Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Magical Christmas

christmas Christmas Stocking Tutorials & Ideas
Pic from
I discovered a short while ago that Disney and Hyperion Publishing have joined together to publish some great Children's books. These are books for kids as young as infants up to Middle Grade. They even have books for fans and collectors on Imagineering and on the Art of Disney.

This week I am going to feature several of the books that were sent to me to review. I enjoyed them so much and I'm sure you will too. Each of these books would make a great stocking stuffer, birthday gift and the Christmas ones are great for tradition - bring it out each year when you do your holiday decorating.

A Magical Christmas
A Magical ChristmasA Moving Pictures Book
Published by
Board Book for kids 3+

My thoughts:
A Magical Christmas is a "Moving Pictures" Book. One of those books that you tilt the book and the picture changes in front of you. With big exaggerated pictures and bright colors your kids will love looking at it. Each 2 page spread features a favorite holiday scene and has a 2 sentence description showing an event from WALL-E, Belle & the Beast, Huey, Louie and Dewey opening presents, Lady and the Tramp, Cars and more. It's a cute book - I personally would of loved more of a "story" but kids won't care about that - they will be focused on the movie pictures and remembering the story.

Children younger than 3 will like the book. I don't know if they will understand the moving picture and needing to tilt the book - but they will still connect with the pictures and "story". Don't be afraid to introduce it to 2 year olds.

Note: Giveaway on Holiday Traditions until 11/30/2011 - Enter Here

Clementine and the Family Meeting
by Sara Pennypacker
Pictures by Marla Frazee
Published by Disney-Hyperion Group
Series for kids 7+, 176 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1423123569

Clementine reminds me of a modern day Ramona Quimby. Remember Ramona? When Clementine sees a note on the refrigerator that her parents have called a family meeting she starts worrying that she's in trouble and she decides to try to figure out what she did while trying to be as good as she can be. What a surprise when she discovers the family meeting isn't because of what she did - but because they are going to have a New Baby! No Thanks! 4 is the perfect number - there are 2 boys and 2 girls and 4 sides to a table - how are they going to fit a New Member into their family?

The Clementine series is a top selling series for beginning readers (either being read to or fairly comfortable reading on their own). The font is large and easy to read, the story is engaging and all kids will understand how Clementine is feeling when she thinks she's in trouble and then gets a surprise. Perfect for Stocking Stuffers and birthday gifts - or for some summer reading! Read the first chapter of one of Clementine Books

(This would be fun to do in the winter time - playdate anyone?)

by Ridley Pearson & Dave Barry
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Series for kids 12+, 592 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1423108559

The Starcatchers series is wonderful! Don't let the length of the book scare you off - if your kids can read the Harry Potter series with no problems they won't have any trouble reading this one. Yes it's long - but engaging, action packed and full of scenes to trigger your kids imaginations.

I came in late on this series and will be adding the other books into my personal library. The Bridge to NeverLand and the whole Starcatchers series is based on the questions "how did Peter Pan come to be? and "how did he get to Neverland?" In this book you have a brother sister (Sarah & Aiden) team who come across a mystery box and in the hunt for the answers they go to Europe and the States to learn about the Shadow Thieves who are after them for a box they found. Lord Oombra is a wizard who is seen as crows that can transform to accomplish their evil deeds. They can "possess" a person also to get them to do what they need - and the only way to know that person has been possessed is through their dead eyes.

I don't usually like to bring books on Classic Children's Books that have wizardry (you'll never see a Harry Potter book on here) but occasionally if the book is destined to become a classic and it's High Performing you'll find it here.

I strongly suggest that you start with the first book. Maybe purchase books 1 & 2 for your kids to read, to add to their stockings, birthday gifts first and then continue working on the series a book or two at a time. You can read them out of order - but then you'll be sitting there thinking - I've GOT to read the others! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Trachanoids ~ Book Review & Giveaway

There's a new series of books for kids 5 and up in town - they're going to love them!

Defenders of the Earth by James J Fitl
ISBN: 9780982582534
Paperback: $8.95

Awards: Next Generation Indie Book Award

About the book:
Prehistoric Earth is in great peril. A fierce race of aliens from a distant galaxy has found its way to the planet, transported by a massive fleet of advanced-technology spacecraft, and armed with state-of-the-art artillery. Is this the end for humans and dinosaurs?

Standing in the way of the extraterrestrial invaders, however, are seven courageous dinosaurs who discover a mysterious, powerful medallion that grants them incredible powers.

They are The Trachanoids.

Boasting of powers beyond their wildest imagination, The Trachanoids unite in a quest to defend the Earth from its alien conquerors — no matter what the cost.

My Thoughts:
The Trachanoids are a new kind of hero for kids 5+. With the opening of the book you see selfish, "me" oriented dinosaurs - more intent on serving themselves and being demanding and angry toward others. By the end of the book the dinosaurs and the humans on Earth have learned to work together and help rid the earth of the Mugo - alien 1/2 wolf 1/2 crocodile creatures who spend their time attacking and taking over other worlds. 

