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    book reviews, children's books

    So Here I Am: Speeches by Great Women to Empower and Inspire by Anna Russell

    So Here I Am: Speeches by Great Women to Empower and Inspire by Anna RussellSo Here I Am: Speeches by Great Women to Empower and Inspire by Anna Russell
    Published by White Lion Publishing on February 5, 2019
    Pages: 176
    Format: Hardcover
    Source: White Lion Publishing
    Buy on AmazonBuy on Indie Bound
    five-stars

    The first dedicated collection of seminal speeches by women from around the world, So Here I Am is about women at the forefront of change – within politics, science, human rights and media; discussing everything from free love, anti-war, scientific discoveries, race, gender and women's rights. From Emmeline Pankhurst's 'Freedom or Death' speech and Marie Curie's trailblazing Nobel lecture, to Michelle Obama speaking on parenthood in politics and Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza's stirring ode to black women, the words collected here are empowering, engaging and inspiring. With powerful illustrations from Camila Pinheiro, this anthology of outspoken women throughout history is essential reading for anyone who believes that change is not only possible, it is necessary.

    Published just in time for Women’s History Month, So Here I Am is an inspiring, and beautifully illustrated book of empowering speeches about women who have broken boundaries and achieved their dreams.

    As the book introduction states,

    These are speeches that started revolutions, both the kind that take place in the public square – in mass demonstrations and violent clashes – and the quieter kind, which take place in the mind.  These are speeches that should be remembered.

    I can honestly say prior to reading this book, I wasn’t familiar with many of the speeches featured in this book.  Throughout the book you’ll find speeches given by famous scientists, activists, novelists, politicians, suffragists, prime ministers, First Ladies and modern day CEOs.  It was refreshing to see the anthology’s exploration of women in fields like science and business that are sometimes not represented in other books of its kind.


    For each woman featured, there is a brief summary of her personal story, struggles, and successes, including how they got to where they are now if they are still living.  In essence, So Here I Am shares, explores, and celebrates the strong women out there who have worked or are currently working to pave the way for women.  This book gave me the confidence and encouragement to go out and do the same.

    Here are a few snippets of some of my favorite quotes from the book:

    Servern Cullis-Suzuki
    Environmental Activist

    In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid of telling the world how I feel.

    Toni Morrison
    Novelist

    Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence…

    Cheryl Sandberg
    Chief Operating Officer at Facebook since 2008

    But if all young women start to lean in, we can close the ambition gap right here, right now.  Leadership belongs to those who take it.  Leadership starts with you.

    Sylvia Rivera
    LGBTQ Activist

    I believe in us getting our rights, or else I would not be out there fighting for our rights.

    Maria Stewart
    Journalist and Abolitionist

    …it is not the color of the skin that makes the man or the woman, but the principle formed in the soul.

    J.K. Rowling
    Novelist

    And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

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

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    family fun

    Budget-Friendly Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: Something for Every Member of Your Family

    Roses are red, violets are blue, here are some gift ideas that we’ve picked out for you!  With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to start spreading the love.  Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to let those around you know you care, and give a gift that gets remembered.  I personally like giving intentional, practical and thoughtful gifts that people will actually use and appreciate.

    Whether shopping for your partner, your child, or your favorite four legged friend, we’ve got you covered!

    For the Adult Book Lovers

    Book Beau

    We adore this book sleeve from Book Beau that helps protect your books!  Your books need some hugs and kisses, too.

    Price Range: $15 – $30 depending on the size purchased.

    Image courtesy of Book Beau

    Go on a Library Date Night

    Here’s a bookish idea for partners to try…a Library Date night.  How fun is this?  The best part, it’s completely FREE.  You can download the free printables here.  If you decide to try this on your own, tell me how it went, pretty please!  I’d try it, but this isn’t my husband’s thing.

    Price Range: FREE


    Image courtesy of The Dating Divas

    For the Kid Book Lovers

    Book-Wrapped Pencils

    Spice up your child’s reading and writing with these book-wrapped pencils.

    Price Range: $9.00 + shipping

    Image courtesy of Bouncing Ball Creations

    For the Couples or the Entire Family

    Poo-Pourri

    Roses are red, violets are blue, I love you much more when I can’t smell your poo.

    Spritz the bowl before you go & no one else will ever know.  Poo-Pourri is a blend of natural essential oils that create a barrier to embarrassing bathroom odors.

