Posted in Children, nonfiction, Parenting, Spotlight on April 27, 2017

Raising teens and tweens to become healthy, loving, and independent individuals is a process filled with pitfalls and challenges — from bullying, drugs, sex, and peer pressures to unrelenting societal demands, endless technology challenges, and negative parental or school influences. Award-winning educator Douglas Haddad, who has helped thousands of middle school students transition from being kids into young adults, presents a forceful, insightful, and inspiring guide for parents, educators, and caretakers to use to help raise the newest generation in his latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens: Strategies for Unlocking Your Child’s Full Potential (Rowman & Littlefield, February 2017, ISBN: 978-1-4422-5695-8; 286 pages).

Doug identified 10 tools to nurturing smart, successful, and self-disciplined teens and tweens, including:

  • Be the boss by sharing power with your child
  • Use empathy and consequences
  • Kick your kid’s butt effectively – but not literally
  • Give your child the license to problem ownership
  • Get your kid iMotivated

He also outlines the warning signs and solutions to 10 critical challenges middle schoolers and high schoolers are exposed to, including:

  • How to take the “bull” out of bullying and address youth violence
  • How sex can change a child’s life forever
  • Bad habits: gambling, alcohol, drugs, smoking
  • Depression and suicidal tendencies
  • Eating disorders, physical inertia, and health issues

Doug has seen firsthand many of these challenges that kids experience. As an educator, he spends between seven and eight hours a day working with children from different backgrounds and possesses a wide perspective on the needs of “the whole child” and the challenges they are going through. Furthermore, as a child, he experienced relentless attacks from bullies, and because of that he’s been an outspoken advocate against youth violence.

His book provides a fresh, comprehensive guide for parents who desperately seek solutions, especially answers to these problems:

  • “How do I gain confidence as a parent to choose wisely and help my child succeed at all levels?”
  • “How can I react better when faced with temper tantrums or rebellious behavior?”
  • “How do I effectively talk about topics like sex, drugs, and bullying with my kid?”
  • “How do I listen better so I actually get to know who my child really is?”
  • “How can I communicate effectively and connect with my child so she knows I love her?”
  • “How do I get my child to be motivated at school and in organized activities without becoming detrimental to my child’s development or injuring our relationship?”

Doug provides parents with useful, time-proven, kid-tested methods to handle stressful or dangerous situations appropriately and effectively. By providing anecdotes, specific steps and tools, practical exercises, and encouraging ideas, Doug provides the strategies that parents will need to simplify parenting in a fast-paced, tech-driven, info-saturated and complex world – and gain a lasting connection with their child – while truly helping them prepare for adulthood.

Q & A with Doug Haddad

What are the 3-5 takeaways from your book?

In The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens, parents will:

  • Discover the secrets of effective communication with their children and learn the techniques to stop behavior problems right in their tracks when they happen.
  • Know the strategies to best motivate their children and unlock their potential.
  • Find out how to set appropriate limits and hold their children accountable for their actions.
  • Understand all of today’s “child-limiting challenges” and strategies for preventing and intervening to best handle them with their children.
  • Apply the 10 specific, proven “child unlimited” tools on a regular basis with teens and tweens to help them unlock their full potential to become smart, successful, and self-disciplined individuals and have a strong connection with their child for a lifetime.

You were named teacher-of-the-year in your school district. What does it take to motivate, teach, and grow middle school students?

Connections, care, and compassion are at the core of my practice as an educator and are the key ingredients to help motivate, teach, and grow middle school students. The old adage, “A kid doesn’t care how much you know until he/she knows how much you care” is so true. Finding a way to connect with all children in a genuine, meaningful way through care, compassion, humor, and storytelling or just being a lending ear for students when they need it, all while creating a safe classroom environment, can make the world of difference. By putting myself out there in a vulnerable state by acting, singing and dancing, my students come to know that I am not afraid to take chances, be real, show vulnerability and would do anything for them to succeed.

Why is adolescence an important state in a child’s development?

This is the period in life when children test boundaries, strive for independence, seek to be understood, become curious about the opposite sex, place greater importance on image and being accepted among their peers, engage in different risky behaviors, and develop lifestyle habits that will be carried with them throughout adulthood. In order for parents to have the best chance at raising a smart, successful, and self-disciplined child, they need to be aware of the challenges that their children face and possess strategies to help their children cope to best prevent them from making poor decisions along with techniques on how to intervene in a crisis. Additionally, making connections with children and being actively involved is paramount to them developing good fiber and lifelong habits of success.

