    The story follows a child who is presented with many chances, but is afraid to act upon them. The more chances come around, the more the child’s fascination grows until one day he finds the courage to finally take it.

    So what do you do with a chance?  You take it…because it just might be the start of something incredible.

    I’d highly recommend this gem (along with the other two books in the series) for people of all ages. This book is for anyone who has ever wanted something, but was afraid of taking a risk to get it. It is sure to inspire and motivate you and your little readers.  So go ahead, take a chance and read this one – you’ll be glad you did.

    Your turn: Have you read the other two books in this series?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, read aloud

    Brave Children: Four Simple Ways to Support Scaredy-Cat Kids

    Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Disney-Hyperion for the #ReadMo Ambassador program!

    Monsters, the dark, ghosts, the boogeyman, giants, shadows, loud or creaky noises – all things that lead to nighttime fears in children.  Are you dealing with any of these lately?  We certainly are with our (almost) four year-old son.

    Does this scenario sound familiar?  Dinner time is over, dishes are washed and now it’s time to give the kids a bath before bed.  Once the kids are squeaky clean and story time is over, it’s time for them to snuggle and get cozy in their beds.  Then all of a sudden the fears start settling in.  Here come those darn annoying monsters again – or so your children think.

    As parents, I think it’s our natural instinct to want to do everything we can to help create a bedtime environment that will help our children feel safe, while also validating their fears and working together to solve the problem.  Sounds simple enough, right? Not always! Here are a few ideas of how I try to accomplish this.

    Read Empowering Books About Scaredy-Cats
    The goal: Show kids how to handle and overcome fears
    Now that we’ve identified our sons’ fear of being afraid of monsters and the dark, I try to focus on these topics by reading lighthearted, “not so scary” books like Leonardo the Terrible Monster and Sam the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World by Mo Willems.  Our son has really taken his Leonardo the Terrible monster stuffed toy.  He honestly takes his Leonardo everywhere to help protect him (even to school) – it’s the cutest thing!  I also like using the book Sam the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World to show our son how brave Sam and his new friend Kerry are.  It seems to be helping him feel more brave by sleeping in his own bed through the whole night…winning!

    Make a Bottle of “Monster Spray”

    The goal: Scare those pesky monsters away!
    Fill a spray bottle with water and add a few drops of lavender essential oil (around 5-10 drops). Use a crayon, pen or permanent marker to make a “label” (or design one on the computer, print it out, and tape it on). You can also decorate your spray bottle with googly eyes or other craft materials.  Each night at bedtime when your child says they’re scared use the spray.  Let your child spray all the places in their room that need it when it’s bedtime.  Hopefully you child will be confident there are no monsters in the room which will help them fall asleep.

    Show Your Kids How Much Fun It Is to Be in the Dark!
    The goal:
    Show kids being in the dark can be a fun experience.
    Get creative and show your kids how much fun being in the dark can be.  Read books by flashlight under the covers in the dark or have a glow in the dark party to help your children make the connection between the dark and having fun.

    Be Supportive: Watch Your Mouth!
    The goal: Avoid saying negative statements to your kids and be supportive.
    Whenever possible try to avoid saying any of the following phrases to your children:

    • You’re a big kid/stop acting like a baby.
    • There’s no need to be scared.
    • There’s no such thing as monsters, don’t be silly!
    • Stop whining/crying!

    During times like these, it’s important to remember children’s imaginations are powerful and complex things. They can bring both delight and fear.  Remember that your goal is to stay connected with your child, provide empathy and support, and be a safe place for them to fall back on.

    About Sam, the Most Scaredy-cat Kid in the Whole World

    Sam is afraid of anything and everything—except for his friend Leonardo, the terrible monster.
    Kerry is afraid of everything and anything—except for her friend Frankenthaler, the other monster.
    One day, the two scaredy-cat kids make a particularly scary discovery: each other!
    AAH! EEK! Something has to be done. Something BIG. But what?