    Price Range: $4.95 – $44.95 depending on the size purchased.


    Image courtesy of Poo-Popourri

    For the Pet Owners

    Conversation Heart Rope Toy

    Because our four-legged family members like presents too!
    Price Range: $6.99


    Image courtesy of Petco

    Cat Scratching Post

    Price Range: $19.99


    Image courtesy of Petco

    For the Foodie Or Anyone Who Likes Breakfast in Bed Or Taking Baths

    Portable Bathtub Bed Tray

    Makes for a perfect gift for just about anyone!  This item is definitely on my wish list!

    Price Range: $44.99



    Images courtesy of Amazon

    For the Travel Enthusiast

    Scratch Off World Map

    These maps are a fun way to keep track of your past travels while helping you stay inspired as you plan your future trips. You simply scratch off the parts of the world you’ve been.  Fun for the whole family to plan travel trips together.

    Price Range: $19.99 – $39.99

    How to Travel the World on $50 a Day Book

    An awesome travel resource that every traveler needs in their arsenal.  This book shows you how to travel the world on a budget with an easy to follow format.  Read it to learn how to become a master traveler and navigate the world — no matter where in the world you want to go!

    Image courtesy of Amazon

    Your turn: What gifts are you giving this Valentine’s Day?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's books

    Exclusive Book Trailer Reveal – Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge

    Exclusive Book Trailer Reveal – Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn BridgeSecret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge Published by MacMillian on February 19, 2019
    Format: Hardcover
    Source: Roaring Brook Press
    Buy on Amazon

    On a warm spring day in 1883, a woman rode across the Brooklyn Bridge with a rooster on her lap. It was the first trip across an engineering marvel that had taken nearly fourteen years to construct. The woman's husband was the chief engineer, and he knew all about the dangerous new technique involved. The woman insisted she learn as well. When he fell ill mid-construction, her knowledge came in handy. She supervised every aspect of the project while he was bedridden, and she continued to learn about things only men were supposed to know: math, science, engineering.

    Women weren't supposed to be engineers. But this woman insisted she could do it all, and her hard work helped to create one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. This is the story of Emily Roebling, the secret engineer behind the Brooklyn Bridge.

    We’re thrilled to reveal the exclusive book trailer for Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge!  Look for this one to publish from MacMillian Children’s Books on February 19, 2019.  Press play below to watch the trailer!

    Emily Warren Roebling was born on September 23, 1843 in Cold Spring, Putnam County, New York.  Though most commonly known for being the wife of Washington Roebling and for her role in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, Emily accomplished much more throughout her life, such as obtaining her law degree from New York University’s Women’s Law class which she had enrolled in 1899.

    Today, you can visit the Roebling Museum in Roebling, New Jersey.  Check out their website here: http://roeblingmuseum.org/.

    Your turn: Did you know a woman engineered and designed the Brooklyn Bridge?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    black history, book reviews, children's books, diverse books, giveaways

    Black History Month: Waiting for Pumpsie + A Giveaway!

    waitingforpumpsie

    I received this book for free from Charlesbridge in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

    Waiting for Pumpsie by Barry Wittenstein
    Published by Charlesbridge Format: Hardcover
    Source: Charlesbridge
    Buy on AmazonBuy on Indie Bound
    five-stars

    In 1959 the Boston Red Sox was the last team in the Major Leagues to integrate. But when they call Elijah “Pumpsie” Green up from the minors, Bernard is overjoyed to see a black player on his beloved home team. And, when Pumpsie’s first home game is scheduled, Bernard and his family head to Fenway Park. Bernard is proud of Pumpsie and hopeful that this historic event is the start of great change in America.

    This fictionalized account captures the true story of baseball player Pumpsie Green’s rise to the major leagues. The story is a snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement and a great discussion starter about the state of race relations in the United States today.

    Waiting for Pumpsie is based on a fictional character named Bernard and his family, but based on true events from Pumpsie Green’s life.

    All Pumpsie Green wanted to do was play baseball. He didn’t aspire to play for the major leagues initially, but he eventually went on to become the first Black baseball player to integrate the Boston Red Sox. Although Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball in 1947, it took the Red Sox another twelve years to integrate their team. They were the last team in Major League Baseball to have a Black player.

    This is an inspiring and feel good story about equality and change. Pumpsie Green is currently still alive today and is sometimes invited back to Fenway Park to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at Red Sox games.

