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    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.

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    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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    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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    Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o (A Book Review)

    Sulwe Published by Simon Kids on October 15, 2019
    Format: Hardcover
    Source: Simon Kids
    Buy on Amazon
    five-stars

    Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything. In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.

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

    Having lighter skin has long been a status symbol and is still seen as “superior” by many people around the world. However, thanks to the introduction of affirming songs like Beyonce’s “Brown Skin Girl” and books like Lupita Nyong’o’s forthcoming release Sulwe; Black girls and women everywhere are unapologetically adoring themselves for who they are inside and out.

    Sulwe, which means “star” in the Kenyan language Luo, introduces readers to a young girl named Sulwe who is the darkest person in her family. Sulwe wished she had light skin like her sister Mich who is the color of high noon. In an effort to try and lighten her skin, Sulwe uses a big eraser to try and rub off layers of her skin and she only eats the lightest, brightest foods like: bananas, white bread, and crackers. As a last effort, Sulwe decides to turn to God and pray for a miracle. She prays to wake up and have light skin and lots of friends just like her sister. When she wakes up the next morning and sees her prayer wasn’t answered she breaks down and tells her mother everything.

    Her mother gives her sage advice and reassures her she’s beautiful just the way she is. Later that night, Sulwe is visited by a shooting star who takes her on a quest which helps her learn to love and appreciate herself.

    Based on Lupita’s childhood, Sulwe will pull at your heartstrings and make you cheer at the end when Sulwe gains the strength to see the beauty and power in her own dark skin. The book may also spark some excellent conversations about colorism and the pressures women of color face to obtain Eurocentric standards of beauty. In a world where women and young girls still grow up with constant reminders that only light/fair skin is beautiful, I’m so glad books like this exist.

    The overall message of inspiring children to see their own unique beauty is powerful. Sulwe will undoubtedly plant seeds of sufficiency and adequacy in little Black girls’ minds and empower them to proudly say, “I Am Enough.” Publishes October 15, 2019 from Simon Kids, but available for pre-orders now.

    Your turn: Have you ever felt ashamed of your skin color like Sulwe?  Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

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    If You’re Scary and You Know It by Carole Gerber + A Giveaway!

    Published by Familius Format: Hardcover
    Source: Familius

    Disclaimer: Familius sent me the book to check out and I’m partnering with them for a giveaway!


    If You’re Scary and You Know It by Carole Gerber, illustrated by Noel Ill

    Recommended for ages 4-6
    Published by Familius

    About the Book
    Set to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” this festive holiday book is perfect for all of the boys and gouls roaming around on Halloween night! Ghosts moan and groan, while pirates yo ho! If You’re Scary And You Know It! is sure to be a Halloween hit!

    Reflection
    The popular nursery song “f You’re Happy and You Know It” comes alive with this colorful colorful Halloween sing-along action book that will put a smile on everyone’s face.  Diverse children are featured throughout making this an inclusive board book for all to enjoy.  Makes a great Halloween treat for little ones!

    The Giveaway!  Ready to Enter?

     

    One (1) winner receives:

    • 1 copy of the board book If You’re Scary and You Know It

    Giveaway open to US addresses only.

    Prizing and samples provided by Familius Publishing.

    If You’re Scary and You Know It!

    About the Author
    Poet and author Carole Gerber has written sixteen picture books, three chapter books, and more than one hundred elementary science and reading texts for major publishers. Her most picture recent book, A Band of Babies, was named a 2017 Best Book for Children by Amazon editors. She holds a BS in English education and an MA in journalism from Ohio State, and has taught middle school and high school English as well as college newswriting and factual writing at OSU. Learn more at www.carolegerber.com.

    About the Illustrator
    Noël Ill earned her BFA with honors in illustration from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. Throughout her design and illustration career, she has had the opportunity to apply her artwork and tasteful design sense to the publishing and entertainment media fields. Her notable work includes production art for animation, the Be Mine sticker pack for Facebook stickers, and The Sweetest Little Ghost, her licensed illustration for Papyrus greeting cards. She’s inspired by the whimsical books she read as a kid, and her art motto is “Making the world a happier place one drawing at a time.”

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    Llama Llama Mess, Mess, Mess by Anna Dewdney Blog Tour

    Published by Penguin Kids Format: Hardcover
    Source: Penguin Kids

    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.

    About the Book
    Age Range:
     2 – 5 years
    Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
    Hardcover: 40 pages
    Publication Date: August 27, 2019

    ORDER LINK
    Click here!

    Synopsis
    Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama is growing up, but he still loves to play with all his toys! When Mama Llama says it’s time to clean up, Llama responds like any child more interested in playing than cleaning . . . by ignoring her! But Mama has an imaginative response of her own. What if she never cleaned? What would happen then? Well, Llama Llama is going to find out! Here is a truly funny take on a childhood chore that all children will relate to and laugh at! And it is sure to be helpful to get kids cleaning up!

    Reflection
    I’ve always loved cleanliness and organization ever since I was a kid.  I guess today I would be categorized as having a bit of OCD and I’m totally okay with that.  I was taught that “there is a place for everything, and everything should be in its place.”  I still believe this today and teach it to my kids now that they’re older.

    When the kids were younger it was hard to keep up with having the house as tidy as I usually like it to be.  It wasn’t worth it for me to keep picking up after the kids when it would get messy again within minutes.  I learned to just let things go.  However, now the kids are old enough to know better and understand what it means to have a messy house or a messy room just like Llama Llama.

    It’s cleaning day in the book Llama Llama Mess, Mess, Mess and all Llama wants to do is play with his toys instead of helping his mom clean up.  In order to teach Llama good cleaning habits Mama Llama shows him what would happen if she stopped cleaning the house.  Llama sees his mother taking the clean clothes out of the dryer and throwing them in the air, wearing blankets on her head, and making forts with mops and brooms.  Pretty soon, everything’s in disarray and Llama has no place to play.  That’s when he decides to work together with Mama Llama to clean up the mess.

    I love how Mama Llama taught Llama the importance of keeping the place where you live clean by pretending to have bad habits herself.  It wasn’t until Llama witnessed his mother’s messiness that he understood there was no space left for him to play.  Mama Llama did a great job teaching Llama the basic concept of “everything in its place” and working together as a team.

    I believe once children can see everything in its place they are able to understand where something belongs.  Llama quickly understood this which helped get one step closer to keeping his own room clean. Half the battle for a child is not understanding where things should go and how to keep them organized without having it demonstrated for them.

    If you’re having trouble teaching your kids how to keep their rooms clean, be sure to check out Llama Llama Mess, Mess, Mess for some inspiration.  Ages 2-5.

    About the Author
    Anna Dewdey passed away in September 2016, at the age of fifty from cancer. A teacher, mother, and enthusiastic proponent of reading aloud to children, she continually honed her skills as an artist and writer and published her first Llama Llama book in 2005. Her passion for creating extended to home and garden and she lovingly restored an 18th century farmhouse in southern Vermont. She wrote, painted, gardened, and lived there with her partner, Reed, her two daughters, two wirehaired pointing griffons, and one bulldog. Anna was a warm-hearted, wonderful, wise soul who will be forever missed, but whose spirit lives on in her books.

    Your turn: What are some of your tips to teach children to keep their room clean?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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