You note there are many potential pitfalls for the new generation, from addiction, sex, and alcohol to gambling and violent video games. How does today’s parent navigate through this minefield?

Applying the “child unlimited tools” in this book, on a daily basis, will help all parents establish effective communication with their child and apply strategies to regularly and openly discuss the different challenges and pressures that their children face. In turn, this will facilitate a strong, lasting relationship that is rooted in trust. By applying these tools, parents can help their children become good problem-solvers, map out and set meaningful goals, develop resiliency skills to persevere through adversity, and learn and practice coping mechanisms that are non-destructive and emphasize self-responsibility. By spending quality time with a child and displaying a genuine care, interest, patience, and support over a child’s lifetime, a lasting positive impact can be made in a child’s life.

About the Author

Douglas Haddad is an award-winning middle school teacher, best-selling author, and parenting and education expert.

Douglas has been awarded “Teacher of the Year” in his Connecticut school district, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens (Rowman & Littlefield, February 2017). He has taught over 2,000 students in his 17 years as an educator, working with children from all different backgrounds and abilities.

He was recognized as the 2016-2017 Simsbury, Connecticut Teacher of the Year and has been named a 2017 Teacher- Ambassador for Public Education in the State of Connecticut. Douglas has worked as a coach, personal trainer, nutrition counselor, tai chi ch’uan and reiki master, one-on-one mentor, and tutor. He is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Performance Enhancement Specialist for elite athletes. Douglas has been featured in the NEA Today magazine and the CEA Advisor for educators for his unique contributions in curbing childhood obesity.

Douglas is also a blogger, contributing writer, and has been featured in many national print and online outlets. In addition to his work as an author, educator and wellness expert, Douglas Haddad is a modern-day Renaissance man who has also been on stage singing, playing piano, writing music, performing voiceovers for various companies and products, and acting in theatrical performances, film, television, and commercials over the years.

He has been featured as a regular guest expert on FOX, NBC, ABC, and ION television. He graduated magna cum laude from Central Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in biology/secondary education and a master’s degree in biology. Furthermore, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Bridgeport with a second master’s degree in human nutrition and was inducted into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi as a lifetime member.

Douglas resides in Connecticut with his wife.

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Posted in Children, Giveaway, Interview, women on April 7, 2017

ALMOST A MINYAN
by

LORI S. KLINE

ARTWORK BY SUSAN SIMON

  Genre: Picture Book / Jewish Traditions

Publisher: Sociosights Press
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Date of Publication: April 5, 2017

Number of Pages: 40

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Will she be the one to take Grandfather’s place?

According to Jewish tradition, a quorum of ten adults is required for public worship. Almost a Minyan traces the story of a young girl whose father and grandfather are regular participants in the town’s minyan – until her beloved Zayde passes on.

Without him, it is even harder for her father to find enough people to make a minyan. Then one day, he brings Zayde’s tefillin to his eldest daughter. A striking new addition to the diverse books movement, Almost a Minyan shares important Hebrew terms and religious concepts through a compelling and beautifully illustrated story for children.

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PRAISE FOR ALMOST A MINYAN

“A warmhearted introduction to coming-of-age in a worship community.” Kirkus Reviews

“A story of inclusion, belonging and equality. I loved the modern, egalitarian, and traditional values shared in this meaningful story. This is a wonderful modern story for our children and grandchildren!”  Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray, Congregation Shir Shalom, CT Founder of the Women Cantors’ Network

“A delightful read for girls and boys alike, this poetic family tale brings a wonderful sentimentality to daily Jewish prayers. Moreover, the beauty of the illustrations contributes additional warmth to this snapshot of Jewish life. A nice addition for all libraries and all ages.” Rabbi Jimmy Kessler, DHL, DD Congregation B’nai Israel, Galveston

 

What was your inspiration for writing Almost a Minyan?  Moving to Austin, where there was often difficult to gather the complete 10 Jewish adults to “make a minyan,”–from the large city of Pittsburgh, PA—where there are several morning minyans daily, gave me pause, as well as concern that we would lose our opportunity to transmit out traditions to our next generations.