The book is a great introduction to science fiction for kids and a fun way for them to learn character and the importance of working together. Well written, entertaining and fast paced - you'll see your kid's imagination get moving when you read this book.

The Trachanoids Trading Card Game and Activity Pack
This book comes 2 ways: 
One as a hard bound book complete with color pictures and the other is a small chapter book of 64 pages with black and white pictures. Personally I thought the hard back was rather hard to read and it was very wordy with tiny print for younger children who are being read to. The pictures in the book are wonderful though and kids will enjoy looking at the pictures. I thought the chapter book was ideal for kids 6+ whether they are being read to or doing the reading themselves. The text is large which is great for beginning readers who are able to read fairly well on their own and reluctant readers should enjoy reading this also with the fast paced, action packed movement of the story.

Written by storyteller James J Fitl and illustrated by his wife Amy, The Trachanoids is a family collaboration including their daughter's suggestions and ideas. The idea for The Trachanoids has been in the back of James's mind since he was a child and it wasn't until he began sharing the story with his daughter in 2007 that it started being refined and ready for sharing. Learn more here

Accessories & Card Games (ideal for stocking stuffers):

Trachanoids Trading Card Game Activity Kit
The Trachanoids Trading Card Game and Activity Pack
$13.99 (Set) $4.50 (Activity Book only)
Discover the super-powered dinosaurs, The Trachanoids, and their alien nemesis, the Mugo, with this awesome trading card game and activity pack. Be a part of the action -- power up and unite to defeat the Mugo and their high-tech machines in The Trachanoids Battle For Earth Trading Card Game. This fun pack also includes directions on how to draw the dinosaurs in the book The Trachnoids: Defenders of the Earth. The kit also includes fun activities such as coloring pages, word games, and puzzles, all while learning about dinosaurs!

south dakota and toys 191.jpgThe Dinosaur Backpack Buddie is great for kids as young as 3 or 4. The backpack is adorable and when you fold it out it becomes a playmat and includes 7 dinosaurs to play with. Fold it up and your kid can carry it on their back and take it with them to church, to the doctor to play with while waiting for his name to be called, to a friends house, etc. This will fast become a favorite toy & would be a perfect stocking stuffer & birthday present idea. The Backpack Buddie is available in Artfire for $25.00.

Trachanoids Dinosaurs Vs. Aliens playset comes with seven plastic dinosaurs and a set of alien and human Paper Cutz to set up scenes and play with.


There are also T-shirts and hats on the website! On the website you can also find printable color pages, activities and online games as well as an educators page. At this time the Dinosaur Backpack Buddie and the dinosaurs aren't available individually or on the website - you can order them through 

Amy Fitl
trachanoids (at)  
phone 402-676-9216 
P.O. box 532 Boystown, NE 68010 
(she's working on getting them online for ordering).

Giveaway: Amy & James are kicking off their Blog Review Debut on Classic Children's Books & are very generously offering 4 prizes! Your kids will love these & they're perfect for stocking stuffers!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cows Can't Jump (Book Review)

Please note: this review has been moved over from my former blog for you to enjoy. It would make a great Christmas book for a special little someone. Please watch for my upcoming review of "Cows Can't Quack" coming in the next month hopefully. =D

Do you have a favorite book from your preschool years or do you have a favorite book that you remember when you started to read and loved to read to others? My personal favorites were "Beady Bear" and the Little Bear series - awesome books I still remember Dad reading to me at bedtime.

The book I'm about to review will fast become your child's favorite bedtime story. The text is very easy for kids to memorize and "read" aloud to their siblings and family. And the words are an easy introduction to sight reading. Available as a Board Book and also as a Paperback.

Games to play as you read:
  1. For kids that can't sit still - Read the book to your kids while they "pantomime" the action words in the story. Ex: Cows can't jump.... but they can swim.  Pigs can't fly.... but they can wallow. Ducks can't spring... but they can waddle.
  2. For kids that LOVE to draw - Give your kids a poster board and have them draw what they are hearing. Provide crayons, markers, pens, paints, etc 
  3. In the car - You start a sentence by saying: Rabbits can't swim.... and the kids say but they can hop!
  4. For kids that LOVE to cuddle & read: Read the book with them by pointing just under the words so they can see that what you are reading corresponds with the words on the book (this is important to all ages - even kids that are starting to read themselves).
Cows Can't Jump
By Dave Reisman
Illustrated by Jason A Maas
ISBN: 978-0-9801433-0-0 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-0-9801433-1-7 (board book)

Is it really true that cows can't jump, gorillas can't swim and sloths can't leap? Yes, but discover what these and other animals can do, as they swing, scamper and glide through Cows Can't Jump! In this humorous and inspirational adventure, animals focus on what they do best, comfortably aware they can t do everything, but proud of their own special skills. Vibrantly illustrated, Cows Can't Jump will help young readers learn diverse and dynamic words, while absorbing a subtle yet powerful message that builds self-esteem and teaches respect and humility.

