Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Green Golly & her Golden Flute

Green Golly & her Golden Flute
Written & Performed by: 
   Keith Torgan & Barbara Steel
Illustrations by: 
   Suzanne Langelier-Lebeda
ISBN: 978-1936172610
$19.99 (Book w/ CD)
 (Note: if you purchase it on Amazon you purchase the CD separately)

About the book:
Green Golly & her Golden Flute is a beautiful new picture book-with-audio, based on the Parents’ Choice® Gold Award winning recording by the same name, written and performed by Keith Torgan and Barbara Siesel. The book introduces children to the magic of classical music via a whimsical re-working of the traditional tale of Rapunzel.
In the old days, Rapunzel had to cope with isolation, boredom, and an abbreviated social life, but her modern-day alter ego, Green Golly, has a beautiful golden flute to express her deepest feelings and a life filled with music by the world’s greatest composers. A keen observer of all that whizzes by her tower window, Green Golly is inclined to rely on her musical abilities to help unravel the mysteries of life in this funny, engaging tale of romance and rescue, interwoven with works of Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Gossec, Elgar, Bizet, Chopin, and Copland.

My thoughts:
Wow! I was raised classically on the Piano and Cello and also played the Bass growing up and the accompanying CD for Green Golly really brought back my love for Classical Piano and the feelings that came from deep inside whenever I listened to classical music concerts as a kid. The CD is one of the best book audios I've ever heard and the accompanying flute by Barbara Siesel and the Piano music by Jessica Krash is absolutely beautiful.

Green Golly is beautifully illustrated all the way through. The colors are bright and the pictures delightful. If you've ever seen a Susan Branch book you'll know what I mean - those are the kinds of illustrations in the book. They are very captivating and designed to draw a kid into the story. This version of the story is a little different then the Rapunzel story you've read to your kids and I'll admit I actually like this story much better. It's more a full length story with the "whole" story included.

Keith Torgan (storyteller) really makes the story on the audio POP. He has created a wonderful "cast" of characters - the witch is hilarious - and he reminds me strongly of Rumplestiltskin on the TV show Once Upon a Time. I can just picture the witch and her movements from his voice.

I really hope there will be more classical books in the future by Keith & Barbara. I could see Peter & the Wolf (of course), The Nutcracker, and a few others - and I plan on adding them to my personal library if they do! You can learn more on their website @ The Green Golly Project as well as find a concert calendar and lots more! (Click on the stars around Green Golly - the one at the very bottom on the left side is a GREAT place to start!)

Note:  The book is available with two options for accessing the audio component (narration and music): 1) an audio CD or 2) a free StorySticker app that enables downloading of the audio material to mobile devices and computers.  This information is included on the inside of the book in detail.

Would you like to WIN a copy for your little Green Golly?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was offered a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to post a positive review and no money exchanged hands. Thanks for reading CCB!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wipe Clean Activities Book

Bumper Wipe Clean ActivitiesBumper Wipe Clean Activities
Subject: Games, Mazes, Bible Stories
Age 3+, 72 pages
ISBN: 978-1859857663
$11.69 (hardback/spiral bound)

About the book:
Wipe clean and start again! Seventy-two pages of wipe clean fun activities with a short Bible story at the top of each page and the related activity below.
Help children learn while discovering their favorite Bible stories through mazes, dot to dots, spot the mistake, and many more. The laminated pages can be wiped clean for use again and again and includes a felt-tip pen so children can get started right away.

My thoughts:
This is a really cute little book. I have tried during the spring and early summer to sit down with Connor (5) to work on Dot to Dot's and Mazes and he has always said "they are to hard" or "I don't want to do these". Until 4 year old Jace came over for a playdate and fell in love with this book. LOL (nothing like a little jealousy and seeing another kid pick up your book hmmm?) Jace has not been to preschool yet and I don't think he has really heard any Bible Stories at home and yet he connected to the book right away. Jace particularly loves doing the mazes.

So, this week Connor and I have been doing a few pages every day as well as reading a Bible Story or two from the Classic Children's Bible and then trying to work on a few preschool pages from a workbook. It's been really nice having an activity book to extend our Bible Time even just a little. Usually Connor is up for doing 4-6 pages and then he is ready for something else.

The Wipe Clean Activity book has big beautiful pages full of bright fun colors. The illustrations are really cute and fun to look at. At the top of each page is a 4-5 sentence paragraph that mentions what the page is about and then there are instructions for the kids to follow. You'll find mazes, dot to dots, what's different type pages as well as coloring and finish the picture type activities. It's perfect for small hands to hold on their lap while working on the pages. We are planning on keeping this book in the car and possibly even in a bag of activities when I have Dr Appts or other things where there might be a wait for a little while. 