What can you share with readers about minyans and Jewish traditions? I would say that, “community” is one of the basic pillars of the Jewish religion. Minyanim (plural of, “minyan”) require a gathering of 10 adult Jews in order to recite prayers. These prayers remind us and bind us to each other and as a community. Also, many of our traditions rely on gathering and engaging with each other. Our Tradition is replete with customs in which together we pray, celebrate, study, mourn and work together toward social justice.

What cultural value do you see in storytelling?

Stories serve as a natural means of transmitting traditions and values.  Nearly no one I know likes being told what to do, but in a story, one can glean…from the characters.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I have the luxury of writing when the inspiration hits me, and socking away a manuscript for months or even years before rousing it from slumber.  This gives me a chance to step back from the writing and its cadence and more objectively read it.  I imagine that my life experiences over time also affect the manner in which my stories evolve into their final form.

What book do you wish you could have written?

Anything by Dr. Seuss.

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

Lie on the beach in Hawaii, sipping a drink garnished with a paper umbrella, breathing in the ocean air and listening to the rhythm of the waves.

Do you have a mantra for writing and/or for life?

“Yes, you can.”

Lori Sales Kline heralds from Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, PA, which hosts a wonderfully rich Jewish community that fueled her love for Jewish tradition, ritual and practice at home and at, “the shul.”  Following her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Texas in Austin, Lori chose to make Austin her home, largely due to the spiritual connection she felt in the close-knit Austin Jewish community.  In her spare time, Lori enjoys camping, celebrating Judaism with her husband and son, and friends. She previously authored the children’s picture book,  Josiah’s Dreams.

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Artist Susan Simon

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March 24-April 7, 2017

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3/24 Illustration Preview CGB Blog Tours
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3/26 Author Interview My Book Fix Blog
3/27 Review Momma On The Rocks
3/28 Guest Post Texas Book Lover
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3/30 Review Syd Savvy
3/31 Illustration Preview Reading By Moonlight
4/1 Review The Page Unbound
4/2 Author Interview Margie’s Must Reads
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Posted in 4 paws, Book Release, Children on April 1, 2017

Written by Holly L. Niner, Illustrated by Isabella Ongaro
April 2017, Hardcover, 32 color pages, ages 4–8, $17.95 US/CAN
ISBN 9781936261895
Published by Flashlight Press
Distributed by IPG

Synopsis

While Dad tucks her in, a little girl named Grace calmly recounts her day—which was anything but calm. She had a tantrum (because of some injustices involving a purple shirt and breakfast cereal) and was banished to her bedroom before deciding to run away. Understanding that kids have ups and downs, Grace’s mom wisely gave her daughter the space and time she needed to reach her own decision to return home—to open arms.

The Day I Ran Away amusingly captures Grace’s mutable moods and childlike logic, making her a character readers care about and can relate to. Warm, humorous digital paintings offer fun details to keep little listeners busy. Kids can compare the bedtime and daytime scenes and try to figure out how Grace got that purple paw-pint on her cheek—and when it got washed away. They can mimic Grace’s facial expressions or copy her poses for some soothing bedtime yoga. And of course, they can create a safe place to run away to when the injustices of Pre-K existence become too much to bear. A pop-up tent in the yard and the haven beneath the dining room table are excellent run-away destinations, as long as you come home for dinner.

Review

This is a cute story with a bit of a lesson for both children and parents. All children (actually people of all ages) will get upset at one time or another and this story shows that if you handle it properly and have taught your children well that it will all work out. I like how the mother handled the situation – giving her daughter some freedom and letting her think she was running away from home without actually leaving the yard. In a small way she turned it into an adventure and having taught her daughter some lessons earlier in her life about crossing the street, she was able to keep her close. It was really ingenious!  Hopefully though it doesn’t teach the little girl that she can throw a tantrum and get away with it.

The only thing that was wrong is that the story never says the little girls name in the text.  No where in the story does mom or dad call her by her name. (at least not in the ARC that I had been provided).  Her name does appear in an illustration, and while I did look at the illustrations (they depicted the words beautifully) I would not have expected to have to look there for her name.

We give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Holly L. Niner grew up in Newburgh, NY, where on a bad day she would run away with a book to a swing under a willow tree. She is a speech therapist and the award-winning author of I Can’t Stop and Mr. Worry. Holly lives in Fort Wayne, IN, and this is her third picture book.

About the Illustrator

Isabella Ongaro grew up in Verona, Italy, where on a bad day she would run away to her garden shed to draw her cat in her notebook. She creates 2D animation, character designs for apps, and illustrations for the educational and fashion markets. Isabella lives in Paris, France, and this is her fourth picture book.