My thoughts: 
This book is a great book to read with younger children. They are able to memorize it easily and "read" it for themselves and their younger siblings. It comes in a board book ($10.19) for babies and toddlers and it's also available as a paperback ($7.99) for kids in preschool and up. It's perfect for kids learning to read. The ideal book for encouraging, building esteem and teaching that while everyone can't do everything - they can do something.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received "Cows Can't Jump" for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Families Building Character Together ~ The Boy Who Changed the World

Did you know that what you do today can change the world forever?

The boy Who Changed the World is a rare book that introduces your children to the possibility that what they did yesterday and do today and tomorrow affects everything. It's a powerful tool that you can use to teach your parents about life.
The Boy Who Changed the World (Hardcover)

The Boy Who Changed the World
by Andy Andrews
Illustrated by Philip Hurst
ISBN: 9781400316052
Published by Tommy Nelson
Age 4+, $11.55, 40 pages, Hardback

From the Jacket: The Boy Who Changed the World teaches children how their actions can set off a spark that, in turn, influences the lives of others. As Andrews explains, "Every choice you make, good or bad, can make a difference."

Who would dream that a boy playing in Iowa cornfields would save the lives of more than 2 billion people? This is the incredible story of Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, a simple boy with a desire to feed the hungry - but Borlaug couldn't have accomplished this without the help of Vice President Henry Wallace, who was influenced by inventor George Washington Carver, who in turn was rescued by farmer Moses Carver.

My thoughts:

I've wanted to review this book for a couple months ever since I was at Women of Faith and heard Andy Williams speak (and picked up this book). It's so true that each of us has been touched by another who was touched by someone else and so on. 

Norman is a boy who is growing up on a farm. He could be any little boy (or girl) that you know. When his fathers tells him, "You know son, we're blessed to have all this corn. There are many people in the world who do not have enough to eat." Norman wonders what it would be like to be hungry all the time. And he decides he will change the world.

Eventually Norman grows up and goes to college and then is sponsored by Mr Wallace who tells him to use what he learned in school to make special seeds that will grow into "super plants" and feed more people than ordinary plants.

Now, Norman wouldn't of been able to do this without the influence of people in his life. There is Henry Wallace (grew up to be the US Secretary of Agriculture & the Vice President of the United States of America!). Henry was influenced by George Washington Carver who learned that little things can make a big difference - everything we do matters. Every action you take, even small things, can change the world. Who was George Washington Carver influenced by? 
His Dad! 

This book is a powerful tool for teaching children that everything we do makes a difference - not only to us but to those in our future. It's neat how Andy Andrews takes the story of one man and shows us step by step by moving backward in time how one man 100 years ago made the right decision and that decision helps feed children your own kids' age. Each illustration extends the author's words and is a story in itself.

Amazing huh?

Download the guide

I strongly suggest this book for every family. It's the perfect book to leave on your coffee table and kid's of all ages will be sure to pick it up and read it. 

I'm sure you noticed that I added pictures of butterflies. The butterflies were used by the illustrator throughout the book and after you read the book with your kids be sure to get a coloring page or two of butterflies. You can also find other butterfly activities on this website. Click here.

Learn More....
Who is Andy? New York Times Best-Selling Author. Masterful Storyteller. International Speaker. Serious Fisherman.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Families Building Character Together - 7 Miles to Freedom Review/Giveaway

Note: this is a repost from my old blog w/ some new additions. The story is a good one & important as it teaches about honesty, diligence and perseverance. This would be a great book to have in any home, library or school classroom.

Seven Miles to FreedomSeven Miles to Freedom
by Janet Halfmann
Illustrated by Duane Smith
ISBN: 9781600602320

Growing up a slave in South Carolina, Robert Smalls always dreamed of the moment freedom would be within his grasp.  Now that moment was here.

Robert stood proudly at the Planter's wheel.  Only 7 miles of water lay between the ship and the chance of freedom in Union territory.  With precision and amazing courage, he navigated past the Confederate forts in the harbor and steered the ship toward the safety of the Union fleet.  Just one miscalculation would be deadly, but for Robert, his family and his crew mates, the risk was worth taking.

The Magic Warble~ Book Review

The Magic Warble
by Victoria Simcox
Cover Art by Amanda Swanson
ISBN: 978-1935097174
Available on Amazon for $13.22

About the book:
Dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, talking animals, and an evil queen all these and more can be found in The Magic Warble, an enchanting tale of adventure and friendship.

Twelve-year-old Kristina Kingsly feels like the most unpopular girl in her school. The kids all tease her, and she never seems to fit in. But when Kristina receives an unusual Christmas gift, she suddenly finds herself magically transported to the land of Bernovem, home of dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, talking animals and the evil Queen Sentiz.