Disclaimer: I was offered a copy of the book to read and review on CCB. I was not required to have a positive review and no $$ exchanged hands. Thanks for reading CCB.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What are you serving your Ultra Picky Eaters for lunch lately? Momables to the Rescue!

***Note: the rafflecopter gadget that I originally posted a week ago has disappeared from my account. I have no idea if it's something I did as I was having a sudden surge of trouble from Internet Explorer at the same time (grrr!). I am going to set up a new rafflecopter and start it over again since I have no way who had signed up. I'm so sorry this happened and I really appreciate your understanding. *** ~ Tina


I gotta say I don't think my kiddos are ultra picky but you would think they were dying because I had them try something new (or something old they've recently decided they don't like after all)....

My daycare kids used to eat carrots but now will only do it if I say you have to eat __ and then you can be done.... the issue is that they would only eat carrots and mixed veggies. Nothing else and I'm so tired of serving the same things over and over.

Last week I told them that we are going to start trying 1 new thing (either a veggie or fruit) each week and then we are going to rate what they tried. Last week we tried tomatoes and you woulda thought life was coming to an end!

I gave them each 3 very tiny slices of tomato and this is the result:  Connor "licked" his piece and claimed he liked it - right down to giving it a smiley face. Sierra whined (I don't like it!) and seemed to think she was dying and then she peeled it and ate her 1 piece without complaining. Geez!

Last week I made apple blossoms with yogurt to use as a dipping sauce (picture onion blossoms but with an apple instead). I've tried ants on a log, meat & cheese rollups with tortillas, broccoli trees w/ cheese sauce, PBJ for Connor who tells me he DOESN'T like Peanut Butter (mom says he likes it just fine and eats it), they WILL eat Mixed Veggies - but not individual veggies like green beans, corn or peas (go figure). They will Not eat veggies w/ ranch (gasp!) & Connor refuses to eat peanut butter.

I feed them normal kid foods but the highest quality I can find & afford that doesn't have a ton of preservatives in it. They eat Van deCamps fish sticks, love Chicken Noodle Soup (I get Campbells Kids Line of Soups with shaped pasta), Tysons 100% chicken nuggets, Cheese Ravioli w/ Pizza Sauce and Pizza Cheese on top (one of their fave's) and of course the usual sandwiches.

I'm really fighting an uphill battle here. 

I just signed up for MOMables 3 month subscription last week to find some new foods for the kids to try. I have done a few Bento type meals with them and her menu is based on the Lunchables in the store - but they are healthy, have a wide variety and aren't loaded with calories, preservatives and/or sugar. I have tried a couple so far and they were received with excitement by the kids and they actually cleaned their Easy Lunchbox without a lot of prodding from me (except to take away the Kabob Sticks before they poked each other's eyes out - yeah, I let them have sword fights for about 5 minutes before I stepped in...)

See this article by Laura the founder of MOMables on how to get Picky Eaters to Eat.... she is the gal who is going to get us over this hurtle!

Here is a little about MOMables:
MOMables is a school lunch meal planning service that helps parents feed their kids a variety of lunches they will love. Their one simple plan approach has built in substitutions for vegetarian, gluten free and nut free options when needed (it is not a dairy free or vegan plan).

MOMables was started by Laura Fuentes, a mom of 3 kids under seven years old, to help other parents get out of the lunch packing rut. MOMables offers a weekly school lunch meal plan with 5 lunch ideas, a prep-ahead sheet and a shopping list to help us busy parents feed our kids good food they will actually eat for only $6 per month!

Laura has been kind enough to offer my readers a sample week of MOMables for FREE, when you sign up for their weekly newsletter. It's also loaded with free recipes, tips and so much more.

Win a 3 Month Subscription to MOMables!
So, I get to giveaway a 3 month subscription - you can enter right here.... or purchase a subscription for yourself if you don't want to wait (you can also sign up for her newsletter and get a FREE 1 Week Menu to try out first). You have a couple days to enter....

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: I was given a 3 month subscription in exchange for my honest review of the MOMables Subscription. I was not required to have a positive review and no money exchanged hands. Thanks for reading!
Giveaways are posted @
Blog Giveaway Directory Sunday Sweeps Giveaway Linky! 8/4/13 Edition! daily giveaway linky
 5 Minutes Around the Blogosphere
  giveaway linky list 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Trees Have Hearts ~ a modern day fairytale with a lesson

The Trees Have HeartsThe Trees Have Hearts
by Mrs. D. (Olga D'Agostino)
ISBN: 978-1469134796
$19.79 (paperback)
$3.03 (kindle)

About the book:
The touching story of a young girl, friendless because she cannot speak a new language. It will transport your child into the imaginary world of a little girl who has moved to America from a different country.