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Posted in Children, Fantasy, Spotlight, Young Adult on February 9, 2017

Synopsis

Math City is a place within a Math book, and the pages of the book are the streets of Math City.

In this City, Monster Number was grossly overweight and had a shaggy body, like a mammoth. In the beginning, Monster Number could not walk very well. Though he swayed a little, tottering and often falling, my father trained him to detect and to kill. In a few days, we attacked Math City.

Math City was bombarded, the doors and the walls shaking while the dark shade ofthe Monster Number came down, covering the city. Monster Number threw big stones, one after another; and like a repulsive ghoul crashed throughany barrier.

Then, after many horrible explosions, Monster Number entered the city, and we followed him. He smashed countless numbers as he plodded along.

Reviews

“I have a feeling that the author is from another planet. It is the only explanation for his knowledge.” –  One of Math City’s Readers

“Math City is uniquely written in that the book is the city and the streets are the pages within it. Readers are introduced to characters that are products of mathematical equations, but the significance of these characters is much more than mere numbers.” – Stacie Theis

“Math City is different than any story you’ve ever read. Although, it appears to be a simple story written to entertain children through the use of numbers and math, it is anything but simple. The underlying story of war, conflict, and human rights is cleverly interwoven throughout the pages. Math City is a short story, but readers should take their time and absorb all the book has to offer.”

About the Author

Ahmad lives in the Middle East. He is a graduate of the Art University in Tehran. He has worked for many newspapers in Iran and Iraq as a journalist.

His books are stories about people, society, and culture.  The books were written in a new concept and fantasy form.

He hopes that his books make you think, while you enjoy it.

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Posted in Children, excerpt, Science Fiction, Young Adult on December 31, 2016

Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world.

To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp Hannah found the most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special.

Then . . . six months later . . . the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do.

She took out that teapot and gave it a rub . . .

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes is a timeless tale, filled with magic and adventure. More importantly, it will make you believe in the overwhelming power of love.

Excerpt

Hannah Bradbury opened her eyes, feeling forty, not fourteen. Every part of her ached: head, stomach, neck, back—which was weird because she had felt perfectly fine two seconds ago. Plus now she was freezing. That part, at least, made some sense, for it was cold outside and she was lying next to her cupola window.

But the weird part? —the seriously bizarre, mind-blowing part? —two seconds ago she had been lying in her bed across the room.

She pulled her father’s shirt tighter around her narrow shoulders and sat up. Her dog, Griff, was still asleep in her bed, just as he had been two seconds ago. And her furniture looked fine—chest-of-drawers, study desk, nightstand—right where they should be. At least they hadn’t moved like last time.

The only thing that wasn’t where it should be—other than herself—was her clock. It was one of those old-fashioned analog clocks—brought to her from London by her father—and night before last it had been moved from her nightstand to her study desk. Now it was back on her nightstand. And the time had changed. She had checked it before closing her eyes, and it had said it was midnight. Now, two seconds later, the luminescent hands pointed to 6:15 a.m.

She shivered as she swung her legs off the love seat. Keeping her thigh muscles tensed in case someone grabbed her legs, she let the toe of her left foot touch the floor first. The wood felt buckled and splintery and colder than usual, but nothing grabbed her legs, so she stood up.

She hovered next to the love seat for a moment, her hand gripping the wall for balance, then wobbled unsteadily to a pile of dirty clothes on the floor of her closet. She rifled through them until she found a pair of jeans that didn’t smell too badly, slipped them on, then took one of her father’s sweaters off a hangar and pulled it over her nightshirt. It was thick and warm and still smelled like her father. Thinking of her father made her smile, but that smile disappeared when she saw her reflection in the mirror on the back of her closet door.

She looked horrible: pale skin, dead seaweed hair, dark circles around her eyes. Her skin used to be tan, her hair the color of burled walnut, and everyone used to compliment her eyes. Now everything about her looked dull and lifeless. And she was weary, dead tired. She would have loved to climb back in bed with Griff, but morning would be coming soon, and she didn’t want to miss anything.

She returned to her love seat and sat down with her legs crossed. The advantage to living on the second floor of a three-story house in Green Park, Tennessee, was that on a clear morning you could see for miles. The disadvantage was that there were very few clear mornings in the Great Smoky Mountains. They were usually—well, smoky—and it often took the anemic sun half a day to burn off the fog.

