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Book Reviews

KidLitPicks: 13 Picture Books To Help Find Yourself in a Book

Being able to relate to the characters in a book is such a vital piece of enjoying it. It is through these characters that we find the courage and strength to be who we truly are. Trials and tribulations are at the heart of every story, and the way that characters triumph over them can be the essence of what readers are searching for in their own lives. It’s no coincidence then that so many characters can feel lost, alone, and full of doubt. The uncertainty that haunts the beginning of a book, though, can be washed away by the end, leaving behind a sense of hope and fortitude that we, as readers, need from time to time. It is this self-confidence that we hope to instill in the young readers who glance into unknown pages and hopefully are able to see themselves reflected back.

During January, @kidlitpicks shared books we could see ourselves and others in, and we’re excited to share our round-up for the month. A special shout-out to Wendy from Homegrown Reader for the theme!

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion, by Alex T. Smith

“Though she’s little, her inner strength and smarts make Little Red more powerful than brawn, mightier than a lion’s ROAR!” — Summer from @readingisourthing

 


Rulers of the Playground, by ​​Joseph Kuefler

“Regardless of physical differences or emotional differences, there’s a wide range of touchpoints in this book for readers to connect to.” — Mel from @spiky_penelope

Also an Octopus, by Maggie Tokuda Hall and Benji Davies

“When it comes to finding yourself in a book, no element does that as well as space – space for imagination, play, re-creation, or projection.” — Katie from @afriendlyaffair

The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

“If you want your lion to be purple with flames for hair, rock on! Be yourself and let your artist side blossom.” — Leah from @astoryaday


My Color Is Rainbow, by Agnes Hsu and Yuliya Gwilym

“In the end, the little white arch learns that it doesn’t need to be defined by one characteristic alone, but that what makes it so beautiful is that it has a little bit of each color.” — Clarissa from @book.nerd.mommy

When I’m a Mummy Like You!, by David O’Connell and Francesca Gambatesa

“I hope BookBairn and I have adventures like these two. And I hope she thinks I’m the best mummy she could have!” —  Kim from @bookbairn

A Year Full of Stories: 52 Folktales and Legends From Around the World, by Angela McAllister and Christopher Corr

“With 52 stories, divided by month, this artistic collection is both a visual delight and a chance to relish conversation and story telling together. Certainly one I wouldn’t hesitate giving as a gift.” — Miranda from @bookbloom


Samson the Mighty Flea, by Angela McAllister and Nathan Reed

“It also has a great message about perception, ambition, and finding happiness where you are.” — Megan from @chickadee.lit


Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine, by Allison Wortche and Patrice Barton 

“Rosie learns that there is never a wrong time to do the right thing!” — Arielle from @childrensbooksgalore

A Child of Books, by Sam Winston and Oliver Jeffers

A Child of Books is one of those gorgeous, lyrical works that you will want to open and read again and again- one that resonates deeply and viscerally.” — Lauren from @happily.ever.elephants

Lola Gets a Cat, by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw

“Not only can my kids see themselves in this book, but I can see myself and my husband in Lola’s parents.” — Charnaie from @hereweeread

Odd Dog Out and stories like it are not only messages for those who feel lost and alone. It is also a message for those around them, spreading the word about empathy, love, and acceptance.” — Wendy from @homegrownreader

Fang Fang’s Chinese New Year, by Sally Rippin

“Growing up between the Chinese and Australian cultures, I absolutely shared Fang Fang’s self-consciousness about being different. But to all the little Fang Fangs out there, I hope you find yourself surrounded by good people and books that encourage you to embrace and celebrate what makes you unique.” — Shannon from @ohcreativeday

 Your turn: What books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share in the comments.
Book Reviews

All Kinds of Cars by Carl Johanson (A Book Review)

All Kinds of Cars by Carl Johanson

Synopsis
From Swedish illustrator Carl Johanson, this partly true, partly fictitious book is a fantastic visual collection of cars and other wacky forms of transportation. Johanson’s book identifies the ordinary along with the extraordinary – from fire engines and snow plows to galactic buses and guitar cars.  All Kinds of Cars is a playful mix of existing and imaginary enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Reflection
My son adores this bright and vivid oversized book! It’s filled with an interesting mix of existing and imaginary cars and trucks; from tow trucks to sausage cars to cloud transporters.  This book doesn’t have an actual storyline, but we love looking at all of the colorful illustrations and differentiating the real cars from the imaginary ones.  My son’s favorite cars are: the dinosaur car, the guitar car, the hat car, the rainbow car, the book car, the rocket car, the chewing gum car, and I can’t forget the poo car!  The poo car cracks all of us up!