    Click here to see a list of the first Black players for each Major League Baseball team.

    About the Author
    Barry has been a bartender, taxi driver, song writer, substitute teacher and writer for the Major League Baseball.  He grew up as a Mets fan and was eight years old when he first heard the name Pumpsie Green.  He lives in Manhattan with his wife and son.  Visit his website: onedogwoof.com.

    About the Illustrator
    London Ladd currently lives in Syracuse, New York.  He’s a graduate of Syracuse University with a BFA in Illustration. He has illustrated numerous critically acclaimed children’s books including March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World (Scholastic), written by Christine King Farris, the older sister of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Frederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass (Disney/Jump at the Sun), written by Doreen Rappaport, and Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and her Secret School (Lee & Low Books), written by Janet Halfmann.  His goal is to open an art center in Syracuse so that young people and families can create their own art.  Visit his website: londonladd.com.

    The Giveaway!
    One (1) winner will receive a copy of Waiting for Pumpsie courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.  Open to all US based residents age 18 and over.  Good Luck!

    Waiting for Pumpsie Book Giveaway

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    children's books, giveaways

    Beep and Bob: A New Early Chapter Book Series for Kids! + A Giveaway!

    Beep and Bob by Jonathan Roth (Author, Illustrator)
    Age Range: 6 – 9
    Grade Level: 1 – 4

    Have you introduced your elementary aged readers to Beep and Bob yet?  Bob is a space-school attendee and Beep is his alien bestie.  This early chapter book series is lively and action-packed and is recommended for the 6 – 9 year old crowd.

    In their first adventure, Bob is humiliated on a field trip to Pluto when his tongue gets stuck to the ice.  In the second book Beep and Bob find themselves in a sticky situation and end up getting blamed for a robbery on a spaceship.  The third book finds Beep and Bop coming up with a clever plan to save Halloween. Book number four is double the fun as it involves cloning!  Beep and Bop accidentally clone themselves and it becomes a battle of good vs. evil.  The cloned Beep and Bop turn out to be evil and want to hatch a plan to clone an evil Earth.  Oh my!

    Beginning readers are likely to enjoy all of the silliness in these books.  I think they are good for kids who are just starting to tackle early chapter books on their own.  They are also good to read-aloud for story time although sometimes the text, jokes and silliness may seem too juvenile to adults.  Like many early chapter books, the chapters in these books are not too long so the book can be finished within a matter of days or weeks.  And of course, space loving kids will likely be drawn to all of the space references throughout the series.

    Reviewers love the Beep and Bob series!
     
    “Pretty sporky, as Bob would approvingly put it.” —Booklist
     

    “A strong addition to any library’s chapter book selection.” —School Library Journal


    About the Author
    Author-illustrator Jonathan Roth is a public elementary school art teacher in Maryland who likes reading, writing, drawing, cycling, and napping. Though he has never left the Earth, he has met four of the astronauts who have gone to the moon. Beep and Bob is his first series. To learn more, and to download a free Beep and Bob activity kit, visit his website: beepandbob.com.

    Supergalactic Giveaway!
    One (1) lucky winner will receive a set of ALL FOUR Beep and Bob titles–Too Much Space!, Party Crashers, Take Us To Your Sugar, and Double Trouble (U.S. addresses), courtesy of Aladdin/Simon & Schuster!
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    book reviews, children's books, diverse books

    Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel (A Book Review)

    I received this book for free from Penguin Kids in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

    Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel
    Published by Penguin Kids Format: Hardcover
    Source: Penguin Kids
    Buy on AmazonBuy on Indie Bound
    four-stars

    A young black girl lifts her baby hands up to greet the sun, reaches her hands up for a book on a high shelf, and raises her hands up in praise at a church service. She stretches her hands up high like a plane's wings and whizzes down a hill so fast on her bike with her hands way up. As she grows, she lives through everyday moments of joy, love, and sadness. And when she gets a little older, she joins together with her family and her community in a protest march, where they lift their hands up together in resistance and strength.

    Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

    Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, illustrated by Shane W. Evans

    If you look up the phrase “hands up” in many dictionaries, you’ll likely see a negative definition written.

    For example:

    ▪️an order given by a person pointing a gun.  Source: Collins dictionary
    ▪️to admit that something bad is true or that you have made a mistake. Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    ▪️to deliver (an indictment) to a judge or higher judicial authority.  Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary (By the way, do you know the history behind raising your right hand to testify in court? Look it up, I found it quite interesting.)