Fortunately, the mist was already starting to lift from the cemetery below. Soft, grey wisps still lingered lazily among the tombstones, but they would be gone soon. A dove was cooing, and that meant the sun was about to peek over the mountains.

She was starting to think they were going to be late, when she suddenly heard the deep rumble of an engine. Seconds later a pickup truck chugged through the cemetery’s wrought iron gate. Hannah followed it with her eyes as it came, fog swirling around its tires, engine sputtering, tailpipe coughing. It stopped beneath the gnarly branches of an arthritic oak tree not far from her house. She watched it shake off like a dog after a hard rain, then heard its motor shut down. All became quiet again.

Trailer

About the Author

THE UGLY TEAPOT is Fred Holmes’s first novel. He’s known primarily as a writer/director of television and films, specifically children’s television and family films. He’s worked on such TV shows as WISHBONE, BARNEY & FRIENDS, MARY LOU RETTON’S FLIP FLOP SHOP, IN SEARCH OF THE HEROES, HORSELAND, and many, many other shows. He’s written and/or directed over 250 episodes of television and has been nominated for Emmys five times and has won twice. He’s also won three CINE Golden Eagles, plus numerous other awards. Besides his work in TV, he’s directed three feature films: DAKOTA, starring Lou Diamond Phillips, for Miramax; HARLEY, starring Lou Diamond Phillips, for Lionsgate; and HEART LAND, a Bollywood feature film that he directed in India and starred Indian superstars Divya Dutta and Prem Chopra.

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Posted in Children, Giveaway, Spotlight on November 30, 2016

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Colors of the Sun & Moon by Talia Aikens-Nunez


Colors of the Sun and Moon is an English/Spanish STEM book which featuring an inquisitive young girl and her grandmother. The bright illustrations engage children and illuminate the science of the horizon with vibrant colors.

An inquisitive young girl questions her grandmother about the science behind the colors of the sun and moon. With a forward by Spencer Christian. “Colors of the Sun and Moon” is the second book from the new multicultural, multilingual children’s press, SundanceKid Press. The mission of SundanceKid Press is to promote cultural, ethnic/racial and linguistic diversity in children’s literature. Each page includes the English text along with the Spanish translation. A free audio recording is available on the SundanceKid Press website.

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Forward by Spencer Christian

As a young child, I was much like the little girl in this book – intensely curious about the wonders of the natural world – asking questions such as those put forth by young Gabriela, “Why is the sky blue; why are leaves green?” My search for answers took me on a fascinating path of discovery, which eventually led me to become a national TV weather forecaster.
If the child in you – or a child you know – finds the world to be a wondrous place, your path to discovery can be found in the pages of “Colors of the Sun and Moon.” “Colors of the Sun and Moon” is the story of 8-year-old Gabriela and her wise and loving grandmother – a grandmother who has the answers to all of her precious granddaughter’s questions about the world of wonders they see around them. While Abuela’s answers are simple enough for a young child to understand, they are factual and scientifically sound.

I applaud author Talia Aikens-Nuñez for giving her readers a story that is appealing on so many levels: it is educational, entertaining, and family-focused. What a rare combination of elements! As I read “Colors of the Sun and Moon,” images from my own childhood flashed in my mind, and I found myself smiling in amusement and amazement. I feel certain that the young reader and the not-so-young reader in your home will enjoy this book as much as I did.

– Spencer Christian, Weather Anchor for ABC 7/KGO-TV, San Francisco

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taliaAbout the Author

Talia Aikens-Nuñez wanted to be a meteorologist, a politician and a lawyer. She never thought she would be a writer. It was the birth of her daughter that caused her to start writing. Raising a bilingual child inspired Talia to write lyrical children’s books. Talia’s family loves nature so much that she and her husband vowed that they will always try to live close to water. They live on a river in Connecticut with their kids.

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$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in Children, Giveaway, Middle Grade on November 26, 2016

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The Charming Life of Izzy Malone by Jenny Lundquist

Izzy Malone isn’t your typical sixth grader. She wears camouflage combat boots and tie dye skirts; the Big Dipper and Orion are her two best friends; and she’d rather climb trees or shoot hoops than talk about boys and makeup. And after only a month of middle school she’s already set the record for the most trips to the Principal’s office.