Kids will likely get a kick out of all the zany types of cars, but may also like seeing some of the more familiar modes of transportation like police cars, fire engines, excavators, and dump trucks.  The back matter contains an index of all the cars listed throughout the book.  A visual treat for car lovers of all ages that’s creative, informative and highly imaginative. Recommended for ages 3-5 and up.

All Kinds of Cars publishes in the US on March 14, 2017 from Flying Eye Books!

About the Author
Carl Johanson is an illustrator living and working in Bretagne, France.  He studied graphic design and illustration at Konstfack in Stockholm, and has since focused mainly on illustration and creating books for children.  All Kinds of Cars is his first children’s book, and he is currently working on a second project.

children's books

Read Aloud Book Club for Kids: February Chapter Book of the Month Selection

Have you joined our Read Aloud Book Club for Kids yet?  This year I made a goal to read aloud more easy reader chapter books with my kids in addition to reading lots of picture books. So instead of keeping it to myself, I thought it would be fun to have others who may be interested join us!

As the year goes on, I hope to expand this club with beyond the book activities and maybe a few other goodies. For now though, the goal is to just read aloud 1 easy reader chapter book per month.  This club will feature different easy to read diverse and inclusive chapter books to read aloud each month with the younger children in your home. Are you up to the challenge? Do you have a goal to read aloud daily with your kids? Join us!

Here’s the second diverse chapter book we’ll be reading aloud:

Museum Mysteries: The Case of the Missing Museum Archives by Steve Brezenoff

Synopsis

When the plans for the prototype of a failed flying machine go missing from the Air and Space Museum’s archives, Amal’s father, the assistant archivist, is blamed. No one suspects a crime has been committed ― except Amal and her friends. With her father’s job on the line, it’s up to them to track down the missing plans. Can Amal and her friends get to the bottom of the museum mystery before it’s too late?

***********************************************************

This book is slightly longer than last month’s selection, but it’s less than 130 pages.  So, if you read an average of 4 – 5 pages aloud per day you and your kids should finish reading it by the end of February.  Also, this book is part of a diverse mystery series for young readers published by Capstone Young Readers!  If you like this book you may want to check out the others in the series like The Case of the Haunted History Museum.

I hope some of you will join us next month and read along with your little readers.  Happy Reading!

Your turn: What are some of your favorite easy reader chapter books for kids?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Book Reviews

Read Your World: 9 Amazing Multicultural Books for Kids

As a participant in the 4th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I had the pleasure of receiving an amazing array of multicultural books from our friends at Capstone Young Readers to read with my children and share with all of you. Thank you, Capstone for your generosity and for sending so many wonderful picture books, early readers and chapter books!

Capstone Young Readers creates entertaining and informative reading experiences that generate excitement and love for reading. Their products include board books, young readers, middle readers, graphic novels, nonfiction/reference, craft, how-to, drawing, and seasonal titles.  Be sure and check out their sister-site, CapstoneKids.com for tons of fun book-inspired games, quizzes and activities to keep young minds learning!

Below is a list of the books we received.  Enjoy!

When Penny Met Potus by Rachel Ruiz

Little Penny couldn’t be more excited! She’s going to spend the day at work with her mom at the White House! Most importantly, she’s finally going to meet POTUS (an acronym for President of the United States).  Penny has no idea who POTUS is, what POTUS looks like or what POTUS actually means. She imagines POTUS to be a blue furry monster surrounded by secret service agents. Penny has high expectations for when she finally meets this POTUS.

After wandering around the White House on her own in search of POTUS, Penny finally comes face-to-face with the President. She isn’t surprised to find out that POTUS is a woman. She’s surprised that she isn’t a monster after all – she’s a human who happens to be a lot like her.

I love how this book emphasizes the fact that we are all humans first regardless of our gender.  I think it’s a great book to use for having discussions about presidential elections with many grade levels.  Also teaches children to always keep an open mind and don’t be so quick to judge others.

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library by Julie Gassman

Have you ever thought about bringing your dragon to the library? Don’t do it! You might have the best intentions, but that dragon will cause nothing but trouble. Using rhyming text and a diverse cast of characters, this charming picture book will provide some important and some not so important library etiquette in a very entertaining way. My kids and I really like this book…it’s a fun and engaging read aloud!