Unable to speak English, the lonely girl cannot find friends at first. She lives in an old house with a small garden, where three lovely trees and the mysterious wind become her first imaginary friends. The garden friends develop a wonderful friendship with the girl and help her to overcome her fears and worries. They teach her how to make real friends and help her to cope with difficult moments while adapting to her new surroundings.
Unforgettable characters open a beautiful imaginary world to young readers, inviting them to share the fears, tears, and joys of a little girl. The story teaches the true meaning of friendship, while showing readers the beauty of nature. It reveals an enchanting imaginary world as seen through the eyes of a child…

My thoughts:
How many of you had imaginary friends growing up? You were lonely and maybe you didn't have many kids in your neighborhood or perhaps like this little girl you found yourself unable to communicate with other kids and therefore alone and needing friends. This little girl easily captures your heart and sympathies as she makes friends with the only "beings" around. 3 Trees each with their own personalities are in the garden and she friends each one of them. The story takes place over a year and as the season changes so does the little girl - she grows in confidence and by  the end of the book she has friends and needs to rely on the trees less and less.

The Trees Have Hearts is a wonderful story for kids who love to sink into a good book. Perhaps like our heroine they are lonely and need friends or perhaps they love a good book to read on a rainy afternoon. The pictures are beautiful and fun to explore and the details in them are wonderful. The suggested reading level is 5-8 but I would say it's for kids who are able to read/listen to a lot of detail. It's a bit long and the dialog is very detailed for most 5 year olds so I would suggest parents read it first before giving it to their kids to read or trying to read it.

You can purchase this book as a paperback or on Kindle and you can learn more about the author @ HERE. Mrs D has also written another book "Carlo the Mouse on Vacation" and you might also be interested in that one too. =D

Disclaimer: I was offered a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. No money exchanged hands and I was not required to have a positive review. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Lila: The Sign of the Elven Queen Spotlight! & Kindle Fire Giveaway too!

Book Spotlight
(Scroll all the way to the bottom for the giveaway!)

Lila: The Sign of the Elven Queen
by: Mark J Grant
ISBN: 978-1620863572
$11.84 (hardcover)
$9.95 (kindle)

About the  book:
Lila is a polite six-year-old girl who lives with her mama and papa in New York City. She has two cats, and would now like to have a dog–except dogs are not allowed in her apartment building. After thinking about it for awhile, Lila asks her parents if she can have an invisible dog. Her parents agree, and together they decide to name the dog Fluffy. On their way to the pet store to buy invisible supplies for the invisible dog, a black and white Aussie appears from around the corner and introduces himself to Lila, saying, “My name is Fluffy.”

In a series of fun adventures that follow, Fluffy introduces Lila and her family to the invisible people of Iceland, who live inside the boulders of Central Park and the cornerstones of New York City buildings. One day, the invisible people discover that the birthmark on Lila’s left forearm is the sign of their Elven Queen, and just as she turns seven, Lila is made a princess. Can anything be better than that?

Read the first chapter:

Lila had learned to be polite at a very early age. She was six years old now and she recalled that her mother had given her instructions about being polite more than once, but she could not remember exactly when her instructions started. She seemed to think that it began at about three, but she was not quite certain. Three was a half a life ago and it was similar to being sixty and trying to remember something that took place when you were thirty, but she wasn’t exactly sure about that either, being nowhere close to sixty.

To be more precise Lila had only learned about sixty recently, and it seemed such a large number that there must not be many numbers past sixty and if there were they couldn’t be that important. She knew that adults frequently mentioned numbers bigger than sixty but she could not imagine what they were for or why anyone would care. Sixty was quite large enough, thank you, and it hurt her head to try to imagine any numbers that might exceed that one.

Five dolls was something she could understand, and perhaps ten or fifteen might be useful as you wanted to have different conversations with your special friends, but it would take many days to converse with sixty dolls so that she dismissed that amount of dolls out of hand. Lila had met a girl once at school that claimed to have zillions of dolls bought by her father who worked in some street with really high walls or something, but she saw no value in any of it and anyway, she didn’t believe her because so many dolls would not allow for any space for people or cats or dogs and everyone knew that parents and children and pets must have someplace to eat and sleep. Dolls were important, of course, but people and animals more so, of that much she was certain.

Lila had asked her mother about this once. “Mama, why can dolls sleep anywhere, but people all sleep in beds and our animals all seem to have places that they have chosen for sleeping?” Her mother had explained that people prefer comfy places, and floors and the like are not comfy, while the cats and dogs chose sleeping places for reasons that people could not understand. She got the first part of this as she had personally tried to sleep on the floor just to see what it was like, and it was not nearly as comfy as her bed. Floors were useful for walking or perhaps crawling when you were much younger but she was in agreement with her mother that floors were not so much for sleeping.