The only time Izzy feels at peace is when she’s on the open water, and more than anything else, she wants to become a member of the Dandelion Paddlers, her school’s competitive rowing club. But thanks to those multiple trips to the Principal’s office, Izzy’s parents force her to enroll in Mrs. Whippie’s Charm School, a home-study course in manners and etiquette, or they won’t let her race in Dandelion Hollow’s annual pumpkin regatta—where Izzy hopes to prove to the Dandelion Paddlers she is more than qualified to be on their team.

When Mrs. Whippie’s first letter arrives it’s way different from what Izzy was expecting. Tucked inside the letter is a shiny gold bracelet and an envelope charm. Izzy must earn her first charm by writing someone a nice note, and once she does more tasks will be assigned.

Izzy manages to complete some of the tasks—and to her surprise, she actually finds herself enjoying the course. But when one of her attempts at doing something good is misinterpreted, she fears her chances at passing the course—and becoming a Paddler—are slipping away. With some unexpected friends there to support her, can Izzy manage to earn her charms and stay true to herself?

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Praise for the Book

“Izzy’s frank, vulnerable, sassy first-person narration reveals her surprising journey from a solitary girl talking to the stars to a girl with friends to light her way…This story of an atypical girl, her family, and friends, laced with middle school drama, is indeed a charming one.” –Kirkus Reviews

“A heartwarming coming-of-age journey…Lundquist deftly portrays the pain of being odd girl out, both at school and at home.” –Publisher’s Weekly

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Excerpt

Mom opened the letter, and sure enough, I was right.

“It’s from Ms. Harmer. It says you frequently refuse to follow instructions.” She paused, and said, “Well?”

I frowned. “Well, what?”

“Well—what do you have to say for yourself?”

“I guess I would say…instructions are for kids who have no imagination.”

Mom sighed loudly and ran a hand through her hair, but behind her back Carolyn grinned and gave me a thumbs up.

“What? You told me to say something, so I did.”

Mom read the letter again. “Apparently you were supposed to write an essay about a famous poet, and instead you turned in a story.”

“So what? Ms. Harmer didn’t actually say it had to be a real life famous poet—so I made one up.” If you ask me, what I did was actually harder; and, the best part of all, it only took me fifteen minutes. I wrote a story about a poet named Wanda Wordsmith who went fishing for her poems. Except instead of a fishing pole, she used a kite to catch her words on the wind. I thought it was a great story, and deserved an A. But apparently The Hammer thought it deserved a note home, which made no sense to me at all. Sometimes I think teachers like Ms. Harmer view creativity as something dirty and slightly embarrassing, and would prefer to turn kids into people who color inside the lines.

Generally speaking, I don’t care much for lines.

 

jenny-lundquistAbout the Author

Jenny Lundquist was born and raised in Huntington Beach, CA, where she spent her time unsuccessfully learning how to surf. When she was younger, she wanted to be either a rock star or a published author. After she taped herself singing and listened to it on playback she decided she’d better opt for the writing route. Jenny is the author of Seeing Cinderella and Plastic Polly as well as the young adult titles The Princess in the Opal Mask and The Opal Crown.

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amazon or paypal$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 12/12/16

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in Children, Giveaway, Guest Post, Spotlight on October 23, 2016

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SIR KAYE THE BOY KNIGHT BOOK 3

  LEGEND OF THE 

FOREST BEAST

by

  Don M. Winn

Genre: Children’s / Chapter Book / Medieval

Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

Date of Publication: July 8, 2016

Number of Pages: 178

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synopsis

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The beloved tutor Alchir has vanished! And a dangerous criminal with a grudge against Alchir has just escaped from prison. Kaye is determined to find the tutor and earn a fine reputation as a knight. The search leads Kaye, Reggie, and Beau to a sinister manor house at the edge of a dark forest where nearby villagers live in terror of a deadly monster. As they investigate the mystery of the forest beast, they uncover a terrible plot that could destroy Knox. When there’s no one to turn to for help, can they save the kingdom-and their lives-by themselves?

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* or Signed Copies from Progressive Rising Phoenix Press *

PRAISE FOR LEGEND OF THE FOREST BEAST

*Silver Award Winner: Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards

“A cracking, fun-filled adventure. Highly recommended!”