For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story by Rebecca Langston-George

She grew up in a world where women were supposed to be quiet. But Malala Yousafzai refused to be silent. She defied the Taliban’s rules, spoke out for education for every girl, and was almost killed for her beliefs. This powerful true story of how one brave girl named Malala changed the world proves that one person really can make a difference.

Museum Mysteries: The Case of the Missing Museum Archives by Steve Brezenoff

When the plans for the prototype of a failed flying machine go missing from the Air and Space Museum’s archives, Amal’s father, the assistant archivist, is blamed. No one suspects a crime has been committed ― except Amal and her friends. With her father’s job on the line, it’s up to them to track down the missing plans. Can Amal and her friends get to the bottom of the museum mystery before it’s too late?

I recently announced this book to be our read aloud chapter book of the month for February!  Won’t you join us and read this book aloud with your kiddos starting on February 1, 2017?  Read more about our diverse read aloud chapter book club here.

Katie Woo and Friends by Fran Manushkin

We just love Katie Woo, don’t you?  Katie Woo loves playing with her friends JoJo and Pedro. They do everything together, from losing teeth to looking for ghosts. Even when they argue, they always make up in the end. After all, there’s nothing like a good friend.

Dear Molly, Dear Olive: Molly Meets Trouble by Megan Atwood

There’s a new girl in the third-grade, and for some reason, she brings out the worst in Molly. If only Molly’s cross-country pen pal, Olive, were there. But Olive’s got her OWN set of troubles with her new gymnastics team. As both girls struggle to make new friends, their dishonest emails and letters to each other threaten their relationshp. First-person narratives that alternate point-of-view from chapter to chapter bring the main characters to life.

Sofia Martinez: My Vida Loca by Jacqueline Jules

Even the most basic chores can be fun when Sofia is involved! From washing a car to cooking with grandma, this smart and funny 7-year-old knows how to make every moment count. Follow Sofia through three every day adventures in this early chapter book and find out why Sofia has such a crazy life!

Pedro, First-Grade Hero by Fran Manushkin

Spend some time with Pedro, Katie Woo’s fun-loving friend. From a buggy disaster to a run for class president, Pedro has what it takes to be the hero of first-grade. No matter what he’s doing, Pedro is always good for some laughs and adventure.

An Extra-Ordinary Girl (Ellie Ultra) by Gina Bellisario

Ellie is super excited for first day at Winkopolis Elementary School. After spending her whole life being homeschooled by super-genius inventor parents, she can’t wait to hang out with normal kids and learn normal things. But Ellie soon learns that her super powers make her stand out in a not-so-super way. Can she save the world and fit in with her new friends? Or is blending in the one thing this superhero can’t do?

Connect with Capstone Young Readers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and  Instagram.

About Multicultural Children’s Book Day
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsors include: Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawMaria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra RichardsElsa TakaokaGraciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

You can view the co-hosts here.

Connect with MCCBD!
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MulticulturalChildrensBookDay
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MCChildsBookDay
Official Hashtag:  #ReadYourWorld

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/

Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i

Your turn: Which of these books have you read with your little readers?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Book Reviews

My Color is Rainbow by Agnes Hsu (A Book Review)

My Color is Rainbow by Agnes Hsu, illustrated by Yuliya Gwilym

Publisher: hello, Wonderful
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 32

Synopsis
Follow Little White Arch on his journey as he wonders what his color could be. Along the way he meets many colorful characters who help him realize the answer. A playful story about kindness, acceptance, and openness that celebrates how we are not defined by one, but many wonderful characteristics.

Reflection
Who doesn’t love rainbows? They are colorful, magical, and full of hope! Rainbows are a bridge into other times and cultures, science, color theory, and more!  I know whenever I see a rainbow in the sky it immediately evokes happiness within me.  There’s just something about seeing all seven colors of the rainbow together as one that instantly makes me smile and fills me with joy.  Perhaps you can relate.

My Color is Rainbow starts off introducing White Arch, the main protagonist.  White Arch looked white, but deep down he felt like he was much more than just the color white.  So he dreamed of the many different possibilities of what color he might actually be: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

I think one great aspect of this book is that it presents many of the different associations that colors have with emotions– for example red is often associated with love, yellow usually represents happiness and blue can mean feeling peaceful.  These are common expressions in our language, and this book presents those in a straightforward manner that can easily be grasped by the youngest readers.

My Color is Rainbow is also filled with bright and colorful illustrations.  Each two-page spread uses different colors of the rainbow to represent the color White Arch is dreaming of possibly becoming. My kids love pointing out each of the colors as well as all of the various things taking place on each page.  They love seeing White Arch on the last page riding on the horse sporting his new rainbow colors.

