Steeped in Stories -- a Book about Reading Classic Children's Stories in Modern Times


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

What are the classic children's novels you read when you were little? Have you read them again as an adult? Have your children read them? Or are they on a banned list for the racism and other inappropriate things that are no longer acceptable in our modern society? Today I am sharing a book for adults about reading those stories as adults with or without kids and relating them to our modern world. Are you ready to reminisce? The book is Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children's Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls by Mitali Perkins.

Origami Art with Origami Paper 1000 Sheets Color Bursts with Origami Butterfly Tutorial


Disclosure: I was sent a box of this origami paper in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

I have shared I have been on an origami kick since I subbed at Hazel's school for the geometry teacher. I have had a piece of origami artwork I have been waiting to share. For some reason I thought the paper I used wasn't released yet, but it was, so I am finally getting to share it with you. I will also share the tutorial to make the butterflies on it. 

The Forgotten Memories of Vera Glass -- a new young adult novel that is intriguing and mysterious


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Have you ever read a book that was so hard to get into because it forced you to question things and struggled at first to understand? Today I am sharing a young adult book that did just that for me. It was hard to read at first. It was hard to get into it. It was hard to comprehend--not understand but to truly comprehend what was happening. It is in a world where everyone has a magical power and people are being entirely erased from existence one by one. However, once I got far enough in, I was hooked and had a hard time putting it down. I wanted to solve the mystery. The book is The Forgotten Memories of Vera Glass by Anna Priemaza. 

That's Betty! -- The Story of Betty White -- a new picture book to honor this American Treasure


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

On December 31, 2021, the news of Betty White's death saddened the country. She was weeks shy of her 100th birthday. With the pandemic still going on people were upset that 2021 took yet another beloved person and thing from the normalcy of life. Shortly after her death #bettywhitechallenge was everywhere. The idea was to donate $5 to a local animal shelter in honor of Betty White on her 100th birthday, January 17, 2022. Betty White was a huge animal lover and spoke out for them often. Well people in the United States and elsewhere honored Betty for her birthday. On Facebook and Instagram alone $12.7 million was donated to animal shelters. (Source) The LA Zoo got almost $95,000 in donations. The Calgary Humane Society in Canada posted that it received over $91,000 (Canadian) in honor of Betty White. (Source) And that does not even cover the small animals shelters that people like me donated to directly. After her death Betty White was making a difference. Today I get to share a wonderful new picture book about Betty White. It is called That's Betty! The Story of Betty White by Gregory Bonsignore and illustrated by Jennifer M. Potter. It is recommended for ages 4 to 8. It is also a multicultural children's book. 

The True Story of Nick the Firedog with Fire Safety Tips


Disclosure: I was sent a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am working with The Children's Book Review and Timothy P. Dexter, Jr. and will receive a small stipend for this review. All opinions are my own.

When you hear firehouse dog, I am guessing you don't think about a pit bull. Today I get to share with you a fun new picture book about a firedog who is a pit bull!! This sweet picture book is fun and introduces pet care as well as fire safety to young children. The book is The True Story of "Nick the Firedog" by Timothy Dexter, Jr. 

We Can Talk About Encanto--Encanto-Inspired Craft & Fun Movie Facts


It seems like everyone is talking about Encanto and of course the hit song, "We Don't Talk About Bruno." Have you seen the movie yet? How many times? We have watched it a couple of times and love it. I thought it would be fun to make an Encanto-inspired candle since the candle plays such an important part of the movie. I also thought it would be fun to share some fun facts about the movie. So we will start with the fun facts.

Finding Oneself as the Pandemic is Hopefully Ending


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions are my own.

The last two years have been tough on everyone. Everyone I talk to seems to be struggling in some way or another. And it is not because they lost a loved one (though many have) or that they or a family member caught Covid (though many have). It is because we are all tired. Tired of masks. Tired of restrictions. But mostly tired of fighting. America seems more divided than ever. We were divided by politics and that division has grown. We have been divided by racism which is coming to a forefront. Now we are also divided about masks, vaccinations and more. If a person or company does not have the same beliefs, people are fighting, debating and at sometimes getting violent. Then add in that there is a shortage of workers. Everywhere seems to be hiring and they are operating understaffed. People's patience is not there, and they are being rude to the few people who do show up to serve us. It is such a mess. All of these things have gotten me feeling down and miserable. For 2022 I have picked positivity as my word of the year. Let's face it we all need more positivity in our lives (just not positive Covid tests).

Origami Spectacular! -- Fun origami kit review


Disclosure: I was sent this kit in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Friday and Monday I was substituting at Hazel's school in one of the high school math and science rooms. The geometry class has an origami project due this week, so we were having some fun with origami. I came home ready to play with origami at home so I pulled out Origami Spectacular! Kit: Our Biggest and Best Origami Collection Ever! by Michael G. LaFosse and Richard L. Alexander. 