—The Wishing Shelf Awards Book Review

“LEGEND OF THE FOREST BEAST captures colorful adventures, fun characters, and inspirational thoughts in a quick and easy read for children.” —IndieReader Review

“OMG! My kids and I just finished reading book 3 of the Sir Kaye series. We loved, loved, loved this book. It was full of twists and turns, excitement, near misses, and lots of humor. . . It’s a must read. The whole series is a must read. We are impatiently waiting for book 4!!” —Amazon Reviewer

guest post

“The Secret Lives of Donkeys”

Guest Post by Don Winn

A donkey named Grumble has taken me on a wild ride, no pun intended. Work on the third Sir Kaye book, Legend of the Forest Beast, has been a great opportunity to develop non-human characters that play an important role in the story.

Horses, like Sir Kaye’s horse Kadar, have been a mainstay since book one, The Knighting of Sir Kaye. Book two, The Lost Castle Treasure, introduced falconry and a goshawk named Oriana. So what about book three? In book three, Grumble the donkey plays an important, and at times humorous, role in the story.

Of course, in order to write accurately about a donkey, I needed to do a bit of research. Much to my surprise, I have gained a new-found respect and appreciation for donkeys, so I thought I would share a few fascinating facts about them.

You may have thought, as I did, that donkeys are stubborn, less intelligent than horses, and weaker than horses of the same size. And if you thought that, then you’re in for a big surprise. Donkeys are more like the Clark Kent of the equine family, usually remaining unnoticed compared to the horse, but possessing some amazing abilities.

Donkeys can live for over 50 years and pound for pound, are stronger, sturdier and more resilient than horses. Donkeys originated in the desert part of the earth, northeast Africa to be exact, and accompanied the Romans when they invaded Britain in 43 C.E.

You may have noticed that donkeys have bigger ears than horses. There’s a reason for that. In the desert, where donkeys originated, they are able to hear the call of another donkey 60 miles away. That’s some incredible hearing! Their large ears also serve another purpose: air conditioning. The large surface area of their ears is filled with blood vessels just beneath the skin. When blood flows through their ears, it cools. Then the cooler blood circulates throughout the body—a very important feature to have in a desert environment.

You may be wondering how a donkey’s diet compares to that of a horse. Donkeys don’t just have super strength and super hearing; they also have super digestion. Since food is scarce in the desert, donkeys utilize 95% of what they eat. Their digestive system can break down seemingly inedible vegetation and extract moisture from food far more efficiently than most other animals. If you need fertilizer for your garden, a donkey won’t contribute many nutrients to enrich the soil—he’s used them all up himself.

Donkeys have a reputation for being stubborn. If you were asked to cross a street with cars zipping by, would you? Well, neither would a donkey. Their reputation for being stubborn is actually because of their highly developed sense of self-protection. It is very hard to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it sees as contrary to its own best interest or safety. (If only people were that smart.)

To read the rest of Don Winn’s post about his donkey research, click here.

about the author

 

don-winn

Don M. Winn is a multiple award-winning children’s author of ten picture books and three children’s novels. His Sir Kaye the Boy Knight® series of novels for independent readers include The Knighting of Sir Kaye, The Lost Castle Treasure, and Legend of the Forest Beast. Don’s picture books include The Higgledy-Piggledy Pigeon; Superhero; Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge; Shelby the Cat; Space Cop Zack, Protector of the Galaxy; and many others.

Don has been writing for over 20 years. After beginning with poetry, Winn moved on to writing children’s picture books. Almost immediately, his growing young readers begged for chapter books, which led to the creation of the Sir Kaye series. As a dyslexic himself, who well knows the challenge of learning to love to read, Winn’s goal is to write books that are so engaging they will entice even the most reluctant or struggling reader. Winn lives in Round Rock, Texas.

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2nd PRIZE: Skype Visit + 3 Softcover Copies of Books 1-3

3rd PRIZE: Signed Softcover Copy of Book 3

*Winners of Skype visits can gift them to a school, public library, or homeschooling parent*

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October 22 – October 31, 2016

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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR

10/22 Review Hall Ways Blog
10/23 Guest Post StoreyBook Reviews
10/24 Illustration Preview It’s a Jenn World
10/25 Review Margie’s Must Reads
10/26 Excerpt Country Girl Bookaholic
10/27 Review Reading By Moonlight
10/28 Author Interview Forgotten Winds
10/29 Coloring Download The Page Unbound
10/30 Review Kara The Redhead
31-Oct Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog

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Posted in Children, Giveaway, Spotlight on September 14, 2016

ThreeThree by Tia Perkins

“Three!” is a funny little rhyming book about what it’s like to spend a day with a preschooler – from getting themselves dressed to making a big mess! With beautiful illustrations (complete with dinosaurs, trains and superheroes) and a catchy story that both parents and kids can enjoy again and again, this is a must-have for your children’s book collection.