    About Leonardo, the Terrible Monster
    Leonardo is truly a terrible monster-terrible at being a monster that is. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to frighten anyone. Determined to succeed, Leonardo sets himself to training and research. Finally, he finds a nervous little boy, and scares the tuna salad out of him! But scaring people isn’t quite as satisfying as he thought it would be. Leonardo realizes that he might be a terrible, awful monster-but he could be a really good friend.

    Visit the Official Website
    Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter
    Check out Disney Books on Facebook and Instagram

    Your turn: What are some of your best tips to help kids overcome their fears?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli (A Book Review)

    Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli, illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio

    Publisher: Chronicle Books
    Pages: 32
    Format: Hardcover
    Age Range: 5 – 8 and up
    Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3 and up
    Release Date:
    August 1, 2017

    Mr. Crocodile loves his job. Every morning he gets up with an alarm. He brushes his teeth. He chooses the right tie to match his outfit, eats a quick slice of toast, and heads off to work on a crowded train. But what exactly is his job? The answer may surprise you! Readers will want to pore over this witty, wordless book again and again, finding new details and fresh stories with every reading.

    I enjoy wordless picture books just as much as regular picture books. I like how they encourage us to slow down and search the illustrations for meaningful details that sometimes may get overlooked. One way I like to use wordless picture books is to write our own list of words for the book. I jot down different words to describe the setting and each character’s feelings.

    Like many wordless books, Professional Crocodile helps spark your imagination. It also features a fantastic story sequence which helps promote creativity. Kids and adults will be held captive by this story and the detailed illustrations – truly! You’ll be dying to know what kind of job this professional crocodile has. Where is he going? Why is he all dressed up? And what in the world is his job?

    In the beginning we see the crocodile relaxing in a pond the night before.  The next morning he begins his daily routine of getting ready for work – getting dressed, eating breakfast, etc.  Then he begins his morning commute via the subway.  The ending will surprise you and fill you with delight. You’ll be thinking…”Of course that’s what crocodiles do for a living!”  So cleverly done! I also love the empathy and kindness the crocodile has.  On his way to work he purchases a bouquet of flowers and gives them to a stranger (likely a woman he passes each day on his way to work).  He also buys a loaf of fresh bread to feed to the birds in a nearby park.

    Be sure to look for this one when it publishes on August 1, 2017.  We see something new each time we read it…so fun!

    Your turn: How do you use wordless picture books when reading with children?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, diverse books, read aloud

    A Picture Book for Nature-Loving Kids: Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan

    Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

    Publisher: Yosemite Conservancy
    Age Range: 4-8 years
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 32
    Publication Date: August 7, 2017

    Looking for a picture book for nature-loving kids?  Check out Where’s Rodney by Carmen Bogan.

    Rodney is that kid who just can’t sit still. He’s inside, but he wants to be outside. Outside is where Rodney always wants to be. Between school and home, there is a park. He knows all about that park. It’s that triangle-shaped place with the yellow grass and two benches where grown-ups sit around all day. Besides, his momma said to stay away from that park. When Rodney finally gets a chance to go to a real park, with plenty of room to run and climb and shout, and to just be himself, he will never be the same.

    All children seem to be born with an innate curiosity about the natural world.  Am I right?  By observing my own kids, I think it’s so enlightening to see the natural world through the eyes of a child. Their innate appreciation and fascination for all living things is a quality that can lead to many fulfilling learning experiences.  I think the book Where’s Rodney? may help parents and educators transform a child’s curiosity of the great outdoors into meaningful life lessons.

    Little Rodney is a bit fidgety because all he wants to do is go outside.  He doesn’t want to sit in Miss Garcia’s classroom and learn about the word of the week when there are so many other interesting things to see outside.  But Rodney’s exposure to the great outdoors is limited because of the low-income neighborhood he lives in.  His idea of going to the “park” is hanging out with a bunch grown-ups at a triangle-shaped piece of yellow grass where there are two benches, a broken gate and a sleeping bully-dog.  Rodney’s mother always warns him to stay away from that park and stay inside where’s it’s safe.  But outside was where Rodney really wanted to be.