In the end, White Arch decides his favorite color isn’t any one particular color. His favorite color is rainbow! What wonderful messages of diversity, inclusiveness, kindness and acceptance this book sends to babies, preschoolers and early readers!  Add this colorful book to your little readers home or school library…especially if they love rainbows!  It’s great for teaching kids about colors and feelings and it’s a great self-discovery book.  As an advocate for diversity and inclusiveness, I appreciate that this book sends a clear message that all colors do indeed matter.  Yes, representation matters!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author
Agnes Hsu can be found these days happily creating on hello, Wonderful, overseeing her daughter’s kindness project Rainbow Rock Project, and running her Plaeful store featuring her first product launch, an erasable wall decal to inspire kids to draw.

Agnes’ work has been featured in nationwide publications in print and online such as Real Simple, Women’s Day, Better Homes & Gardens, Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, Elizabeth Street, Buzzfeed, Good Housekeeping, Spoonful and Babble.

About the Illustrator
Yuliya Gwilym aka yufrukt, is an illustrator, designer and published author focused on creating for children. Born and raised in Ukraine, she has been living in the Netherlands since 2008.  She creates illustrations for books, magazines, clothes, toys, stationery and more. Visit her website here.

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

Book Reviews

Rainbow Weaver by Linda Elovitz Marshall (A Book Review)

Rainbow Weaver by Linda Elovitz Marshall, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri

Publisher: Children’s Book Press
Format: Hardcover
Age Range: 6- 9 years old

Synopsis
Ixchel wants to follow in the long tradition of weaving on backstrap looms, just as her mother, grandmother, and most Mayan women have done for more than two thousand years. But Ixchel’s mother is too busy preparing her weavings for market. If they bring a good price, they will have money to pay for Ixchel s school and books. And besides, there is not enough extra thread for Ixchel to practice with.

Disappointed, Ixchel first tries weaving with blades of grass, and then with bits of wool, but no one would want to buy the results. As she walks around her village, Ixchel finds it littered with colorful plastic bags. There is nowhere to put all the bags, so they just keep accumulating.

Suddenly, Ixchel has an idea! She collects and washes the plastic bags. Then she cuts each bag into thin strips. Sitting at her loom, Ixchel weaves the plastic strips into a colorful fabric that looks like a beautiful rainbow just like the weavings of Mayan women before her.

Reflection

I adore books that teach kids about human rights, fighting for a good cause and making the world a better place.  It’s never too early to try and change the world, right?  I enjoy reading books like Rainbow Weaver to help my kids exercise their power as agents of change in the world and help them not to feel powerless.

Little Ixchel wants to help her mother weave in order for her to be able to sell items at a nearby market.  You see, Ixchel wants to earn money so she can pay for her books and other school materials.  There’s only one problem though – there isn’t enough extra thread for her to use.  She later gets inspiration from rainbow colored plastic trash bags surrounding her and turns them into fabric in order to create gorgeous rainbow pieces to sell at the market.

I am inspired by Ixchel’s problem solving spirit, resourcefulness and creativity!  Not only are the pieces she creates are absolutely beautiful, but by turning the plastic bags into string she helps to clean up her village – genius!  It reminds me to the book One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul.

I also loved that this book is bilingual – written in both Spanish and English text.  The illustrations are stunning and very detailed.  I think they really capture the Mayan culture really well.  Parents and educators may be inspired to do simple weaving projects with their kids as an extension activity after reading this book.  We plan to try our hands at our very first cardboard weaving project – so fun!

Although Ixchel is a fictional character, the author’s note in the back of the book mentions an organization of weavers in Guatemala called Mayan Hands which this book was inspired by.  In an effort to bring more awareness to the work of the Mayan women, this book was written as a tribute to the weavers at Mayan Hands.  A portion of the proceeds from this book will benefit weavers of the Mayan Hands and Maya Works cooperatives.  The proceeds will also help by providing money for education of children like Ixchel, and for health and dental care for the weavers and their families.

I’d highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning about weaving, Mayan culture, art, environmentalism, problem solving, creative thinking, recycling and family traditions.

children's books

Read Aloud Book Club for Kids: January Chapter Book of the Month Selection

Happy New Year, friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!  I’m so excited it’s a new year and can’t wait to see all the great things in store for 2017.  I’ve been busy working on a few different projects behind the scenes and I can’t wait to unveil them to you as the year goes on.

Here’s the first project I’d like to introduce…a read aloud book club the whole family can join in on!  If you follow us on Instagram, you’ve likely already heard about this.