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Three Excerpt

Praise for the Book

“Tia has done it again. Great fun reading this and talking it through with little ones. The art is fun just to look at, the words are fun to read and even more fun to read aloud. If you like reading to or teaching reading to little ones, this is a great addition to any collection.”

“If you have raised a three-year-old or spent any amount of time with one, you’ll be nodding your head in recognition as you turn the pages of this on-the-spot book by Tia Perkin. The youngster in this book is a dynamo with no let up from sun up to sun down. Up at 6:30 wanting breakfast, getting dressed by himself, making a commotion in the grocery, fighting nap time, potty then no potty, need a drink of water, want cheese, want grapes, playing pirate – and on and on and on until to mom’s relief he’s asleep.

This is a fun little book for parent and child alike with its zany, expressive graphics and three-year-old antics.”

“This is the perfect follow up to Two! It’s is more in depth than Two! while having the same fun rhyming story as the first one. As always, the art is top notch! Must buy for anyone who wants a fun entertaining read for their toddler.”

 

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TiaAbout the Author

Tia Perkin is a three-time Emmy-Nominated Graphic Artist turned stay-at-home mom and freelancer. Her first children’s book, “Two!”, was written for her now four-year-old twin sons – partially as a gift and partially as a coping mechanism for a double-helping of toddler hijinx! She is continuing on the series and has just released “Three!”.

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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in Children, Craft, Spotlight on August 12, 2016

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$5 Family Fun e-Book Cover jpg version

 

Synopsis

Doing fun activities with the family gets expensive, but now with Meggan’s $5 Family Fun, you can make, bake, and do incredibly fun things with your young family for under $5. Using dollar store finds, free local services, generic bands, and common household items, you can make every day an adventure. Gather your whole family together for inexpensive family fun activities and memories that last forever.

 

I am so excited to share UFO day from Meggan’s book.  Sure UFO day is in July, but how fun is this for your little space adventurers?!  If you visit her blog, Instagram or Pinterest page you will find more crafts and ideas.  Or scroll down and purchase her e-Book.

UFO Day – $5

Keep your eyes to the skies on July 2nd because it’s World UFO Day.  Believers and skeptics alike will have fun with these out-of-this-world fun balloon and food craft projects.

Glowing Alien Balloons – $2

Supplies:

  • White Balloons from the dollar store – $1
  • Green Glow Sticks (bracelet size) from the dollar store – $1
  • Black Permanent Marker from starter kit – $0

Directions:

  1. Break glow sticks to activate.
  2. Begin to blow up balloons to medium size.
  3. Insert a glow stick in each as quickly as possible to avoid much air loss.
  4. Continue to blow up the balloon to its fullest capacity and tie off.
  5. Draw large alien-like eyes onto your balloons with the black permanent marker.

Cookie UFOs – $3

UFO - Cookie

Supplies:

  • Large Cookies (whatever your taste preference) from the dollar store – $1
  • Gumdrops from the dollar store – $1
  • White Icing from the dollar store – $1

Directions:

  1. Use the icing as your “glue” to attach the gumdrops to the cookies. You don’t need to use a kitchen baggie as a makeshift piping bag.  Just using a kitchen butter knife, spread a little icing to the flat side of each gumdrop and use to affix to the underside of the cookies.  Allow a few minutes to dry & set.  This will create the legs to your UFO so it can stand on your plate.
  2. Using icing and more gumdrops, affix one or more gumdrops (use your imagination) to the top of the edible UFO.

Note:  If you have any leftover glow sticks, create your own ceiling fan flying saucer.  Break glow sticks to activate and using the masking tape from the starter kit, (while the fan is turned off) overlap the glow stick ends with the top side of the fan blades and secure into place with masking tape.  Turn off the lights and turn the fan on high.  Sit on watch your glowing flying saucer spin above your head.

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About the Author

meggan spicerOnce she had a family of her own, Meggan Spicer discovered just how easy it was to spend $50 on family activities or outings without even batting an eye. As a result, the concept of $5 Family Fun was born. Meggan is a recruiter by profession, a wife, and a mother, and resides in the Little Rock, Arkansas, metro area. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas, and she enjoys cooking, watching movies and crafting.

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