    When Miss Garcia announces the field trip to the park everyone is excited except for Rodney.  He already knows about the “park” and wonders why everyone wants to go to the lackluster triangle-shaped piece of yellow grass. Much to Rodney’s surprise, they end up going to a real park and Rodney is blown away because he’s never seen a park quite like this.  For the first time in his life, Rodney really is outside – just where he wanted to be.

    Where’s Rodney? reminds readers that universe provides us with unlimited opportunities for connecting and growing with children. Whether you are watching a black bird soar, watching ants march up a hill—all it takes is some time spent together in the great outdoors and an attitude of inquiry to make the world come alive with infinite possibilities for discovery.  I love how this book supports the countless research studies about how much kids benefit from unstructured play outside.  Being in the park seemed to give Rodney a place of peace and refreshment in the busy world around him.

    At the park, he was higher.  He was lower.  He was bigger.  He was smaller.

    I think Where’s Rodney? is a magical book about the beauties of exploring the variety that the great outdoors has to offer.  But there are also deeper messages here that can lead to further discussions.  For example, some parents and educators may come to the conclusion that Rodney has ADHD – perhaps that’s why he’s so fidgety and doesn’t want to sit still.  Or does Rodney just have a different way of learning than his peers?  There is also the message of how some kids who live in low-income areas have limited exposure to nature and the outdoors.  It’s safer for kids living in these types of areas to stay indoors which can lead to obesity, unhealthy eating habits and increased amounts of screen time instead of exploring and playing outside.  This is why I think ALL children should have ample amounts of recess time at school. Oftentimes, it’s the only exposure underprivileged children get to be outdoors in a safe and supervised environment.

    Budding naturalists will love Floyd Cooper’s luscious, earthy and detailed illustrations that showcase the beauty and diversity of nature.  I think Where’s Rodney? is brimming with ideas that will surely spark a trip to a local park of your own.  This book will be a great companion for spring, summer and fall explorations.  It’s a touching and engaging story with a clear message – the natural world has amazing things to offer to those who are willing to slow down to explore them.  I hope you’ll take the time to check out this story about a young boy who discovers a majestic world in a park.

    The back matter includes some information on how to visit a park from the Yosemite Conservancy.

    About the Author
    Carmen Bogan is a member of the Oakland Literacy Coalition and is a writing coach for children and youth.  She has two daughters, Erin Danielle and Natalie Quinn, and currently lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, Willie. Visit her website Dream On Publishing.

    About the Illustrator
    Floyd Cooper has illustrated more than one hundred books for children.  He received the Coretta Scott King Award for this illustrations in The Blacker the Berry and three Coretta Scott King Honors for his illustrations in Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea and more.  He currently lives in Easton, Pennsylvania, with his growing family: Velma, Kai, Dayton, Melissa, and grandson, Niko.

    Your turn: How do you and your little readers explore the outdoors?  What’s your favorite outdoor activity or park? Feel free to share in the comments.



    book reviews, children's books, giveaways, read aloud

    The Case of the Stinky Stench by Josh Funk + A Book Giveaway!

    The Case of the Stinky Stench (Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast) by Josh Funk, illustrated by Brendan Kearney

    Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
    Pages: 40
    Format: Hardcover
    Age Range: 5 – 8 years
    Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3

    There’s a stinky stench in the fridge–and our favorite foodie friends must solve a smelly mystery! Sir French Toast’s nephew, Inspector Croissant, begs him and Lady Pancake for help in finding the source of the foul odor. Could it be the devious Baron von Waffle? A fetid fish lurking in the bottom of Corn Chowder Lake? Featuring the same delectable wordplay and delicious art that won critical raves for Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast–this fun follow-up is an absolutely tasty treat for kids and adults alike!