This year I made a goal to read aloud more easy reader chapter books with my kids in addition to reading lots of picture books. So instead of keeping it to myself, I thought it would be fun to have others who may be interested join us!

As the year goes on, I hope to expand this club with beyond the book activities and maybe a few other goodies. For now though, the goal is to just read aloud 1 easy reader chapter book per month.  This club will feature different easy to read diverse chapter books to read aloud each month with the younger children in your home. Are you up to the challenge? Do you have a goal to read aloud daily with your kids? Join us!

Here’s the first diverse chapter book we’ll be reading aloud:

The Great Cake Mystery by Alexander McCall Smith

Fans around the world adore the bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the basis of the HBO TV show, and its proprietor Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective.

Have you ever said to yourself, Wouldn’t it be nice to be a detective?  This is the story of an African girl who says just that. Her name is Precious.

When a piece of cake goes missing from her classroom, a traditionally built young boy is tagged as the culprit. Precious, however, is not convinced. She sets out to find the real thief. Along the way she learns that your first guess isn’t always right. She also learns how to be a detective.

This book is a quick read.  The copy we have is only 73 pages long so it shouldn’t take long to finish reading it.  Plus, it’s part of a mystery series for young readers!  If you like this book you may want to check out the others in the series: Mystery of the Missing Lion and Mystery of Meerkat Hill.

I hope some of you will join us this month and read along with your little readers.

Happy Reading!

Your turn: What are some of your favorite easy reader chapter books for kids?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Book Reviews

Yawning Yoga by Laurie Jordan (A Book Review)

Yawning Yoga by Laurie Jordan, illustrated by Diana Mayo

Publisher: Little Pickle Stories
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Age Range: 4 – 8 years old, Preschool – Grade 3

Synopsis
Elements of yoga practice including stretching, posture, and breath work, are introduced through elegant artwork and poems like ‘Mountain’ (Tadasana) and ‘Seashell’ (Balasana), to help children — and their caring adults — ready their bodies for a restful sleep.

Reflection
Life.  It has a tendency to get pretty crazy no matter what we do or how much we try to control it. From our careers and our hobbies to our families and our relationships, it seems there is always something begging for our attention. Am I right? How is someone supposed to get any peace of mind when there are a million things happening at once?

For some, exercise like yoga or running do the trick; others find peace in writing or painting. For me, the best place to find inner peace is books, because what better way to channel inner peace than through a great read?  The physical act of reading has calming benefits in and of itself.

Over the past few months, the kids and I have been incorporating yoga into our bedtime routine right after story time.  It’s not an elaborate exercise session, just a few yoga poses to stretch our bodies in preparation for a good night’s sleep.  That’s exactly the point of the book Yawning Yoga by Laurie Jordan: to calm little readers minds and get them ready for sleep.

You guys!  I am completely smitten by this beautiful book cover!  Isn’t it gorgeous?  It makes it very hard for me to not judge this book by the cover alone.  You’ll be happy to know this book doesn’t just have a pretty cover, the content is amazing too – especially if you’re a fan of yoga like me.  Little kids who practice yoga are also sure to love this book.

In her first picture book, yoga instructor Laurie Jordan, creator of the Kids Yoga Teacher Training program, offers rhyming gentle poems to guide young yogis through breathing and transitions.  Each yoga pose is first described in a poem and accompanied by its Sanskrit name.  There are also helpful tips that advise readers how they can get the most of of their yoga practice.

The opening page offers some helpful tips for little readers:

  • Try to hold each pose for three to five breaths.
  • Move through the poses at your own pace.
  • Do all the poses or choose a few different ones to do before bedtime.
  • Each exercise should feel good and get you ready for bed.

Little readers are then encouraged to begin doing some of the yoga poses starting with reciting an “Om” sound and holding it for as long as they can and then repeating it three times afterwards.  Several yoga poses are mentioned throughout this book including: mountain, hugs and kisses, dog-tired down dog, seashell, butterfly, bedtime bug, jelly belly, candlestick, catch and release, thankful and namaste.  Some of the poses were new to me so I ended up learning something new.

The back matter contains an afterward by Elena Brower, author of Art of Attention, and a glossary of terms referenced throughout.  The glossary is chock full of useful information and really helps to break down the meaning of each Sanskrit name.  For example, the word “Namaste” means “I bow to you.”  Namaste is traditionally said at the end of yoga practice to honor those we have practiced with.

Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the illustrations.  If you couldn’t already tell from the cover they are amazing!  They are so dreamy, soothing and simply beautiful.  There are diverse characters represented doing the yoga poses.  I love the color palette chosen by the illustrator as well as the attention to detail.  Each scene seems to transcend you to a far off land and really helps to calm and relax your mind.

Like all well-written books, I think this one has the power to take little readers on their own personal, self-defined journey to wherever it is they need to be right before falling asleep.  They may imagine they are a warrior standing on top of a mountain, swimming underwater with sea creatures, or out in the garden becoming one with nature.  If your little reader is in need of finding their way to inner peace, I’d highly recommend this book to help them get there.  I’d also recommend this for yoga teachers or little readers who would like to start practicing yoga or mindfulness.

About Little Pickle Stories
Little Pickle Stories is dedicated to creating stories and products that foster kindness in young people – and doing so in a manner congruent with that mission.  Learn more on their website.

Connect with Laurie Jordan!
Website| Instagram | Twitter

Connect with Diana Mayo!

Website | InstagramTwitter

Your turn: Are you looking forward to reading this book?  What are some ways you help your little readers relax and calm down before bedtime?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Book Reviews

Penguins Love Colors by Sarah Aspinall (A Book Review)

Penguins Love Colors by Sarah Aspinall
penguinslovecolors
Age Range:
3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: The Blue Sky Press

Synopsis
Mama loves brightly colored flowers and her little penguins too!  Tulip, Tiger Lily, Dandelion, Bluebell, Violet and Broccoli use red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, and green to color in their snowy world and paint a wonderful surprise for Mama.   Will she know who painted what?  Of course she will!  But will YOU know?

Simple language and arresting, graphic illustrations introduce readers to the six primary and secondary colors and the adorable antics of six creative little penguins. A lively text, asking children to participate by answering questions, makes this an engaging, heartwarming story that is perfect for bedtime, story time, or anytime.

Reflection
My kids absolutely LOVE this cute little book – honestly!  Since the day we received it, it’s been in our bedtime story rotation on repeat at the top of the pile.  I think the kids are attracted to the bright colors and of course the six little penguins.  I mean who can resist an adorable group of penguins wearing rainbow colored berets who love to paint?

Each of the penguins is named after a colorful flower.  There is: Tulip, Tiger Lily, Dandelion, Bluebell, Violet and Broccoli.  Did you know broccoli is a flower?  This was news to me, but a note in the copyright explains that broccoli is indeed classified as both a vegetable and a flower.  The part of the vegetable we eat is actually the flower of the plant.  Who knew?

I love how engaging this book is in such a subtle way.  It asks children simple questions like, “Do you think these little penguins loved to paint on perfect white ice and snow?” and “Do you think they made a mess?”  These questions allow children to think and participate by answering yes or no.  My kids love shouting out the answers to each question asked.

penguinslovecolors002

I also like the fact that the author didn’t try to complicate this book by incorporating color mixing.  I think the topic of color mixing would make a great follow-up book to this one though.  The bright and vivid illustrations are captivating throughout the book.  The kids love seeing the penguins all messy and covered in paint.  They also love the page where all of the penguins are in the bathtub – so cute!  Children will relate to doing some of the same things the penguins do like: painting, taking a bath and taking a nap.

Overall, I think this book is heartwarming, charming, lively and fun!  It’s sure to be a hit with art teachers, toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners learning their colors.  In addition to learning about colors, I think children will also easily grasp a couple of different messages and themes like: creativity, imagination, family, love, teamwork, giving, and diversity.  This book shows that not everything in life is black and white; there are colors all around us.  As the back cover of this book says, “Everything is black and white until six little penguins pick up their paintbrushes and change their snowy world into a colorful garden of flowers and rainbows.”  What a great message to encourage little readers to be advocates and agents of change!

P.S. Be on the lookout for the sequel called Penguins Love their ABC’s coming soon!
penguinslovetheirabcs
About the Author
Sarah Aspinall grew up on top of a hill in the middle of the English countryside and quickly learned that painting, drawing, and writing stories were her favorite things to do.  Later, she came to the United States and graduated with a degree in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design.  She now lives in Los Angeles with her mischievous black cat, Mugglewump.  Connect with Sarah online at her website.

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

children's literacy

Celebrate National Picture Book Month in November!

Hello, November…it’s National Picture Book Month once again!

What is Picture Book Month?
Picture Book Month is an international initiative to encourage everyone to celebrate literacy with picture books during the month of November.