Two New Picture Books Perfect for Black History Month or Any Time


Disclosure: I was sent digital copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

February is halfway over and that means so is Black History Month. Have you done anything for Black History Month? Last week I shared a round-up of picture books that won awards and honors in January that were perfect for Black History Month. Today I am going to share two more picture books that are brand new (in 2022). One is about Ida B. Wells and the other is about a conversation about race. Both are very important to teach our kids about. Let's start with Ida B. Wells. The book is Ida B. Wells: Voice of Truth by Michelle Duster, Ida's great-granddaughter and illustrated by Laura Freeman. This book is recommended for ages 4 to 8.

From the Publisher:

Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth is an inspiring picture book biography of the groundbreaking journalist and civil rights activist as told by her great-granddaughter Michelle Duster and illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award Honoree artist Laura Freeman.

Ida B. Wells was an educator, journalist, feminist, businesswoman, newspaper owner, public speaker, suffragist, civil rights activist, and women’s club leader.

She was a founder of the NAACP, the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, the Alpha Suffrage Club, and the Negro Fellowship League.

She wrote, spoke, and traveled, challenging the racist and sexist norms of her time.

Faced with criticism and threats to her life, she never gave up.

This is her extraordinary true story, as told by her great-granddaughter Michelle Duster and beautifully brought to life by Coretta Scott King Award Honoree artist Laura Freeman.

From Me:

Have you heard of Ida B. Wells? What do you know about her? Back in 2004 or 2005, I went with a friend to see Constant Star. A good friend of mine volunteered at the theater and we went together. It was my first introduction to Ida B. Wells. At the time when I tried to find out more about Ida, I saw more criticism than positivity. I found more negative and not child friendly stories about her. It made me question her true identity. Of course, I was seeing what white people were writing about a Black woman who fought the system. She spoke up when she saw injustice. She did not go away but fought for equal rights for Black people, for women and more. What was available to me at that time was not the whole story and was biased. Finally, today there is a book that is perfect for sharing Ida's life with young children and it is written by her great-granddaughter. 

The book is wonderful. It shares about Ida's life including how she took care of her siblings when her parents died. She was only sixteen. It shares the injustice she witnessed and that occurred to her. I am sure it is only a fraction of the injustice she truly witnessed but has the emotions that go with witnessing and experiencing it. She witnessed lynching as well as being kicked off a train for not moving to the Colored car. Michelle shares the truth about Ida's tough life and all of her many accomplishments. It is written with love and pride and is a perfect book to introduce the younger kids to this amazing woman. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful as well. 

Our second book is Why? A Conversation About Race by Taye Diggs and illustrated by Shane W. Evans. This book is recommended for ages 3 to 6.

From the Publisher:

A piercing picture book about racial injustice from a child’s perspective from Taye Diggs and Shane Evans.

"Yes, my sweet boy."
"Why are those people shouting?"
"Our people are shouting because we need to be heard. We need to be heard."

is a question asked by children daily, and in this striking and timely story, it begins a straightforward and challenging conversation between children of color and the adults in their lives.

Why are the buildings burning? Why are people marching? Why are they crying? Taye Diggs has written a beautiful, powerful, and poignant story that peers through the eyes of a child as they struggle to understand why these events are happening.

Why? distills the conversations many children and adults are having about race, injustice, and anger in communities throughout our country, and gives them context that young readers can connect with. Heartfelt and deeply piercing illustrations from Shane W. Evans will leave a lasting impact on readers of any age. One that will hopefully lead to more conversations, change, and peace within our own communities and the world.

From Me:

Wow, this book is powerful. Kids ask why a lot through a day, but in our current situation there are many asking why. Why are there riots? Why are they looting and damaging buildings? I have heard these questions in the past year. Have you? This book answers those questions but not exactly how you may expect. After all it was adults asking those questions the past year, and this book is written for young children! The book shows Black/brown children asking family members questions about people and things they see. Why are the people shouting, crying, pointing, etc. The family member answers with answers about the injustice the people have felt because of their skin color. They answer with honesty. They answer with answers we all need to understand so we can truly change our society and its wrongs. Each answer could lead to discussions about current events as well as history. Each answer could lead to discussions with children but also with adults. 

As a white ally I cannot put myself into others' shoes and truly understand what they experience. I can show compassion and empathy for their pains. I can use my white privilege to try to change things. I can show love and kindness for all. This book provides a peek into the emotions and experiences of others. It provides answers to questions I have had, and it shares a bit of understanding. I can see this book read to a group of children ready to discuss race. I can see it used with older kids to begin the discussion as well. I hope you will check it out!