    Let’s face it, opening your refrigerator and smelling spoiled food is awful, right?  But sometimes it’s easy to forget what’s in your refrigerator and how long it’s been there until one day you open the door and encounter a very unpleasant smell…ewwww!  When food overstays its welcome, it can eventually fill your fridge with a terrible odor and no one wants that especially not our favorite food detectives Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast.  In The Case of the Stinky Stench they’re on a mission to solve a smelly mystery.

    I love the use of rhymes, fun food-related wordplay and the engaging illustrations featured throughout this book.

    Back in the kitchen and deep in the fridge,
    past Trifle Tower, across Taco Bridge,
    on a vacation at Marshmallow Coast,
    sat Lady Pancake beside Sir French Toast.

    There are also some great vocabulary words for little readers you don’t often see in picture books like: nefarious, devious, knave, vicious, sleuthing, dejected, fermented, fathom, prevail and delectable.  I had to pull out the dictionary to look up the word nefarious…hahaha!

    In the end, it’s Inspector Croissant who solves the mystery AND does a good deed for his fellow foodie friend.  My kids and I really enjoyed reading this entertaining and funny mystery.  It’s currently our new favorite breakfast time read aloud book – so fun!  Just make sure you have some food or snacks nearby after reading it in case your kids start asking for something to eat immediately after like mine do!  Want to enter for your chance to win a copy of this book?  See our giveaway listed below.

    Our friends at Sterling Children’s Books were generous enough to sponsor this giveaway to ONE (1) lucky winner! Enter for your chance to win a copy of The Case of the Stinky Stench written by Josh Funk.  Open to US and Canadian Residents age 18 and over.  Good Luck!

    The Case of the Stinky Stench Book Giveaway

    Connect with The Author!
    Josh Funk spends his days writing computer code and his free time writing picture book rhymes.  Visit Josh’s website or find him on Twitter.

    Connect with the Illustrator!
    Brendan Kearney specializes in illustrating children’s books.  He currently lives in the UK.  Visit his website or find him on Twitter.

    book reviews, children's books, diverse books, read aloud

    This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe (A Book Review)

    This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

    Publisher: Chronicle Books
    Pages: 52
    Age Range: 8 – 12 and up
    Grade Level: 3 – 7 and up
    Available for Sale:
    May 2, 2017

    Follow the real lives of seven kids from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia for a single day! In Japan Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda Daphine likes to jump rope. But while the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days—and this one world we all share—unites them. This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as a mirror reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamothe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.

    If you’re a fan of music from the 1990’s, I’m willing to bet the first thing that came to mind when you read the title of this post is the hit Montell Jordan song entitled “This is How We Do It“, am I right?  I was surprised to recently find out Montell Jordan is now a born again Christian and pastor living in the state of Georgia.  Who knew?  Anyway, I digress.  Let’s get on with the book, shall we?

    Little readers will love following these seven real life kids from around the world for a single day. The kids are from: Japan, Uganda, Italy, India, Iran, Peru and Russia. You get to find out their names, how old they are, what type of house they live in, how they play, what they typically eat and more.

    The author’s note explains how the concept of this book came together. He found seven children from different parts of the world who agreed to share their typical day. He communicated with their families through email and messaging apps to collect photos that he used as references to create all of the illustrations. The author also notes that some of the things the kids do or foods they eat may not necessarily reflect each child in that particular country. I think the idea is to just give readers a general idea of how other children are different or similar to them.

    This beautifully designed book easily serves both as a mirror and a window for children. I absolutely love the ending that shows we all have the same night sky reinforcing the fact that we are all indeed connected. And although we may have some differences, ultimately we are all the same. Just gorgeous! Look for this one when it publishes on May 2, 2017.

    Your turn: Are you excited to check this book out with your little readers?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, national poetry month, read aloud

    16 Poetry Picture Book Recommendations for National Poetry Month

    Looking for poetry picture book recommendations?  The KidLitPicks Book Club has a few recommendations.