Every day in November, there will be a new post on the website http://picturebookmonth.com from a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important.  There will also be a literacy activity to do with your kids.  Check out the calendar shown below.

nationalpbmonth2016

This year’s list of picture book champions are: The 2016 Picture Book Month Champions are: Kwame Alexander, Kevan Atteberry, Phil Bildner, Elizabeth Bluemle, Alyssa Satin Capucilli, Laura Gehl Chamberlain, Matthew Cordell, Pat Cummings, Doug Cushman, Erzsi Deak, Josh Funk, Marita Gentry, Paul Hankins, Verla Kay, Lester Laminack, Minh Le, Adam Lehrhaupt, Sylvia Liu, Ralph Masiello, Laura Murray, Carmen Oliver, Todd Parr, John Parra, Jan Peck, Alexandra Penfold, Jeanie Franz Ransom, Isabel Roxas, Jodell Sadler, Andrea Pinkney, Ashley Wolff.

In this digital age where people are predicting the coming death of printed books, picture books need love now more than ever. And the world needs picture books. There’s nothing like the physical page turn of a beautifully crafted picture book.

Join the celebration and party with a picture book!  Be sure to check out the hashtag #picturebookmonth (on Instagram) for additional picture book suggestions to read with your little ones.

Disclaimer:  I signed up to be a Picture Book Ambassador simply to support this initiative and share the information.  I did not receive any compensation to write this post.

Your turn:  Will you be celebrating National Picture Book month?  Which picture book champion are you looking forward to reading about this month?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Book Reviews

What Color is a Kiss? (A Book Review)

What Color is a Kiss? by Rocio Bonilla

whatcolorisakiss

Publisher: Charlesbridge
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 32
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Age Range: 2 – 5 years old
Available for Sale: 
December 6, 2016 pre-order now!

Synopsis
This sweet, heartwarming story asks one simple question: What color is a kiss? Sassy and intrepid Monica loves to paint and sees her world in every color of the rainbow, but this question nags at her. She paints and paints, hoping to discover the answer. With the help of her mother, Monica discovers that kisses and love come in all colors.

Reflection
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a this sense of curiosity about life and the world around me.  I was one of those kids who was constantly asking “why” “what” and “how” to every thing I didn’t understand.  Now that I’m a parent I find myself fielding questions from my own kids on a regular basis.

Research shows that a child asks about 40,000 questions between the ages of two and five.  Yes, 40,000 questions – can you imagine?  During that span, a shift occurs in the kind of questions being asked: from simple factual ones (name of object) to the first requests for explanations by 30 months. By age 4, most children are seeking explanations, not just facts.

I’ll admit, sometimes the amount of questions my kids ask can become annoying, but I love the question little Moncia ponders one day while she’s painting, “What color is a kiss?” in the adorable book What Color is a Kiss by Rocio Bonilla.  To kids this seems like a valid question to ask because they grow up learning that different things have different colors associated with them.  Why would a kiss be any different, right?

what-color-is-a-kiss

As a budding artist, Monica has painted many things before, but she’s never painted a kiss.  She starts wondering in her mind what color it could be: red, green, yellow, brown, white, pink, blue, black and gray.  For each color she mentions there are things she likes about it and things she dislikes about it.

“Should I paint a kiss brown?  Kisses are sweet like chocolate and magical like a forest in autumn.  But…yuck!”

The text has a mixture of words in all capital letters, playful and childlike italicized cursive writing and regular text. I think some smaller children who haven’t been exposed to cursive writing may not recognize some of the words throughout this book.  My four year old daughter didn’t seem to have a problem reading this book on her own though.  Also, I love the color palette used and the bright and colorful illustrations.  The kids favorite illustrations are the one where Monica is shown running away from a swarm of yellow bees and when she steps in brown dog poop….Ewwww!

In the end Monica’s mom provides the answer to Monica’s question simply by giving her a kiss on the cheek. Immediately, Monica realizes that kisses and love come in all colors.  So sweet!

While the kids and I did enjoy this book, it left me wondering how old Monica is supposed to be?  She seems to be a bit older since she’s seen riding a larger bike without training wheels. If she’s older than age six, I wouldn’t think she’d be asking what color kisses are as it seems like the kind of question a two, three or four year-old would ask. That’s just my opinion though.

If you have a curious and imaginative child like Monica I’d recommend checking this book out.  I think it’s also great for teaching kids about colors, discussing things you like or dislike about certain colors, or for children who love to paint and be creative.