    This book shows a little Black girl named Viv putting her hands up in various everyday situations like: greeting the sun, playing peek-a-boo, raising hands in defense during a basketball game, raising hands in class, picking fruit off trees, and raising hands during praise and worship at church. In the end, readers see Viv a little older raising her hands in resistance and strength with a group of friends at a community protest march.

    With sparse text and lively illustrations, Hands Up! cleverly shows readers lifting your hands doesn’t always imply negativity. It gently encourages children to feel happy and confident to raise their hands. It also supports reticent kids in speaking up or standing up for what’s right.

    It was interesting and refreshing to be reminded of all the times we raise our hands throughout the day from stretching in the morning when we wake to reaching for something high on a shelf like a library book.  My personal favorite page is little Viv raising her hands in church demonstrating joy and praise to God through worship. Viv sets her power aside and praises God by physically and publicly demonstrating to Him that she needs Him which empowers her.

    The back matter has notes from the author and illustrator which explain why this book was written.

    I worry that this world casts Black kids as victims, villains, or simply adults before they’re grown up. – Breanna J. McDaniel

    This brilliant reminder from Breanna helped guide me back to lifting my hands in joy. – Shane W. Evans

    Hands Up! is available now online and where books are sold. Ages 4-8 and up.

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

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    children's literacy, read aloud

    World Read Aloud Day: Share Your Love of Reading Globally + Fun Ways to Celebrate

    February 1st is World Read Aloud Day.  It’s a day that motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. Each year World Read Aloud Day is celebrated by millions of people in more than 100 countries thanks to people like you who participate and spread the word across the globe!  World Read Aloud Day is presented by global literacy nonprofit LitWorld and sponsored by Scholastic.

    Why Reading Aloud Matters

    There have been countless studies that have proven the many benefits of reading.  When it comes to children, the ideal time to begin sharing books with children is during infancy, even as young as six weeks old (or sooner). From early on, children should own books, be read to often and see others reading and writing.  Children are rapidly learning language.  They often quadruple the number of words they know between the ages of 1-2.  Therefore, as parents and caregivers it’s crucial to read aloud with them often to increase their vocabulary.

    Have you ever noticed children who aren’t as articulate as others when they reach the age of 2 or 3?  From that alone, I can usually tell the kids who are being read to at home versus the ones who aren’t.  Either they are being read to OR they have frequent back and forth interaction with a loving caregiver.

    Fun Fact: Reading 15 minutes per day exposes children to over 1,000,000 words per year!  Reading 15 minutes every day for 5 years is 27,375 minutes.  Daily reading is enough to make a difference.  That’s why reading aloud matters especially now in a world where so many kids are exposed to screens on a daily basis.

    Fun Ways to Celebrate World Read Aloud Day

    One of the great things about World Read Aloud Day is connecting with other like-minded book lovers globally across the world.  It’s so interesting to follow the hashtag #WorldReadAloudDay to see how other libraries, educators, parents and children are celebrating the day.

    Here are a few ways you can celebrate and participate:

    • If you’re an educator or librarian, arrange to have a Skype session or in-person visit with an author or illustrator
    • Educators can arrange a Skype session with another classroom in a different state or country.  Both classes can take turns reading aloud a book (or a short chapter from a book)
    • Make your own Reading Crown using a brown paper bag.  So cute and fun!
    • Print and color your own Bookmarks!
    • Organize a book drive and donate collected books to a local organization or school in need
    • Make a monetary donation to LitWorld or another organization that promotes the importance of reading
    • Attend a read aloud event in your community or at a local library or bookstore!
    • Donate books you no longer want or need to a local organization, pediatric office, Little Free Library or shelter
    • Read aloud a stack of 2 – 5 picture books at home with smaller kids or read aloud a couple of chapters together with older kids
    • Incorporate technology and use read aloud apps like: Epic, One More Story, and Storyline Online
    • Follow along on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtags #wrad19 or #WorldReadAloudDay

    You can join in the fun of the World Read Aloud Day movement by registering on litworld.org/wrad.  On the website you’ll also find some helpful resources including a book list and activity packet to use at home or in your classroom.  To learn more about World Read Aloud Day visit litworld.org/wrad and scholastic.com/WorldReadAloudDay.  On social media, join the conversation and post videos or pictures using #WorldReadAloudDay.  Connect with LitWorld on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

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