    Parents have the capability to open the door to an incredible world for their child(ren). They have the sole pleasure of sharing the beauty and wonder of poetry with them. Poetry books contain soothing rhythms and rhymes, short, simple sentences and clever repetition of key words and phrases. There is nothing like the rhythm of words flowing together to form a story in such rich language. Poetry is such a happy thing! It’s magical to watch children’s eyes, minds, and hearts dancing along the rhythmical lines of poetry and into a lifelong love of lyrical language.

    The variety of language and structure in poetry is great for children’s growing brains and imaginations. It’s also refreshing for the grownups who read with them! With National Poetry Month now that we’re in April, it’s a splendid time to let poetry blossom in your household and in the young hearts of your children.

    Finding Wonders, by Jeannine Atkins 

    “’Knowing our history can make us stronger.’ Having examples of strong, determined, intelligent women from history for our own girls to read about can make them stronger.” — Summer from @readingisourthing

    Things to Do, by ​​Elaine Magliaro and Catia Chien

    Things to Do shows readers that wonder and enjoyment can be found anywhere and everywhere.” — Mel from @spiky_penelope

    A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson

    “It’s easy to hear [poetry] and immediately jump to Shel Silverstein… But before there was Shel, there was Stevenson.” — Katie from @afriendlyaffair

    Noisy Poems, by Debi Gliori

    “It makes a nice change from stories every now and again and it’s worth mentioning that it is chosen by Little Miss Bookhabit quite regularly so it gets the child friendly seal of approval.” — Claire from @alittlebookhabit

    A Family of Poems, by Caroline Kennedy and Jon J Muth

    When read aloud, poetry is rhythm and music and sounds and beats. Young children may not understand all the words or meaning, but they’ll feel the rhythms, get curious about what the sounds mean and perhaps want to create their own.” — Leah from @astoryaday

    Feelings, by Richard Jones and Libby Walden

    “Full to the brim of delightful illustrations and with a brilliant use of colour, this book is a beautifully poetic look into a wide range of emotions ranging from ‘happy’ to ‘angry’ to ‘alone’ and ‘calm.’” —  Kim from @bookbairn

    Voyage, Billy Collins and Karen Romagna

    “My selection has sentimental value as it was given to me by a dear friend to celebrate the arrival of our daughter.” — Miranda from @bookbloom

    Poems to Perform, by Julia Donaldson

    “This book was such a great find and has propelled me to explore poetry and performance in the classroom.” — De from @books_and_babycinos

    Animal Ark, by Kwame Alexander and Joel Sartore

    “Stunning images and beautiful text! National Geographic does it again!” — Arielle from @childrensbooksgalore

    What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About? by Judith Viorst

    “This collection of thoughtful, funny, and touching poems is grouped into child-centred topics, such as feelings, school stuff, family, home, friends, help, best and worst, seasons, mysteries, and unfinished business.” — Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

    Tan to Tamarind: Poems about the Color Brown, by Malathi Michelle Iyengar  and Jamel Akib

    “Who knew there were so many beautiful shades of the color brown!” — Charnaie from @hereweeread

    The Moon and Me, by Anna and Brian Boyter

    “This easy read is perfect for little ones, especially with its lyrical text.” — Wendy from @homegrownreader

    A Poem for Peter, by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Lou Fancher, and Steve Johnson

    “It’s a heart-burstingly inspiring and beautiful read. And one that I foresee becoming a well-thumbed, much-discussed book in this household for years to come.” — Shannon from @ohcreativeday

    Poetrees, by Douglas Florian 

    “Ripe with information, Douglas Florian’s poems in Poetrees are perfect for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers.” — Jamie from @smallysbookshelf

    Come With Me To Paris, by Gloria Fowler and Min Heo

    “I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and share my love of this big beautiful city with my kids.” — Michelle from

    The Land of Nod, by Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Hunter 

    “It’s a phantasmagoric journey through twilight shadows and moonlight.” — Liam from @words.and.illustrations

    This post may contain affiliate links.

    Your turn: What poetry/haiku books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share in the comments.