Now some of her dolls did sleep with her on her bed. This was one of the decisions she made at night right before she went to sleep: which dolls would accompany her to bed. Every night was different, she was one day older after all, and so different choices had to be made, but this just seemed to be the way of growing older. Of course, it also partially depended upon which dolls behaved during the day and which ones had provided some sort of amusing conversation. Dolls, just like her mother and father, could be quite cranky at times, and so on those days they were not allowed to sleep with her. Lila had decided that she had to put up with cranky parents because, what could be done, but that her dolls were a different matter. It seemed quite unfair really. Her parents tried to control her all of the time but she had no control over them, and the difference between being a child and being a parent seemed quite distinct, but if that was the way it was, at least she could control her dolls.

Now Lila was neither a big six nor a little six but she was certainly a very big-eyed six. She had the largest eyes of any six-year-old in the city in which she lived, which was New York City. There are many people that lived there of course, and you could wander from Manhattan to Brooklyn and look around, but she could claim the biggest eyes. It was uncertain how this took place as both her father and mother had normal sized eyes, but not Miss Lila. It may have been that God decided she should see better than most, or that she should be set aside as a very particular little girl. We will never really know the reason of course, but the largest eyes on this side of the Hudson River are what she had and of that there is no question.

They were not the bug-kind of eyes nor were they the protruding type, but just eyes like saucers that she used for the tea parties that she had with her dolls. Her mother favored fancy blue tea cups and saucers and Lila liked the white ones with all of the interesting scrolls that she thought might mean something, kind of like the writing that her mother kept trying to get her to understand. It was just that the books with writing but without pictures seemed so dull and commonplace, that it was hard to pay attention to them, especially when the dolls wanted to have a conversation.

Each doll had a distinct personality. This was because each one reminded her of some person that either she knew or wanted to know, such as some of the people in TV shows or some of the singers that seemed quite beautiful to her. She had no idea how one became a singer actually or even how one got to be on a TV show, but they both seemed so glamorous that she supposed some of her dolls must be relatives of these people. This did bring about a sort of problem for Lila. She had asked her mother many times about this, but just who was a relative and who was not was quite unclear. There was Mama’s mother and Papa’s mother and she understood that they were her parent’s mothers like Mama was her mother.

How one became a mother though was a great uncertainty, though Mama had said she would explain when she was a few years older. Lila was actually quite glad of this because even though she was a very inquisitive child, she had this feeling in her tummy that the explanation would be long and complicated and make her head hurt just like when she considered numbers larger than sixty. Lila knew it had something to do with men and women and the difference between them, but as far as she was concerned, Mama was her parent and Papa was her parent and that was quite enough to know, thank you.

Now Lila’s family had two cats. One was a normal enough looking furball, but the other was very strange and particular. His face was odd, his smile was lopsided, and when he smiled, which was rarely, his fur stuck out in a very peculiar manner. This cat did not look at all like the cats in the cat books that Mama read to her, so it was a question of either having a strange cat, or that Mama was showing her strange books. It took Lila almost three days to decide this issue and it was somewhat painful because Mama had told her that the cat book cats were perfectly normal. She finally concluded that Mama would not mislead her so that it must be her cat who was not quite like other cats. Lila did not love this cat any less however, as one might imagine, but accepted him for who he was and as a member of the family. This decision was also useful at school.

Some of the girls at her school, never mind the boys because they didn’t really count, were also a little strange and they reminded her of her cat. She at first thought to stay away from the strange girls, but then after the cat decision, she realized that they might be her friends after all, even though they were not quite like her. She was a well-liked child, and Lila was often invited for sleepovers and here was where she learned why some of her new acquaintances were similar to her cat. It was because the parents were similar to the cat.

Lila then concluded that odd parents make odd children but that being strange was not so bad in itself—they were just different, which could be either good or bad. The trouble of course, was figuring out which was which, but as long as they were nice and fed her and she was not scared, then she felt that they were fine. This was a big revelation for Lila—strange could be fine and the people that were strange could be fine, just in a different way from Mama and Papa and her. She was relieved, finally, that she got this settled in her mind because she was afraid it was going to be another some number over sixty kind of problem.

About the author:
Mark J. Grant, a graduate of Occidental College, has been on Wall Street for thirty-seven years in various senior management positions. He has run capital markets for four investment banks and been on the boards of directors of four investment banks. Grant also writes "Out of the Box," a commentary on the financial markets that is distributed daily to approximately 5,000 large money management institutions in forty-eight countries. He is the author of Out of the Box and onto Wall Street: Unorthodox Insights on Investments and the Economy (Wiley, 2011). LILA: THE SIGN OF THE ELVEN QUEEN is his first novel.

Visit his website at www.princesslila.com.

Connect & Socialize with Mark!

Pump Up Your Book and Mark J. Grant are
giving away a Kindle Fire HD!
Terms & Conditions:
By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one Kindle Fire HD.
This giveaway begins September 2 and ends November 29.
Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, December 2, 2013.
Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Only U.S. citizens can win the Kindle Fire.

Good luck everyone!