Cherry Blossom Season in Old Tokyo 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle


Disclosure: I was sent this puzzle in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I haven't shared a puzzle in a while so today I am sharing a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. It features the woodprint of Utagawa Kunisada. Did you know that Vincent Van Gogh collected Japanese prints? Almost half of his Japanese prints were Utagawa Kunisada's. (Source) The puzzle is Cherry Blossom Season in Old Tokyo 1,000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle from Tuttle Publishing. 

The Leaf and The Tree -- We Are All Connected


Disclosure: I am working with The Children's Book Review and Bruce Nemovitz and will receive a small stipend for this post. I was sent a digital copy of the book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

We are in the middle of winter here in Massachusetts. The trees are bare, but I am dreaming of spring and warmer weather. Today's book is perfect for this dream. It is The Leaf and the Tree by Bruce Nemovitz and illustrated by Ani Ghosh. 

50 Hikes with Kids in New England -- Review and Sharing a Hike


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The weather here in New England is not perfect for getting outside and certainly not for hiking without snowshoes. However, I like to think about warmer weather and weather where the ground isn't covered with snow and ice. I know it is coming! So today I am going to share a new book that shares 50 hikes around New England that are good to do with kids. The book is 50 Hikes with Kids: New England by Wendy Gorton.

Award Winning New Picture Books Perfect for Black History Month


On January 24, 2022, the American Library Association announced the 2022 Youth Media Awards! You can see all the winners here. I was happy to see Firekeeper's Daughter won the William C. Morris Award and the Printz Award. Ace of Spades was a finalist for the Printz Award. I really enjoyed both of these young adult books and Ace of Spades is another book great for Black History Month. I went through the list of awards and began requesting books from the library. I found five picture books from the list that are perfect for Black History Month and thought I would share them with you. One will be reshared as I did review it in 2021. We will start with Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford and Floyd Cooper. It is recommended for ages 8 to 12 or grades 3 to 6.

Finding Family Treasure -- a Middle Grades Novel about Family History & More -- Review & Giveaway


Disclosure: I am working with The Children's Book Review, K.I. Knight, and Jane R. Wood and was sent a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I am receiving a small stipend for this review.

Have you ever looked into your family history? Perhaps you have gone onto Ancestry or Family Search and looked up your relatives. Did you discover anything? Or perhaps your child needed to share a bit about the country your family comes from. Do you come from just one country? As what I call an American mutt, I cringe at those assignments. How do I pick one of the countries my family is from? When Hazel got that assignment, we went with Steven's family history since he is Italian American. Today I am going to share a middle grades book with you that a diverse class begins researching their own history. It is a tale of genealogy, family, connections and so much more. The book is Finding Family Treasure by K.L. Knight and Jane R. Wood. Oh, and there is a giveaway at the end of the post!

It's All About Love -- God's Love


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Valentine's Day is coming quickly. How do you celebrate it? We just exchange cards and sometimes I do something special with Hazel. Steve's birthday is right before it, so it seems a bit silly to celebrate them both so close together. As I was thinking about Valentine's Day, I thought of some activities to do with different ages of kids. The activities go with today's board book, so I'm going to share them all together. First the book. It is God's Love Is Like Sunshine by Sarah Parker Rubio and illustrated by Dream Chen. It is recommended for ages 1 to 4.

Learning about Climate Change on Groundhog Day with Fun Facts about Groundhogs & Craft Round-Up


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Did you see the Groundhog Day video I shared on Facebook? It is the annual Groundhog Day video of Ms. G, the official groundhog of Massachusetts. I like watching this video more than Punxsutawney Phil. One Ms. G is closer to me and has weather more like mine. Two, she isn't surrounded by all the news cameras with the extra lights to make shadows. Plus I love how they share a bit about groundhogs, animals and more. She lives at Mass Audubon's Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary. We loved visiting Drumlin Farm when Hazel was young. In the video they say Groundhog Day is also Climate Action Day. So today I'm going to share some fun facts about groundhogs with a small craft round-up and share with you a new book about climate change. We all need to be aware of climate change and take action to help stop/slow it. 

Board Books for Presidents' Day with Craft & More Book Round-Ups


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Happy February!! With February comes so many different things from Valentine's Day to Presidents' Day and more! I thought we would kick February off by sharing two new board books that are perfect for Presidents' Day. When I was young, I remember getting both Abraham Lincoln's and George Washington's birthdays off. At some point they merged into Presidents' Day. Of course, if you look at the history of Presidents' Day it was begun to celebrate George Washington's birthday. Hmmm, somehow Abraham got forgotten there. Anyway, with both of their birthdays this month, I am going to share books about both of them. Both books are written by Patricia A. Pingry, and both are board books, so they are perfect for your youngest book lovers! Let's start with The Story of George Washington. These books are recommended for ages 2 to 5.