Your turn: Are you looking forward to reading this book with your little readers?  Feel free to share in the comments.

children's books

19 Picture Books About Change for Kids

A lot changes in September. I mean, as the ancient Greeks will tell you, change is the only constant…but there’s something about September that sparks a bit of reflection—on the tilt of the Earth, the passing of the year, the meanderings of the path of life.

In September, the cadence of family time shifts as a new school year settles in around us. The dinnertime light is altered as we approach the autumnal equinox, and we trade swimsuits for sweaters or vice versa. We might even find that the foods we crave adapt to the harvest. Pumpkin latte, anyone? September calls our attention to traditions and homecomings and gives us reason to both revisit the past and plan for the seasons ahead.

There are no better guides for us in this transitional month than books, of course. After all, change is at the heart of every compelling story. Throughout September, the #KidLitPicks book club on Instagram featured books that explore the idea of change.  Below are the books chosen by the book club participants for the month of September. October’s theme is “Unlock Their Imagination.”

books-about-change


Little Tree
, by Loren Long (shared by @readingisourthing) “Change is a good thing. New beginnings are exciting. Letting go is the only way we can move forward.”

littletree

Yellow Time, by Lauren Stringer (shared by @spiky_penelope) “As the season begins to change from summer to fall, it’s finally yellow time, a time when yellow leaves in the trees mean large imaginations and lots of fun.”
yellowtime

You and Me and Home Sweet Home, by George Ella Lyon and Stephanie Anderson (shared by @ilovebooksandicannotlie) “They are able to move into their very own home and start their brand new life together.”
youmeandhome

Amelia Earhart (Little People, Big Dreams), by Ma Isabel Sanchez Vegara
and Mariadiamantes (shared by @afriendlyaffair) “These ladies are awesome [and] deserve celebration.”
ameliaearhart

Wherever You Go, by Pat Zietlow Miller and Eliza Wheeler (shared by @the.book.report) “Just when you think you are settled and havea plan or an idea of what you think your future might look like, life has a way of stirring that up and changing those plans. ”
whereeveryougo

Bear Hug, by Katharine McEwen (shared by @homegrownreader) “It truly is a visual expression that is wonderfully shocking with its simplicity and strength.”
bearhugThe Cow Who Climbed a Tree, by Gemma Merino and Panda’s Pants by Jacqueline Davies and Sydney Hanson (shared by @book.nerd.mommy) “They help kiddo’s realize that sometimes trying something new can be wonderful!”
thecowwhoclimbed

The Water Princess, by Susan Verde and Peter Reynolds (shared by @hereweeread) “It’s a very touching and moving story that not only educates children about a serious and ongoing issue, but also shows them how they can make a difference.”
thewaterprincess

Bella’s Fall Coat, by Lynn Plourde and Susan Gal (shared by @astoryaday) “Every season there is a change and there is a purpose for everything that occurs in our lives.”
bellasfallcoat

The Journey, by Francesca Sanna (shared by @chickadee.lit) “The world refugee crisis is larger than ever, but we can all contribute to changing that by offering up as we are individually able.”
thejourney

Maybe Something Beautiful, by F Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell, and Rafael López (shared by @happily.ever.elephants) “There is so much power behind the idea that art can lift up a community.”
maybesomethingbeautiful

Starfish, Where Are You? by Barroux (shared by @bookbairn) “Such a fabulous book to encourage us all to make small changes for a big difference.”
starfishwhereareyou

The Fox and the Star, by Coralie Bickford-Smith (shared by @bookbloom) “A gentle reminder that change can sometimes result in something better and more beautiful than previously imagined.”
thefoxandthestar

Perfect Square, by Michael Hall (shared by @howifeelaboutbooks) “Explains a difficult concept to kids in a way they can easily understand.”
perfectsquare

The Leaving Morning, by Angela Johnson and David Soman (shared by @smallysbookshelf) “For young children, change can be a mixture of longing and excitement – longing for the familiar and excitement for the new adventures ahead.”
theleavingmorning

Grandad’s Island, by Benji Davies (shared by @fee_loves_) “This poignant story deals with loss and bereavement, one of the greatest changes we face in life is the death of a loved one.”
granddadsisland

My Dad Used to Be So Cool, by Keith Negley (shared by @ohcreativeday) “How has parenting changed you?”
mydadusedtobesocool

Tree, by Britta Teckentrup (shared by @alittlebookhabit) “Whether you are moving from summer to autumn or winter to spring this book is my favourite for talking about the seasons.”
treebritta

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, by Peter Brown (shared by @childrensbooksgalore) “Mr. Tiger embraces his wild side! Roar!”
mrtigergoeswild

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

hereweeread